My Question: Athiests don't believe anything?

(Dave) #1

Hi everyone, I’m wondering how others address folks that claim “Atheism is not a belief, it is simply not believing in God.” That sounds more like agnosticism to me. I’ve had a few discussions where I was just not able to get through.

(Myles Goodwin) #2

That is a very interesting statement by a proclaiming Atheist. It usually means, in my limited experience, that the person subscribing to an Atheistic worldview has not studied or even scratch the surface of the assumptions within that framework. More often then not I find this type of person not very interested in thinking about deeper meanings in life and are relived that Atheism provides a moral couch to kick back and relax.
However if this person has at least investigated the worldview and moderately versed in its writings or promoters, than the next step is to bring to their attention their convictions or “causes” they subscribe to. Are they upset about current political tensions? Do they want a cleaner environment? Do they get upset (and rightly so) about injustices? These are all issues that they hold to but perhaps without realizing that the Atheist worldview at the end of the day doesnt require moral responsibility or even a reason to get upset by injustices.
Hopefully that is a good jumping off point for you. I’m sure there is more to be said and as always it depends upon the individual to know which avenue to take.
God Bless you brother.

(Roger Greene) #3

Atheism has to manifest itself as a belief in something. To say that you don’t believe in anything is nonsensical. Usually Atheists believe in a form of Naturalism but don’t consider that a belief system because they don’t put it in the same category as religious beliefs. Therefore they think belief in natural process as creator of the universe is not a belief at all.

Agnosticism is more along the lines of saying “I don’t think humans are capable of knowing if there is or isn’t a God, so I’m reserving judgement for a later date.”

I think the simplest way to arrive at an atheists actual beliefs would be to ask pointed questions: how was the universe created? Why are we here? and so on. Things like that will very quickly reveal what their actual belief system is and then you can go from there on discussing their viewpoints.

(Jimmy Sellers) #4

I posted this awhile back but it has stuck with me and I think you will find an interesting read. It is probably worth sharing with your friend.

(Andrew Bulin) #5

An atheistic worldview can sit on spectrum of belief from a totality of unbelief in any type of theism at any supernatural level, up to someone who is not willing to give God a name nor discredit the possibility of a God only because they do not feel confident to really know. This is sometimes a hard worldview for a theist to really comprehend as a true, naked no-belief in anything like a god.

Not the best vid, but I linked Craig debating Hitchens and at the time of him asking the specific question at hand.

I would not be quick to say that an atheist cannot possibly have any belief as much as I would not claim that they cannot be moral. It is true that as Christians we identify a world without God unanswerable in meaning as we understand that God is the center of all meaning. However, the atheist may simply be content in their current refusal to let Christ in and we have to patiently represent the truth in a loving way. It may be you who they call when life’s unexplainable chaos no longer is an acceptable answer to their present problems. You may be they one they call for help or a friendly ear to listen.

There are clear reasons in my opinion where atheism simply fails. Someone may be fine with having no real answers to the four questions of reality that a worldview normally seeks to answer (origin, meaning, morality, and destiny). However, I would say that life and its certainties can leave someone needing more than simply unexplainable emptiness and chaos. When someone is looking for some sort of logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance (Ravi’s worldview tests) in the worldview that they have chosen, atheism does not afford you much, “nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (to quote Richard Dawkins).

(christopher van zyl) #6

I’d simply grant them that that statement is correct. Atheism is a negation. Just like if we are talking about the tooth fairy, yes I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in the tooth fairy. The next question, however, is what DO you believe?
I don’t believe in the tooth fairy… but I DO believe in God.

So they might say, quite correctly, that they are an atheist and they don’t believe in God. So you can say “okay fair enough. What DO you believe in then?”

They might then say they subscribe to naturalism or materialism. You can then discuss that worldview with them. You can even discuss that they ACT as if God is real, because they 10 to 1 believe in objective morality.

I tend towards this approach because I find it easier. It’s no formula though. Atheists are really passionate about their belief in their unbelief :joy: in my experience, discussing naturalism and materialism has been a better way to connect their heart to their mind, and speak about Christ.

God bless. Would love to hear your thoughts.

(christopher van zyl) #7

You’ve been on fire @andrew.bulin. Been so encouraged by your answers. Keep it up and God bless!

(Andrew Bulin) #8

You’re too kind! I’m truly blessed by a wonderful community with rich discussion and only hope to add more food for thought. :relaxed:

(Andrew Bulin) #9

I follow a similar logical approach. An interesting book that gives a more secular argument against the cold and indifferent materialist world view is Thomas Nagel’s book, _ Mind Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False_. Nagel makes an argument that a purely materialistic view (that the more unbelieving atheist is likely to ascribe to) cannot be the end-all perspective and summarily writing off the supernatural actually goes against the principles and arguments made by the same world view.

This type of perspective allows me to have a deeper conversation that seems less like a one sided defense for what I hold to be true.

(christopher van zyl) #10

Will be getting this book! Thanks @andrew.bulin

(Carl E. Vogt) #11

Atheism is the belief that God does not exist.
Agnosticism is the belief that a creator God exists but is not engaged in His creation and by virtue of His attributes is beyond comprehension.

(C Rhodes) #12

An acquaintance of mine would come to any post in my younger sister’s facebook page and just rage and rant saying there was no GOD. She proudly admitted she was an Atheist. After a particular lengthy tirade against GOD, I wrote; “for someone who claims to not believe in GOD you sure talk about Him a lot.”

Just that quickly she confessed that perhaps she was more agnostic than atheistic. The true reason for her rage began to come forth. She had occasioned hypocrisy in her past religious experiences. I thought it best to not point out her own duplicity.

But, it gave me the opportunity to share with her how she had not gone far enough. I told her that where there was humanity there was the fallen nature. I told her that it did not preclude her pursuing and receiving a fellowship with the Lord. I encouraged her to return and get what GOD had just for her.

I don’t think she had a “Paul on the Damascus Road” experience. But, she did stop ranting on facebook posts about GOD. I receive that much with thanksgiving. The seed was planted. I trust others will water. I know GOD gives the increase.