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Is atheism the absence of religion?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/8/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
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This debate consists of 4 rounds
(1) Acceptance
(2) Arguments Opening
(3) Rebuttals/Arguments
(4) Closing Arguments

This has much to do with semantics, specifically with the word "Atheist".

I am challenging your statements in the opinion section stating that atheism is the absence of religion.


I will gladly accept your challenge.

Firstly I'd like to start by pointing out that, seeing as you have stated that this debate is largely about semantics, I take issue with the wording of the question "Is atheism the absence of religion?" as it is easy to say that the definition of Atheism is not a lack of religion and thus I feel it is somewhat of a trick question. I would however say that a lack of region would invariably follow from Atheism

Secondly I'd like to clarify that I did not in fact claim that Atheism is the lack of religion, the statement to which you are referring actually says;

"Atheism is the complete absence of religious belief"

I refer only to the belief and not to religion itself.

I do however stand on the position that Atheism is not a religion and therefore lacks any and all religious belief, tenets and ritualistic practices pertaining to deity worship or any governing supernatural force or entity. If one identifies as an Atheist it then follows that they lack any religious belief and thus religion itself, though Atheism is defined only as a lack of belief.

I would also like to posit that Theism is also not a religion, however unlike Atheism, Theism allows for the possibility of the existence of supernatural entities such as deities and thus it follows that believers in such beings may feel inclined to appease them through worship and other ritualistic practices we would define as "religion." All religion lies under the umbrella of Theism, though again Theism itself is not a religion.

To start this debate I would like to challenge you on what your definition of both Atheism and religion are and how they could in fact be linked?
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting. (All definitions come from
Atheism: 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Etymology: atheist 1570s, from Fr. ath"iste (16c.), from Gk. atheos "to deny the gods, godless," froma- "without" + theos "a god" (see Thea). A slightly earlier form is represented by atheonism (1530s) which is perhaps from It. atheo "atheist."

This shows clearly that atheism is a negative belief, as opposed to agnosticism. To deny the existence of something is to take an active stand against that particular something. God can"t be proven or disproven. Therefore, it is a belief not grounded in facts but the absence of facts.

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
Etymology: religion
c.1200, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-Fr. religiun (11c.), from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred,reverence for the gods," in L.L. "monastic life" (5c.); according
to Cicero, derived from relegare "go through again, read again," from re- "again"+ legere "read" (see lecture). However, popular etymology among the laterancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare "to bind fast" (seerely), via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans andgods." Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens. Meaning "particular system of faith" is recorded from c.1300.
Modern sense of "recognition of, obedience to, and worship of a higher, unseen power" is from 1530s. Religious is first recorded early 13c. Transferred sense of"scrupulous, exact" is recorded from 1590s.

For the purpose here, we need only (1.) The others refer to established religions which atheism is not. Atheism has "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe."

Set of beliefs: Negative belief in a deity.
Cause and nature: Entirely naturalistic. As Richard Lewontin puts it, "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen." [1]
Thus, atheism, through "science," requires only naturalistic explanations.
Purpose: As W. B. Provine states, "There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That"s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either." [2]
According to atheists, we live in a universe which has "no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." [3]

This is because, in a naturalistic world-view, everything we see now is just a cosmic fluke. There is no guiding force behind our existence, hence there is no purpose to our existence.

Supposing that these are not the opinions of most atheists, then it must be shown that such atheists live in cognitive dissonance[4], which I will show in the next round.

So now having clearly linked atheism and religion, is there anything that you want to refute?

1. The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.
2. Origins Research 16(1), p.9, 1994
3. Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995


Thank you for your response, indeed there are many things there I'd like to refute.

Firstly I'd like to start by challenging your definition of Atheist/Atheism, and then I will explain how it does not fit into any definition of religion - including the one you provided.


According to some dictionaries that can be found online, Atheist is said to mean the "belief" that no God or gods exist. I'm not sure why this is the case, but more reputable sources disagree with this definition. The most notable example is the Oxford dictionary which describes Atheism as;

"Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods." [1]

The Collins online dictionary defines an Atheist as;

"a person who does not believe in God or gods" [2]

However, definitions from dictionaries such as would imply a negative belief in a deity. Before I explain why I think this is incorrect, I would like to point out that I do not wish to argue from authority and claim that my source is any more valid simply because it has Oxford credentials, I would just like to make the point that referencing dictionaries to define Atheism is pointless as there appears to be much discrepancy as to the exact definition of Atheist among different dictionaries, thus giving rise to debates like this one. I would like instead to explain why I think the definition you gave - and similar definitions - are inadequate at describing what Atheism is.

