Yep, I’m a Dictionary Atheist

I am exhausted by people who refuse to identify with the dictionary definition of atheism. That atheism is simply a non-belief in god(s) is not good enough for some. In their mind, atheism has to be more than just a rejection of the supernatural. Atheism must include a social or moral (more social than anything) component to be valid. I reject that.

Atheism doesn’t define who I am. Most people I know would say something similar. Atheism doesn’t color my view of the world. It has never had anything to do with any values that I hold. Atheism has nothing to do with right or wrong in the ethical sense. Justice and equality have nothing to do with being an atheist; Those are principles all of us learn throughout our lives. I know plenty of non-atheists that are as moral and ethical as any atheist I know.

So why do some have the need to conflate atheism with values? I believe it’s because some require an identity which atheism doesn’t provide. They cannot be just and atheist,atheism must mean more. It doesn’t.

I don’t believe there is a single person that has said anything to the effect that a person can be an atheist and nothing else. Just writing that seems silly to me. Be an activist for equality, or social justice, as well as an atheist. Just don’t try to say that the latter have anything to do with the former.

One thought on “Yep, I’m a Dictionary Atheist

  1. There is a difference between how we define atheism and how we choose to identify, label, and define ourselves. I agree 100% on the limited meaning of atheism. But, just like you, I don’t think I’ll ever define myself as an atheist and nothing more.

    And yet, when I define myself (not atheism but myself) in broader ways or refer to atheists grouping together to pursue goals that go beyond atheism, I hear complaints about “dictionary atheism.” I don’t get this. I have zero interest in expanding the meaning of atheism. I share your rejection of an expanded meaning of atheism, but that in no way prevents me from recognizing that I have broader interests than atheism and that most other atheists do as well.

    It seems to me that both sides of this particular debate are often talking past each other. One side might actually want to expand the meaning of atheism. The other side often seems to have trouble recognizing that we can expand our own identities without altering the meaning of atheism.


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