Since I haven't published anything here in ages, I'm just gonna re-post a comment I made a few minutes ago on
re: #323 Occasional Reader
posted by Throbert |
6/24/2008 04:58:00 PM |
Not necessarily lying. I know people who claim to be "atheists", but then will say "of course, I believe in some sort of greater power, etc.". I think they're just unclear on the definition, basically.
Not necessarily a lie OR unclearness on the definition -- it could be that they're just going by a different definition than you are.
The main thing to keep in mind is that "atheism" doesn't refer to a clearly specifiable set of doctrines, like "Hassidic Judaism" or "Mormonism." It's a broad, umbrella term just like "theism" is, and like "theism" it can apply to a pretty diverse bunch of worldviews.
Anyway, when some people say "I'm an atheist but I believe in some sort of higher power," it's possible that what they really mean is something along these lines:
I was raised Catholic, but I now totally deny the existence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because I think that a 3-in-1 Deity makes as much sense as invisible pink unicorns. I looked into Judaism, but I honestly doubt that there's a G-d as depicted in the Torah, either. However, I am still optimistic that the universe is overseen by a Benevolent, Eternal Intelligence -- a "God" of the kind that Deists like Thomas Jefferson sorta/kinda believed in.
Of course, there is the alternative possibility that the self-described "atheist who believes in God" has just taken some massive bong hits.
One way to be sure is to get a bunch of your favorite snack crackers (I recommend Triscuits), top them with a mix of chocolate cake frosting and dry cat food, and offer some to the apparently confused god-believing atheist. If he gobbles them up and wants seconds? Diagnosis: Stoned out of his gourd! But if not, he probably just has a really nuanced take on where to draw the lines among atheism, agnosticism, Spinoza-style pantheism, Deism, etc.