The definition of Atheist you gave means that, as an Atheist I should be actively disbelieving in all deities, which means I should - by your definition - be actively disbelieving in Apollo, Zeus, Thor, Amon Ra etc. In fact, by that logic I must find all unfalsifiable claims and actively disbelieve them.

No. Lack of belief - NOT disbelief - is the default position. Did you believe or disbelieve in Father Christmas when you were born? It's an entirely meaningless question since you lacked the cognitive capacity to comprehend such concepts; you didn't disbelieve, you were of the default position of no belief. It would be absurd to think that Atheism could be a negative belief, since it is not a belief at all. This is just an attempt by the religious to make Atheism seem like a position of faith - perhaps to justify their own baseless convictions. Atheism is simply a non-acceptance of claims that a God or gods exist - or any supernatural force or entity one could conceive of.

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." Richard Dawkins

Dawkins makes a good point. For example a Christian - though a person of faith - does not believe in Thor, he/she presumably believes in the judeo-christian God Yahweh. So then, does that mean that he/she holds the negative belief that Thor does not exist, or again, does he/she simply lack belief in Thor? Do you ever hear of people preaching in church that Thor does not exist? No, they just don't talk about it because - again - they lack any belief, Thor is irrelevant to their way of life - Atheists just go one god further.

"Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities." - Wikipedia [3]

"Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God" - Kai E. Nielsen [4]

This is not to be confused with Agnosticism. Agnosticism is not a center ground between Theism and Atheism. Agnosticism an epistemological position and is concerned with knowledge and not belief. The Agnostic says that nothing is known or can be known of the existence of a proposed phenomenon, which is to say that they do not think that it is possible to ever know whether or not a deity exists. The big difference is that Agnosticism allows for the belief in a deity, it only claims there is no way one could demonstrate or truly know whether such a being exists.

ag-nos-tic : from a- (without) and gnosis (knowledge) [5]

"[Agnosticism is] the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with skepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought." - Encyclopaedia Britannica [6]


Religion as defined by the Oxford dictionary is;

"the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion
  • a particular system of faith and worship: the world's great religions
  • a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion: consumerism is the new religion" [7]

This is more or less what you had already defined, but you were specifically concerned with the statement;

"a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe."

Since we have already established that Atheism is the lack of belief, we can rule out the first part of the statement and say that Atheism is not "a set of beliefs."

We are now left with the implication that an Atheist holds ideas "concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe" which may well be very true, but does that mean that those ideas are a part of their Atheism?

Well no, because Atheism is a lack of belief in deities and the definition ends there. There are no extra attachments to being an Atheist, it only tells you a single thing about a person; that they don't believe in God.

If I were a devout Christian, you could assume that I must pray regularly and perhaps attend a church - I use the word "devout" since not all Christians regularly participate in these religious activities. You could even safely assume that I might have strong views concerning same sex marriage, or extra marital sex, to give two examples. However, being that I am an Atheist, can you tell me any regular, ritualistic behavior that I may take part in? Can you tell me anything about my opinions and values simply by knowing of my Atheism?

The answer is no. As put by YouTube Atheist Aron Ra; "Atheists are like a herd of cats." The only thing you can guarantee we all have in common is that none of us believe in god.

Because of the absence of any link between Atheism and any religion or world view - or in fact anything beyond the question of god's existence - it is safe for me to conclude that Atheism is not a religion of any kind; it is not a supernatural religion, it is not a naturalistic religion; Atheism is not a religion.


Due to lack of space, I will discuss the topic of purpose in the next round.

I look forward to your rebuttal.

[4] Kai Nielsen (2011). "Atheism". Encyclopaedia Britannica
[6] (2011) "Agnosticism" Encyclopaedia Britannica
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has set up a strawman here. When he states, "In fact, by that logic I must find all unfalsifiable claims and actively disbelieve them" he expands the definition of atheist to include skeptic. Which two are not the same. My opponent has not given space to the argument from the etymology, which I provided. The meaning of atheist, if one delves into the etymology, is clear. I do not need to repeat it, as I stated it in R2.

