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Atheism is not a lack of belief.

The New Atheists like to define atheism as a lack of belief. My suggestion to them is to do some research on the theological and atheological arguments and then make a decision on whether they think a god exists or not. Atheism is not a lack of belief and it's current definition cannot be derived from tradition. If you claim not to believe in the existence of a god, then you still have a belief and you must give reasons, at least to your self, why you believe it to be true (that gods do not exist). To lack knowledge or belief would have you asking what is that? But once you articulately state a given definition of what god is then you are already making presuppositions and are capable of articulating a reasonable response to people. Belief is a mental affirmation not a lack of affirmation. If you like use the term theological noncognitivist but atheist. Remember my fellow atheists, we are using philosophy not what you personally think is right or true. Stop making your own definitions up. If you claim to be an atheist who has a lack of belief then please stay out of the argument because by your definition you are ignorant of what your opposing and defending.

The definition of atheism has nothing to do with trendy movements. If "theism" is belief in god/god(s), then a-theism is the lack of such belief. The prefix is Greek, I think, for "not".

Don't you think that atheists would be the ultimate authority on what "atheism" means? Check out the front page of our web site. I suppose for a Christian, it might be easier to invent a straw-man definition to make it easier to "win" an argument. I have no clue where you're coming from.

We do not believe because we have yet to see convincing evidence. If you want to shoot us down for believing in something, it's reason and evidence. We "believe" in that because historically, it's proven to be the most sound way of reaching conclusions.

Many atheists embrace "strong atheism", which is the belief that there are no such gods. Books like "God: The Failed Hypothesis" make a strong case that there is no god. Many in the ACA are strong atheists, but we prefer to cast a wider net for those who simply don't believe.

Don, definitions of words do change as any descriptivist would admit. No, atheists would not be the ultimate authority on atheism. You can call yourself an atheist or anything for that matter and still get the definition or concept etc wrong. As philosophy students that should be obvious. Atheism is a philosophical position of disbelief. It is a belief(assumed to be true) that gods do not exist. So, how can atheism be a lack of belief, when a belief is present. If you lack a belief then how can you comment on it. Obviously, you assume their is no god. This does not have to be a pissing match. I, like you stand on the shoulders of great genius and discipline. I do not claim to have any new ideas. But I think it is important to get the ones we do have right.


I'm pretty sure that atheism through the years has been a position of skepticism. Trying to "prove" that a god doesn't exist is impossible (a universal negative) is impossible, as any philosopher would recognize.

People who are skeptics of Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, or alien abductions are skeptical of the claims. They look for more likely explanations that do not involve wild claims. The skeptical position doesn't try to make the positive claim that there are no such things. That would put the burden of proof on them.

"How can you comment on it:" by looking at the quality of the "evidence" they provide. If the evidence is not convincing, which it isn't, that is a reason not to believe. The logic here is the same for gods, Big Foot, fairies, and invisible pink unicorns.

I don't assume there is no god, but I have yet to see a shred of evidence that there is such a thing, so I lump gods in with all the other human inventions. I am open to new evidence, but billions of believers have yet to pony it up. Furthermore, those billion believers can't seem to agree on the basic "facts" about their gods, so there is strong reason not to believe.

I am an anti-theist. I think that religious belief is the source of great harm and I would like to see believers be held responsible for the impact of their unsupported beliefs on others. It's a pipe dream, I realize.

Can you point out particular philosophers or intellectual giants who we are ignoring in using the broader definition of atheism?

This is a mistake. Unbelief is a lack of belief. Atheism is a position of disbelief.

You know I find this futile, here's why...

Okay we're not Atheists then, we don't accept God claims because they haven't met their burden of proof.

So are you happy now? What did that accomplish? Our views are the same and you can call us what you want... What you are doing is non-productive and ignorant.

Especially since you are drawing on a definition, from a time where most people were completely ignorant as to what Atheists actually believed.

Matt, every time I read your comments you are demeaning others thoughts. Why don't you shut up or provide something useful to the conversation besides snide commentary

Arthur F.

Like you have contributed something useful. Name one something.

Wow, I don't get it, my comments were pretty benign in relation to some of these, but the Admin deleted them anyway.

I'm predicting I won't last long in this censored environment (I know, it's ok that you won't miss me).

Posts are generally only deleted if they're spam, are substantial duplicates of other posts, or have no intellectual content, such as toilet humor. If your post didn't fall into one of those categories, try re-posting.

Matt, if you find the conversation futile, the why bother posting? If you think doing philosophy is a waste of time, even if it is on theological matters, why do you bother? I disagree with you. It is not non-productive or ignorant. What is ignorant is your posting sarcastic rhetorical questions. Your last sentence is incoherent to me. I was trying to make a point that obviously you missed. Perhaps critical thinking is a subject you should take up. You obviously have some biases you need to get over before you are able to think clearly. By the way if you need help with informal deductive logic, let me know.

Explain to me what is productive about your point then, since I "obviously" missed it.

I don't go around praising people for originality when the idea proposed has no particular value.

Not for nothing but I am not the one posting merely to attack a single person for disagreeing with the points of the thread/argument.

I said I see no point in that argument, and then I explained why and the responses are accusations against me. Instead of trying to explain the point you were trying to make or explaining why the argument has value.

I'm also not the one going around with "Athen's Dictum" which seems to me a failed attempt at boosting someone's ego. Since now your complaining that it is being ignored.


Deductive reasoning starts with general knowledge and predicts a specific observation. Inductive reasoning uses particular experiences to come to a general truth. Apologists can use deductive or inductive arguments, but in both forms of reasoning logic and facts are the deciding factors.

The purpose of the scientific method is to make sure that we do not think we know something that we actually do not know. Science is not based on wishful thinking, hearsay or exaggeration. The scientific method states absolutely no more than you are positive you know, and you have to be able of test what is true and what is false.

There is no data involved in the God theory. Nobody has produced any proof of anything on way or another; a theory fails when it inadequately tests the hypothesis in question. Any conclusion is illogical.

That is why it is logical to dismiss the God claim and that is not a belief; it's a fact.

I completely agree with your post about atheism not being simply "a lack of belief". I am arguing the same point with some people over at, but they are not listening.

Ofcourse, my position is a controversial one, which you'll probably disagree with :), since I argue that religion is not a cultural universal and that cultures without religion/theism are not atheists.

anyways, nice post.

Yes, atheism is a lack of belief. It can still be substantiated with the reasons that you don't believe, but ultimately the burden of proof rests on the person making the positive claim. The Oxford dictionary describes atheism as follows: 'disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods'. Atheist literally means 'without God' - I do not need to offer any proof/research in theological etc arguments to show that I personally am without God. I know this.

On the contrary...

Do you have a name for yourself, that you don't believe in Santa Claus? How about Unicorns? Someone who believes in Unicorns could rightly be called a "Unicornist". Therefore, those who LACK THE BELIEF in unicorns are A-Unicornists. Ultimately these titles are (at best) strange but they are useful in some cases (especially when we live in a society that is so filled with "believers"). We atheists have the same relation as the a-unicornist. We LACK BELIEF in a god or gods.

Now, if someone actually says, "I know there are no gods" or "I strongly believe there is no god", those are different claims. Yet, this attempt to change the definition, so as to make your job easier (or so that you can attempt to "turn the tables" and put us on the defensive - when it is you who is making the positive claim) is futile. We lack belief in a god just like we lack belief in unicorns. It's THAT simple.

Is it POSSIBLE that some god exists? Well, this would depend upon your definition of a god, but for now, sure. It's possible. Still, nonetheless, at the present time we lack belief.

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