Is Atheism a lack of belief in God?

It’s been fashionable lately for atheists to claim that atheism is “a lack a belief in God.” So when a theist comes along and says that atheists can’t support their worldview, some atheists will say something like, “Oh, we really don’t have a worldview. We just lack a belief in God. Since we’re not making any positive claims about the world, we don’t have any burden of proof to support atheism. We just find the arguments for God to be lacking.”

What’s lacking are good reasons to believe this new definition.

First, if atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then atheism is just a claim about the atheist’s state of mind, not a claim about God’s existence. The “atheist” is simply saying, “I’m not psychologically convinced that God exists.” So what? That offers no evidence for or against God. Most people lack a belief in unguided evolution, yet no atheist would say that shows evolution is false.

Second, if atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then rocks, trees, and outhouses are all “atheists” because they too lack a belief in God. It doesn’t take any brains to “lack a belief” in something. A true atheist believes that there is no God.

Third, most atheists don’t merely “lack a belief in God because they are constantly trying to explain the world by offering supposed alternatives to God. Atheists write book after book insisting that God is out of a job because of quantum theory, multiple universes, and evolution. While none of those atheistic arguments succeed in proving there is no God, they do prove that atheists don’t merely lack a belief in God — they believe in certain theories to explain reality without God.

They believe in those theories because atheism is a worldview with beliefs just as much as theism is a worldview with beliefs. (A “worldview” is a set of beliefs about the big questions in life such as: What is ultimate reality? Who are we? What’s the meaning of life? How should we live? What’s our destiny? etc.) To claim that atheism is not a worldview is like saying anarchy is not really a political position. As Bo Jinn observes, “An anarchist might say that he simply ‘rejects politics,’ but he is still confronted with the inescapable problem of how human society is to organize itself, whether he likes the idea of someone being in charge or not.”

Likewise, atheists can say they just “reject God” but they are still confronted with the inescapable problem of how to explain ultimate reality. Just as anarchists affirm the positive belief that anarchy is the best way to organize society, atheists affirm the positive belief that atheistic materialism is the best way to explain ultimate reality.

In other words, atheists don’t “lack a belief” in materialism. They are not skeptical of materialism — they think it’s true! As Phillip Johnson said, “He who is a skeptic in one set of beliefs is a true believer in another set of beliefs.” Lacking a belief in God doesn’t automatically establish materialism any more than lacking a belief in atheism automatically establishes Christianity. No atheist would say that a Christian has made a good case because he “lacks a belief” in materialism!

Everyone has the burden of proof to support his or her position. Atheists must make a positive case that only material things exist. That’s why instead of debating “Does God exist?” I prefer to debate the question “What better explains reality: atheism or theism?” Then it’s obvious that both debaters have the burden of proof to support their position. Atheists can’t just identify what they think are deficiencies in theism. They must make a compelling case that everything has been caused by materials and consists only of materials, including:
• The beginning of the universe
• The fine-tuning of the universe
• The laws of nature
• The laws of logic
• The laws of mathematics
• Information (genetic code)
• Life
• Mind and consciousness
• Free will
• Objective morality
• Evil

It’s rare to find an atheist attempting to explain more than one or two of these things materially. How could they? How can laws be materials? The new atheists must provide reasons to support their belief that materialism is true. Simply lacking a belief in God doesn’t prove their worldview.

Finally, the “I merely lack a belief in God” definition leads to a contradictory result. As Dr. Richard Howe points out, “This definition of atheism entails the quirky conclusion that atheism is logically compatible with theism.” Here’s why: If lacking a belief in God is the definition of “atheism” — and not “there is no God” — then “atheism” is true even if God really exists. How is that reasonable?

We shouldn’t allow atheists to hide behind that lacking definition. A true atheist is someone who believes there is no God. And atheists have the burden of proof to show how materialism is true and reality can be explained without God.

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78 replies
  1. John Moore says:

    Atheists lack a belief in God because they aren’t sure. They aren’t even sure God does _not_ exist. So they lack certainty either way. That’s what they mean when they say atheism is just a lack of belief in God. Atheism is also a lack of (absolute dogmatic) belief in naturalism. Almost all atheists are agnostic to a certain extent.

    About burden of proof, I think the person who wants to persuade has a burden of proof. Therefore, if an atheist is trying to persuade you of something, he does have a burden of proof! On the other hand, if the atheist is just saying, “Leave me alone,” then he doesn’t have a burden of proof.

    You write, “What’s lacking are good reasons to believe this new definition.” But usually you just have to accept when someone tells you what they believe. It’s arrogant to try to tell someone they believe something they say they don’t – unless you can point out some clear contradiction in their statements. But you haven’t done that here, so you come off as arrogant.

    You write, “If atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then atheism is just a claim about the atheist’s state of mind, not a claim about God’s existence.” You are correct. The atheist isn’t saying God definitely doesn’t exist. And he isn’t trying to persuade you to become an atheist.

    You write, “If atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then rocks, trees, and outhouses are all ‘atheists’.” Again, you are correct.

    It’s true that atheists have a lot of positive beliefs, like in evolution and Einstein’s relativity and stuff like that, but they didn’t formulate these beliefs in an attempt to prove God doesn’t exist. They formulated their beliefs in order to get on with their lives, building cool technology and solving the world’s problems. If you think some scientific theory is an argument against God’s existence, you’re missing the point.

    You make a comparison saying atheism is to theology as anarchism is to politics, but this analogy falls flat because anarchists live in political societies, whereas atheists do not live in any theological reality. Anarchists end up doing political acts in spite of themselves, but atheists do not do any theological acts. Anarchists probably have their likes and dislikes when it comes to politics, but atheists don’t care at all about theological questions. Atheists don’t have to “explain ultimate reality.” They can just say “I don’t know.” So your analogy doesn’t work.

