The Christian definition of "atheist" is this sort of vague "doesn't believe in God," or "claims there is no God." Notice how this puts the focus on God. It assures the theist that God really exists, but there are a few oddballs out there who for some crazy reason want to be different. It is an inherently theistic, Yahweh-centered definition.
I don't often engage in long debates in the comments section of this blog because I like people to feel free to say what they like without me interfering. But yesterday I made an exception. A reader name Isaac wrote, "i [sic] really don't like how your over all theme shows that there is no way God could exist, but whatever man, its your blog." Here's how I responded:
There is a huge difference between "shows that there is no way God could exist" and what I actually claim. I've studied chemistry, physics, biology, geology sociology and anthropology. I understand the universe well enough to be confident that there is no need for magic. The Yahweh/Allah of the Abrahamic religions is no more interesting to me than any other myth. I don't believe in Thor, Baal, Pele, or Yahweh/Allah.Suppose atheists made up 95% of the population (it can happen!) and religious people were just 5%. How would we define an atheist? We wouldn't. We would instead be arguing about how to define "theist," and the definition would sound a lot like the way Christians define Wiccans or Druids ("They believe in witchcraft and worship trees ... what foolishness!").
Why should we introduce magical explanations into an orderly universe? Sure, there are some questions science hasn't answered yet. But that's not surprising. Given that modern science is only a few hundred years old, and given that we've gone from nothing to an incredible understanding of so much of science in those few hundred years, it's entirely reasonable to predict that the things we don't understand yet will be solved in the next few hundred years. Why fall back to magical explanations like Yahweh/Allah? Those are just superstitions that we're rapidly leaving behind.
I would never say there's no way God could exist. But there is overwhelming evidence that science is correct, and there has never been a single example of a miracle or magic that wasn't either fraudulent or else lost in history and thus unprovable.
Religion has ... no evidence. The Abrahamic God is no more real than any of the other 16,000 gods that other cultures have invented down through history.
One of the most important things that atheists can do is to turn this around. We need to work constantly to reshape the meaning of the word "atheist." Not the actual definition (literally "without god"), but rather the implications and attitudes surrounding the word.
Instead of being on the defensive, we need to turn the tables so that theists are expected to defend their beliefs in the magical origins of the universe. Instead of being defined as the outliers, the strange ones, we need to be seen as the mainstream. Incredible claims require incredible proof. We don't need to defend atheism; it is the most logical conclusion. It is the theists who need to start defending their startling claims.