Aligning Atheism

There’s a fundamental disconnect between atheists and the word “atheist”. Part of this is because there isn’t complete agreement on what the word means.

  • Lack of belief in God
  • Lack of belief in God’s existence

Lack of belief in God could simply mean a choice not to believe in God because he is cruel or undesirable for some reason — but does not specifically address the question of God’s existence.

Lack of belief in God’s existence is more specific but still leaves the door open for interpretation because the phrase “lack of belief” is ambiguous. It might be a matter of degree or preponderance of evidence and not an absolute statement of disbelief. A more definitive position would leave no doubts:

  • Denial of God’s existence

Denial of God’s existence leaves no wiggle-room for interpretation. It’s a flat-out position that God does not exist.

It’s been my experience that most long-time atheists do not deny God’s existence and adopt a more scientific stance which is willing to consider any argument or evidence that might change their minds. They don’t want to make claims they can’t back up. They understand the need for rational integrity. Just as the unqualified claim of God’s existence is an article of faith, so is the unqualified claim of God’s nonexistence. There’s no evidence either way. An atheist can claim that there is no evidence for God or the supernatural (and never has been) and that there’s no compelling reason to believe there ever will be. But there is a possibility — however vanishingly small — that there could be. A creator God is not an impossible proposition given what we know thus far. Existence . . . whether it’s God’s, the universe’s or ours — is an ineffable mystery; the greatest mystery of all. Certainty is an illusion and a claim that science is careful to avoid. Our understanding of the universe has undergone multiple paradigm shifts and will experience more in the future.

Whether you’re absolutely certain that God exists or does not exist, you’re pretending to know facts you have no access to.

© Copyright 2012

3 thoughts on “Aligning Atheism”

  1. Finally, someone has got it right, no one prove or even say if there is or isn’t a God, or What God is, belief and willingness to have a belief is what is in question for Atheists. Most religions believe they will wake up the next morning and they adopt a system of beliefs hammered into them that tomorrow will be better if there is a God. A scientific approach allows you to reason, crazy quantum theory, multi-dimensional, God is energy religions pop-up every day now, A mathematically logical approach can then be taken.
    No matter how one tries there will always be “What came before” that or does everything repeat and how often questions. The Atheist community should try to narrow down the facts “you’re pretending to know facts you have no access to. I request we have an actual meeting of the minds, lets come to a consensus after topics are presented in a blog.


    1. Yeah, Dave, too many atheists treat the non-existence of God as if it were an established fact. It’s certainly true that God’s existence is exceedingly unlikely but an absolute dismissal of God just makes them look wrong-headed and closed-minded.

      As for meeting of minds . . . I’m all for that. Do you have a blog too? Got a URL for me? And you still haven’t provided a URL for that GUT video of yours (that you previously mentioned).


      1. I just got a daily update from Big Think and they’re discussing this very same topic (aligning atheism). Here’s the introductory blurb . . .

        What’s the Big Idea?

        Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, created a stir when he recently declared that he was not an atheist after all, but an agnostic. The news, which came during a debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury last month, seemed at first to be a big get for God. However, in The God Delusion Dawkins was frank about his agnosticism.

        So, how does Dawkins square his public persona with his lack of certitude? Easily. No matter how strongly Dawkins is associated with atheism, he is first and foremost a scientist. Therefore, “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other,” he claims.

        Similarly, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title “scientist” above all other “ists.” And yet, Tyson says he is “constantly claimed by atheists.” So where does Tyson stand? He tells Big Think: “Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic.”

        . . . and here’s a test you can take to see if you’re an atheist, agnostic, theist or something in between.

        There’s also a video, by Tyson, explaining his stance as an agnostic.


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