bookmark_borderHow NOT to Argue for Agnosticism

I recently purchased a couple of introductory books on the philosophy of religion.  One of the books is by a contemporary analytic philosopher of religion, Richard M. Gale, titled: On The Philosophy Of Religion (Thompson Wadsworth, 2007).  The other is by a philosopher named Gary Cox, who is not a specialist in philosophy of religion: The God Confusion (Bloomsbury, 2013; hereafter: TGC)  Gary Cox is a British philosopher who appears to be primarily interested in Sartre and existentialism.
Gale’s book is aimed at undergraduate philosophy students, but it jumps right into contemporary analytic philosophy of religion, so although I find the book very interesting, there are passages that are not exactly “user friendly”,  for example, in the first chapter Gale explores some of the details of contemporary objections and replies about divine omniscience:
There are two other responses that also seem to require too little of God’s omniscience.  That it rains (tenselessly) at t4 reports one and the same event as does that it is raining now; for given that now = t4,  its raining now is one and the same event as its raining at t4.  Therefore, God knows of “its raining now” only under that description but not under the description “its raining at t4.”  But an omniscient being must not just know of the occurrence of every event but know of it under every description that is true of it, that is, he must know every proposition that truly reports the occurrence of the event.  (On The Philosophy of Religion, p.14)
There are many passages even in this first chapter that are as challenging, or more challenging, to read and follow.
Gary Cox’s book is an easier read, and it usually avoids the technical details of contemporary analytic philosophy of religion.  In Chapter 3, “The Existence of God”,  Cox does a good job of laying out the main traditional arguments for the existence of God, and he shows that there are serious problems with each of those arguments.  Cox provides a little bit of history of philosophy, and clearly presents the traditional objections to the traditional arguments for God: Anselm’s ontological argument, Aquinas’ cosmological arguments, teleological arguments by Aquinas and Paley, and Kant’s moral argument.  Chapter 3 presents a readable and informative introduction to philosophy of religion in about 100 pages.
However, Gary Cox also gives one of the lousiest arguments for agnosticism that I  have seen.  He argues that agnosticism is the only reasonable position on the question of the existence of God: “…agnosticism is the only tenable philosophical position…” (TGC, p.3).  Cox claims that his book
…simply explores in an objective and unbiased way what philosophers have said over the centuries about the idea and nature of God, his relationship to the world and his existence or non-existence. (TGC, p.3)
Cox commits a blatant Straw Man fallacy against both theism and atheism in an effort to make agnosticism appear to be the only reasonable point of view:
As for atheism, to be an outright atheist is to assert that one knows for sure there is no God.  But I am pretty sure that nobody knows this for sure.  As I tried to show in How to Be a Philosopher, philosophy reveals that there is very little if anything that we can know for absolute certain…
I have always argued that it is my scepticism that prevents me from being an atheist, from committing myself to such a strong position of certainty. …(TGC, p.5)
In the above passage Cox defines atheism this way:
DEFINITION OF “ATHEIST” (by Gary Cox)
Person P is an atheist IF AND ONLY IF person P claims to know for an absolute certainty that there is no God.
Cox implies that the word “theist” should be understood in a similar way:
Even in our scientific age there are still millions of people who claim to know for certain that God exists. (TGC, p.54)
Although Cox is correct that there are millions of such dogmatic theists, he fails to note that there are ALSO millions of theists who are NOT so dogmatic.  According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 63% of adults in the USA claim to be “absolutely certain” that God exists, but 26% of adults in the USA claim to believe in God, but to be less than “absolutely certain” that God exists (20% claim to be only “fairly certain”, 5% claim to be “not too certain” or “not at all certain” that God exists, and 1% claim to believe in God but “don’t know” that God exists).  http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/belief-in-god/
