Debates and disagreements between atheists and theists tend to center over a single issue: gods, or at least whether or not any gods can or do exist. The is the one thing which differentiates atheists from theists — it isn't necessarily much of an issue, but it can be magnified by a variety of other philosophical, social, and religious matters.
Because of the fundamental importance of this one issue to all general discussions between atheists and theists, it is critical that those who participate in such discussions have a better understanding of just what it is they are talking about and why. After all, what's the point of debating the possible existence of "God" if no one has tried to come to some sort of agreement as to what they mean by "God"?
When a theist claims that a god exists, one of the first questions atheists should ask is "what do you mean by 'god'?" Without understanding what the theist means, the atheist simply cannot evaluate the claim. By the same token, unless the theist is very clear about what he means, he cannot adequately explain and defend his beliefs. The theist certainly can't expect the atheist to accept that some "thing" exists when that "thing" hasn't been defined or described. Indeed, there's no reason for anyone to even take the claim seriously.
Here are some attributes that are often ascribed to gods in various ways. Follow the links to see what is often meant by the labels and some problems inherent in the ideas:
- God Exists
- God is Free
- God is Eternal
- God is Creator
- God is Perfect & Worthy of Worship
- God is a Person
- God & Gender
- God is Omnipotent
- God is Omniscient
- God is Omnibenevolent
- God is Provident & Sovereign
- God is Immutable
- God is Incorporeal
- God is Transcendent & Immanent