A conversation about atheism over at Stupid Evil Bastard got me thinking about my own atheism. I went over to Websters to find out how they defined atheism. I was a little perplexed by their definition:
Main Entry: athe·ist
: one who believes that there is no deity
I’m not sure that is correct. I call myself an atheist because I do not believe in a deity. That does not necessarily mean I believe there is no deity. I do not believe in a deity because there is no evidence that a deity exists. For me to “believe” something, I need some evidence. Therefore I can’t believe there is no deity unless there is some evidence that there is no deity. As you can’t really produce evidence for the absence of something, there is no way to believe that something does not exist. You can only assume that something doesn’t exist unless evidence presents itself to tell you otherwise.
So my assertion is that the correct definition of atheism should be:
one who does not believe in a deity.
Did Merriam-Webster get it wrong?