+b.e. hydomako The problem we have here has to do with people muddling all sorts of things together and not being able to make sense of it. When it comes to the definition of atheism out happens that people are ignorant of the fact that they are starting to use philosophical language which has a distinct history behind it and specific definition for terms based on that history.
In this case we have three terms to show our position in the god question: theist, atheist, and agnostic. A theist asserts there is a God; an atheist asserts there is no God; an agnostic asserts there is only what there is evidence for.
Some atheists don't like that spectrum though, because it means they become irrational in their assertion, and people don't like being irrational. So to fix the problem one atheist came up with an argument to shift atheism to being a default position and then split it into positive and negative. Or, as the meme now states, gnostic or agnostic.
Here's an excerpt from a response to an email from Stanford over their definition:
In our understanding, the argument for this broader notion was
introduced into the philosophical literature by Antony Flew in "The
Presumption of Atheism" (1972). In that work, he noted that he was
using an etymological argument to try to convince people not to
follow the standard meaning of the term. His goal was to reframe
the debate about the existence of God and to re-brand "atheism" as a
Not everyone has been convinced to use the term in Flew's way simply
on the force of his argument. For some, who consider themselves
atheists in the traditional sense, Flew's efforts seemed to be an
attempt to water down a perfectly good concept. For others, who
consider themselves agnostics in the traditional sense, Flew's efforts
seemed to be an attempt to re-label them "atheists" -- a term they
The elision of the term agnostic seemed to be the goal and it has succeeded completely in the new atheist movement as can be evidenced in this thread. Which is rather sad because it has pushed atheism toward being a quasi religion where it doesn't really matter if you're personally committed to following evidence to form your beliefs beyond the god question.
So instead of having the religious right spewing bigotry, racism, and injustice in the name of religion, we can open the door to let the atheist right spew bigotry, racism, and injustice in the name of science (science which doesn't need evidence, just a science-y sound). Concepts that traditionally required theism to maintain cohesion can now be freed to be adopted by atheists on the basis of their truthiness.
It's sad to watch what was once a strong tradition intellectual tradition become so anti-intellectual. The world needs a commitment to evidence, science, learning, and individual intellectual progress at this point in history more than any other. Not more right wing propaganda.