The word atheism comes from the
negative a which means no and theos which means god. Hence, atheism in the most base terms means no god. Basically,
atheism is the lack of belief in a god and/or the belief that there is no god. By contrast, theism is the belief that
there is a God and that He is knowable. I need to mention that most atheists do not consider themselves anti-theists.
Most consider themselves as non-theists.
I've encountered many atheists who claim
that atheism is not a belief system while others say it is. Since there is no official atheist organization, nailing
down which definition of atheism to use can be difficult. Following are some definitions offered by atheists.
"An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no
"An atheist lacks belief in a god."
"An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all."
"An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression
"An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker, free from religion
and its ideas."
Which ever definition you go by, atheism
There are two main categories of atheists: strong and weak, with variations in between.
A strong atheist actively believes and states that no God exists. They expressly denounce the Christian God along with
any other god. Strong atheists are usually more aggressive in their conversations with theists and try shoot holes in
theistic beliefs. They like to use logic and anti-biblical evidences to denounce God's existence.
Agnostic Atheists, as I call them, are those who deny God's existence based on an examination of evidence. Agnosticism
means 'not knowing,' or 'no knowledge.' I call them agnostic because they state they have looked at the evidence and
have concluded that there is no God. But, the interesting thing with them is that they say they are open further evidence
for God's existence.
Weak atheists simply exercises no faith in God. The weak atheist
might be better explained as a person who lacks belief in God the way a person might lack belief that there is a green lizard
in a rocking chair on the moon; the subject simply isn't an issue and they don't believe or not believe it.
Finally, there is a group of atheists that I call militant atheists. They are, fortunately, few in number. They
are usually highly insulting and profoundly terse in their comments to theists, particularly Christians. Ive encountered a
few of them and they are vile, rude, and highly condescending. Their language is full of insults, profanity, and blasphemies.
Basically, no meaningful conversation can be had with them at all.
Two Main Types of Arguments from Atheists
Atheist positions seem to fall into
two main categories. The first is the lack of evidence category where the atheist asserts that the supporting evidence
isn't good enough for him to affirm God's existence. The second is the category where they believe that the idea of
God existing is illogical and contrary to the evidence at hand. To simplify, one says there isn't enough evidence to
decide and the other says there is evidence contrary to God's existence. For those atheists who simply lack belief and exercise no energy in the discussion, neither category applies because
are not involved in the debate.
A typical argument posed by an atheist to show why God does not
exist is as follows: God is supposed to be all good and all powerful. Evil and suffering exist in the world.
If God is all good he would not want evil and suffering to exist. If He is all powerful then He is able to remove all
evil and suffering. Since evil and suffering exist, God is either not all good (which means he is not perfect
and not God), or he is not all powerful (and limited in abilities and scope). Since either case shows God is not
all good and powerful, then He does not exist.
Some Basic Tenets of Atheism
Presuppositions are important to us
all. We look at the world through them. The atheist has a set of presuppositions, too. Though there is no
definitive atheist organization that defines the absolutes of atheism, there are basic principles that atheists, as a whole,
tend to adopt. They are listed below. Please note however, that not all atheists assert all of these tenets.
The only absolute common one they hold to is that they do not believe in a God or gods.
There is no God or devil.
There is no supernatural realm.
Miracles cannot occur.
There is no such thing as sin as a violation of God's will.
Generally, the universe is materialistic and measurable.
Man is material.
Generally, evolution is considered a scientific fact.
Ethics and morals are relative
For the Christian, atheism clashes
with many aspects of our faith. Some atheists openly attack Christianity citing apparent contradictions in the Bible, perceived
philosophical difficulties related to God, and what they consider as logical evidences against God's existence. But the atheists'
criticisms are not without answers. Hopefully, this information will help answer some of their claims and give reasons for
believing in God.
Chistrian Apologetics & Research Ministry