Calling Atheists 'Evil'
I've had a bit of a problem with your outrage on having "evil" or "wickedness" as part of the dictionary definition of the word "atheism". Isn't it the role of a dictionary to document the actual usage of a word, and isn't this the way the word "atheism" is used in some circles even today? Granted, if we allow this as part of the definition of "atheism", we'd have to include "sanctimonious and close-minded" as part of the definition of the word "Christian"...
Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
-- Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Bob Webster"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 8:01 PM
I am outraged that atheism was ever equated with evil in anyone's mind.
I am not outraged that the dictionary has reported it, but denounce the dictionaries which fail to indicate this usage as "archaic." Others fail to indicate this usage at all, and I can't tell you which is worse. In the former case, the use can be understood as proper by people (such as our writer) who pretend to take the dictionary as the final arbiter of reality. In the latter case, we must never forget that atheism was once widely equated with wickedness.
I am also disappointed that the dictionaries which report the Roman Catholic definition for atheism hardly ever report the definition we atheistic philosophers and writers have traditionally used.
The fairest thing is to do what Encarta (encyclopedia and print edition of dictionary) has done: enlist a prominent atheistic philosopher to make sure that the definitions contain no anti-atheistic bias. I would hope that the word Christian is given comparable treatment.
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