    Your quote from Phillip Johnson seems to suggest there’s no such thing as uncertainty. Do you honestly believe people can’t accept their own uncertainty about ultimate questions? Again, this sounds arrogant, because you’re trying to tell people they believe something they say they don’t believe.

    You write, “Lacking a belief in God doesn’t automatically establish materialism any more than lacking a belief in atheism automatically establishes Christianity.” Again you are correct! The atheist isn’t trying to “establish materialism” or prove that materialism is true. That’s not what atheism is about.

    You ask, “What better explains reality: atheism or theism?” Please try to understand: Atheism doesn’t explain reality. It doesn’t explain anything! It’s true that evolution might try to explain some part of reality, and plate tectonics might try to explain something, but those scientific theories are different from atheism.

    You quote Richard Howe to the effect that God might still exist despite someone being atheist. Of course! The atheist admits he might be wrong. What’s so quirky about that?

    It’s great if you try to discuss philosophical issues with an atheist, but please try to understand their position. If you insist on your own idea of what atheists believe, despite their protests, then you’re just using a straw man fallacy. None of your arguments really hit home! You’ll never bring someone to Christ if you don’t even know where they stand right now.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Great post, John!

      I don’t believe aliens exist, but if course they might still exist despite my non-belief. It would be pretty silly for me to state otherwise. Similarly, god might NOT exist despite all the theists in the world. Unless we’re talking about fairies in Peter Pan, the existence of entities is unaffected by people’s belief of non-belief in them!

      Reply
      • Frank Turek says:

        Hi Stephen,

        Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you are saying, but isn’t it true that all external entities are unaffected by the people’s belief or non-belief in them?

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        • Stephen B says:

          That was my point, yes. I don’t see why you felt it needed pointing out that people lacking belief in a God made no difference to whether or not a God existed. Who’s denied that that is the case?

          “Atheists must make a positive case that only material things exist”

          ‘Only material things exist’ isn’t a necessary position for atheism – it’s purely concerned with one’s position on God’s existence. One can be an atheist and still believe in the supernatural. And I don’t know any atheists who deny concepts, numbers, logical laws etc. As you admit yourself.

          “Here’s why: If lacking a belief in God is the definition of “atheism” — and not “there is no God” — then “atheism” is true even if God really exists. How is that reasonable?”

          Why is that unreasonable? Apart from ‘Atheism is true/untrue’ doesn’t really make sense as a sentence. The term describes someone’s position on the subject of God’s existence. It’s either an accurate description of their position or it isn’t – it’s neither true nor false. Similarly, ‘theist’ isn’t true or false either – it simply a word to note that someone believes in God.

          “Everyone has the burden of proof to support his or her position.”

          If someone’s in a debate with you, then they are debating whatever the title of the debate is. Whether they describe themselves as an atheist or not is irrelevant to that.

          Reply
        • Fox says:

          Frank, perhaps you haven’t read Peter Pan or don’t recall- in the book (and play) when Tinker Bell is dying Peter urges the reader/viewer to believe in order to keep her alive. Thus, with the exception of fairies external entities exist (or not) regardless of our belief in them, whereas in the Peter Pan sense, fairies can only exist so long as we believe in them. It’s a joke. 🙂

          Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Hi John,

      I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said if you are talking about someone who is really agnostic or apathetic about God and claims to be an atheist. Those are not the “atheists” to whom this post is directed. Nor are they the ones claiming that “atheism” is a lack of belief. This post is directed to the folks who make such a claim in an effort to avoid any burden of proof for their position. I see them on college campuses as members of the “Center for Inquiry” or “Freethinkers” club. It’s also the position of Mr. David Silverman, President of American Atheists, whom I debated: http://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/what-is-atheism. (You can see the debate by clicking “media” and then “videos” above.) Such folks don’t merely lack a belief in God, they are actually saying that God does not exist and materialism is true.

      Reply
      • John Moore says:

        Certainly you can find atheists who claim God definitely does not exist. Some of those atheists might even be foolish enough to believe what they’re saying. But in my experience these people are just speaking rhetorically. They’re arguing for a position, and it’s too much trouble for them to keep repeating that they’re not absolutely certain about it.

        Yes, it’s a contradiction if they say atheism is just a non-belief and then also say God definitely doesn’t exist.

        But you can’t assume that’s what people are saying. You have to check and make sure. You can ask them: “Are you absolutely certain that God does not exist?” And if they give you an unqualified “yes,” then you can proceed to show where they’re contradicting themselves.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “Yes, it’s a contradiction if they say atheism is just a non-belief and then also say God definitely doesn’t exist.”

          I don’t believe so, John. One can say that atheism is simply lacking belief in God, but that you PERSONALLY hold that God is a self-contradictory concept and therefore cannot exist. In other words, you have your own view that there is no God, but that that is not an essential position to hold to be an atheist.

          Reply
          • John Moore says:

            Your point might be an example of what I call “speaking rhetorically.” On the other hand, are you absolutely certain that God is a self-contradictory concept? If so, that’s not a non-belief anymore.

            I think the important thing isn’t the content of your belief but the way you hold it. Religious people hold tight with what they claim is certainty. Atheists let go and admit they don’t know for sure.

          • Stephen B says:

            Yes, if someone is convinced that God is a self-contradictory concept then they can say they are a gnostic atheist, a ‘positive belief’ sub-set of atheism.

            “Religious people hold tight with what they claim is certainty”
            Similarly one can have ‘agnostic theists’ who believe but admit they don’t really know for sure and could be wrong.