In 2014, when this survey was taken, the U.S. adult population was 244.8 million, so that means that about 154.2 million adults in the U.S. claimed to be “absolutely certain” that God exists, while 63.6 million adults in the U.S. claimed to believe in God, but to be less than “absolutely certain” that God exists.  Therefore, millions of Americans believe in God, but do NOT claim to be “absolutely certain” that God exists.
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 76% of Christians in the USA claim to be “absolutely certain” that God exists, but 22% of Christians in the USA claim to believe in God, but to be less than “absolutely certain” that God exists (18% claim to be only “fairly certain”, 3% claim to be “not too certain” or “not at all certain” that God exists, and 1% claim to believe in God but “don’t know” that God exists).  So, even among Christian believers in the U.S., there are millions who believe in God, but do not claim to be “absolutely certain” that God exists.   http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/christians/christian/#belief-in-god
Because there are millions of American adults who believe in God, but who are not dogmatic about this belief, it is blatantly unfair for Gary Cox to imply that to be a theist or believer in God MEANS that one is a dogmatic believer in God who claims to be “absolutely certain” that God exists.  This is a blatant and obvious Straw Man fallacy.  Cox dismisses theism by suggesting that in order to believe in God, one must take the extreme position that one knows for an absolute certainty that God exists.
Cox dismisses atheism by the very same unfair and idiotic use the of Straw Man fallacy.  For example, he distorts the viewpoint of Richard Dawkins and other “new atheists”:
A number of high-profile evangelical atheists…are belligerently spreading the New Atheist gospel that God definitely does not exist, and that any suggestion that he might exist is utterly ridiculous. 
The problem with atheism, philosophically speaking, is that it is a very strong belief position, no less strong than theism.  It claims to know beyond all possible doubt that God does not exist.  But as philosophers who understand that there are strict limits to knowledge have long argued, it is not even possible to know beyond all doubt that the external world does or does not exist.  Now, if I cannot even prove or disprove the existence of the desk I seem to clearly see and feel before me, then how on earth can I hope to utterly prove or disprove the existence of a supreme transcendental being?  (TGC, p.56)
Although there is very little of philosophical value in Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion (which was apparently the inspiration for the title of Gary Cox’s book), one important point that Dawkins correctly emphasizes is that both theism and atheism come in different degrees.
There are absolutely certain theists, and absolutely certain atheists, but there are also theists who believe that the existence of God is nearly but not completely certain, and atheists who believe that the non-existence of God is nearly but not absolutely certain, and there are theists who believe that the existence of God is very probable but not nearly certain, and atheists who have a similar belief about the non-existence of God, etc.  If Cox had bothered to read The God Delusion, then he would have learned that his definition of “atheist” and his definition of “theist” are clearly unfair and unreasonable (see pages 50-51 of The God Delusion).
Dawkins himself does NOT claim to be “absolutely certain” that God does not exist:
That you cannot prove God’s non-existence is accepted and trivial, if only in the sense that we can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything.  What matters is not whether God is disprovable, but whether his existence is probable. (The God Delusion, p.54)
So, Gary Cox, if he had bothered to read The God Delusion, would have learned that his extreme definition of “atheist” does NOT apply even to the leading “evangelical atheist”.  That reduces his definition to absurdity.  If not even Dawkins is categorized as an “atheist” according to Cox’s definition, then that definition is clearly a piece of crap (i.e. it is SPODS, a Steaming Pile Of Dog Shit).
But even if Dawkins, contrary to fact, was a dogmatic atheist who claimed to know for an absolute certainty that there is no God, that would still fail to provide anything near sufficient evidence in support of Cox’s idiotic definition of “atheist”.  One can no more define “theist” by the beliefs of Pat Robertson, than one can define “atheist” by the beliefs of Richard Dawkins.  The views of one particularly vocal “evangelical atheist” do not form the basis for an accurate definition of the word “atheist”; this is NOT how to accurately characterize the views of millions of atheists.
Here is Cox’s argument, in summary form:

1. Atheism is the belief that the non-existence of God is known with absolute certainty.

2. Theism is the belief that the existence of God is known with absolute certainty.

3. Agnosticism is the belief that the existence of God is NOT known with absolute certainty and that the non-existence of God is also NOT known with absolute certainty.

4. Atheism, theism, and agnosticism are the only three intellectual options concerning the existence of God.

5. Nothing can be known with absolute certainty.

THEREFORE:

6. Agnosticism is the ONLY reasonable intellectual option concerning the existence of God.

Given Cox’s idiotic definitions of “atheist” and “theist” and his definition of “agnosticism”, he can infer his desired conclusion.  But based on these definitions, there are millions of  American adults who believe in God, but who are NOT theists and who are instead “agnostics”.  And based on Cox’s idiotic definitions,  Richard Dawkins is NOT an atheist, but is just another agnostic.  And based on Cox’s definitions, most people who reject or deny the belief that God exists are NOT atheists but are simply agnostics.
These definitions are obviously false and distorted definitions, adopted merely to portray the alternatives to agnosticism as stupid and obviously false points of view.  But the fact of the matter is that millions of believers in God are NOT dogmatic theists who claim that it is “absolutely certain” that God exists, and there are many people who reject the belief that God exists and who believe that there is no God, who are NOT dogmatic atheists who claim to be absolutely certain that there is no God.  Cox is guilty of an obvious and idiotic use of the Straw Man fallacy in his argument for agnosticism.

bookmark_borderWhat is Atheism? – Part 2

Levels of Analysis

I’m going to make a second attempt to clarify and define the word “atheism”.  This time, I will emphasize that the analysis and definitions exist at different levels.  Swinburne’s clarification and analysis of “God exists” makes use of different levels of definition or analysis:
Level 0:  “God exists.”
Level 1:  God exists IF AND ONLY IF exactly one divine person exists.
Level 2:  X is a divine person IF AND ONLY IF X is a spirit who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, eternally perfectly morally good, the creator of the universe, and a source of moral obligations for human beings.
 
Level 3: X is a spirit IF AND ONLY IF X is a bodiless person.
Level 3:  Person P is a perfectly morally good person IF AND ONLY IF  P is so constituted that P always chooses to do the best action when there is a best action, or one equal best action when there are  two or more equal best actions available, or a good action when there is no best or equal best action, and P never chooses to do a bad action.
Level 3:  X is eternally Y IF AND ONLY IF  X has characteristic Y at every moment in the past, and X has characteristic Y now, and X has characteristic Y at every moment in the future.
In Level 1, Swinburne clarifies or defines the words or phrases in Level 0.  In Level 2, Swinburne clarifies or defines the words used in the definition in Level 1.  In Level 3, Swinburne clarifies or defines the words used in the definitions in Level 2, and so on…
I am not saying that this is a good or correct analysis of “God exists” , just that I think it is a good idea or strategy to analyze complex ideas this way, with levels of definition or analysis.  One advantage is that we might be able to arrive at agreement more easily at the lower levels (such as at Level 1 or Level 2) than at the higher levels (such as Level 3 or higher), and that would still be progress worth making.
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Atheism is Opposition to Theism

Etymology does NOT determine the meaning or use of a word.  However, in the case of the word “atheism”, etymology does reflect the basic logic of the word.  Atheism is in opposition to theism.  Roughly speaking, an atheist is someone who REJECTS or DENIES theism.  The concept of atheism is logically dependent on the concpet of theism.  One can know what “atheism” means only if one knows what “theism” means.
Just as theism is an intellectual position, so atheism is an intellectual position.  It is a common mistake to think that “atheism” refers to the lack or absence of theistic belief.  Newborn babies lack theistic belief, but that does not mean that newborn babies are atheists.  Newborn babies are neither thesits nor atheists nor agnostics.  Newborn babies do not have an intellectual position about the existence of “God” or about the existence of “gods”.
Cats and dogs lack theistic belief, but neither cats nor dogs are atheists.  Cats and dogs have no intellectual position on the question “Does God exist?” nor on the question “Do any gods exist?”   Cats and dogs are neither theists, nor atheists, nor agnostics.  Rocks and trees lack theistic belief, but rocks and trees are NOT atheists.  Rocks and trees do not have an intellectual position on the question of the existence of God, or gods.  Rocks and trees are neither theists, nor atheists, nor agnostics.
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The Ambiguity of the Word “Theism”

