I’ve recently read this piece of ignorant crap. I have to say, I expect this from the average person, but a tenured college professor, one whose field is theology? No, that’s really inexcusable. What am I talking about? Basically, the use of an antiquated and non-applicable definition of atheism.
Let’s face it, most definitions for atheism have been written by the religious, usually Christians. I think my favorite was one from a 19th century dictionary – “the denial of God”. That one always makes me chuckle. Today, most dictionaries have less laughable but still not fully applicable definitions. You’ll find “the doctrine that there is no God or gods” or simply “disbelief or denial of the existence of God or gods”. Notice the capital “G”, by the way. How very objective. LOL! I’ve yet to meet an atheist who claims knowledge of the non-existence of gods. Now of course atheists conclude that there aren’t any gods in light of the failures of all who’ve tried to assert that there are any, which prompts disbelief in those alleged gods, but disbelieving in light of lack of evidence and asserting actual knowledge are two very different things.
It’s this difference that theists either can’t or won’t acknowledge. Why? Because far too many theist arguments rely on the non-applicable definition, including Prof. Rauser’s in that laughable article. Yes, if atheists were as he asserts they are, and we were all claiming we knew there was no gods (including the capital “G” kind), then he’d be right to ask for evidence from us. That would certainly put a heavy burden of proof on atheists. Now it wouldn’t shift the burden of proof from theists, but rather it would mean we share a comparable burden. Were that the case, then theists could get away with such nonsense as “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” or “atheism is a religion.” For theists, having an apples to apples comparison is ideal, because then they simply have to present their apple as being tastier, and let’s face it, if you’re going to go with faith, isn’t the one which allows you to live forever with friends and family, and perhaps even have a perpetually virginal harem, sound tastier than the alternative?
Unfortunately for theists, it’s not apples and apples. It’s not even apples and oranges, but faith and reason. Most atheists you’ll encounter, and indeed most examples of atheism exhibited by leading atheist authors and speakers such as Dennett, Harris and Dawkins, subscribe to the definition of disbelief based on the failings of god claims so far. There’s no assertion other than that the god claims out there simply are inadequate for they all fail to demonstrate the existence of the gods they claim exist. That’s not a subjective position but rather an objective one, unless you believe requiring demonstrable evidence is subjective and closed-minded.
My suggestion to theists is simply to stop trying to engage a non-applicable definition and further, stop telling atheists they aren’t real atheists. As a theist, you’re arguably at odds with reality so asserting what’s real and what’s not is comical already, but when you have atheist after atheist telling you how they define their position and you keep insisting that there position is actually something else, I’d say you’re REALLY out of touch with reality and being deliberately obtuse. If you’d rather debate an outdated and non-applicable definition, then by all means knock yourselves out, but if you’re actually interested in discussions with real people and have any interest in listening and learning instead of fighting and pontificating, then I suggest you abandon the outmoded definition you’re relying on and everything else which is based on it. In other words grasshoppers, you can’t pour tea into a full cup.