My opponent"s contention that lack of belief is the default position goes against research. According to [1], children are born to believe in God."[I]n some cultures children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them."
"Children's normally and naturally developing minds make them prone to believe in divine creation and intelligent design. In contrast, evolution is unnatural for human minds; relatively difficult to believe."

Also according to [2], "I was really interested in children"s ability to offer both scientific causal explanations and metaphysical explanations, which go beyond the scientific. Japanese culture is very different from Western culture with a very different history of science and religious tradition. So I thought I should be able to get some interesting comparisons between Japanese and Western children.
I tested both the Japanese and British children on the same tasks, showing them very accurate, detailed photographs of selected natural and man-made objects and then asking them questions about the causal origins of the various natural objects at both the scientific level (e.g. how did this particular dog become a dog?) and at the metaphysical level (e.g. how did the first ever dog come into being?). With the Japanese children, it was important to establish whether they even distinguished the two levels of explanation because, as a culture, Japan discourages speculation into the metaphysical, simply because it"s something we can never know, so we shouldn"t attempt it. But the Japanese children did speculate, quite willingly, and in the same way as British children. On forced choice questions, consisting of three possible explanations of primary origin, they would predominantly go for the word "God," instead of either an agnostic response (e.g., "nobody knows") or an incorrect response (e.g., "by people"). This is absolutely extraordinary when you think that Japanese religion "" Shinto "" doesn"t include creation as an aspect of God"s activity at all. So where do these children get the idea that creation is in God"s hands? It"s an example of a natural inference that they form on the basis of their own experience. My Japanese research assistants kept telling me, "We Japanese don"t think about God as creator "" it"s just not part of Japanese philosophy." So it was wonderful when these children said, "Kamisama! God! God made it!" That was probably the most significant finding.
I"ve also established that children"s natural concepts of God aren"t purely anthropomorphic. They certainly acquire a conception of God-as-man through their religious education, but no child actually links the representation of, for example, God-as-Jesus with the creator of the world. Rather, their images of God the creator correspond to abstract notions like gas, air, and person without a body. When you press them, they of course fall back on what they"ve been told, saying things like, "I know he"s a man because I saw him on the telly," or "He"s just like my daddy." These are very rational responses, but they"re not natural conceptions formed by children. Rather they"re imposed by the culture in which the children live."

My opponent does not deal with the etymology, instead setting up a strawman about agnosticism. What I was pointing out is that agnosticism is the lack, while atheism is negative belief.

My opponent"s comments about religion is accurate, but not to the point, as I will show. Deriving from the etymology, which he does not address, atheism is a negative belief. Hence it is a set of belief.

I am a devout Christian, but I do not attend church, this, however is a different debate topic altogether.

Besides stating what I already have, and now that I"m at risk of committing argumentum ad nauseam, I will move on to cognitive dissonance.

Atheists have cognitive dissonance because to hold to a purpose for which they have no logical basis for runs contrary to a lack of purpose.



Firstly I would like to make some corrections to your interpretation of my argument.

I did not intend to expand the definition of Atheist, what I said was;

"The definition of Atheist you gave means that, as an Atheist I should be actively disbelieving in all deities"

I then went on to criticize the logic of the argument, by saying;

"by that logic I must find all unfalsifiable claims and actively disbelieve them."

I did not expand any definition, it was merely an application of the same logic in regard to other unfalsifiable, supernatural claims. Had I said "since I am an Atheist, I must by your definition find all unfalsifiable claims and actively disbelieve them." Then you could say I had expanded the definition of Atheist, but I in fact have not.

You are however correct in the sense that, once you question claims beyond that of the existence of deities it becomes scepticism, but my intent was to expand upon my argument for "lack of belief" in which I feel other unfalsifiable claims make for good examples. Using scepticism as an example, the sceptic doesn't actively disbelieve in Big Foot, they simply haven't the requisite evidence to accept claims that Big Foot exists. Your logic in this matter is clearly flawed and you make no direct rebuttal to this argument.


Very briefly;

"agnosticism is the lack, while atheism is negative belief."

This statement is incorrect. I did not set up a straw man argument, it was a correction of your misrepresentation of agnosticism. For brevity I will quote from my previous argument;

"Agnosticism an epistemological position and is concerned with knowledge and not belief. The Agnostic says that nothing is known or can be known of the existence of a proposed phenomenon"

"The big difference is that Agnosticism allows for the belief in a deity"

It allows belief in a deity as the position itself is not concerned with belief and is thus compatible with both belief and non-belief. Agnosticism is not defined as a lack of belief.


