Atheism: n 1: the doctrine or belief that there is no God [syn: godlessness] [ant: theism] 2: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
This artifact of the English language has a political consequences. When the religious right defends the role of religion in public life (read paid for by our taxes) they can resort to the statement that atheism is a religion too. It is defined as a belief that there is no God. Therefore, they continue, to remove any preference for one religion or another from public life as is demanded by the first amendment is to leave us with atheism, a religion.
A lack of belief is hardly a belief. I do not believe in unicorns. Does that make me a-unicornist? It’s not a common religion, I know, but according to this logic I must be a beleiver. If I do not believe that Jesus is my savior, does that make me muslim? A Jew? (an atheist?)
It is common, in the west especially, to see things from the dualist point of view, even if we frequently notice that life is more complex than that. Not A doesn’t equal B. Not Republican doesn’t equal Democrat. Without God or gods means only that people are most comfortable defining things in terms of what they already know and not that I need a god in order to deny it.