Turns Out Atheism Proves God’s Existence… Conveniently.

An absence, of course, is an absence of something,
Or else it’s no absence at all!
So atheists know, it’s an absence of GOD
Whom they claim disbelief in, recall—
But they can’t disbelieve in a thing that is not,
Or the concept just wouldn’t make sense!
And thus atheists prove that my God does exist,
While their own claims are purely pretense.

In the “tangled chains of tortured logic” category, we have a promising new entry. The author, a Christian apologist, is reading a book by an atheist. I can’t exactly determine why, though, as he seems determined to ignore anything the atheist actually writes:

After giving the reader his definition of theism he emphatically wrote, “Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief,” and then goes on, “Atheism, in its basic form, is not a belief; it is the absence of belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that god does not exist; rather, he does not believe in the existence of a god.”

But, is this really what the atheist believes or is it simply an irrational statement of convenience to keep carrying out his long war against something he says he does not believe in?

The apologist does not quite understand why the atheist might occasionally refer specifically to the Christian god and at other times to a generic god or gods. See, not believing in God must mean that we don’t believe that religion exists. Or something. Let alone that multiple religions exist. Then, there was this paragraph, the spark for today’s verse:

A genuine absence of belief entails an absolute absence of knowledge. One cannot accept or reject the belief in something without first knowing something about that which is accepted or rejected.

This is, of course, a requirement of “strong atheism”–a positive claim of rejection. But this is not at all what the atheist book was saying, but rather what the apologist is saying. And the apologist, I suspect, would make such a strong claim against the existence of any other gods… which, by his own logic, would imply that they exist?

Now, given that the atheist is a know-it-all, which includes times, places, peoples, and events, then to say atheism is the absence of theistic belief would make no sense.

He must know something about that which he rejects as true, otherwise his omniscient knowledge would soon be discovered to be less than omniscient.

But of course, the atheist he is reading is not the one claiming absolute knowledge of the lack of existence of gods; you saw, above, in quotes, the atheist writes about an absence of belief. It is the apologist who seems to claim some sort of omniscience, strongly believing in one god and strongly dismissing the others. Like I said, why is the apologist even reading the atheist’s book? There’s another book that already has it all nailed down:

No, atheism is not a belief in what is absent, but a rejection of Who and what is present. The atheist knows God exists, which is why Mr. Smith makes the distinctions, and because God has revealed Himself in the person of the atheist.

“…because that which is know about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them,” wrote the Apostle Paul (Rom. 1:19).

We’ve seen it before, all too often. There is no need to pay attention to the claims of the atheists themselves, when the bible clearly shows them to be liars. Dude didn’t even really need to open the atheist’s book in the first place for this one. He claims that the “lack of belief” position is convenient for atheists, because it rids us of all the logical problems he demonstrates…I agree, those problems exist. But “lack of belief” not only avoids that problem, it also very accurately describes the privative nature of atheism (whereas “strong atheism” must be re-defined with respect to every single god–which, of course, no one actually does). There is certainly an argument of convenience in his post, but it is his own position. The bible is authoritative, so this inconvenient thing an atheist said about his own position? I can simply ignore it.

How convenient.


  1. machintelligence says

    When I had hay fever as a youth, I described the sensation as making me wish i could reach inside my lungs and scratch. This argument makes me wish I could reach inside my head and scratch.

  2. culuriel says

    So, is this apologist deciding that since atheists learn something about the religions whose deities they don’t believe in, that it means his god exists? Can one learn about worship methods of Greco-Roman deities without actually believing in them? Does the apologist avoid “believing” in other deities by not bothering to learn about the religions attached? I’m trying to decode the word salad, but sometimes it’s just too much.

  3. Ethan Myerson says

    One of the problems with this line of apologetics is that it opens the door to every conceivable belief being accepted as true. For every possible claim, you have to either believe it’s true, or reject it which somehow makes it true. But those who use this apologetic tactic never seem to see that problem.

    The problem could theoretically be sidestepped if they claim that they have access to omniscience (their god’s word, for instance) that denies other claims. Then they could have justification for rejecting claims. The problem is, the god of the bible doesn’t say these other claims are false. It says, in fact, that there are other gods, that witches and unicorns are real, and so on.

  4. Chris J says

    A genuine absence of belief entails an absolute absence of knowledge. One cannot accept or reject the belief in something without first knowing something about that which is accepted or rejected.

    And how does one gain that knowledge? By talking with the people who do believe it. It’s like he’s claiming you can only soundly reject something if it shows up in front of you.

  5. CatMat says

    And thus, with a singular bout of illogic
    a new, irrefutable title was born:
    “Absence of Wavelength Dependent Dispersion
    of Light on the Invisible Pink Unicorn”

  6. Kate Jones says

    So an abstract thought or speculation,
    Hypothesis or imagination
    Is tantamount to a solid thingie
    Tangible, concrete and clingy?

    If you can conceive it, it’s for real?
    If you can believe it, it’s a deal?
    Methinks that believer’s brain is askew.
    And if I can think that, it must be true.

    Even a stopped clock looks right twice a day,
    But a believer’s babble blows logic away.

  7. CatMat says

    @Kate Jones

    “Cogito, ergo sum”
    – I think, therefore I am
    is how it’s stated best
    this claim for “substitis”

    Once reified by some
    or sunk to kind of spam,
    “Cogito, ergo est”
    – I think, therefore it is

    (I wish I actually new Latin so I could solidify that some. “Romanes eunt domus” and all that.)