"In early ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (ἄθεος, from the privative ἀ- + θεός "god") meant "godless". It was first used as a term of censure roughly meaning "ungodly" or "impious". In the 5th century BCE, the word began to indicate more-intentional, active godlessness in the sense of "severing relations with the gods" or "denying the gods", instead of the earlier meaning of impious." [1]

To address your concerns with the etymology of atheism, I refer you back to more or less the etymology you had provided in round 2. You claim that the above "shows clearly that atheism is a negative belief." I would like to make a few points using the above as a reference;

"Godless" - This does not imply a negative belief, it simply implies a world view absent of a god.

"ungodly" or "impious" - These are simply meant as derogative terms to describe non-believers and those who held different beliefs to the majority in an ancient society intolerant of those who - in their eyes - attempted to subvert the truth, as written in their holy book. They did not like people who directly - or even indirectly - challenged their faith, which is still the same today with most religions.

"severing relations with the gods" - This implies one holds a belief in gods, but affiliation or worship of them has been "severed." I repeat; an atheist lacks such belief and so such an implication is invalid.

"denying the gods" - This is not what you claim the etymology is supposed to "clearly show." This does not imply a negative belief, it simply says that one denies the claim that a god exists.


You begin your argument with;

"My opponent's contention that lack of belief is the default position goes against research."

You then continue with a detailed list of examples of children who, through one way or another, have adopted a set of beliefs. I needn't delve to deeply into this as my original point had been misinterpreted.

I made the point that when you are born you are of the default position of non-belief. You have an undeveloped brain and have not yet the requisite experience to make judgements about the world; after all, you are an infant who has just been born. It doesn't take long before your brain has developed enough to understand simple concepts such as the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas, or whatever religion your parents feel the need to indoctrinate you into. Since your detailed insights were about children who were at an impressionable age and cognisant of the world around them, and not about the state of infancy to which I was referring, your evidence does not further your argument.


Despite it being somewhat off-topic, I would like to address your argument concerning purpose - or a supposed lack thereof - in a naturalistic, science based world view. I will start by saying I'm an Atheist and I find my existence very purposeful - to ME - but not in actuality.

I do not agree that a deity of any kind is required for a purpose in life. Purpose is entirely subjective, a creation of the human mind, your purpose is your own and my purpose is my own, it is not a logical position. Purpose itself is a human construct and does not apply to inanimate objects, such as planets and stars and the universe - it may apply to knives and forks for example, but the purpose of a fork is not intrinsic, the fork is a collection of atoms arranged in such a way that a human can apply a purpose to it, but the purpose only exists in the mind of the human. It is precisely because of this subjectivity that I cannot agree that a naturalistic world removes purpose or meaning from life, therefore there is no cognitive dissonance as I do not have, do not need to have and cannot have a logical basis for a subjective position such as my purpose in life.

There is no demonstrably objective purpose to anything and I challenge you to prove otherwise.

Here are 4 questions on this topic;

1. How could there be an objective, demonstrable purpose to life?

2. Why is a God needed for this purpose?

3. What is purposeful about living in bliss for eternity; isn't an infinite life is just as meaningless as a finite life?

4. Is the meaning of your existence to be rewarded with eternal bliss at the end - is that then what you live for; to die and go to heaven?

I would also like to point out that despite how comforting a belief in a deity may be or how purposeful or meaningful such a belief may make life feel, it does not change the fact that we may well be living an entirely pointless existence - other than that of our subjective experience.

"People find consolation and comfort in religion, but note, what is comforting and what is true are entirely different things, imagine a doctor saying you are absolutely fine, when actually you've got terminal cancer" Richard Dawkins.

Please let me know if there is anything I have not addressed.

Again, I look forward to your response.


Debate Round No. 3


I would like to make some remarks about my interpretation. You said, "by that logic I must find all unfalsifiable claims and actively disbelieve them."
There are unfalsifiable claims that are not supernatural. These do not fall into this category.

From britannica, "atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.
The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism." [1]
You have a last round to refute me on this. Looking at some other a-prefixed words, it is clear that a- means not, "not theist". [2]

Default position: This is merely a contention of my opponent, as he has provided no references. As stated in the quotation, Japanese children are not exposed to the idea of "God", so for them to choose "God" is remarkable. To argue that they are "impressionable" simply misses the point.

