The statement "I lack belief in a god" is 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 belief. 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.
Let's pick a baby that has no awareness of the concept of invisible pink unicorns. Later in life, when the baby is mature and is introduced to the concept, he either accepts the existence of invisible pink unicorns, rejects them as a ridiculous notion, chuckles about it and dismisses it, becomes unsure about them, holds off judgment until later, etc. Either way, he develops a position on the concept of invisible pink unicorns. He has to do something with the concept once he's been exposed to it. He doesn't continue in a lack-of-belief or lack-of-awareness state of mind because the fact is, some sort of intellectual action must occur regarding it. He cannot become unaffected by the concept.
Nevertheless, some might say that to hold off judgment until later is to be "atheistic" concerning pink unicorns and therefore support the atheist position of "lack of belief." But as I said earlier, after being exposed to a concept, a decision is made about that concept even if it is to withhold judgment. In other words, a position is taken. This is not the same as going back to a state of unawareness. To suspend belief on a subject is to hold off judgment until more information is acquired. This is agnosticism--not atheism. It is an admission that not all information is acquired thus logically requiring the possibility of the existence of the thing being considered. This is something atheists do not do by definition; rather, agnostics do this. Agnosticism is the position, in part, that "suspension of belief" is maintained until further information is acquired.
If I said there was an ice cream factory on Jupiter, what would you think? Would you entertain the idea as a serious possibility? Would you quickly dismiss it as an outlandish absurdity? Would you request evidence for it? Or, did you suddenly have a desire to go to Jupiter for some Jupiterian Swirl? Of course, an ice-cream factory on Jupiter is ridiculous, and we automatically know this so we naturally make a judgment on it. Thus we cannot remain in a state of lack of belief concerning the concept once we've been introduced to it. We assign it to the that-is-ridiculous category.
This is why the "lack of belief" defense we hear from atheists is not logical. It ignores the reality that people categorize concepts anywhere in the range of total acceptance to total rejection. It is our nature to do this. We don't do nothing with information.
Is my cat an atheist?
Animals lack belief in God. Are they atheistic? Should we include atheists, infants, plants, rocks, water, and air in the category of atheism since they too lack belief in God? Of course not.
I had a cat named Punchface (it's a long story). Punchface was a beautiful cat with long white hair and powder blue eyes. He was very smart--even brilliant. He could play tag, fetch, hide and seek, catch mice with Olympian skill, and enjoy an evening watching Star Trek with me. I would completely defend the fact that he had quite a personality. As brilliant as my cat was, he lacked belief in God. I could have sat him down, looked him in the eye and said, "Punch, there is something I have to talk to you about. It's God. You see, God is the being that created the universe and everything in it--including you and me." Of course, after I would say this, Punch would probably say, "meow," and go chase a piece of air-born lint. He had no concept whatsoever of God. Does that mean my dear cat Punchface was an atheist? Of course not. He was only a cat even if he is a brilliant one.
Nevertheless, the atheist will assert that the position of "lack of belief" relates only to sentient beings. This would be a necessary position given that cats cannot be atheistic; that is, they can't make a choice to accept or deny God's existence. Therefore, the atheist should amend his statement and say something like, "As a person, I lack belief," or "I have decided to lack belief in God," or "Lacking belief in God is a position for sentient beings only." This would negate my cat as being included since to describe an atheistic position as simply "lacking belief" is too broad.
So what is this position of lack of belief really about?
In my opinion, lack of belief is really an attempt by atheists to avoid facing and defending the problems in their atheistic position. You see, if they say they have no position by saying they lack belief, then their position is not open to attack and examination and they can quietly remain atheists.
The problem for atheists, however, is that atheism is coming under more serious attack by Christians and others who recognize its problems and are exposing them. Without a doubt, there are far more people in the world who believe in God (or a god) than don't, and more and more Christians are tackling atheism as an untenable position. If the majority believe that doesn't make it right, but the increase in examination of atheism has made it more difficult for atheists to defend their position. This also explains why atheists, it seems, are becoming more aggressive in their attacks on theism in its different forms. There is an intellectual battle being waged, and both defensive and offensive measures are being taken on both sides. In the end, the truth will be known and atheism will become extinct.