Originally Posted by skylark
Georgefran, I feel the sentiment expressed in your post. I have a hard time understanding how someone can build a lifestyle around a lack of belief. Maybe that´s one of those things in life that is ¨too complex a mystery for me to understand¨. (half kidding)
Well, assuming you are being honest in your question. It primarily becomes an issue because believers make it an issue. The only reason that we divide the world up into the dualities of theist/athiest is because theists have promoted the myth that belief in god defines your morality, your ethics, your politics, and your place in this world.
Athiesm is a catch-all phrase just like theism. Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Rastafarians, Hindus, and Traditional Polytheists are all theists, but it does not make sense to lump them together. Likewise, Humanists, Marxists, Objectivists, and Classical Epicurians are all atheist, but have very different views and beliefs.
Originally Posted by georgefan
It's like saying that your vegetarian because you don't believe in eating meat, not that there are all of these positive things that you actually do believe in, which is why you are vegetarian, or whatever.
Well, you just bring up an interesting analogy. A person who does not eat meat defines what a vegetarian is. Likewise, a person without a belief in god defines what an athiest is. But as you point out, just the absence of a meat-based diet is not the sum total of what vegetarianism is about. Some of us here are animal rights activists. Others are concerned about health. Still others (such as myself) come to vegetarianism through a commitment to nonviolence.
Likewise, you seem to suffer from the common stereotype that atheists are wandering around in this existential fog with a big gap in their "souls" just waiting to be filled by the good news. Perhaps one of the reasons you just don't understand is that you can't see athiesm in any other way than just lacking something. I lack a belief in god in the same way that I lack a $500 turnup peeler. I don't have one, only think of one when someone insists that my life is lacking without one, and don't see why anyone would have such a monstrosity in their kitchen.
Part of the problem is that IMO, theists just don't understand what I do believe, without trying to tack god onto it. If I say that the universe is a wonderful place worthy of awe, the theist response would be to ask why I don't believe in a creator. If I say that I believe in non-violence, the theist will ask how can I have moral values without big daddy god. God is trivial, I'm too busy living the best life I can to worry about God.
Originally Posted by Sevenseas
Yes, a gnosis, no knowledge. No one knows that God exists, no one knows that God doesn't exist, so atheism is about probabilities. In any case, an atheist is an agnostic. Believe is to hold probable, so an atheist is a person who holds probable that gods don't exist.
Oh, I'm not so convinced of that. I think that Epicurus for example did believe that gods did not exist in the Platonic sense as an absolute truth rather than a probable one.