Atheists on the internet frequently try to redefine atheism as a “lack of belief” as opposed to a positive belief that there is no God. Whenever theists press atheists on good reasons for why they should believe atheism is true is usually when this bumper sticker type slogan will come out. Yes, Christians and atheists both have their little catchphrases apparently. While Christians are busy labeling Christianity as “not a religion, but a relationship”, atheists are busy redefining their belief as well, as a “lack of belief” instead of “disbelief in God’s existence”. The problem is that there is no good reason to accept this redefinition of atheism. There are, however, several good reasons not to accept it.
*If Atheism Is Just A Lack Of Belief, Then Atheism Is Just Simply A Psychological State, And Leads To Bizarre Consequences Because Of This
Atheism, on this definition, isn’t a worldview, belief, or system of any kind. Instead, it’s just a psychological state of one’s being. If you lack a belief in God, then you are, on this definition, an atheist. On this definition, my dog and cat are atheists since they probably don’t have a positive belief in a deity’s existence. Rocks, trees, cars, houses, my clothes, all of these things are atheists because these things are in the psychological state of having a lack of belief in a deity’s existence. In fact, they lack belief in anything, becuase inanimate objects cannot have a belief. Because they cannot have a belief in anything, they therefore have a lack of belief in God, and are therefore atheists according to this popular new redefinition. On this popular redefinition, I’m surrounded by atheists! On this popular new redefinition, I’m looking straight at an atheist right now (i.e my computer)!
Atheists I've talked to on the net have told me that they’re not trying to convert me to atheism, but rather "de-convert" me. Their reason? Because since atheism is “a lack of belief”, I was an atheist until I was at least old enough to learn about God. So I was once an atheist (namely when I was a baby) and they’re trying to revert me back to that state of unbelief.
But it seems absurd to consider animals, babies, and inanimate objects atheists simply because they lack a belief in God. When a definition is so broad as to apply to so many things like this, that suggests that there’s something wrong with it. Maybe atheism is more than simply a lack of belief.
*If Atheism Is Merely A Neutral State, Why Argue So Strongly For It?
I’ve never encountered an atheist who simply thought that their atheism was a neutral state of mind. Rather, at least according to how they behave, atheism is a belief based on reason, logic, and science. According to them, atheism is supported by evidence and reason and that’s why they belittle theists like me for believing in God. They appeal to things such as the problem of evil, the hiddeness of God, they appeal to Darwinian Evolution all to support their disbelief in God. But if atheism were merely a lack of belief, then why give arguments for atheism? If you have positive arguments for your position, isn’t your position a positive belief in a particular proposition?
While none of those atheistic arguments succeed in proving there is no God (and you can find that out by clicking on the highlighted words above), they do prove that atheists don’t merely lack a belief in God — they believe that certain theories explain reality without God.
By the way, for those interested in evidence for God’s existence, check out some of the articles in the “Natural Theology Library” Also be sure to check out the blog posts “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 1” and “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 2” where I give MY positive reasons for why I believe what I do.
*Two Can Play This Game
If atheists can say that atheism is merely a “lack of belief in God’s existence”, then why can’t theists say that theism is “A lack of unbelief in God’s existence” or “a lack of belief in the non-existence of God?” Why can’t two play this game? For the same reason why one cannot even play this game.
*The Real Reason Why They Say This
I suspect that there’s an underlying motivation behind defining atheism as merely a “lack of belief” in God’s existence; namely to try to justify shifting the burden of proof entirely onto the theist. If atheists can convince you that they’re not making any positive claims about reality, then they don’t have to defend anything. They don’t have to give you reasons why they believe God does not exist. They can just sit back with a cup of Joe and watch you do all the work of trying to prove God’s existence while they say “Not enough evidence.” “Mmmm….not convinced.”. They don’t have to do the work of defending their view like they expect you to do with yours.
I should point out that not all atheists think like this. Many will concede that atheism is a positive assertion about reality and will do the hard work of trying to prove it, well, at the very least they’ll do the hard work of trying to tear down any arguments Apologists give to falsify it.