Just listened to the recent Unbelievable podcast on the topic of defining the word 'atheist'. Is an atheist someone who actively believes that there is no God, or merely someone who lacks belief that there is a God?
It was an interesting, if ultimately pointless, discussion. Not everyone can be adequately labeled by a single word. Not everyone fits neatly into categories on a Venn diagram.
I'm not even sure where I'd fit in a Venn diagram of belief. I probably fall into some people's definition of 'Christian', while almost certainly falling into other people's definition of 'agnostic', possibly even falling into someone else's definition of 'atheist', though I certainly wouldn't use that word to describe myself.
As usual with Unbelievable, there was something in this show that I found frustrating, largely (as ever) because there was no guest on the show representing my side in the debate... In this instance, the most frustrating thing was that for the whole programme they attempted to nail down definitions of the word 'atheist' without ever once considering what was meant by the word 'God'.
The Christian guest on the show stated his God concept at one point, but nobody really got to grips with precisely what it is that atheists don't believe in.
It seemed to be assumed that theists generally believe in a supremely powerful being who created the universe, while atheists reject this notion. But what of the person (much like me!) who considers that there might be a powerful 'supernatural' being, but that this being might be part of the universe, not transcending or pre-existing it? Is creation a necessary part of the God concept as defined by atheists?
I suppose the best point made in the show was made by considering the 'screen name' of one of the guests, "NonStampCollector". You really can't define someone in terms of characteristics they don't have.