Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Universal Caveat

The Universal Caveat applies to every single post you will find on this site, and it simply states:

I speak only for myself; other atheists you ask might well give you a diametrically opposed answer to your question.

Unlike almost every religious group out there -- heck, pretty much any coherent, organized group at all -- atheists don't have a common set of unifying principles to which we all subscribe. That's because atheism describes someone who doesn't have a particular belief rather than someone who does.

Imagine trying to figure out what all people who don't collect stamps would say about a particular issue and you get the picture.

The opposite of an atheist is a "theist", or someone who does possess a god-belief. You have the same problem trying to get consensus on what all theists would believe about a given topic as you would atheists, because both are very (very!) general terms. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Aztec Sun Worshipers, Cargo Cult members, and followers of Thor are all theists. Can you imagine getting the same answer out of all of those people about anything?

Atheists are no different. People who lack belief in any god have only that non-belief absolutely in common; anything else is kind of a crap shoot. So when you read the answer to a Frequently Asked Question on this site, understand that if you ask ten other atheists the same thing you're likely to get ten totally different responses. Such is life.

In short, this Caveat is universal but my answers are not!

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