  2. moose says:

    with over 7 billion people in this world, and so many different “worldviews”, there is(maybe) a creator, a perfect, omni everything god who has all the answers. but that perfect omni everything being can’t figure out a way to convey all the answers to all of us. (frank–i think i know what your answer to this will be). many like me are content with the realization that some things are just unknown.

    Reply
  3. 5th Seal says:

    I got told this also Frank “Oh, we really don’t have a worldview. We just lack a belief in God. Since we’re not making any positive claims about the world, we don’t have any burden of proof to support atheism. We just find the arguments for God to be lacking.” I do believe atheism is a worldview because of the definition of what a world view is. Atheist all have a certain set of beliefs that they all share like., they all believe in evolution. But I was listening to RTB’s straight thinking podcast and they said it something like this. Atheism is not a world view, Naturalism is the worldview of atheism so when atheist pull a fast one on me, i’ll tell em there worldview is Naturalism. Off topic tho, Frank.., you, Greg Koukel, RTB, Ravi, WLC have inspired me to do apologetics. I’m out in here in Brooklyn, NYC and don’t know of anybody that’s doing it so i’m out here in the trenches all a lone for now. I’m slowly building up my site little by little with an apologetics section. If your ever in NYC let me know please, God bless Dr. Frank Turek.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Atheist all have a certain set of beliefs that they all share like., they all believe in evolution.”

      How do you know this? Atheists just have to lack a belief in God. Accepting evolution science isn’t a prerequisite of being an atheist. You might as well say all atheists believe in a spherical earth.

      Even saying naturalism is an essential part of atheism is false. Atheists can believe in astrology, karma, or any number of other supernatural ideas. They might be less LIKELY to than theists, but that’s beside the point.

      Reply
      • 5th Seal says:

        How do I know this Stephen..? Well it’s really simple. Atheist don’t believe in a God. God is a super natural being. Since atheism denies the supernatural.., what are you left with as ultimate reality? That would be matter and energy Stephen B. A naturalistic material world with people that have beliefs that come from their sociobiological evolutionary make up. There is no karma, or any number of other supernatural ideas because those would be acts of supernatural events A.K.A God. If an atheist says they believe in the supernatural, they have left atheism and entered into theism or pantheism. Now I have plenty of atheist friends that actually say they are atheist, they deny the existence of God and yet believe in the supernatural. I always call them atheistic hypocrites. Saying they are atheist and living like a pantheist… Stephen B. are you an atheist? or a theist? or pantheist?

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          ” Atheist don’t believe in a God. God is a super natural being. Since atheism denies the supernatural..,”

          This is very poor logic. God is one cause of supernatural but not the only one. Denying God does not = denying all forms of supernatural, just one.

          An atheist can believe in other forms of supernatural. As long as they don’t believe in a God. Those atheist friends of yours? Still atheists.

          Reply
          • 5th Seal says:

            I disagree with you Stephen, give me some examples of supernatural events that are not caused by God? And I ask you a question, are you an atheist and why? or are you a theist and why? I would like to hear your personal story and beliefs.

          • Stephen B says:

            ” give me some examples of supernatural events that are not caused by God? ”

            Astrology, fairies, witches’ spells, ghosts.

            I guess you might be able to argue that some of these are compatible with some Gods, but belief in God is not necessary to believe in them.

            And Luke (a theist) below says: “I know plenty of atheists who believe in the supernatural and are definitely not materialists.”

            Why are my own beliefs relevant here? I ask because this question is normally the precursor to an ad hominem, where rather than engage with my argument, my beliefs are attacked instead.

            Both our arguments should stand on their own merits.

    • Louie says:

      This post reads almost like a Dilbert cartoon, where people criticize Dilbert’s plan as he is the only one who writes his plan down. Since nobody else writes down a plan, they do not get criticized. The best thing atheists ever did was keep from writing down their beliefs and placing them all in one book like christians did with the bible. That way it is tough to pick it apart. Well done and keep up the good work.

      Reply
      • Jack says:

        Well, that’s a problem you come across when you functionally invest a label to fit people under just to have something to attack.

        Just consider, even if you show that your caricature of atheists are wrong, it doesn’t show christianity to be true.

        Reply
  4. Jack says:

    The problem with this sort of approach is that it doesn’t really address the core issue (We do not believe), so much as just paint a protective bubble to shield peers as they encounter uncertainty with the people they are speaking with.

    Unfortunately for them, christians get the short end of the stick on this. Christianity is sort of laid out bare for what it is and there is no real escaping the consequences of that without distancing from the faith.

    This sense of trying to ‘turn arguments around’ will always be met with complications and errors, because simply not believing in the christian god, in and of itself, doesn’t demand that people adhere to a specific set of dogmas or principles. All it means is that they do not believe in the christian god.

    So long as you try to simplify the entire spectrum of non-belief into this odd sort of strawman, you are doing a disservice to the cause of outreach. The only thing that helps is other faithful with whatever series of canned rhetoric they need to match with the appropriate label.

    The only question is whether you’re cognizant of that. If you don’t know better, that doesn’t help your case. If you do know better, then it definitely does not help your case.

    Reply
  5. Robert says:

    It isn’t just God we atheists cannot believe in. We don’t believe in angels, demons, demon possession, Satan, heaven, hell or any of the ridiculous and baseless claims religious people make. Why? Because we cannot be frightened completely out of our minds by other people taunting us with their own fears about hell. Christianity only appeals to the base emotion of cowardice, If you’;re not a coward you cannot be scared by other people.

    Reply
    • Mary Lou says:

      If you think I’m a Christian because I am afraid of what God can do to me, you’re wrong. I’m a Christian because of all the evidence for God and, specifically for the Triune God of the Bible. That evidence includes cosmological, teleological, historical, ontological, axiological, experiential, etc.

