"Lack of belief" analysis outline

  1. What does "lack belief in God" mean?
    1. "Lack" means deficiency or absence.  "Belief" means acceptance and conviction that something is true or valid.
      1. Therefore, lack of belief would basically mean an absence of belief that something is true.  But even the meaning of "absence of belief" is debatable.  Someone can say, "I have absence of belief in screaming blue ants," but it is a meaningless statement.  So?  You lack belief in screaming blue ants.  What about it?
    2. If "lack of belief" is complete ignorance about something, then it is a state of non-awareness about it.
      1. This would mean that it is not a purposeful, chosen neutrality about something since this is an intellectual categorization which implies awareness of a concept or thing--even if the category is called neutrality.
      2. We lack belief in concepts we are not aware of, and we categorize/assess concepts we are aware of.
    3. If "lack of belief" means that a person chooses not to make an intellectual commitment to a position but to remain intellectually neutral regarding belief or disbelief, that would be more logical. 
      1. However, complete neutrality about a concept is impossible since all concepts have an effect upon the hearer and illicit a response whether it be emotional and/or intellectual.
      2. Once you have been exposed to a concept, you categorize it as:
        1. True, False, Ridiculous, Unsure, etc., but you do not return to a complete mental neutrality or state of ignorance.
      3. We do not "lack belief" in invisible pink unicorns.  That is, we do not hold a mentally neutral position about the concept.  We make a decision to categorize it as:
      4. True, False, Ridiculous, Unsure, etc., based upon our scope of knowledge and experience.
      5. To the extent that this categorization occurs, belief or disbelief is associated with it.
        1. If True, then positive belief is applied.
        2. If False, then disbelief (the positive belief that it is false) is applied.
        3. If Ridiculous, then disbelief (the positive belief that it is false) is applied.
        4. If Unsure, then belief and disbelief are pending with either as the outcome. 
          1. This is because we realize that belief in the concept (acceptance) is possible as also is disbelief (rejection)--depending on further information and analysis.
          2. Being unsure about something is as close to "lack of belief" as one can logically get, but even this is a categorization with pending commitment to belief or disbelief.
  2. Actions reflect belief
    1. We act based upon what we do believe--not upon what we do not believe.  In other words, I do something because I believe something--not because I don't believe something.  If I don't believe my house is on fire, then I don't do anything; but if believe it is, I get out. 
      1. In other words, if I believe my house is not on fire, then I don't need to get up and get out.  It is not lack of belief that moves us but belief.
    2. I lack belief in concepts I am unaware of.  Therefore, I do not and cannot act based upon them since I am unaware of them.
    3. I can only act or not act based upon concepts I am aware of.
      1. If I believe there are invisible pink unicorns, I would act accordingly and either defend their existence or behave in a manner consistent with the belief that they exist.
      2. If I believe there are no such things as invisible pink unicorns, I may or may not defend my position depending on the circumstances.  But, I do not promote their non-existence since it is not necessary to do so any more than it is necessary to promote the assertion that there is no ice cream factory on Jupiter.
      3. If I believe that the existence of invisible pink unicorns is ridiculous, I may or may not assert that it is ridiculous; but I have categorized them and believe they do not exist.
      4. If I am unsure about the existence of invisible pink unicorns, I would wait for further information before making my decision.  In this, I would be agnostic about their existence.
    4. If an atheist says he (or she) lacks belief in God yet actively seeks to undermine theistic proofs and promote atheistic principles, then we must conclude that his actions are consistent with his beliefs; namely, that he actively believes God does not exist.
      1. Furthermore, if the atheist is actively promoting the non-existence of God yet says he lacks belief in God, then his words and actions are inconsistent.
    5. Atheists, who say they lack belief in God or disbelieve in God yet actively attack theistic proofs and seek to promote atheism, are acting according to their beliefs--not their non-beliefs or their "lack of belief."  It is more consistent to say that the atheist who supports and promotes the idea that there is no God but attacks theistic evidences must believe there is no God.  Otherwise, he is behaving without a reason, which is not logical.
  3. To say you believe there is no God has problems
    1. To say "I believe there is no God" is a conscious choice.  Then, on what would the atheist be basing his belief that there is no God: evidence, lack of evidence, logic, faith, or a combination of all?
      1. If evidence, then what positive evidence is there that disproves God's existence?
      2. If lack of evidence, then it means he has not yet seen all evidence, and there might be sufficient evidence to demonstrate God's existence.  This would mean that God may indeed exist; and the person is really an agnostic concerning God, so his atheist position is inconsistent with his statement.
      3. If logic, then what logical proof do you have that negates God's existence?
        1. At best, logic can only disprove theistic proofs.  Disproving theistic proofs does not mean there is no God.  It only means that the proofs thus presented are insufficient.
        2. Logic can only disprove theistic proofs that are presented, and negating such proofs is not a refutation of all possible proofs since no one can know or present all possible proofs of God's existence.  Therefore, negation of proofs does not disprove God's existence.
        3. If there were a logical argument that proved God did not exist, it either has not yet been made known, or it doesn't exist.  If it were known, then it would be in use by atheists.  But since no proof of God's non-existence has been successfully defended by atheists, we can conclude that thus far, there are no logical proofs for God's non-existence.
      4. If faith alone, then the position is not held by logic or evidence and is an arbitrary position.
      5. If by a combination of evidence, logic and/or faith, then according to the above analysis, neither is sufficient to validate atheism.  A combination of insufficient means does not validate atheism.
    2. For someone to believe there is no God is to hold that belief by faith since there is no evidence that positively supports atheism, and there are no logical proofs that God does not exist.  It is, after all, virtually impossible to prove a negative.

About The Author

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