Why Atheism Does Not Exist – Part 2

First, let me start off by saying that this really is not a continuation of the original post, but I titled this the same in order to bring back some of the readers and such. In addition, I will admit that I wrote the first post with the wrong motives in mind – I was writing it at a time when I had very few readers and I was trying to get more hits on my blog, yes, it was pathetic, I know. However, that is not to say I am changing my views, I stand behind what I wrote, but with this post, I am just going to look at the definition of atheism and why it is self-defeating.

My premise in making the statement, atheism does not exist, is based on the strict definition of atheism. So overall, I am saying at the most a person can be agnostic. I am not going to consider “weak atheism” vs. “strong atheism” because that is like saying “weak Christianity” vs. “strong Christianity” – it is a cop out. “Weak Christianity” doesn’t exist either. There are only two positions. Either you are a believer – one who has repented and placed faith in Jesus Christ – or you are a non-believer.

So what is the definition of atheism? Atheism comes from the word “atheos” in the Greek, “a” meaning “no” and “theos” meaning God. So, when you attach the “ism”, atheism is “the belief there is no God.” That is the definition of atheism, taking the root word and breaking it down. Atheism does not mean “a lack of belief in God.”

Atheism is an absolute negative that “there is no God.” That is where my premise for this blog lies. No one can say for sure that there is no God. To affirm an absolute negative is self-defeating; I would have to have infinite knowledge in order to do this. Atheism as a system is self-defeating. I take the following quote from Charles Darwin, a self-proclaimed agnostic, “I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.” (Letter to Rev. J. Fordyc, July 7, 1879)

Richard Dawkins says, “We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.” So while that is flawed, even he realizes that atheism cannot be possible by its definition.

I am not going to debate the existence of God in this blog. A popular comment that I get from atheists – I mean agnostics – is that I need to “prove the existence of God.” Again, this is another example of a cop out, turning the focus away from the real issue. The fact is that it does take a measure of faith to believe in the existence of God. I will not discuss faith right now, but there is such a thing as “zero faith,” and I would say that people who call themselves atheists have zero faith.

I did say something in the original post, “God has sovereignly planted evidence of His existence in the very nature of man. Not only do all people know that there is a God, but they know enough about the real God to hate Him and they try to drive Him from their thoughts…” This is based on Biblical truth; popular comments that I got was something like, “I didn’t choose to hate God”, or “I don’t have something in me that lets me know God exists, so I am not purposely choosing not to follow him.”

So, do I think that atheists made a choice to believe that there is not a God? No, I do not believe that there was a conscious choice to say “there is no God.”

There is a sin pattern in our lives, and that is where our choice lies. We can choose to continue in that same pattern, or we can choose to look at our lives and realize that something needs to be dealt with, but again, that is where the element of faith comes in, so that is all I will address right now.

Lastly, I received another comment asking me a series of questions like, prove to me the existence of God, define God, prove the stories in the Bible are actually His working, and maybe a couple others, I can’t remember. This person said that if I can do this, he will not only stop being an atheist, but will become a Christian. That is a straw man. One cannot become a Christian just by knowing facts. There is literally no amount of answering these questions to this person to make them become a Christian.

I will not answer these questions completely, but I will say this, though. First, God cannot be proven according to our standards, there cannot be physical, testable evidence, because God is not physical, and He is above our finite knowledge. Further, there is not one example in the physical universe of a physical quality that explains its own existence. No physical quantity explains its own existence and no amount of time can consume an infinite series of events to bring you to the present. All of these somewhere had to be explained by one self-existent cause which is not physical; because a physical quantity cannot explain its own existence. Second, God cannot be defined. Yes, we can know some of His qualities and His attributes (holiness, justice, mercy, love, etc…), but He cannot be defined by our human standards.

I am pretty well off topic of what I set out to do with this post, so this is where I will stop this one. My point was to define atheism, and thus show why it is self-defeating based on its definition.

On a final note, we cannot choose God, He chooses us; may God grant you the gift of repentance and faith… but that is a subject for another day. I am not ready for the flood of comments that will come from this blog, but I know that won’t stop anyone, so bring them on anyway.