      My response to God came of love for him and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, not out of fear or cowardice.

      Reply
  6. 5th Seal says:

    Stephen in my culture, which is NYC the atheist claim to be “A BEACON OF LIGHT” When i’m riding the subway or in my local neighborhood park I read my bible publicly. New Yorkers, especially in Brooklyn where I live, atheist have come into my personal space and told me my bible is a great fiction book and don’t take it seriously, “THERE IS NO GOD” then do a LOL. My next question is if they believe in the universe as god? or like you say “Astrology, fairies, witches’ spells, ghosts” and they all told me no. Each and everyone has always told me that because of their evolutionary beliefs, they only believe in “matter and energy”. This is the first time that i’ve every heard people say atheist believe in the supernatural. I even called my atheist friend and asked him again just to make sure I wasn’t bugging out. And he told me these exact words. They are not real atheist. He said they are being inconsistent. In fact I do a out reach in my part of Brooklyn (East New York) which is one of my city’s poorest and high crime areas. The gangs that are in control of the park that i’m handing out food and water tell me they are atheist. I ask them do they believe in God? And they tell me “Look around us we in hell right now, there is no God” Most of the high crime neighborhoods in Brooklyn are because of young men that don’t believe in God and they tell me straight out. “THEY ARE THE GOD OF THESE STREETS” So the atheist world view is being lived out to the fullest, and it’s really damaging the quality of life around me. This is why your own beliefs relevant here. I live out my beliefs by trying to get the neighborhood i’m from better. And atheist are living out there beliefs and making it worst. This is my personal youtube page and in the 1st min and 30 seconds you will see my culture and even me. I’m not scared to let you know what I believe, who I am, or where i’m from. Your arguments can get you killed really fast by the atheist in my culture. And thats the point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDlUqHDdOsk&list=UU1x1mzdQmQB7C8cjKAAel7Q

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      5th Seal:
      I thought your post read just fine. No need to re-type it. Sounds as though you are up against a tough situation and I’m sure this truth you speak is not well received by some. Stay strong, and God bless.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “And he told me these exact words. They are not real atheist.”

      He’s wrong. I guarantee there are millions of Christians out there you’d say you’re not a real Christian. People say all sorts of silly things!

      Reply
  7. Robert says:

    “If you think I’m a Christian because I am afraid of what God can do to me, you’re wrong. I’m a Christian because of all the evidence for God and, specifically for the Triune God of the Bible. That evidence includes cosmological, teleological, historical, ontological, axiological, experiential, etc.”

    > You don’t know the difference between evidence and arguments. Those things you mentioned are arguments and arguments are NOT evidence. What these arguments prove is that you believers have NO EVIDENCE and you cannot recognize logical fallacies. All of the arguments you mentioned are based on gross and obvious logical fallacies. If you could recognize bad arguments you could not be a Christian.

    Reply
  8. Robert says:

    The Christians accuse us of not being sure if there is a God or not willing to say there is no God and a lot of other things that are not true. A while back I posted positive proof that there is no God. What happened? Why the Christians ignored the post and all the evidence I presented and then made this thread. This is what they do. They ignore the refutations of their arguments and then repeat the same debunked argument over and over and over and over and over again as if no objections to it were ever raised. No sense of moral or ethics is or fair play is evident among these Christian debaters. Well here is proof that there is no God. Evolutionary Theory predicts the Christians will ignore the post and any who don’t will not have a reasonable reply to it. It goes something like this:
    Yes there is actually a lot of pretty clear and convincing evidence that God does not exist. Of course it’s difficult to prove a negative. However there are a lot of things that should or should not be true if God does or does not exist. For example there is no clear evidence of the existence of any gods which is not surprising of no gods exist. Arguments for God’s existence suffer from irreparable logical flaws, which should not be the case if there really is a God. Religion demands faith and discourages attempts to verify its claims through testing and experimentation. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion has a history of intolerance and violence, and this not likely to be true if there is a God. Science is a very effective way of gaining knowledge. Revelation and scriptural study are not, as people disagree about both and this fact is more likely to be true if there is no God. Religion attempts to suppress outside examination and criticism, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion has cruel, dangerous and repressive doctrines which it is morally incumbent upon us not to support. This should not be true if religion is true. There is a vast amount of religious confusion and disagreement between people who are members of the same religion. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion is fragmented into sects that cannot agree on key issues of doctrine or ethics, and this should not be true of religion is true. Religions emerge in isolated areas and only then spread in space and time, rather than appearing in every society at once. If there is a God this should not be the case. The mind has a physical basis, and this fact is less like to be true if there is a God. There is too much gratuitous evil and unnecessary suffering. This should not be true if there is a God. Naturalism is the norm and supernaturalism cannot be verified which makes sense if there is no God. The Bible contains many contradictions and historical inaccuracies, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. For the most part belief in God is a force for stagnation and against progress. This should not be true if there is a God. Atheists are no less happy or fortunate than believers and usually more so. This should not be the case if God exists.

    I think any rational person who considers all this evidence will conclude that there really is no God and things look exactly as they should if that is indeed the case. I guess you can sleep in next Sunday.What do you think?

    Can anyone explain why the Christians make these two arguments which contradict each other?

    “God could give indisputable proof of his existence, but won’t because that would take away humans’ free will to believe or disbelieve.”
    “God’s existence is indisputably seen in nature, and those who disbelieve are without excuse.”

