Do Atheists Lack Belief in God?

by Greg Koukl

Some atheists think they escape the burden of proof by claiming they lack belief rather than have a belief there is no God.  Yes, there is a difference between non-belief and unbelief, but there is no refuge here for the atheist.

Atheists no longer believe there is no God, apparently. Instead, they merely lack belief in the divine. They are not un-believers. They are simply non-believers. And non-belief is not a claim, so it requires no defense.

This, atheists think, makes their job easier by relieving them of any responsibility to provide evidence for their view, er…their non-view. After all, no one is obliged to give evidence for the non-existence of fairies. Thus, atheism secures the inside lane as the default view for reasonable people. Or so atheists claim.

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If I were an atheist, I would never take this route. I’d fear people would think I was cheating with words, betraying weakness, not strength. This, as it turns out, is exactly what’s happening. Yes, there is a difference between non-belief and unbelief, but there is no refuge here for the atheist.

For example, if you asked me which rugby team was the best in England, I wouldn’t know where to start. Since I have no interest in the question and no information on the issue, I cannot form a belief one way or another. Because I have no beliefs about the quality of rugby competition in the U.K., I am truly a non-believer regarding the question. I am neutral.

This is not the case with atheists. It’s true, atheists have no belief in God, but they are not neutral on this question. If they were, they wouldn’t be writing books or accepting invitations for debates. No one debates about non-beliefs. There would be nothing to talk about.

For an atheist to enter a debate, he has to take a position. If he takes a position, he asserts a belief. And when he asserts a belief, he makes a claim. When he advances an argument, presumably he believes the conclusion that flows from his own reasoning. Theists say there is a God, and atheists argue they are wrong. This is not neutrality…

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