Response to criticism of "I lack belief in God"
The following is my response to the first portion of an atheist's critique of two of my papers dealing with atheism. His original criticism was one page, but I have broken it up into two pages relating to each paper he addressed.
The article was posted on infidelguy.com, an atheistic website, and that is the only reason I am responding to the paper which, in my opinion, does not present its case very well. Nevertheless, I have copied the entire article with the author's permission and reproduced the the two halves; one here, so it can be more easily addressed. His original comments are in black, and my comments are in green. I have left his typo's and grammar errors intact.
Donny Kay Lonovy's
Refutations of Matt Slick's Articles on Atheism
This essay is a refutation of Matt Slick of CARM.org's "I lack belief in God" and "Is atheism viable?" articles. As an atheist, I find his position to be idiotic and even downright offending. I'm going to show you exactly why he is an idiot when it comes to atheism, point by point. Read his papers along with mine to understand what I'm saying, as the paragraphs skip from point to point and wouldn't seem as coherent otherwise.
Unfortunately, this individual begins his paper with an ad hominem attack. Name-calling is generally considered a poor way to make a point. He should address the issues and not insult the person.
"I lack belief in God"
This is my refutation of Matt's "I lack belief in God" article. It is fallacious and misinformative to the core.
Let us first get our definition of "atheism" straight. Atheism is a lack of belief in any deity, which means an atheist lacks belief in God. Matt got this point right, but he doesn't seem to understand that lacking belief is not holding off on having a position. Once you are exposed to the concept, you do have to make a choice, which he also got right. To say that you lack belief in God is to say that you do not believe He exists. It's the same thing. You have taken the position that you believe God does not exist if you choose not to believe he exists. It's that simple. You have a position if you are an atheist after being exposed to theism.
Matt set up a straw man and tore it down by confusing the concept. You can disregard all of the other points he makes in that section because it was based on that straw man.
Quite honestly, I am not sure what his point was. He said I got several points correct. But to say "lacking belief is not holding off on having a position" is a confusing statement. "Not holding off" is essentially a double negative. Is he saying he does have a position because of his lack of belief? Or is he saying he does not have a position? He says I set up a straw man, but I cannot determine what that alleged straw man really is.
"Is my cat an atheist?"
Your cat is an atheist by definition. All things which cannot understand the concept of a deity are atheists. The false premise here is that they have never been mentally exposed to the concept of theism. They can't understand it. They have made no choice to remain atheists. The difference is that mentally mature humans who are exposed to theism are capable of making the choice to remain an atheist. A cat can't make this choice...as far as we know.
Matt Slick tried to use this, another straw man, to attack atheists. He is wrong again.
To say that "All things which cannot understand the concept of a deity are atheists" is not logically necessary. It all depends on which definition of atheist you want to go by, and what level of understanding is to be had regarding deity. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Atheism is "disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god." There can be a wide range of meaning held by this definition. As far as deity goes, there are a host of different definitions in the world on what constitutes deity. Therefore, Mr. Lonovy cannot rightfully make his claim since he has not adequately defined nor established his position.
If a cat can't make the choice to accept God or not, then perhaps this atheist might want to refine his definition of atheism since rocks cannot understand the concept of a god either. Are they atheistic as well? Are we to include water, rainbows, and clouds as members of the atheist community as well? Obviously this "lack of belief" position is inadequate to sufficiently define atheism.
"So what is this 'lack of belief' really about?"
Lacking belief is not some scapegoat technique to get out of defending the atheistic position. It's what an atheist believes by definition. Atheists do have a position and defend it very well.
My assertion about "lack of belief" is found in my original paper. I will reproduce the first paragraph from my paper "I lack belief in God".
The statement I lack belief in a god is becoming a common position of atheists. In discussions with them, they tell me they lack belief in God the way they lack belief in invisible pink unicorns. In other words, they have no position, take no intellectual action, and have no belief or unbelief on the matter concerning God. To them it is a non-issue. Though this may sound sensible to some, the problem is that once you are introduced to an idea you cannot stay neutral about it. You invariably make a judgment about an idea once it has been introduced to you. You can brush it off as ridiculous, ponder its possibility, accept it, reject it, or do something in between. But, you cannot return to a lack of belief position if lack of belief is defined as a non-intellectual commitment or non-action concerning it. Though I admit that an atheist can claim he lacks belief even after being exposed to an idea and contemplating its rationality, I still assert that a position of some sort is required. [emphasis added to my quote]
Whether or not atheists defend their "lack of belief" very well or not is a debatable issue, but this really shouldn't be a battle of opinions. Rather, we should be using logic and evidence to persuade.
Matt Slick is trying to trick the readers of his article into believing that atheists really are liars who have no true basis for what they believe. He claims that Christians who see it's problems are attacking it. From what I've seen, atheism is coming under attack by Christians who don't understand it or science. They aren't recognizing it's problems. They're making false claims about it, then attacking their own misconceptions. Yet they still continue to do this when they've been proven wrong. Now, tell me why I believe most Christian debaters are liars.
There are more people who believe in God in this world than there are atheists. Sadly, this is true. Does that make them right? No. Using the number of people who believe in God to your advantage is pathetic. If you need to use that, then you really are out of good arguments.
Atheists do defend atheism by attacking Christianity and any other theistic religion that trys to convert them. Does this mean that they can't defend their own position? No. Atheists use science and logic to prove their point. There is no place left for God to have done anything in the universe that wouldn't have occured anyways, except for at the Big Bang, which we don't fully understand yet. There's some science for you. God can't be all of the "omnis" at one time, as they contradict each other. Actually, being omnipotent is a logical fallacy all by itself. There's a logical point. Matt Slick is, once again, wrong.
First of all, Mr. Lonovy has erringly stated that I am trying to trick people. He is either trying to read my mind or extrapolate my alleged deceptive intent. Of course, I am not trying to trick anyone, nor am I trying to convince anyone that atheists are liars. I do, however, maintain that atheism is, to a large extent, a matter of faith and not evidence with atheists -- but that is another subject. Mr. Lonovy states that I am making false claims about atheism, but he does not mention what they are.
Mr. Lonovy continues and makes several unsubstantiated claims. For example, he says, "Atheists use science and logic to prove their point. There is no place left for God to have done anything in the universe that wouldn't have occurred anyways..." Apparently, Mr. Lonovy is unaware of the logical flaw of "begging the question." That is, he assumes the thing to be true that he is trying to prove. He assumes there is no God, and then says that all things that exist in the universe could have occurred without God. He assumes that naturalism is true, yet provides no evidence for it; nor does he give a logical reason why there is no God. He just makes assertions and continues on them.
I find this part of his paper to be very offensive. I hope any informed atheist would too. I've shown that he is wrong, and I hope that anyone who reads this will urge him to remove his fallacious article.
Since Mr. Lonovy has not logically established anything wrong with what I have said, and since he has only given unsubstantiated opinions, I will assume that he simply has a chip on his shoulder and is venting his frustration, and that is why he is offended.
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