Re: Vital Essence

From: Robert Wasley (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 14:31:51 MST

Max More wrote:
> If you are a nontheist, that means you lack theistic belief. An atheist is
> someone who lacks theistic belief. ("a-" means without.) So, I would say
> you *are* an atheist.

At first glance this would make non theist and atheist the same, an perhapes
an arguement could be made for this based on the pre-fix "non" and "a".
However, historically and connontationally, the difference I draw is that an
atheist does not believe in the existence of God, where as a non theist
considers the question simply irrelevent. Whether God exists or not is a
non-question, in the same way whether Zeus exists or not is a non-question.
This is not true of the atheist position as clearly evident in recent

> I can understand why you don't like to describe yourself that way. While
> the denotation of the term is correct in your case, you probably dislike
> the connotations. "Atheist" has negative connotations in this country.

In my youth I was a radical atheist (fortunately not as quite as obnoxious
as some views expressed, but I too had my moments) and have no problem with
the label as long as it represented my position. However, it does not.
Taking a position that I do not believe God exists legitmatizes the question
of God's existence. There has been made effort, thought, and investment at
some level of sorting through the arguments and "evidence" in order to
arrive at some conclusion. This legitimatizes the question of God's
existence even if arriving at negative conclusion. The atheist is the
antithesis of the theist.

Based strictly on word analysis I would agree with you, but historically and
connotationally I disagree. It is hoped this clarifies things. By the way I
appreciate all of your posts on the topic.

Robert Wasley

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:31 MDT