– Adam Smith

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16 thoughts on “Why Atheism Does Not Exist – Part 2

  1. Mark Plus says:

    “Atheist” in its real usage means something like “a critic of theism.” That implies that “atheism” means something like “the criticism of theism.” Both the critics and the criticisms of theism certainly exist, despite the dishonest efforts to define them out of existence.

  2. Adam Smith says:

    Yes, the critics and criticisms of theism certainly exist, but that is not what atheism means.

  3. NSL says:

    It seems to me these 2 are contradictory to each other: …Atheism does not mean “a lack of belief in God.”… and …I would say that people who call themselves atheists have zero faith…. I don’t believe human beings have the capacity of seeking God because we are faithless or zero faith. Faith and believe go hand in hand. Jesus’ contemporary asked Him to ‘help my unbelief’ or ‘help my lack of faith’. Atheism DOES mean “a lack of belief in God’s . . . and has zero faith. Appreciate your insight.

    NSL

  4. Lucy Lowe says:

    I wonder if the author of this piece has a lack of belief in Apollo, or a belief there is no Apollo, or whether he simply finds the whole notion of Apollo existing too ridiculous to worry about the semantics?

    We’re all agnostics/atheists (depending on your definition) about squillions of Gods.

  5. Adam Smith says:

    The author of this piece, otherwise known as me, has a belief that there is no Apollo, or any other Greek gods for that matter, as they are mythology – not by my definition.

    There are no gods other than the one true God – all others are idols. And no, this does not fall under the definition of Atheism, by its own definition.

  6. J says:

    A) To say that anything can’t exist because such a statement requires absolute knowledge is a cop-out, and you’re apparently very much against those. Let’s take the statement, “There is no such thing as a red raven” according to you that statement can’t be true because I don’t have absolute knowledge. Unfortunately, though, that statement is true.

    B) What purpose does it serve to attempt, however ineffectively, to disprove atheism as a logically tenable position? After all the existence of god can’t be proven, you said so yourself, so the only logically tenable position is that god most likely doesn’t exist.

    C) Atheists don’t accept god, therefore they don’t accept the writings of his followers. In an argument like this you can’t logically use Biblical references to prove your point. It is tantamount to arguing the existence of hobbits using The Lord of the Rings.

  7. Bad says:

    First of all, you seem to be deeply confused by a basic issue here: the definition of words. The only standard that matters to the definition of words is mutually understood usage: something that virtually any good dictionary will explain right at the start. Many many words we use today are inconsistent with their origins and meanings in ancient languages, or even with how they used to be used in English. The only question relevant to a definition is “do a substantial number of people understand the word to mean this?”

    And of course, a substantial number do. Even more importantly, that number includes most modern (and many ancient) atheists, who happen to have something of a special privilege to define what their own positions are, rather than to have hostile folks do it (and, surprise surprise, try to define it in as confusing a manner as possible).

    But I don’t think you’ve even gotten the derivation right here in any case. “a” doesn’t mean “no,” it means “without.” And theism is not simply from theos: the “ism” part makes the word “god belief” not just “god.” In short, “atheism” derives from “without god belief” which is precisely how most atheists today define and use the term.

    Finally, you seem to be confused by another key issue: the definition of words cannot actually influence substantive matters. If you continue to insist beyond all reason that atheism means only “the belief that there is no god” then it’s really no skin off my back to not use the word atheist. The problem is mostly that you seem to think that a) this accomplishes something and that b) you can continue to use references to the word atheism by others in your arguments even if they are inconsistent with your redefinition. The latter is known as the logical fallacy of equivocation: dishonestly switching definitions mid argument. For instance, saying that “even he [Dawkins] he realizes that atheism cannot be possible by its definition” is dishonest. Dawkins recognizes no such thing, because he does not mean by the word “atheism” the same thing that you do. You cannot both cite HIS understanding of what the word means and then argue that because yours is “correct” that he “understands” something that he in fact does not.

    Likewise, I would also point out how dishonestly inconsistent theists and some agnostics are in how they use the word “atheism.” They CLAIM, all to simply give themselves advantage, that atheism means ONLY “I believe there are no gods.” But they are perfectly happy to call people who say “I do not believe in god” atheists, apparently without recognizing that the two statements are neither logically equivalent nor consistent with their claimed “only valid” meaning of “atheism.”

