I was talking with a group earlier tonight and we were confused about the definition of this word. I decided to look it up. These are the definitions that I found:
“An atheist who is “soft” on religious belief, and tolerant of even the worst intellectual and moral excesses of religion: atheist accommodationist.” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=faitheist
“An atheist who thinks faith should not be criticized.” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/faitheist
These definitions confuse me. What does it mean to be soft on religious beliefs? Does it mean not jumping head first into a debate whenever we come across a theist? Does it mean being unwilling to take a school to court because they make the children pray? Does it mean not talking about ones atheism? Does it mean volunteering with a moderate religious organization? Or group? Or person? What would one have to do to qualify being a fatheist?
What does it mean by not criticizing faith? What is the definition of faith? The religious people that I talk to all have different definitions. One defines faith as trust. So if I use his definition, does that mean that I’m a faitheist if I don’t think someones trust should be criticized?
Chris Stedman is called a faitheist. He even calls himself a faitheist. But he’s perfectly happy to criticize faith. I’m sure he is considered a soft atheist to most. He’s certainly no Dawkins. But he also doesn’t accept every belief that his religious colleagues hold. Instead he has created a safe space where he can question someone’s belief without it being taken as a personal attack. So is he not a faitheist, then?
Where did this word come from? Is it common in some circles? I’ve never heard it used except in Stedman’s book and in a couple blog posts. And most importantly, why are we trying to discourage different ways of approaching atheism? Why are we creating a “no true Scotsman”? Just because we aren’t all the Hitchens/Dawkins/Harris/Dennet type of atheist, doesn’t mean that we aren’t all equally atheists. And has nobody stopped to think that maybe having more types of atheists will open us up to a broader audience? Not everybody is convinced in the same way. We need different personalities to do different jobs within the community. We should be embracing diversity, not dissuading it.