    I didn’t think so.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Just for fun Robert, here is most of your post, with inserts in parethesis…

      For example there is no clear evidence of the existence of any gods which is not surprising of no gods exist.(other than we are here, by chance or by design. Which is more likely?) Arguments for God’s existence suffer from irreparable logical flaws, which should not be the case if there really is a God. (for example…) Religion demands faith and discourages attempts to verify its claims through testing and experimentation. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. (false statement, I question everything, collect truth and decide for myself what is most likely) Religion has a history of intolerance and violence, and this not likely to be true if there is a God. (this is merely your feelings) Science is a very effective way of gaining knowledge. (only if done properly) Revelation and scriptural study are not, as people disagree about both and this fact is more likely to be true if there is no God. (perhaps, but here we are discussing it) Religion attempts to suppress outside examination and criticism, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. (only those who don’t have answers) Religion has cruel, dangerous and repressive doctrines which it is morally incumbent upon us not to support. This should not be true if religion is true. (this is merely your feelings) There is a vast amount of religious confusion and disagreement between people who are members of the same religion. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. (not true, remove the word “vast”, Jesus and the NT message is the core) Religion is fragmented into sects that cannot agree on key issues of doctrine or ethics, and this should not be true of religion is true. (this is basically a repeat sentence) Religions emerge in isolated areas and only then spread in space and time, rather than appearing in every society at once. If there is a God this should not be the case. (this is merely your feelings) The mind has a physical basis, and this fact is less like to be true if there is a God. (this is merely your feelings) There is too much gratuitous evil and unnecessary suffering. This should not be true if there is a God. (this is merely your feelings) Naturalism is the norm and supernaturalism cannot be verified which makes sense if there is no God. (what??) The Bible contains many contradictions and historical inaccuracies, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. (this is untrue) For the most part belief in God is a force for stagnation and against progress. This should not be true if there is a God. (this is merely your feelings) Atheists are no less happy or fortunate than believers and usually more so. This should not be the case if God exists. (this is merely your feelings)
      I think any rational person who considers all this evidence will conclude that there really is no God and things look exactly as they should if that is indeed the case. I guess you can sleep in next Sunday.What do you think? (I think a lot of your evidence makes me want to goto church)
      Can anyone explain why the Christians make these two arguments which contradict each other?
      “God could give indisputable proof of his existence, but won’t because that would take away humans’ free will to believe or disbelieve.” (God came to earth in human form and performed miracles and people killed him for it)
      “God’s existence is indisputably seen in nature, and those who disbelieve are without excuse.” (the lack of proof of the “chance” vs. design)
      I didn’t think so. (this is merely your feelings)

      Reply
    • Toby says:

      “God could give indisputable proof of his existence, but won’t because that would take away humans’ free will to believe or disbelieve.”

      Robert, I don’t know where they got this idea. You could point out that the god of the bible had no problem showing up all over the place in the bible telling people what to do and who to kill. And if it jesus really was god in human form then there were at least 12 guys following him around with violated free wills. Satan would have absolute knowledge of god so does satan not have free will? But if he didn’t have free will how could he rebel?

      Yeah, it’s all very suspect to anyone that takes the time to REALLY question it.

      Reply
      • Louie says:

        Yeah, that Satan one is a tough one, especially since he is not human so perhaps Satan does not think like you or I. I think you are correct, he had free will or he would never have rebelled. I think the disciples had free will also, since some walked away after Jesus delivered certain messages that were not popular. He had more than 12 at certain points in the new testament.

        Reply
        • Toby says:

          There’s no reason to think satan thinks any differently than anyone else. Of course there’s no reason to think that he does. An no reason or evidence at all to think he’s a real entity.

          If the bible account of jesus is all true, then the miracle accounts would all be true. If that’s the case many people witnessed direct evidence of a god and yet their free will wasn’t usurped. It begs someone to ask why god appears to be an absentee deity these days.

          Reply
        • Louie says:

          Agreed. However, if you were treated like he was, would you come back? According to the bible he will be back and it will not be pleasant for all. He is still at work though, my family alone has 2 incidents of supernatural events.

          Reply
          • toby says:

            ” However, if you were treated like he was, would you come back?”

            If i were a supremely powerful being that knew my creation could do nothing whatsoever to cause me harm? . . . I’d come back everyday at the same time to be tortured and murdered in front of a studio audience. What would I care?

            Do tell. I hope it’s better than those disgusting tales of “I prayed and he helped me find my car keys so I made it to the interview and now have a wonder job and can support my family” meanwhile people pray not to die of starvation or to not get blown up over land squabbles in the middle east and he turns a deaf ear to that.

          • Louie says:

            They are pretty simple things really. Roughly 1 year after my grandmother died, my father was watching TV, and my dead grandmother walked into the room, looked at my dad and said “Just seeing what you were up to, boy.” Then walked out and was gone. Dad isn’t a story teller, I have no reason to not believe him. The other was when my grandpa passed away. He loved the smell of a certain flower that most found awful. With 16 or so people in the room, the moment he passed away, the room became so overpowered with the smell of that flower, everyone started choking and had to go outside for fresh air. Again, simple things, but supernatural and super cool if you ask me.

          • toby says:

            It’s interesting, but even if completely true how does any of that point to some kind of god rather than ghostly events happen?

            Here’s my immediate reaction, not meant to be insulting or anything, please don’t be:

            A ghost shows up while someone is watching Unsolved Mysteries, relays no useful information, no spiritually useful information, and walks out. I can’t help but think they guy was daydreaming or sleeping and it was a very lucid dream.

            The smell? I don’t know. Maybe someone had brought him the flowers and when he died people were choked up and sobbing anyway and since he was the only one that liked them they had to leave the room.

            Each seems more plausible than ghostly encounters. If you’re primed to believe in such things you’ll find such things. But if you take a default position of disbelief due to lack of evidence of the supernatural you question it more than someone that believes in spirits and such.

          • Louie says:

            Keep trying to reason your way out it, that is what I figured you’d do. To many witnesses for the smell incident, sorry I shared it.

