There are two opinions on this. The one is that which you reflected and which I held for about 20 years based largely on a lack of thought on the topic and accepting other peoples definitions too easily. The other (which I now support) says that in fact: there are no valid reasons to believe that a god or gods might exist (lack of evidence). There is no way that a hypothesis about a god (or more likely gods) existence can be disproved (not disprovable). There is no requirement for a god or gods to explain any current phenomenon (not useful). THere is plenty of evidence that many of the religious and especially the christian apologetics are fundamentally dishonest which requires sifting their evidence with the knowledge of their potential dishonesty (Unethical. Dealing with tainted or falsified data). This combination devastates any scientific justification for the assumption of the existence of a god or gods until some time as evidence requiring such an hypothesis becomes visible. Any other position actually is a step away from the scientific method - at least until William of Ockham's Razor loses its edge.
If I said that I am "without-easter-bunnies" you wouldn't claim this required an "act of faith" would you? So why, when I say I am "without a belief in gods" that you think that an act of faith is involved? Why are you providing a special position for gods? If somebody brings evidence showing that a god or gods is a needed hypothesis to explain some repeatable observation, then we can examine the need for them. Until then, the most we can say is that: there is a small possibility that some things that humans might call gods exist somewhere in the universe, but that this is pure speculation; there is no evidence to date requiring a god or gods to explain; all of the "gods" postulated by humans to date have contained such internal contradictions as to preclude serious consideration of them as "gods".
Neither I, nor atheism makes the statement that their are no such things as gods, although some atheists do say this (often called strong atheism), it is not a part of atheism - just as ethics, logic, education, patriotism, good spelling and common sense are not implied by atheism. A = without, theism = belief in gods. There are no hidden syllables or meanings. Just that we have no belief in gods. This is very different from the agnostic (Without knowledge) position which asserts that gods are "unknowable" or that there is insufficient knowledge that their are gods or no gods. As such, an agnostic position implies (despite all the evidence against it) that there are gods but we cannot know them, or that we do not know if there may be gods. Both of which make the assumption that gods have some stronger claim to existence than, say, the tooth fairy.
It seems to me that saying that "atheism is a concrete claim of faith." is made as a step in faith... and "as such it is contradictory to" all the available body of evidence "in the scientific sense."
To quote H.L.Mencken, "The time must come inevitably when mankind shall surmount the imbecility of religion, as it has surmounted the imbecility of religion's ally, magic. It is impossible to imagine this world being really civilized so long as so much nonsense survives. In even its highest forms religion embraces concepts that run counter to all common sense. It can be defended only by making assumptions and adopting rules of logic that are never heard of in any other field of human thinking." One of the difficulties comes from the very language we use. It has many buried meanings and "triggers" built into it and is frequently more of a barrier to thought than a help. The idea that atheism is "bad", "acts by faith" and is "against" something is an old idea, but it still remains an erroneous belief.
> -----Original Message-----
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> Of Richard Aynesworthy
> Sent: Thursday, May 06, 1999 12:56 PM
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> ...interesting... an xtian and an atheist who don't understant
> atheism. Curious.
> ...not worshipping anything is different than worshipping nothing
> ...likewise, making concrete claims about the nature of the divine
> (ie. repudiation of the transcendent other) is different than open
> mindedness with regard to that which is beyond our ken.
> ...atheism is a concrete claim of faith. As such it is contradictory
> to open-mindedness in the scientific sense.
> >>I can take a good stab at you NOTHING-worshippers
> > Atheists are the ones, dear Snow Leopard, who fly the white flag,
> > who do not pick up the weapon when an opponent is threatening, who
> > offer the universe, and not just a small glimpse of a narrow
> > perspective on a portion of it....
> > Knowledge is always peace.
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