June 11, 2009

Atheist Rocks and Other Absurdities

Rock with erosion holes in itImage by Martin LaBar (going on hiatus) via Flickr

I received a recent e-mail from someone engaged in a debate over the meaning of atheism. He said that his opponent referenced the definition I have repeatedly used here at Atheist Revolution but then claimed that this definition meant that "rocks and other inanimate objects were also atheists." I think I've heard this bizarre claim once before. I did not take it seriously, and I remember thinking that anyone making it is getting fairly desperate. After hearing it again, I figured the least I could do was address the matter.

When I said, "An atheist is one who does not accept the theistic claim," I assumed that "one" would be understood in the context of this statement as implying personhood. It seems that some people are now trying to remove the context and pretend that inanimate objects would count as atheists. When dealing with such concrete thinkers, I suggest phrasing the definition as follows:
An atheist is a person who does not accept the theistic belief claim.
Perhaps that will be clearer.

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