But the word “theism” is somewhat unclear and problematic, which in turn makes the word “atheism” somewhat unclear and problematic.   First of all, “theism” is an ambiguous word:

theism

n. Belief in the existence of a god or gods, esp. belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.
(The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition)
Sometimes “theism” is used in a broader sense that refers to belief in any sort of god or gods.   Sometimes the word “theism” is used in a narrow sense that refers to traditional western theism (the dictionary speaks of belief in “a personal God as creator…”).  To be clear about which of these senses one intends, we can use adjectives to qualify the term “theism”.
traditional western theism – the belief that God exists (where this belief is understood in keeping with the  traditional concept of God found in the three major western religions).
general theism – the belief that one or more gods exist.
Because there are two differnent senses of the word “theism”, there are two different senses of the word “atheism” that correspond to those two senses of “theism”:
weak atheism – the rejection of traditional western theism.
strong atheism – the rejection of general theism.
If one rejects general theism, then this implies that one ought to also reject traditional western theism.  If one rejects the claim that “There is at least one god”, then one ought to also reject the claim “God exists”, because “God exists” logically implies that “There is at least one god.”  Therefore, if one accepts strong atheism, then one ought also to accept weak atheism, because strong atheism logically implies weak atheism.
But one can reject traditional western theism without rejecting general theism.  One could, for example, reject the claim “God exists” because one believes that the concept of “God” contains a contradiction (say, between the divine attribute of omniscience and the divine attribute of perfect goodness), but have no similar objection to the concept of a “god”, and thus not reject general theism.  Thus it is possible to accept weak atheism without accepting strong atheism.
Given the disambiguation of “theism” and the corresponding disambiguation of “atheism”, it follows that one can be both a theist and an atheist without self-contradiction.  One could accept weak atheism (and thus reject traditional western theism) while also accepting general theism, by believing in the existence of one or more (finite) gods.  For example, if a person believes that Zeus exists, then that person believes that “There is at least one god” (namely Zeus), but that person might also REJECT traditional western theism, and thus reject the claim that “God exists”.  Such a person would accept weak atheism and also accept general theism.  Therefore, such a person would be both an atheist (in accepting weak atheism) and also a theist (in accepting general theism).
Here are some general advantages to the above proposed terminology:
1. It  encompasses the insight that  atheism is an intellectual position, and avoids the common mistake of viewing atheism as being merely the lack or absence of a particular belief.
2. It recognizes the ambiguity of the word “theism” and avoids confusion and equivocation by the use of adjectives to clarify which of the two senses of the word is intended.
3. It recognizes the logical dependency of the concept of  “atheism” on the concept of “theism” by creating a set of two categories of “atheism” corresponding to the two categories of “theism”.
4. The use of the word “rejection” (as opposed to “denial” or “negation” or “false”) allows the term “atheism” to include skeptics who deny that the claim “God exists” makes a statement that could be true or false.  Some skeptical philosophers assert that the sentence “God exists” does not express a true statement, and also does not express a false statement.  But such a view can be understood as a “rejection” of traditional western theism.  This also allows for atheists who reject the claim “God exists” not because they are convinced that the claim is false, but because they are not convinced that it is true.  Many atheists assert that the evidence for the claim “God exists” is too weak to justify acceptance of this belief.  Such atheists admit that the claim “God exists” might turn out to be true, but that we ought to reject this claim unless and until someone provides solid evidence for the truth of the claim.
5. Distinguishing different forms of “atheism” would be useful for making the point that everyone, or nearly every sane adult, is an atheist, in the sense that nearly every sane adult rejects belief in one or more gods.  Christians, for example, generally reject belief in Zeus and in the other gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons.  These Greek and Roman gods lack the infinite and unlimited characteristics of the God of traditional western theism.  So, we could define a specific category of theism in which a person believes in one or more finite gods, gods who lack one of more of the following attributes:  (a) eternally omnipotent, (b) eternally omniscient, (c) eternally perfectly morally good, (d) the creator of the universe, (e) a source of moral obligations for human beings.  Let’s call this “finite theism”.  Christians reject finite theism, and thus Christians could be categorized as holding the position of “finite atheism” – the rejection of finite theism.
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Varieties of Unbelief

