[D.A. logo] Definitions of "atheism" and "atheist"
Clarifying a natural classification
[Chinese word for: atheism -- Wu Shen Lun)] [Greek word for: atheism -- atheos]
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Definitions of "atheism" and "atheist"

For the mostpart the following definitions are nearly identical, yet have distinctly separate definitions because maintaining the accuracy of their meanings and uses are important for communicating clearly and accurately, which is why both the descriptive and prescriptive aspects are covered.  Please also see our research references for relevant academic and non-academic sources.


atheism
noun
/'āTHē,izəm/

absence of belief in deities

Linguistic structure
Absence (rather than opposition) is indicated by the "a-" prefix, meaning "without," hence "atheism" is therefore concisely characterized as "without theism."
See also:  Lack of belief in gods (educational YouTube video; 10 minutes)

Etymological support
The word "atheism" originated from the Ancient Greek word "ἄθεος"4 ("átheos") meaning "godless" or, to emphasize it more generally, "without deities."
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/etymology/

Burden of proof
Since the "atheism" classification is not justified by claims for or against theistic or anti-theistic positions, the burden of proof is not applicable in regard to this.  Although it's certainly possible to have reasons for choosing atheism, such justification is not necessary.

Logical consistency
Assuming that ¬ = is not, B = believing, and D = deities, atheism is logically characterized as "¬BD = not believing in deities" which is equivalent to "absence of belief in deities."
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/logic/

Further clarification
For the sake of completeness, and due to the wide-spectrum of theistic deity-dependent concepts (including supernatural agents - such as angels and demons - which don't qualify as goddesses or gods), "atheism" may also consequently be classified implicitly as the "absence of belief in deities and [theistic deity-dependent] supernatural agents."

Polysemous variation
The polysemous characteristic is a descriptive principle favouring usage that may vary among speakers, and so some alternative meanings of the word "atheism" can occasionally lead to misunderstandings by limiting definitional scope or becoming conflated with other words that are more suitable.
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/polysemy/


atheist
noun
/'āTHē,ist/

absent of belief in deities

Linguistic structure
Absence (rather than opposition) is indicated by the "a-" prefix, meaning "without," hence an "atheist" is therefore concisely characterized as "not a theist."
See also:  Lack of belief in gods (educational YouTube video; 10 minutes)

Etymological support
The word "atheist" originated from the Ancient Greek word "ἄθεος"4 ("átheos") meaning "godless" or, to emphasize it more generally, "without deities."
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/etymology/

Burden of proof
Since the "atheism" classification is not justified by claims for or against theistic or anti-theistic positions, the burden of proof does not apply to atheists in regard to this.  Although it's certainly possible to have reasons for choosing to be an atheist, such justification is not necessary.

Logical consistency
Assuming that ¬ = is not, B = believing, and D = deities, an atheist is logically characterized as "¬BD = not believing in deities" which is equivalent to being "absent of belief in deities."
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/logic/

Further clarification
For the sake of completeness, and due to the wide-spectrum of theistic deity-dependent concepts (including supernatural agents - such as angels and demons - which don't qualify as goddesses or gods), an "atheist" may also consequently be classified implicitly as being "absent of belief in deities and [theistic deity-dependent] supernatural agents."

Polysemous variation
The polysemous characteristic is a descriptive principle favouring usage that may vary among speakers, and so some alternative meanings of the word "atheist" can occasionally lead to misunderstandings by limiting definitional scope or becoming conflated with other words that are more suitable.
See also:  https://www.define-atheism.com/polysemy/


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