“Our belief is not a belief” (Hitchens,pg 5), cries the atheist! What exactly is the atheist asserting with this? In using Christopher Hitchens’ own words here, if it is not a belief then there can be no claim at all. The speaker is not making a claim that can be true or false. In essence the statement is fallacious according to the first law of logic; the law of identity. A belief cannot be a belief and not a belief at the same time.
As Hitchens attempts to illustrate, many atheists believe that atheism is to be defined as a lack of belief in a God or gods. Please note again that a lack of belief can neither be true or false and because of that fact, a positive claim regarding the existence or non-existence cannot be made by any atheist who defines atheism in this manner.
Let me illustrate. Let’s say that someone tells you that they don’t believe in atheists. Your response would be to say “Thats absurd! There are plenty of self professing atheists in the world. Look at people like the late Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. What is your evidence for this belief?” All the a-atheist (a non believer in atheists) needs to say is “You are confused, my belief is a non-belief so I don’t have to give evidence.” You see because a non-belief cannot have a claim associated with it, the atheist can remain in his ivory tower of ignorance.
I say this because humans have the unique ability among creation that they can form beliefs. These beliefs are based on knowledge and experience, either first hand or vicariously. Something that has non-beliefs are non-sentient animals and children because of the fact of it’s ignorance. Animals cannot form beliefs because of the inability to think abstractly. Children lack knowledge so ignorance becomes the foundation for their lack of belief. So any atheist that utilizes this definition of atheism, is outwardly confessing an ignorance of information.
When atheists argue, they are standing for a position that makes a claim and not a non-claim. Simply put if you lack a belief then you cannot make a claim. With this understanding I am surprised why so many atheists argue with theists when they cannot give any counter claim to the theist since they have no belief, under this definition.
Now if a person does truly lack a belief in God then that atheist, cannot argue against any proof for the existence of God. Because a lack of belief cannot make a positive claim that God does or does not exist. Therefore a lack of belief is by general definition is agnosticism, whereas you say that you cannot affirm or deny the existence of God because you cannot make a claim for such or are ignorant.
So the definition of Atheism that states that Atheism is a lack of belief is fallacious, unless the atheists does or says nothing. Some atheists state “An atheist is one that does not believe the claims that a god exists.” This definition affirms a conclusion and presupposes that a particular person, has studied all evidences and without logical fallacy, refuted all of them.
Atheist Journalist Greta Christina attempts to define atheism in this way: “For me, and for the overwhelming majority of atheists I know, our atheism is a provisional conclusion, based on careful reasoning and on the best available evidence we have. Our atheism is the conclusion that the God hypothesis is unsupported by any good evidence, and that unless we see better evidence, we’re going to assume that God does not exist. If we see better evidence, we’ll change our minds.”
Before I dig into the meat of this statement, allow me to point out a few philosophical problems(and I understand very well that she is only trying to provide material for her article and not trying to make a logical argument). First “and for the overwhelming majority of atheists” is the fallacy of argumentum ad populum. A majority does no make a principle true or false it is irrelevant. She makes a far conclusion that because there is no “good” evidence, she will “assume” God does not exist.
Greta is not using the argument that she lacks a belief. She is only making a general affirmation that she studied the evidences, did not like them, and so concluded that God does not exist. Well this thinking is also fallacious because even if there where no evidence for the existence of God, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. So here again her conclusion is not based on solid evidence for the non-existence of God but a conclusion she comes to without any evidence at all.
This definition of atheism also fails the test of intelligibility. Notice her use of certain words in the definition like “good”, “better” and “careful reasoning”. Under what standard does she maintain that a proof or evidence is “good” or not? Who is the arbiter of this determination and can she assure anyone that her reasoning was consistent and non-arbitrary? No she cannot; nor have the many proofs and evidences for the existence of God been refuted by anyone logically. They may be dismissed but not refuted, and that is the apriori fallacy.
Now a claim is a positive assertion that would require evidence. If one would say that this is only a belief then it qualifies as a religion.
Why don’t atheists see that they cannot believe anything to be true without God? Without God, they have already presupposed the inability of rational thought? In their Worldview, they cannot believe that human consciousness is anything more than a random chance chemical reaction. This presupposition means that they can never use reason to try to disprove God.
There are other so called definitions of atheism floating out there in cyberspace. It has evolved through the years as it’s foundations have been challenged by many christian apologists. In my opinion, this is only a sign of the intellectual dishonesty of the atheists who merely practices the fallacy of definitional retreat so that they may desperately cling to their failed worldview because to admit their sins before an Almighty God would bruise their ego.
Hitchens, Christopher God Is Not Great, London: Atlantic Books, 2007, pg5