I have previously focused in on two varieties of unbelief:
1. Belief that “God exists” makes a false statement.
2. Belief that “God exists” does not make a true statement and does not make a false statement (because it does not make any statement at all).
But there are various sorts of unbelief/atheism.  Some atheists say that the belief that “God exists” should be rejected because…

  • it is certainly false
  • it is can be proven to be false
  • it can be proven that it does not make any sort of statement
  • it is probably false
  • it probably does not make any sort of statement
  • it has not been proven to be true
  • it is not provable
  • it is not a scientifically testable belief
  • it is not subject to empirical confirmation or disconfirmation
  • the evidence for it is too weak to justify belief 
  • the word “God” is too unclear and ambiguous to allow for a rational evaluation of this claim

There are a wide variety of reasons for rejecting the belief that “God exists”, but so long as one is aware of the view or belief that “God exists” and one chooses to not accept that view or belief, then that constitutes REJECTION of the belief and thus is a form of atheism.
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Levels of Analysis of Atheism

Level 0:  Person P holds the intellectual position of weak atheism.
Level 0: Person P holds the intellectual position of strong atheism.
 
Level 1:  Person P holds the intellectual position of weak atheism IF AND ONLY IF person P rejects traditional western theism.
Level 1: Person P holds the intelletual position of strong atheism IF AND ONLY IF person P rejects general theism.
 
Level 2: Person P rejects view V IF AND ONLY IF person P is aware of veiw V and P has chosen to not accept view V.
Level 2: Person P accepts traditional western theism IF AND ONLY IF person P believes that God exists, where this belief is understood in keeping with the traditional concept of God as found in the three major western religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).
Level 2: Person P accepts general theism IF AND ONLY IF person P believes that one or more gods exist.
 
Level 3:  Person P believes that God exists, where this belief is understood in keeping with the traditional concept of God as found in the three major western religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) IF AND ONLY IF person P believes that there is exactly one divine person.
 
Level 4:  Person P believes that there is exactly one divine person IF AND ONLY IF person P believes that there is exacly one spirit who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, eternally perfectly morally good, the creator of the universe, and a source of moral obligations for human beings.
 
Level 5:  X is a spirit IF AND ONLY IF X is a bodiless person.
Level 5:  X is eternally Y IF AND ONLY IF  X has characteristic Y at every moment in the past, and X has characteristic Y now, and X has characteristic Y at every moment in the future.
We do not have to arrive at agreement at Level 4 or Level 5 in order to make intellectual progress on clarification and analysis of “atheism”.
If we can arrive at agreement at Level 2 or Level 3, that will still be some significant intellectual progress.
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Counterexamples to My Previously Proposed Definitions

My previous proposals have run into a couple of powerful counterexamples.  Here are the definitions that I originally proposed:

DEF4A

Person P accepts WEAK ATHEISM if and only if P believes that the sentence “God exists” does NOT express a true statement.

DEF4B

Person P accepts STRONG ATHEISM if and only if P believes that the sentence “One or more gods exist” does NOT express a true statement.

 One counterexample stems from the fact that I am pointing to sentences in the English language.  But there are atheists who do not speak or understand the English language.  Some atheists might only understand French or German or Spanish.  Such a person would presumably have no opinion about whether the sentence “God exists” expresses a true statement, or even whether it expresses any statement at all.
Another counterexample stems from the fact that people can have a mistaken understanding or interpretation of a particular sentence in English, even if that person has a general understanding of the English language.  Suppose that someone who understood English had very limited exposure to western religions and interpreted the sentence “God exists” to mean “there is life after death”.  If this person believed there was no such thing as life after death, then this person would believe that the sentence “God exists” does  NOT express a true statement.  Yet this person might well believe that God exists while denying that there is life after death.  In that case, this person would NOT be correctly categorized as a “weak atheist”.

bookmark_borderWhat is Atheism?

