On Dictionaries
Calling Atheists 'Evil'
Bob Webster

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.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.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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