First of all, it is erroneous to imply that atheists even have beliefs. Whoever implies that doesn’t understand the basic definition of the word “atheist.” Let’s look a little closer. The “a” in atheist is taken from the Latin root for “without,” and the word “theist” is taken from the Greek root for “belief in theos (god).” So, in other words, atheism is the lack of belief in god. It is not a belief that no god exists. It is simply not having a belief in God or being “without belief…” Therefore it is simply wrong to ever use the word atheist and belief together as if atheism is some sort of separate belief system from a religious belief system. Atheists aren’t just without a Christian belief in god either. They are without a belief in any kind of god, whether it’s Christian, Jewish, or Muslim or any other religion for that matter.
Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of belief.
So, before we go any further, it is important to be sure it is clear that atheism is simply the lack of belief in god without regard for any personal philosophy, worldview, or ideology.
Additionally, atheism is not an attack on religion. It is completely indifferent to any creed, doctrine, or dogma. As such, it is not a substitute for religion either. In spite of this, there will still be people who insist that atheism itself is a belief system. This simply isn’t true. Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of belief. So, rather than say that an atheist believes that God doesn’t exist, you would be more correct to say that an atheist does not believe God exists.
Two ways to use the word “atheist.”
First is when a person maintains that “God exists” is a false proposition. As such, the atheist declares the opposite to be true, i.e., “There is no god.” Secondly, an atheist is one who rejects belief in God regardless of whether or not believe in God is a false idea. But what about theists? This word only tells us that they believe in god, but it doesn’t tell us why. The same is true of atheists. This term tells us that they do not believe in god, but it also doesn’t tell us why. Even though there may be many reasons not to believe in the existence of god, the term by itself doesn’t tell us the reason. Again, it only tells us that an atheist is without theistic belief.
A Theist or an Atheist?
In this context, we can see that there are only two positions to choose from. You are either a theist or an atheist. You either believe god exists or you don’t. You either accept the proposition “god exists” as true, or you don’t. There is no other choice.
Now as a theist you can choose from many different doctrines and dogmas but they all assert that there is a god. You can be a Christian theist or a Jewish theist or a Muslim, or a Hindu or a Baptist or a Pentecostal or a Catholic, but they are all just variations of theism. But Christian theists at least have a definition for their beliefs in their holy scriptures. In the book of Hebrews in chapter 11 and verse 1, it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith is belief without evidence.
At least they dare to admit that faith and fact are not the same things. They cannot be. Facts require evidence to demonstrate the truth of their existence. Faith requires simply the suspension of unbelief. As such, a person can be put in a hazardous situation since the lack of logic, reason, and rationality can easily lead to all kinds of false, erroneous ideas which can ultimately harm the believer if they ignore the truth.
There is only one safe choice. Truth, which is that which corresponds to facts or reality, is the only wise choice. Faith, on the other hand, is always blind and can lead the believer down the path to oblivion. I think the choice is clear. Since atheism uses logic, reason, and rationality to reach its conclusion, it is much safer than theism which relies on faith regardless of the evidence. And as we all know, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.