    So if you want to insist that “atheism” means only “believe in no gods” I say fine. But at least acknowledge what that means, and be consistent about it. Understand that you need to translate any other, inconsistent usages of the word “atheist” into what they actually mean (i.e. “non-theist”) rather than claim that they are “wrong” or that atheists “don’t exist.”

    Finally, your insistence that all atheists are really “agnostics” is a dishonest, but disappointingly common tactic. Agnosticism concerns as different matter than belief: it concerns knowledge. To say that one is agnostic is to NOT ANSWER the question of whether one believes in God or not. But of course, to most people, agnosticism implies that someone is simply undecided on a matter. And so, your essential tactic here is to try and use that connotation, along with your redefinition of “atheism,” to imply that the only legitimate positions are believing in God, and not being sure. But this is in fact a distortion of a substantive issue: the very sort of thing that it is illegitimate to try and achieve via mere definition.

    Because, in fact, not believing in God is a perfectly legitimate position, and it is NOT merely a form of being unsure (though it can include being unsure in terms of knowledge). I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I don’t believe in God, and that all the reasons given by others insisting that it makes sense to believe are unconvincing.

    Theists find it very very hard to argue against that position however, which is why they have traditionally done everything they can to try and avoid it, or even acknowledging it. Defining atheism in the way you do is a case in point: it seeks to simply make sure there is no consistent term out of all the common ones in this area (theism/atheism, etc.) that acknowledges and includes that position. What this hopefully achieves is that you are left dealing with only the straw man or claiming to know everything on one hand, and traditional agnostics on the other, who are portrayed as thinking that maybe your arguments have merit, but just aren’t sure about anything.

    My advice? Get over your attempts to bend English to your rhetorical advantage. The sole motives that should drive definition are clarity, comprehensiveness, and lack of confusion. It ultimately does not matter to me whether you call me an atheist or a non-theist. But what does matter is that you seem to think it matters: that it proves something. And that is virtually always a sign of bad motives, and confused thinking.

  8. Adam Smith says:

    To Bad above,

    I cannot respond to comments that talk down to other people – i.e. the use of “you” and “your” – I have read your comment multiple times and can I appreciate it, however.

    One paragraph didn’t have the use of “you” or “your”, and this paragraph is essentially explaining your position, so I can respect that a little more:

    “Because, in fact, not believing in God is a perfectly legitimate position, and it is NOT merely a form of being unsure (though it can include being unsure in terms of knowledge). I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I don’t believe in God, and that all the reasons given by others insisting that it makes sense to believe are unconvincing.”

    If, as you say not believing in God is a perfectly legitimate position, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t exist. In fact, people that I get to talk to have a sincere non belief in God. But I could have a sincere belief that I could fly, and yet if I jump off the Empire State Building, I will have been horribly mistaken. And yes, this goes back to logical, physical testing that gravity exists, and there cannot be enough physical evidence that God exists, so that example is flawed in that regard.

    Might I suggest a question – not needing a response to me – just a question to ponder for yourself. What have you adopted while you have rejected something else? What is it that you are denying? What are you affirming in its place?

  9. Lucy Lowe says:

    Hi Adam,

    In your response to my post you claimed: “there is no Apollo, or any other Greek gods for that matter, as they are mythology “.

    In response to J’s comment, you state: “how do we know that there is no such thing as a red raven? Yes, I can read all the studies and the laws of logic and all that, but that still doesn’t mean a red raven doesn’t exist. To make that statement is an inductive hypotheses and confirmation.”

    Would you mind explaining how your first statement is not an “inductive hypotheses and confirmation”? Also, if you accept the possibility of red ravens, why do you deny the possibility of Apollo? Finally, as I think there is no Apollo and you think there is no Apollo doesn’t that make both of us Athiests by the dictionary definition, or agnostics by your own?

    Have a lovely day,

    Lucy

  10. Adam Smith says:

    To J above,

    A) My only question is this… how do we know that there is no such thing as a red raven? Yes, I can read all the studies and the laws of logic and all that, but that still doesn’t mean a red raven doesn’t exist. To make that statement is an inductive hypotheses and confirmation.

