One of the most common topics in discussion between Christians and atheists is the question of what atheism actually is.
For a long time, the word has been defined as the view that there is no God–i.e., the claim “God does not exist.”
More recently, some atheists have begun to define it differently.
According to them, atheism is simply a lack of belief in the existence of God. On this view, a person would be an atheist if he thought there was no God, thought it unlikely that there is a God, or didn’t know if there is a God.
Simply not agreeing with the claim “There is a God” would make you an atheist.
Some atheists have claimed that this is the natural state of humanity. On this view, we all start out as atheists and we have to learn belief in God.
In other words: Babies are atheists.
Are they right?
What’s the Attraction?
I understand why the atheists who make this claim would be attracted to it. At least, I understand why I would find it attractive if I were an atheist:
- It can be plausibly claimed that babies do not have a belief in God, which makes one of the premises of the argument seem true.
- If every position other than outright assertion of God’s existence falls under my banner, my position would seem larger and more popular.
- I could claim atheism as mankind’s natural state, thus creating an implicit argument for it. Being in accord with human nature is good, right?
- I could claim atheism as the default human belief, and thus relieve me of the burden of proof in arguing with others. I could then claim that the burden of proof is on those who want to believe in God. Until I’m satisfied by their arguments, I’m entitled to act on the assumption that God does not exist.
But consider this . . .