  8. forestdragon says

    Romanes they go the house? ;)

    This “argument” makes my head ache. You may as well say that because I don’t believe that dragons ever existed means that they do exist somewhere in the world. Feh. Bleah. Fpppppbbbbthh. [Bronx cheer]

    A real dragon would arguably be much kewler than a real god. At least then if the dragon gets to be enough of a pain in the ass, it could be slain. With gods, you tend to need another god, which tends to bring up the ‘old lady who swallowed a fly’ scenario.

  9. hexidecima says

    so, if a theist, non-Christian type, says that his god’s existence is proven by the disbelief by a Christian, then what?

    ah, it’s always good to know that so many Christians don’t even try to think through their claims.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    Rather encouragingly, every comment on that link (except for the author’s replies, all as astute as his original post) points out one or more fallacies.

    Atheist-bashing just doesn’t turn out the crowds it used to.

  11. Brian5 says

    There’s an easy out for this. Of course God exists, in the same sense Santa Claus exists: God is an idea. Atheists can discuss an idea. Atheists assert that God is not real.

  12. moarscienceplz says

    Hey, I like this idea!
    So if I see a million-dollar yacht that I like, all I have to do is write a $1,000,000 check for it and really really believe that the check will clear. Then the salesman will either believe it too, and give me the yacht, or he will not, in which case he will thus prove that there is a million bucks in my checking account. Cool!

  13. says

    I’ve always found the whole gnostic/agnostic atheist argument to be supremely frustrating. I got hit with a similar argument a month ago from a former Amish guy. He said that atheists don’t really exist because in order to reject gods’ existence we’d have to be omniscient to confirm that there is no place in the universe a god of some sort is hiding. Of course, the standards of proof are so high as to make the terms “gnostic” and “agnostic” meaningless. After all, how can I be gnostic about the existence of, say, the phone I’m holding in my hand? I have no knowledge of it outside my own senses, which are known to give false input, so maybe it’s a hallucination.

  14. Cuttlefish says

    Michael, one of the atheist philosophers interviewed in the New York Times series had an interesting take–she noted that scientific belief is always provisional, that we can believe something with all our hearts and still be willing to say we were wrong when presented with appropriate evidence. By the standards of scientific belief, she was willing to say that yes, she believes there is no god (not just the “does not believe there *is* a god”), slightly more strongly than she believes she knows her own name (it would not be unheard of to, say, find out that your birth certificate has a different name from the one your parents have called you all your life).

  15. kcrady says

    Ironically, that passage from the first chapter of Romans is one of the Bible’s best arguments against Christianity. In context, Paul is claiming that people are “without excuse” for not believing in his god because “his invisible divine nature” has been revealed in “what has been made,” i.e. the “created” world. Paul is not arguing that one should infer the existence of some nebulous “divine agency” or other, no–he’s claiming that the existence of his particular god is self-evident in the natural world. Well, guess what: that’s what we critical-thinker types call a “testable claim.” If it’s true, Christians should be able to clobber atheists and believers in other religions with endless inventories of observable facts that point to the existence and nature of their god and no other. Especially since we now know so much more about “what has been made” than Paul could have. Christians should be gleefully pointing to how quasars demonstrate the doctrine of the Trinity, or how the behavior of praying mantises refutes the Pelagian heresy, and the like. It should be easy.

    That apologists like this guy have to resort to such desperate legerdemain and pseudo-logical bafflegab is itself powerful evidence that Christianity is false. Because if Paul was right when he wrote the first chapter of Romans, they’d have an endless supply of far better evidence and arguments.

  16. sarasmyle says

    If we are talking straight philosophy then yeah sure the absence of the existence of God or anything for that matter must logically be the existence of that thing. The true definition though of Atheist also means doubter, not just agnostic or non-believer. In any other form of study, information has to be gathered, facts checked and proven before deciding if something is true or not. Asking someone to take your word for it on blind faith especially when some of the things are super natural in content would be idiotic. Would you believe that I could fly if I just told you I could. How come all of the big biblical miracles conveniently happened 2000 years ago like Jesus walking on water or 4000 years ago like Moses parting the red sea?

    By the way, Jesus was a Jewish educator, so he was probably was a Rabbi, married with a bunch of kids. No Jewish men were allowed to be single. It was looked down upon the family. The first born son would have been chosen to be a religious teacher as it is today in the Jewish orthodox way. Christianity didn’t start well after he had died. During that time there was a lot of political upheaval going on in Jerusalem. There were several candidates vying for the part of Messiah. How are we to know which one was the real JC? I was brought up Jewish, had my
    Bat Mitzvah, married a Roman Catholic man and was baptized in his church in order to get married. I am very educated in all the major religions but hold no belief in any one god. I do not believe in the existence of god in the biblical sense. I believe that time began and has an ending, that cells are born, proliferate, then die, that humans began from blue- green algae and that the building blocks of protein our DNA and water came from debris from outer space left over from the “Big Bang”. That sounds just as crazy as believing in a man that was buried and one the third day rose from the dead. There is one teeny, tiny discrepancy, I can prove every one of the things I believe in. How many things can the Christian or for that matter all Religious orders can prove about the existence of God? Show me something, one piece of tangible evidence (not the Shroud of Turin) and I will believe. You can hear radio waves ( sounds left over from the big bang) let me hear the voice of god that the bible talks about. get him on the phone! How many priests and Rabbis would be out of a job if we could debunk this. Ok, My rant is over….

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