Atheism Isn’t Simply a Lack of Belief

Posted by Tim Barnett on March 03, Stand to Reason Ministries

Many atheists don’t like the term “atheist.” They take atheism to be just the default position. I’ve even heard some atheists state that atheism is not really a belief at all. Rather, they assert it is simply a lack of belief.

Given this redefinition, most atheists are taken aback when theists demand they provide evidence for their atheism. After all, they’ll assert, we don’t demand evidence from people who lack belief in Santa Claus. Moreover, we’re told that everyone who lacks belief in Santa is technically an “a-santa-ist.” However, no one has ever labeled them with that term. Furthermore, the atheist might point out that most people don’t believe in the thunder god Thor (as much as you might like the movie), but no one calls them “athorists.”

Continuing this line of thinking, they will point out that everyone agrees that the athorist and the asantaist aren’t forced to prove that Thor and Santa don’t exist. The burden of proof would actually be on the person who claims that Thor and Santa do exist. Likewise, the theist is told that it’s up to him to prove that God exists. It is not the atheist’s responsibility to prove that He doesn’t.

But is this really what atheism amounts to? Is it merely a lack of belief in God? The answer is a resounding, No! Atheism is not simply a lack of belief. It is not the default position. Let’s get our terms straight. The theist affirms the statement, “There is a God.” The agnostic says, “I do not know if God exists” or “You cannot know God exists.” The atheist affirms the statement, “There is no God.” These are all beliefs. 

To say you simply lack a belief about something is to say that you have no beliefs about it. For example, if you asked me, “Who is the best female polo player in Europe?” I wouldn’t know where to start. Why? Because I have no beliefs about the quality of women’s polo in Europe, or any other country for that matter. I truly lack a belief regarding that question.

This is not the case with atheists. People don’t write books about things they don’t have any beliefs about. No one debates about non-beliefs. If they did, there would be nothing to talk about.

This attempt to change the definition of atheism to a lack of belief is a tactic to try to shift the burden of proof. But it won’t work. The belief that there is no God is a belief. And if the atheist thinks it is a reasonable belief, he should have reasons to believe it.

5 responses to “Atheism Isn’t Simply a Lack of Belief

  1. Well put. It is simple common sense, something that is getting rarer to find these days as Godly wisdom decreases with the world’s turn away from

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  2. “Given this redefinition, most atheists are taken aback when theists demand they provide evidence for their atheism.”

    Because it doesn’t make sense. How do you show evidence FOR a LACK of belief? Evidence AGAINST the think they don’t believe, on the other hand, that’s doable.

    “But is this really what atheism amounts to? Is it merely a lack of belief in God?”

    Yes

    ” The answer is a resounding, No! ”

    Yes it is
    “Atheism is not simply a lack of belief. ”
    Yes it is
    “It is not the default position. ”
    Is
    “Let’s get our terms straight. The theist affirms the statement, “There is a God.” The agnostic says, “I do not know if God exists” or “You cannot know God exists.” The atheist affirms the statement, “There is no God.” These are all beliefs.”
    What about weak atheists or atheist agnostics? We assert “there’s PROBABLY no god. Also religion is bullshit.”

    “To say you simply lack a belief about something is to say that you have no beliefs about it.”

    Wrong. That’s not what “lack” means. “Lack” can mean anything from a less than sufficient amount to a total abscence of whatever. Pigeons, Benjamin Franklin, 70s Brittish Anarchists ant court jesters, all show a lack of respect for kings. They show it in different ways, in different amounts sand for different reasons, but none of them show absolute reverence to kings, they show the oposite.

    “This is not the case with atheists. People don’t write books about things they don’t have any beliefs about. No one debates about non-beliefs.”

    Religulous! Religious is a documentary on religion by Bill Mahr, an agnostic. In the end, he speaks directly to the camera promoting not atheism, not religion, but “doubt” Doubt, he believes, is a very important and good thing.

    There was also an article called “the agnostic manifesto” that pissed off atheists AND other agnostics. The guy was just a jerk. I used to have all the respect in the world for agnostics before I found out that some of them do, in fact, claim to be “right”. How the hell that works, your guess is as good as mine. They’re not all like that, but the ones that are are closed-minded jerks.

    ” If they did, there would be nothing to talk about.”

    Lol

    “This attempt to change the definition of atheism to a lack of belief is a tactic to try to shift the burden of proof. ”

    No, it’s an attempt to describe ourselves accurately and inclusively.

    “But it won’t work. The belief that there is no God is a belief. ”

    What if you vary on the Dawkin’s scale depending on which God you’re talking about? What if you think Christianity is complete and utter bullshit, dismiss other religions because they’re probably bullshit but you haven’t studied them enough to determine precisely how bullshit yet, but have no clue one way or the other about God-like aliens?

    “And if the atheist thinks it is a reasonable belief, he should have reasons to believe it.”
    Except that’s a strawman with a dash of No True Scotsman.

    Like

    • All men know that God exists (See Romans 1). The atheist argues against what he already knows is true and therefore argues with himself and with thesits. Kind of a tough spot to be in. The author of the article stated that claiming a Lack Of belief is itself a belief, by definition, which it is. If you think it isn’t, you have my sympathy. Oh, and perhaps a Logic 101 coursr would do you well.

      Like

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