I’ve had dialogue with many atheists over the years and most of them label their disbelief in God as a stance rather than a belief. Surprisingly, this same stance is taken by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins, Michael Shermer, and Christopher Hitchens. They claim that their atheistic stance carries no faith along with it. I’ve even been told that atheism isn’t a worldview. Many atheists simply chalk up their non-belief in God as a certainty not up for debate. This certainty is because they believe that all the scientific evidence is in their favor while also believing that theists have nothing but blind faith in the face of all evidence to the contrary. However, are they justified in thinking that atheism isn’t a belief system?
Below, I’ve listed three different definitions from respected sources:
Atheism: Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods1
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Atheism: The negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God2
Given the three definitions I’ve listed, it is accurate to say that an atheist denies the existence of God. However, to deny God’s existence would logically follow that an atheist believesthere is no God. In the above video, Dr. William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens discuss the topic of atheism vs. agnosticism vs. verificationism. Hitchens makes the statement, “there is no claim that I know how to make that says, “atheism is true” because atheism is the statement that a certain proposition isn’t true” but then Hitchens states a couple seconds later that atheism “is not in itself a belief or a system”. The late Hitchens, one of the four horsemen of the new atheism movement, states that atheism isn’t a belief system however he cannot provide substantive evidence to support his atheistic claim during his exchange with Dr. Craig.
Atheism is a belief system despite what the atheists might believe. Hitchens makes an extremely valid and revealing point, if he cannot justify the claim that “atheism is true”, wouldn’t that infer that there must be faith involved in being an atheist? Maybe this confidence in the claim that there is no God is being propagated by the atheistic worldview. That’s to say, interpreting all knowledge and data that is personally gathered through an atheist filter so that all considerations that include God sound completely absurd. The atheist finds the universe to be a closed system that is void of a transcendent Creator while the theist values the Genesis 1:1 account and appreciates the universe through the paradigm of God while observing Him in His creation4. Both worldviews generally result in an interpretation of science that reflects their worldview, however both cannot be true.
In conclusion, we find that the facts more plausibly reinforce the theists’ worldview. We find atheistic scientists jumping through hoops in an attempt to justify how our universe came into being ex nihiloby saying that the universe came from nothing, the universe created itself, the multiverse theory, and many others. In addition, people have gone great lengths to disprove the historicity of Jesus by coming up with absurd conspiracy theories that don’t have enough plausibility, explanatory power, or explanatory scope to outweigh the resurrection hypothesis. The fact is, it is perfectly reasonable to place your faith and trust in God given the evidence at hand. That is what makes atheism a faith rather than a fact.
1 Definition of Atheism (Oxford Dictionaries). http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/atheism
2 Atheism and agnosticism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/#1
3 Atheism (Encyclopedia Britannica). http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/40634/atheism
4 John Lennox, God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God?(Oxford, England: Lion Hudson plc) Chapter 1