Is the person described in the OP an atheist?

Imagine a person whom I will call, for lack of a better name, NotLucy. NotLucy lives in the country of Narnia. THE Narnia, with talking beavers and walking trees and poncy fauns and so forth. She’s not a magical creature herself; rather, she’s a Telmar, one of the race of humans who took over the joint after the Golden Age of King Peter. She lives during the reign of Caspian x.

Now NotLucy’s a little odd, by Narnian standards, in that she’s a trifle skeptical. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in magic and the supernatural; in her world, such disbelief is both perverse and stupid. During an unchronicled adventure, she played a minor but significant role in saving young Prince Rilian from a malign hearth-witch, and at the conclusion of that adventure, Aslan himself said she was a good egg. But that didn’t mean much to NotLucy, because she doesn’t much respect Aslan. She knows he’s supposed to have sung the world into existence, but she thinks that could be a myth. More importantly, it always bothers her that the Great Lion sends people out on extremely unpleasant quests to save the world and all–and that these quests generally conclude with battles in which a mess of folks get killed–when he, being allegedly omnipotent, could solve the problem before breakfast. If Aslan’s so worried about the Calormene threat, why not depose the Tisroc his own damn self, or quarantine the country within a giant acidic moat until the Calormenes mature, or something along those lines?

NotLucy does not buy into the cult of the Great Lion. She just can’t make herself do it. Aslan clearly exists; she’ll even grant that his father, the Emperor over the Sea, exists. But she doesn’t think that either is worthy of worship or truly deserving of the name God; she suspects that nobody is.

Is NotLucy an atheist?

Does NotLucy believe in any deity? That’s the only thing that is pertinent to calling her an atheist or not. The rest (belief in magic or other supernatural junk or her stance toward a particular cult) is just details of her personality beyond that descriptor.

We’d have to define “deity,” wouldn’t we? She’ll grant that Aslan is an extremely-long lived person with enormous magical powers, and that he’s more power than any other such entity; but she’s not willing to grant that he’s either the creator of the world or that he has any authority over her. (Power, yes. But authority and power are not synonymous.)

An atheist is someone who does not believe that gods exist. Do the people of the world believe that Aslan is a god? If not, they’re all atheists.

The term atheist doesn’t really fit in the setting of Narnia, where there’s tons of evidence that divinity is real, as opposed to the real world, where there’s none.

It’s like a character in the Forgotten Realms believing that gods don’t exist, they’re just really powerful supernatural beings. But then, that is basically true. What is a god?

So you have to ask what the definition of a god is. Once you’ve come up with that, you have to figure out whether she believes beings fitting that description exist.

Again, it’s going to be really tricky to come up with a satisfactory answer in a setting like Narnia.

Edit: Skald, you got your response in while I was typing mine. ; )

Basically, yeah, what you just got done saying. You have to define deity.

No. There’s tons of evidence that MAGIC–or at least super-powers–is real.

Heh. My first serious attempt at a D&D character was an atheist nature-worshipper. This is confusing to some people. “But aren’t the gods real in setting?” Doesn’t matter. He doesn’t worship them (& really what’s the diff between a Gawd & a djinni anyway?).

I guess we should distinguish between ontological atheism & lack of allegiance to a deity.

Most of the background is irrelevant. People can be atheists in the DC universe. (In the Marvel universe, with Thor, not so clear.) People can believe in magic.

Since atheism is a matter of lack of belief, it is a personal thing, and NotLucy is or is not an atheist depending on whether she considers Aslan and the jerk over the sea a god. Whether he is a competent god, a good god, or a god with any moral authority is irrelevant.

Satan in the myth clearly didn’t accept God’s authority, and rebelled against God, and considered God wrong by whatever metric he had, but he sure wasn’t an atheist.

This scenario sounds a little like the believer’s fallacy about atheists, in which they think we believe but reject.

Reminds me of a recent Article I read on TV Tropes:
The Flat Earth Atheist

Thor? Isn’t he the guy who gets dropped by one of Hank Pym’s robots in between getting dropped by this or that member of the X-Men and the occasional gamma-irradiated scientist?

She’s more an agnostic than an atheist, and with much more justification than real world agnostics ( after all, she knows that there is such a being as Aslan; her argument is about his nature and definition ). But I’d call her primarily an antitheist. From your description, even if Aslan was proven to be a God by her definition and creator of the universe, she’d still think he was a jerk.

I believe that Jesus Christ probably existed, in the sense that there was a Hebrew fellow by the name of Jesus who preached, gathered a large following, and was put to death for heresy.

I don’t believe in god (but am not certain that god doesn’t exist). I am an atheist, in the weak sense.

Assuming that Narnia is run by Catholic rules, according to a catechism I vaguely remember reading in my distant past, a person who truly would like to believe but is unable to, and lives a good life according to Catholic rules anyway is a Catholic in good standing. If NotLucy is sincerely unable to believe in the divinity of Aslan, but lives a good Aslanian life, I think she can be considered a good Aslanian. She certainly qualifies as a good Narnian.

But in Narnia, the question of the seemingly less than ideal morality of Aslan, as I recall, is that he’s not a tame lion. This seems to me roughly equivalent to the Judeo/Christian concept of “God works in mysterious ways,” and to a pretty hard agnostic like me, still seems pretty lame. That said, I think I’d find it easier to believe in Aslan than in this world’s Christ. Having a beautiful golden Lion who sacrificed himself for Narnia and plays rough and tumble purry games with you while licking you with his rough lion tongue seems a lot more palatable than our more mundane version.

Religious thought seems to conflate “belief” with “worship” - if one believes in God, it’s also assumed that they worship God. However, there’s no reason why the first should require the second. In the case at hand, NotLucy believes in Aslan (in the sense that she believes he exists), she just doesn’t worship him.

Then , absent belief in any other deities, she’s an atheist.

She believes that he exists, but not that he’s a God - this would make her like people who call themselves Christians when they follow the “enlightened entirely human teacher” model of Jesus, but are otherwise atheist in all respects. I think, if she doesn’t think he’s a God, she’s not a theist, she’s just an atheistic Alsanist.

If she doesn’t believe in magic in a world where magic is seen every day, it’s like living in our world and not believing in the existence of humans.* That wouldn’t make her an atheist. It would make her stupid.

*Hermits don’t count. They may not see people every day, but they used to before they became a hermit. Furthermore, they are people…

What’s the difference between supernatural magic and the divine? Again, divinity needs to be more clearly defined.

Just because she doesn’t believe Aslan CREATED the universe doesn’t mean that she doubts his “divinity” necessarily. Take many polytheistic cultures- like, um, I don’t know, Greek! Zeus was a God. But he didn’t create the universe. Neither did Poseidon, Hera or Hephaestus. Are they not Gods?

Or maybe she belives that he’s a god, just not *her *god. What does that make her?

An atheist is someone who says, “God does not exist.”

NotLucy seems more like someone saying, “God may very well exist, probably DOES exist, but I think He’s a jerk.”

So, NotLucy is not an atheist. A blasphemer, perhaps, but not an atheist.

No, in the OP, she’s saying “*Aslan *exists, but he’s no God, and he’s a jerk, to boot”.

I’m on record as saying even if the Christian God existed, I would oppose him. I’ve been persuaded to stop calling this an atheist position (even though I think it agrees with the Classical Greek idea) and instead call myself a hypothetical misotheist. But NotLucy is not like hypothetical me, in that she doesn’t acknowledge the Godness of “God”. That makes her an unbeliever, not just an opposer.