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In the latest newsletter from Stand to Reason, Greg Koukl points out a fairly recent development in the ongoing debate regarding the existence of God:

Atheists no longer believe there is no God, apparently.  Instead, they merely lack belief in the divine.  They are not un-believers.  They are simply non-believers.  And non-belief is not a claim, so it requires no defense.

This, atheists think, makes their job easier by relieving them of any responsibility to provide evidence for their view, er…their non-view.  After all, no one is obliged to give evidence for the non-existence of fairies.  Thus, atheism secures the inside lane as the default view for reasonable people.  Or so atheists claim.

After pointing out some of the logical inconsistencies in this claim, he concludes:

To say you do not believe in God is very different from saying you lack belief about God. Anyone who has a point of view has a belief. And atheists have a point of view.  This makes them believers of a very particular stripe: They believe God does not exist.

There’s another problem, though, that apparently has escaped the notice of those atheists who claim the high road of reason as their own.  Given any point of view (e.g., “God exists”), there are only three possible responses to it. You can affirm it (“God does exist”), you can deny it (“God does not exist”), or you can withhold judgment (“I don’t know”), either for lack of information or lack of interest.

In the God debate, the first is called a theist (of some sort), the second an atheist, and the third an agnostic.  The alleged non-believers in question here are neither theistic nor agnostic.  Only one logical option remains:  They deny God exists, which is why they are called atheists to begin with.  An atheist (a = not, theist = regarding God) is a person who holds there is not a God.  That is an active claim, not a passive non-belief.

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