    B) I am actually not trying with this blog to disprove atheism as a logically tenable position. I am simply tired of atheists (at least the ones I get to talk to) using the definition of “a lack of belief in God.” That is not what it means. And as far as what I said about the existence of God cannot be proven, I will expand a little more. I mean that no amount of my explaining God could do anything to prove His existence to an atheist, because there is literally no amount of physical, testable evidence that I can offer. I know of His existence because of faith. (And I am not going to resort to weak Christian reasoning like “because of the miracles in my life” and other Christian nonsense – not to say that some people haven’t experienced it, but that opens up too big of a hole, and it is not an explanation at all.)

    The fact is that it does take a personal commitment to prove to oneself that God exists. If I was falling off a cliff and saw a branch, I could reason all day about whether that branch could be strong enough to hold me or not, but unless I actually reach out and commit to grabbing it, then it will never do me any good. (That is a weak example, I know this.)

    C) Yes, I know this, and that is the mistake I committed in my original post.

    On a final note, might I suggest a book, “The Reason For God” by Tim Keller.

  11. Adam Smith says:

    Hi Lucy,

    My statement about Apollo is not an inductive hypothesis, instead it is inductive reasoning – two quite different things; Apollo was based on philosophical logic in Greek mythology, based on cult and ritual practices – as defined by the Ancient Greeks themselves.

    As I deny the existence of Apollo, at the very least this makes me monotheistic, by dictionary definition.

  12. cindyinsd says:

    Hi, Adam

    Good post. (Thought you might need that–but I do mean it.) Atheists don’t believe in God because they don’t want to. Pure and simple. God has given to every man a measure of faith.

    Atheists choose to use that measure of faith on atheism, and they need it, in my opinion. In fact, I’m surprised it’s enough to get them through into a firm belief in something which, for the entire history of the world, the great preponderance of the world’s population has not believed in.

    Oh wait . . . the plebes believe in God or god or gods or spirits or what-not. That’s sure proof that all the spirit stuff has got to be nonsense, right? This reminds me of potters who won’t glaze their pottery blue or green (or whatever color is currently selling) because then it would appeal to the masses, people would buy it, and that would prove they weren’t real artists. ;)

    Granted, the fact that the majority of people over the history of the world having believed in a spirit world does not, in any way, prove there is one, but I’d think it would make it harder to believe in a “material world only” view.

    At any rate, I completely agree with your definition. I don’t know about the Greek or the Latin roots, but most atheists I’ve met seem to think that they believe there is no god and that they’re correct in their belief. I’m not sure how “Bad” would parse that, but it sounds pretty clear to me.

    And no, you can’t prove there is no red raven, nor that Apollo does not exist. In the case of Apollo, however, there probably is some demon out there who once called himself that name. (1 Cor 10:20 and others)

    God bless,

    Cindy

  13. Adam Smith says:

    Thanks Cindy, and yes that was definitely a welcome comment! :)

  14. Samuel Skinner says:

    There are no married bachelors.

    The Earth is not currently occupied by the all mighty legions of the God Emperor.

    There is no God.

    Logically contradictory statements and statements, when, if true, would have evidence can be answered in absolutes.

    As for God not being testable and above humans… the Jews believed in God SPECIFICALLY because he delieved them for the Pharoah. Or, in Abrahams case promised him a great nation when he spoke to him.

    In other words, proof. Actions, deeds talk… not a metaphysical cop out.

  15. Adam Smith says:

    I believe God exists for many reasons, but for one specifically, because Jesus Christ came to earth lived a perfect life and died on a cross and was then resurrected in three days from the dead. This is not a faith account, these are facts, and they are undisputed by historical account.

    Why did this happen though? Because God is so holy that He cannot look upon sin, so we (all being sinners, because of the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden – again a historical account) need a substitute who would be perfect to pay for our sin because we are unable to do so. So, in order to qualify as our substitute, Jesus had to be a man, but in order to be perfect, He had to be God.

    Finally, the fact that He was raised from the dead proved that He was God.

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever BELIEVES in him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. – John 3:16-18

    Question to all: What have you adopted while you have rejected something else? What is it that you are denying? What are you affirming in its place?

  16. John says:

    Well put. I agree with the statement that there is no conscious choice to believe there is not God. That is expanded upon in this article: http://spiritualinquiry.com/articles/why-atheism-or-theism-is-not-a-choice/

    Our decision really comes from how we live our lives, which determines how clearly we see what is true and what is not.

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