          • Louie says:

            So do I. You have no idea how much time has been spent looking this, do you? Without posing any questions, you dreamed up weak explanations to fit your world view. I have access to the witnesses and know way more about the situations than you do. Both of those incidents were tough to swallow, but I followed the evidence where it lead me.

  9. Robert says:

    “Science is a very effective way of gaining knowledge. (only if done properly) ”

    What does this mean? Because science does not, will not accept ANY supernatural explanations for ANYTHING. EVER – and for very good reasons that should be obvious. If they aren’t to you, I’ll be glad to explain them to you. That is science done properly. Also in science no finding is the final word and ALL findings are subject to future revision and even outright rebuttal. You Christians cannot stand for this because YOU want the final word. Well you ain’t gettin it. Ever.

    It’s just hilarious to see Christians complaining about how science is done.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      You mean the science behind global warming? This is what I am talking about when I say “only if done properly”. If done properly, science is a great tool. When done poorly, science is worthless.

      Reply
  10. Robert says:

    It just occurred to me that Bible believers DO NOT understand why science does not accept supernatural or magical explanations for things. So I will explain why right now. Since we can’t observe and test the supernatural the only way we could reach a supernatural explanation would be to eliminate all natural explanations. However we could never know if we have in fact eliminated all the possibilities. So even if a supernatural explanation were correct we can never know it. Any supernatural explanation couldn’t be applied to anything and so would be useless anyway. So there you have the reason none of your religious dogma will ever be accepted by science. Religion is incompatible with science. Always has been and always will be. So you’re on a sinking ship going nowhere but down.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      You mean like the science of life coming forth from a bubbling broth? Prove it. Show me the lab results and the repeatability of the lab from outside sources. That would be real science. For now, you & I are forced to take the religious leap of faith to believe life came from Primordial Soup or God. Eitherway it is a leap of faith. When science proves it either way, I will accept the truth.

      Reply
  11. Robert says:

    You mean like your story of life coming forth from dirt and then a man’s rib? Prove it. Show me the lab results and the repeatability of the lab from outside sources. That would be real science. For now, you are forced to take the religious leap of faith to believe life came from dirt.

    We know that life formed naturally to bridge the gap between the heat of the sun and the cold of space. Our purpose is to move heat. So while I’m doing that I’m going to enjoy my life and get the most I can out of it by putting what I can into it. You can waste your life in intellectual servitude to your false beliefs. You can pine away for the afterlife that will never come. I don’t care. People have a way of getting what they deserve.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      You the one trying to claim you have “scientific” proof, not me. The whole heat thing is weak and proves nothing. As far as getting what you deserve, NOBODY gets what they deserve, thank God.

      Reply
  12. Robert says:

    You let yourself get indoctrinated into the Christian superstition without ever seeing even the tiniest shred of evidence that any of the claims of Christianity even might be true. Then you demand real proof that something else is true. Why? Funny, silly and ironic.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Robert, again, you are the one trying to talk people out of christianity. You claim to have all this “scientific” proof. I look at it simply, and ask the question, which position has the greater risk? If I live an atheistic life, and it turns out to be false, what is there to loose? If I live a biblical based life, and it turns out to be false, what is there to loose? The way I see it, the atheistic life has way more risk, with minor benefits.

      Reply
  13. Robert says:

    Louie,
    Your argument proves what I have always said: Christians only believe what they do because they are afraid not to. Christianity only appeals to the base emotion of cowardice. So accepting Christian arguments and dogma are the coward’s way out. And you have plenty to lose by clinging to your faith. You will waste time and money by spending your life in intellectual servitude to your false beliefs. You will continue to be envious and jealous of those of us who can enjoy life free of fear of punishment from an angry and vengeful God. You will waste the only life you have pining away for another life that will never come. So you have a lot to lose and I lose nothing because there’s no such thing as an afterlife.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Robert,
      Cowardice… Yes, it is so clear to me now. That is why christians are being killed all across the globe, because they are cowards. Your time and your money must be worth way more than mine. Now, back to the original topic of you having all this scientific proof…

      Reply
  14. Robert says:

    Your own Christian colleges teach evolution. In other words they teach that what you believe in is utter nonsense. So go argue with them why don;t you? You don;t because you know you’re wrong and you know i’m right. But your trapped by the fear of hell instilled in you by OTHER PEOPLE. Now what does this mean: ” NOBODY gets what they deserve, thank God.” Are you so indoctrinated that you think people deserve infinite punishment for not believing what you do? Sick.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Robert – I’ve never been to a christian college, so I do not know what they teach. If they teach things that are non-biblical, then shame on them and they should not be labeled a christian college. If they teach evolution “theory”, I have no problem with that as long as they teach creation “theory” as well. As far as eternal damnation goes, I agree with you that it is harsh. But, it does not matter what I think, people don’t have to agree with me since I am not in charge, I don’t make the rules. It would be easier if christianity were proven wrong, so I could live in bliss, but it has not been proven wrong, so here we are. It all boils down to checking your emotions at the door and looking at evidence For & Against Creation vs. evidence For & Against Evolution. Then make a personal choice based on the facts.

      Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          No you couldn’t. Evolution fulfils the scientific definition of a theory. In fact it’s one of the best supported theories in science.

          Reply
        • Louie says:

          I disagree. The definition of the word “Theroy” from Wikipedia fits just fine. Anyway, I don’t see this side topic as valuable. You know what I was getting at, and so does Robert. Both paths are currently unprovable, and take leaps of faith to believe them. Teach them both, or any other, let people decide for themselves what makes the most sense.

          Reply
          • Luke says:

            Louie,

            I think the wikipedia entry you were looking for was “scientific theory” not simply “theory” (the former discusses the: “scientific definition of a theory”. I think this sort of thing often causes confusion.