I know this is a well-worn topic, but I think it is worth hashing over this old question one more time.
First, some obvious points that many ignorant, bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging bigots are unable to grasp:
1. ATHEISM is not the same as MATERIALISM (not all atheists are materialists).
2. ATHEISM is not the same as MARXISM (not all atheists are Marxists).
3. ATHEISM is not the same as HUMANISM (not all atheists are Humanists).
4. ATHEISM is not the same as AGNOSTICISM (not all atheists are agnostics).
5. ATHEISM is not the same as SKEPTICISM (not all atheists are skeptics).
6. ATHEISM is not the same as NATURALISM (not all atheists are naturalists).
7. ATHEISM is not the same as EXISTENTIALISM (not all atheists are Existentialists).
If you don’t understand these basic and obvious points, then please stop reading this post now, and go back to your cave or to your church’s para-military compound in Arkansas or Alabama.
Now for something a bit more sophisticated.   Consider the following initial, rough definition of “atheism”:
DEF1
Person P accepts ATHEISM if and only if P believes that “There is no God.”
There are a couple of problems with this definition.  First of all, (DEF1) is compatible with someone being a polytheist.  One can both believe that “There is no God” and at the same time (without any contradiction) believe that “There are many gods”.  To believe that “There is no God” is to believe that there is no god who is the one-and-only all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal creator of the universe.
But denying that there is a god who has infinite power, infinite knowledge, and infinite duration is NOT the same as denying that there is any god whatsoever.  One could deny the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal god and yet believe that there are many gods who have finite power, and finite knowledge, and/or who are of finite duration.  In other words, one can reject traditional western theism (the belief in God found in the western religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and yet be a polytheist and believe in the existence of many finite gods.
A second problem with (DEF1) is that it does not make room for atheists who claim that the concept of “God” is incoherent.  A.J. Ayer, Antony Flew, and Kai Nielsen were all atheist philosophers, but they all believe that the sentence “God exists” is incoherent.  They believe that the sentence “God exists” is neither true nor false.  So, they also believe that the negation or denial of this sentence is also incoherent.  Thus, none of these atheist philosophers believed that the sentence “There is no God” makes a true statement.  On the basis of (DEF1) none of these atheist philosophers would be categorized as being an “atheist”.
The best solution to the first problem, is to draw a distinction between strong and weak atheism.  Weak atheism is the denial of traditional western theism.  Strong atheism is the denial of the existence of any and all gods.
DEF2A
Person P accepts WEAK ATHEISM if and only if P believes that “There is no God.”
DEF2B
Person P accepts STRONG ATHEISM if and only if P believes that “There are no gods.”
On these definitions, strong atheism implies weak atheism, but weak atheism does not imply strong atheism.  Someone who believes that “There are no gods” must also believe (to be logically consistent) that “There is no God”.  But some one who believes “There is no God” could believe that “There are some gods” (i.e. gods who are finite in power, knowledge, or duration).
These definitions, however, do not get around the second objection, concening atheists who believe that the sentence “God exists” fails to make a coherent statement.  One way to get around the second objection would be to characterize atheism not as a belief, but as the absence of a belief:
DEF3A
Person P accepts WEAK ATHEISM if and only if P does NOT believe that “God exists.”
DEF3B
Person P accepts STRONG ATHEISM if and only if P does NOT believe that “One or more gods exist.”
But while these definitions might get around both the first and second objections, they are still problematic, because we think of atheism as being an intellectual position or stance.  The lack of a belief, however, is not an intellectual position.  Presumably, ALL BABIES lack the belief that “God exists”, but it is absurd and counterintuitive to say that ALL BABIES are atheists.  Babies simply don’t have any position on the question of the existence of God, and they certainly do not have a position on whether the sentence “God exists” expresses a coherent statement.
