Friday, September 7, 2012

Atheist?

A blogger at Shadow To Light notices some ambiguity about the meaning of "atheist":
It’s getting more and more difficult to discern the meaning of “atheist.” Consider what Gnu activist PZ Myers mentioned in passing:
Like, umm, the word “atheist”? There is a straightforward dictionary definition of that word, of course, but one thing you quickly discover if you actually interact with a lot of atheists is that the meaning in practice varies a lot. I have met atheists who believe in reincarnation; atheists who think Chopra is on to something with his ‘universal consciousness’ claims;
So there are atheists who believe in reincarnation and there are atheists who think Chopra is on to something with his ‘universal consciousness’ claims. Not all that surprising, as Gnu activist Sam Harris is one of them. And it’s clear that PZ accepts them as atheists. One has to wonder just how many atheists believe in various supernatural beings/processes as long as they are not Christian. ....
This sort of thing reminds me of G.K. Chesterton: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

What does “atheist” mean? « Shadow To Light