            Thanks,

            Luke

          • Stephen B says:

            “Both paths are currently unprovable, and take leaps of faith to believe them”

            No Louie. As Luke points out, you are talking about the colloquial meaning of theory, which isn’t appropriate here at all. Look at the scientific meaning of the term. Evolution qualifies, creationist doesn’t. One teaches theories, not hypotheses.

          • Toby says:

            It would appear the path to evolution is being paved with research and evidence while creationism . . . well, it’s just creationists sitting in their philosophizing armchairs with their backs to the path saying there’s no paving at all behind them so “god”.

          • Louie says:

            Or perhaps they see a path so poorly constructed, that they stay off it, and choose a different one.

  15. Luke says:

    Louie,

    You said: ” It would be easier if christianity were proven wrong, so I could live in bliss.”

    So do you believe that non-christians live in bliss?

    Do you also believe that on the whole, you will be less happy because you believe in Christianity? Or that because it exists, you will be less happy, whether you actually believe it or not?

    (In other words, does Christianity make things worse for you because you believe in it, or does it make things worse for everyone because it exists?)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Not in complete bliss. As Robert states, he has more time and money to spend on himself than if he were a christian, which means a christian would have less bliss than a nonbeliever. Christianity lessens my ability to be happy, but only because if it’s true, there are so many people (even friends of mine) headed for doom. So, if I did not believe in an afterlife, then I wouldn’t care so much about poeples actions, since there would be no eternal consequences anyway.

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        “So, if I did not believe in an afterlife, then I wouldn’t care so much about poeples actions”

        That this is the only life I believe we have makes me care even more about what happens in it. It also makes me value it more – what other resource becomes LESS valuable when it’s scarce?

        “As Robert states, he has more time and money to spend on himself”

        Can you give me a quote where Robert says being an atheist gives him more time and money SPECIFICALLY to spend on HIMSELF? I’m looking and I can’t see it. How do you know it doesn’t give him more time to spend on other people?

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          He did not state it specifically, and I did not state it to be negative. The point was that he has a greater %of his time and money to spend on whatever he wants than I do, so I have a little less bliss (this is stated by him above). The point was valid and still is, no matter how Robert decides to spend his time and money.

          Reply
        • Terry L says:

          what other resource becomes LESS valuable when it’s scarce?

          It’s not the about scarcity of time; it’s the scarcity of choice!

          If one was told that they were going to live for 1,000,000 years, but that they would spend those years in the same house and driving the same car that they have at the end of this year, I would think that, come January 1, they would have thought long and hard about their choices. When you have to live with the consequences of your choices and actions for an extended period of time, it’s wise to consider those choices well.

          And eternity is a very extended period of time!

          By your math, when options for choice go to zero, the value of that option goes to infinity. Choose well before you die; we don’t get do-overs.

          Reply
      • Luke says:

        Louie said: “As Robert states, he has more time and money to spend on himself than if he were a christian, which means a christian would have less bliss than a nonbeliever.”

        This would be true if one bought the assumption that money – happiness. I think we all realize this is far from true. Yes, the poor need help, but once away from struggling simply to get by, the people I know that give are happier than those who do not. I’m pretty sure there are various studies to back this up.

        Louie said: “Christianity lessens my ability to be happy, but only because if it’s true, there are so many people (even friends of mine) headed for doom.”

        Wouldn’t this be balanced by the idea that some people (even friends of yours) are headed for eternal bliss?

        Aren’t you headed for eternal bliss. That should make you a bit happy as well, shouldn’t it?

        Louie said: “if I did not believe in an afterlife, then I wouldn’t care so much about people’s actions, since there would be no eternal consequences anyway.”

        It seems to me with Christianity, you don’t have to worry about their actions. Only their belief. Even a mass-murderer is not beyond redemption, for example. On atheism, there is seemingly no redemption for such a person. That seems a reason for worry.

        Personally, I don’t think you’ll recruit too many people to Christianity by talking about how unhappy it will make you. On the more personal level, if you think Christianity is making you unhappy, I would suggest you are not doing it right.

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          Luke – For crying out loud, I never said I was unhappy. You asked about being “less happy”. So, instead of 100% happy, perhaps its 95%? You are right about actions not being enough, but if you BELIEVE, typically you act accordingly. I have a full time job, so sometimes I do not get to critique responses as well as I’d like.

          Reply
  16. Luke says:

    Louie,

    I didn’t mean to imply you were unhappy. Sorry if it came of that way. (I should have said ” I don’t think you’ll recruit too many people to Christianity by telling them they will be less happy”)

    Otherwise, yes, I was simply talking about being less happy as well, not necessarily unhappy.

    I’ve just never really heard people say their faith makes them less happy then they would be otherwise. I’m quite intrigued by the idea.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      I’d say it depends on your definition of “happy”. I typically say that I’m not always happy, but I’m always joyful. My joy comes from my status in and relationship with Christ; my happiness depends on my circumstances. My joy positively affects my happiness, allowing me to weather trying circumstances with grace and patience, but my happiness cannot affect my joy, because my joy is anchored in immutable facts.

      So I can have joy, despite being unhappy. If, for instance, I have a sinus infection that’s driving me nuts, then that’s circumstantial, and it will pass (although I’ll be a huge baby and complain until it does… just ask my wife!) That won’t affect who I am and whose I am.

      Reply
  17. toby says:

    If an act or event occurs in this universe then it, being in and happening in this universe, must be by definition natural. How can anything that occurs in this universe be said to be “supernatural”?

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Doesn’t supernatural just mean it is unexplainable by science? I don’t think it matters where “the event” occurs.