I propose an alternative way to deal with the second objection, a way that preserves the view that atheism is an intellectual position or stance, and that avoids the counterintuitive implication that ALL BABIES are atheists:
DEF4A
Person P accepts WEAK ATHEISM if and only if P believes that the sentence “God exists” does NOT express a true statement.
DEF4B
Person P accepts STRONG ATHEISM if and only if P believes that the sentence “One or more gods exist” does NOT express a true statement.
As far as I can see, these defintions get around the two main objections that we have been considering, and they do so while preserving the intuition that atheism is an intellectual position or stance, a belief that we cannot ascribe to ALL BABIES.
Some who accept weak atheism believe the sentence “God exists” expresses a statement that is false, while others who accept weak atheism believe the sentence “God exists” does not express a coherent statement at all.  Both sorts of atheists are encompased by (DEF4A).
Some who accept strong atheism believe the sentence “One or more gods exist” expresses a coherent statement that is false, while others who accept strong atheism believe the sentence “One or more gods exist” does not express a coherent statement at all.
One final point, which is probably the most controversial point I have to make on this topic.  Although atheism is an intellectual position or stance, it is NOT a point of view.  At least, it is NOT a worldview, and it is NOT an ideology, and it is NOT a philosophy, and it is NOT a religion.  In short, atheism is the rejection of a specific religious belief or a religious “assertion”.  Weak atheism is basically the rejection of traditional western theism.  Strong atheism is basically the rejection of any sort of theism, including belief in one or more finite gods.
That is why the first seven statements at the beginning of this article are true.  Atheism is the rejection of a particular religious belief or religious “assertion”.  Atheism is NOT the assertion of a general point of view or philosophy or worldview.  Furthermore, atheists do not necessarily agree on WHY we ought to reject a particular religious belief or assertion.
Some atheists reject the assertion that “God exists” because they think it is FALSE.  Other atheists reject the assertion “God exists” because they think it is INCOHERENT.  The atheists who think “God exists” makes a FALSE statement have different reasons and arguments for thinking this statement is false.  So, atheists do not necessarily agree with each other about WHY we ought to reject the assertion that “God exists” or that “One or more gods exist”.
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Update (10/5/15):
Angra Mainyu suggested a counterexample to my proposed definition 4A:
c. What if Alice is silent on whether God exists on your definition, but she believes that “there is an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being” is not true …? 
The classification you propose does not cover a case like that.
I also came up with a similar objection to 4A.  What about a person who does not understand English?  A person who speaks French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese but does not understand English will in most cases NOT have an opinion about the truth or the coherence of the sentence “God exists.”  because he/she will not understand the meaning of this sentence.
I can get around my objection and perhaps Angra Mainyu’s objection as well by revising the proposed definition a bit:
5A. Person P accepts WEAK ATHEISM if and only if P believes that a sentence S does NOT express a true statement, and sentence S has the same meaning as the English sentence “God exists.”

There is a difficulty with this defintion, however. It appears to imply that the sentence “God exists” is a meaningful sentence, which begs an important question.

However, it does NOT assume that the sentence “God exists” expresses a coherent statement.  The sentence, “This is a four-sided triangle.” is a meaningful sentence, and it can be translated into other languages, but it is an incoherent sentence in that it contains a logical contradiction.  So, 5A leaves open the question as to whether the sentence “God exists” contains a logical contradiction, but does assume that this sentence has a meaning, at least enough meaning for it to be possible to translate the sentence into another language.

Personally, I don’t mind begging the question as to whether “God exists” is a meaningful sentence.  It seems obvious to me that it is a meaningful sentence, and one reason for thinking this is that it is obvious that this sentence can be translated into other languages.  How could a meaningless sentence be translated correctly into another language?  So, I’m OK with begging this particular question.