The “I Just Lack Belief” Tactic

by Jason Wisdom

Consider the following hypothetical conversation.

Bob: It’s hard to believe that it has been 65 years since we landed on the moon. I was just a kid, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Know what I mean?

Larry: Ummmm. I don’t know how to break this to you Bob, but I don’t believe we ever landed on the moon.

B: What do you mean?

L: Just what I said. I don’t believe we landed on the moon. I just lack that belief.

B: What about the video footage?

L: Why should I have to say anything about that? You might as well ask a bald man what new hair style he is contemplating. I am not the one making a claim here, you are. I simply lack the belief that we ever landed on the moon. My position is not one of belief, but lack of belief.

B: What about the testimony of the astronauts?

L: Are you even listening? I just told you. I don’t have any need to address those things. I just lack the belief that we landed the moon. That’s as far as it goes. You are the one who believes we did. It’s up to you to prove it.

B: So I guess you think it was a hoax?

L: Bob! You aren’t paying attention. I don’t have a belief here. You do, but I don’t. My position is simple: I LACK the belief that we landed on the moon. You might as well ask a healthy person what disease they have. Why can’t you just get that through your head?

B: So what do you think happened?

L: I don’t know. And I don’t have to know because I am not making any claims. All I am saying is that I lack the belief that we landed on the moon.

B: Ok, but how do you explain the…

L: That’s it! I am done with this conversation. I don’t know why I even try to talk to people who are so irrational.

According to the American Atheists Center, “atheism is not a belief system,” rather, “it is a lack of belief in gods.” I can understand the point that they are trying to make–that there is no one, particular, formalized catechism that all atheists confess, aside from the fact that they do not believe in any deities. However, it is really misleading to act like atheism makes no claims at all about the nature of reality. Just like in the hypothetical conversation above, Larry may want to get out from under the burden of proof by insisting that he simply lacks belief in the moon landing, but that position (or non-position) carries certain baggage along with it…

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The “I Just Lack Belief” Tactic – because it’s true