      Reply
  18. Ross Bennie says:

    Very interesting range of comments and arguments.
    The generalisation of ALL atheists think ” this way” or being told ” this is how you think” or ” atheists need to justify their position” with the upmost certainty and continued dogmatic reinforcement is purely the failure of religions to address the growth of independent thought and increased access to knowledge via better education and media such as a the Internet and the leaps made in the last 10 years across science and technology
    Access to this knowledge is now easily available to read online by anyone instead of having to subscribe to scientific journals and magazines. The likes of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Krauss et al have given visibility and articulation to what was already in place . There efforts allowed atheists tovocalise their thoughts. Nothing else. Most times at heroes trend to be very quiet, that time has passed for most.

    If you notice in most of the debates, columns, etc over the last 3-5 years with the likes of Mr Turek, Lane Craig et al the “God of the Gaps” has all but disappeared. It is now the “God of start” the last bastion of the unknown. Evolution, plate tectonics etc all no longer debated other than by the creationist section of Christianity and around the literal King James Bible followers.
    The major apologists are trying to debate on quantum mechanics principles. When that fails they go for morals and ethics.
    Atheism, becuase there is no over arching structure, no single book or source of how think and by its varying positions for each individual needs to be corralled by religions into a lump sum.
    Hence these broad brush stroke statements/ demands et

    One must ask – TO WHOM ARE THESE COMMENTS DIRECTED – at atheists or at their flock to bolster their position?
    Most atheists I know are pretty settled with their position, some of us get angry when religions start to try to assert the old positions of control and will push back. Hence we are the ones that feed the debate. This is the purpose of these type of articles/ statements.

    It’s a lot harder to debate or argue against individuals with reasoned independent views that don’t include the supernatural as a solution than to debate/argue against the validity of a position contained in a group belief.
    This is the real challenge religions and particularly apologists like Mr Turek face.
    Their flocks are in the majority homogounous and can be preached to with a certainty of acceptance to follow a line of doctrine and then to indoctrinate their children.
    The inability to throw a blanket over atheism, becuase of its inherently individual reasoned decision making process means that debating or arguing against it means an individual argument on a personal level and not “flock v flock” doctrine v doctrine” type argument. This is well illustrated by the recent us example of the judge not issuing marriage licenses. A rally point , a point of difference. Not becuase of any legal or constitutional matter but to bolster their flocks, look at us were are fighting the fight. When you see a politician engage in these type of areas you know that the side that has the loudest most vocal politicians is usually the side in error.

    THE BOTTOM LINE FOR THE REGLIONS. BRAND RELEVANCE
    This blustering demanding often inflammatory columns and comments is really about maintaining cashflow both ideological and then financial.
    Primarily Cashflow in its forms for the apologists. Relevance maybe another word but with the same “financial” outcome
    There may well be some belief systems sitting behind this but I’m a skeptic and if I use a business analogy then one can see why apologists are making these attempts to bundle atheists into a religious type belief system.

    MY BRAND – RELIGION OR A BELIEF IN A GOD – IS LOSING MARKET SHARE – from an Apologist marketing plan.

    There are new independent brands that are smaller more relevant and I can’t market to a fractured demographic. Our branch office strategy has failed. Decreasing attendance.
    I must at least maintain my existing market position and ensure that is solid, I will pick up incremental sales from this demographic ( children of this demographic) and some conversions from other religions hoping to maintain markets share are at worst not be decimated.
    I will continue to mine my existing client base and bolster their belief/ following/loyalty by showing my brand is relevant and can “take on” the competitors and the changing market conditions.
    I will incorporate science and technology arguments into my position , but I won’t argue against the unarguable so I don’t appear out of touch.
    We will rebrand in part to align the brand with modern thoughts and desires.
    I will use blogs, YouTube, Internet to put our case. No one goes to visit our branch offices anymore.
    This use of science as part of our argument and then if that fails wel use morals as engaging via modern technology will give us the appearance of being up to date , relevant and a real choice for the individual.

    As an example: the impact of craft beer against major beer brands.
    People want more choice and be more individual. Hence rapid growth of individual, localised almost personal craft beers.
    Even the behemoth Coka Cola’s has encounter a loss of market share because of changing views of sugar/ health.( substitute Catholic Church)
    So big Brewers buy craft brewers to maintain relevance and Coke reduces sugar content to maintain relevance.

    But where to for religions now?.
    I don’t see the arguments are being made against atheism, if there really needs to be a handle, it’s a bit like saying
    “craftbeerism”. No it’s just individuals making up their own minds and finding little to no reason to continue to believe in something as intangible as religion/deities etc.
    It is almost impossible to sell a brand to this independent demographic – the brand has to find its own niche.
    Lots of independent craft brewers all producing lots of different beers and their pitch is “make YOUR choice” but the rejection of the major brands is real. Not dissimilar to the lack of beleof, let’s use relevance instead of religions. It’s not a choice for atheism it’s a choice against religions/deities

    This has been demonstrated throughout history as education, wealth, knowledge grows, the pillars of the past are either eliminated or sidelined.

    Interestingly where the evangelists are having the biggest impact is now in Africa. Lower education, poor economic conditions, already attuned to spiritual beliefs. The battle, for want of a better word, is lost on new conversions in the west, it is about maintaining the existing “market share” by trying to be relevant.
    Only the very young and impressionable or those truly indoctrinated can be targeted by religions.
    It’s time to sell shares, downsize or merge.
    There is no blanket view of atheism to take on, as can be seen by the disparate views of the atheists in the column.
    Religions, particularly the apologists in the USA are trying to create a reasoned argument, not to convert atheists, but to maintain their market share and relevance within their existing flocks.
    They will achieve that but in lower and lower retention rates over time.

    Reply

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