Atheism is the doctrine that there is no God. Don’t let a dogmatic atheist convince you it means a lack of belief in a God or gods. These two definitions sound alike, but they mean very different things. Lack of belief in God and denial of the existence of God are not the same thing. There are theists, agnostics and atheists. The argument that agnostics are actually just a breed of atheist is amateurish, Orwellian word manipulation.
If I were to ask you if you believed I had a full gallon of milk in my refrigerator, what would you say? The only reasonable answer is you don’t know. You don’t know me, and have no way of knowing if I do or not. You would be agnostic on the subject. If you believed that I did have a gallon of milk in my fridge, even though you have no factual data on which to base this assumption you would be comparable to a theist. This is a state of belief; let’s call it lactism. If, without any hard data or information, you believed that I did not have milk, we might call you alactic. Logic, and a basic understanding of how language works would preclude saying that everyone who has no belief for or against the existence of my milk, would be described in the same way as those who actively deny the potential existence of milk in my fridge. To do so makes the word alactic into a word with essentially no meaning.
I know of no set of terms in which one term describes one extreme, another describes the neutral state and a third term encompasses both the neutral and the other extreme. Yet that is what the evangelical atheist community would have us believe. If their manipulation of language made any sense, we might have the word hot to describe a state of higher thermal energy, warm to describe a state of moderate thermal energy and cold would describe both moderate and low thermal energy states. Further, there would be no term that would describe only low thermal energy states. Bright would mean bright, dim would mean dim and dark would mean anything other than bright.
So why would anyone want to try to redefine atheism to include agnosticism? Primarily to pump up the numbers of their little club.
By lumping agnostics in with atheists, the evangelical atheists can claim that their numbers are much larger than they really are. Atheists make up a tiny percentage of the population, while agnostics are a much larger group. Many times, when atheists make claims regarding the percentage of atheists in the general population or in specific groups, they intentionally overstate the numbers by lumping agnostics in with themselves. They even go so far as to insultingly call agnostics “weak atheists”, while they refer to themselves as “strong atheists”. So they are strong, and we are weak for not accepting their beliefs? How about if agnostics are atheists we use the more accurate terms “open minded atheists” and “dogmatic atheists”? Sorry, I’m not an atheist. I don’t subscribe to your insistence in belief without proof. Pleas stake me off your mailing list.
Where it sometimes gets amusing is when an atheist, in an attempt to support his assertion that atheism is a word without meaning, starts giving a lesson in Greek word conjugation. The word atheism, he will say is Greek in origin, and in Greek the prefix “a” denotes “without”. Therefor atheism means only without theism, not denying theism. This would make sense. Let’s go back to the ancient Greek meaning of the word. But wait. When the Greeks used the word, it meant something more in line with the English word “ungodly”. That is to say immoral or sinful, acting against the will of the gods. It had nothing to do with belief or disbelief. Of course few atheists would support this definition. Any support from the Romans, who also threw the word around? Well, they called Christians and Jews atheists for denying the Roman gods, and the Christians and Jews called them atheists for denying their god. That doesn’t really fit, unless we make the word atheism to mean anyone who denies any of the thousands of gods man has worshiped over the millennia.
Perhaps you still buy the notion that English would have a word to describe believers, another word to describe doubters and a third word that encompasses doubters and deniers together, but no word that describes deniers of the existence of god. Perhaps you look it up in a dictionary and find both definitions as valid (which you would). That’s okay. The way language works is by consensus, and the general consensus is that atheism is the denial that there is no god. That is why this definition is always first in nearly every dictionary you care to look in.
Regardless of what you the reader may believe, when I refer to atheists here, I am referring to people who believe and assert that there is no god or gods.