An inconsistent atheist?

by Matt Slick

This discussion began after I entered an atheist vs. Christian debate room.  I asked what kind of atheist one person was and stated that it takes faith to be an atheist.  Of course, I said this to see what kind of a reaction I would get.  The following conversation followed.

Frank: Do you even know what being an atheist is?
Matt: Yes.  Which kind?  There are different types of atheists: those who BELIEVE there is no God; those who don't know if there is a God; those who lack belief (make no assertions about) a God.
Frank: Atheist simply means A=without Theist=Deities. An atheist is somebody who is without theism, a deity. You don't need faith to be an atheist. You need faith to believe in the supernatural.
Matt: So, then you have no position or you do?  Are you saying your position is that you have no god?
Frank: You're wrong. A person who is unsure in the existence of a supreme being is an agnostic.
Matt: Agnosticism is a subdivision of atheism since it does not affirm a god.
Frank: No it is not.
Matt: Yes, it is.
Frank: Agnosticism is its own category.
Matt: You're an atheist, right?
Frank: Yes I am an atheist.  But, you quite clearly haven't thought this out if you postulate the idea that it takes faith to be an atheist. You obviously do not know what the definition of faith is.

Matt: Oh, yes, I have thought it out.  Please check out for some of my thoughts on it. Which form of atheism do you hold to?
Frank: There is only form of atheist. The other is agnosticism which is not atheism at all.
Matt: Define your atheism.  Do you KNOW there is no God?  Do you BELIEVE there is no God?  Do you not THINK about God?  Which?
Frank: I am simply a person who does not believe in the existence of the supernatural or deities.
Matt: So you do NOT believe in deities . . . okay.  Yet, do you defend your atheism at all, ever, against Christians?
Frank: I am not an apologist atheist. The burden of proof does not fall upon the non-adherent. The burden of proof falls upon the adherent.
Matt: I didn't ask that.  I asked if you ever defend your atheism at all, ever, against any Christians?  Have ever done this?
Frank: Do you have a grasp upon the English vocabulary? Do you know what being an apologist means? That means to defend your convictions. I have debated my non-beliefs with Christians before.
Matt: Okay, so you have defended your "nonbeliefs" before against Christians. Alright, the problem is then how do you defend a "non position"?  You lack belief in Gods, yet you defend that position?  Doesn't it make more sense to say you are defending the BELIEF that there are no gods?  How do you defend a non position?
Frank: I do not have to defend my non position. I am not postulating the supernatural or the extraordinary. Such a position does not require apologetics. The person who makes extraordinary claims require the burden of proof. You have not thought this out have you?
Matt: If you don't have to, then why do you do it?  If you do it, you do it for a reason, namely, because you have a belief--not a nonbelief.
Frank: It amuses me. But its not like I seek out individuals to defend my non-position.
Matt: How do you go around defending nonbeliefs?  Do you also defend the nonbelief position of an ice cream factory on Jupiter or the non position of blue screaming ants on Venus?
Frank: Your argument is incredibly lacking reason, or intellect. Things with substance and mass exist, it can be proven to exist. Things with substance have mass and testability factor. Claims of supernatural have no substance or repeatable testable evidence.
Matt: Stating that my argument is lacking in reason doesn't make it so. I am simply using your position and your actions together to see if they are consistent. You tell me that you don't believe in gods as an atheist, and then you tell me that you defend your lack of belief. How can you defend a lack of belief? What IS a lack of belief? You see, if you defend yourself, you do so because you have a position.  You don't defend non positions.  But since you defend yourself, you must have a position. It makes sense.  I am simply working with the very basics of your position to see if it is consistent with your actions.  I don't think it is.
Frank: You're not paying attention. I already stated that I am not atheist apologist. Such a person does need to defend lack of belief. I have at times defended my position, as a source of amusement.
Matt: I know you said that, but yet you continue to behave like one by defending your position . . . namely, again, what you claim you are not. Very interesting.
Frank: Do you know what the art of conversation means? You ask me a question, I answer you. I merely answered your question with intellectual honesty. If you do not want me to answer, or you do not require intellectual honesty, I can do both for you.
Matt: Thanks for the conversation. I was merely trying to point out your inconsistency in your atheism position and actions. That's all.
Matt: Any last comments?
Frank: Having non-belief is not inconsistent. Not believing in supernatural claims or extraordinary entities is consistent with logic.
Matt: Having nonbeliefs and behaving that you have a belief by defending your position is the reality of your action. That is not consistent with having no belief about something. Also, it is very debatable about how logical it might or might not be to believe or not believe in the extraordinary. The whole topic is open to discussion.


Our conversation ended there.

My point in the conversation was to demonstrate what I think is an inconsistency between his belief and his actions.  I don't know how solid my argument really is, but I think it has value in causing the atheist to think.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.