Purpose: Firstly, I would point out that I have not said there is absolute purpose, yet. Secondly, my opponent has made a suicidal argument. He affirms that there is truth, he affirms that there is no purpose, and he affirms that it is subjective.
His statement that purpose is subjective assumes that there is no absolutes, but that itself is an absolute, hence it defeats itself. (Greg Koukl argument)
I will only answer the question about whether God is needed for purpose. Notice that my opponent has ignored the words "logical basis". Notice that if there is no logical basis, it is a suicidal purpose. The logical basis needed is that someone/something absolute gave a purpose, hence the purpose should be followed. There is only one entity which is absolute, God.

Conclusion. My opponent has made valid points in that he distinguishes between atheism, agnosticism, and the like. The one point that my opponent really debates is whether or not atheism is a negative belief, all the other points logically follow. However, his contention that atheism is a lack of belief is simply flawed, as I have shown. Even the dictionary he cites, Oxford, says "disbelief." The prefix dis-, means "having a privative, negative, or reversing force". This simple fact, which my opponent ignored, shows my case clearly.

Anyway, I thank my opponent for an interesting debate.

Vote Con.




"Japanese children are not exposed to the idea of "God", so for them to choose "God" is remarkable."

I will refute this statement using the source you provided.

"Japanese religion — Shinto — doesn't include creation as an aspect of God's activity at all. So where do these children get the idea that creation is in God's hands? It's an example of a natural inference that they form on the basis of their own experience."

These children are very much exposed to the concept of a God. According to your source, their version of God is "Kamisama". What makes this remarkable is that they seem to attribute Kamisama to the creation of things in their world despite the fact that – according to their religion - creation is not an aspect of Kamisama's activity. "It's an example of a natural inference that they form on the basis of their own experience." An example of the same superstitious thinking that has been part of humanity for millennia; history has shown time and time again, when one hasn't the means or cognitive capacity to explain phenomena, some form of supernatural explanation is used to fill in the gaps - even myself as a child often jumped to supernatural conclusions out of ignorance.

So why DID they choose God? Well let's read on;

"On forced choice questions, consisting of three possible explanations of primary origin, they would predominantly go for the word "God," instead of either an agnostic response (e.g., "nobody knows") or an incorrect response (e.g., "by people")."

Forced choice questions? This shows only one thing; when provided with "three possible explanations of primary origin" children - in their ignorance - will choose the supernatural option. One can only assume from this that they knew what the word "God" referred to.

Again these points refer to children who have the ability to form a natural inference "on the basis of their own experience." You have not refuted my point that non-belief is the default position since you did not address how a new born infant could be born with an innate belief. You are implying that for some, belief in god is the default position, which is absurd; a new born child could not hold such philosophical positions. Even your own source says;

"Recent research shows that human infants aren't passive recipients of information around them, but obviously think, making inferences and forming hypotheses."
A "hypothesis" is;

"A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation." [1]

This does not imply belief; it means only observation and speculation and it certainly doesn't imply that if one hypothesises they must be cognisant of such concepts as "Gods."


"He affirms that there is truth, he affirms that there is no purpose, and he affirms that it is subjective."

Firstly your statement contradicts itself, "he affirms that there is no purpose, and he affirms that it is subjective." I could not claim that purpose is subjective if I affirm that there is no purpose.

Purpose undoubtedly exists. I merely state that it is not conceivably possible, much less demonstrable that purpose is intrinsic to naturally occurring phenomena e.g. life. Purpose exists, but not beyond the subjectivity of a conscious/sentient being, or more specifically a mind.

Purpose, according to the Oxford dictionary is;

1. The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists
2. A person's sense of resolve or determination.
1. Have as one's intention or objective." [2]

You are correct in that "The reason for which something is done or created" can have a logical basis. Using the example of the fork, one could say that the purpose of creating the fork was to control food for consumption. An example of the logical basis for its creation would be to avoid mess; which was "one's intention or objective." Let's assume for the sake of argument that the inventor of the fork had different intentions and that he created the fork for a different purpose, with a different logical basis; this would not be possible if purpose was objective.

If it was objectively true that the purpose of a fork was the control and consumption of food, then the fork could not be used for anything else as "purpose" has been redefined. Purpose – by way of a mind - is applied to, not derived from things. As it stands, many purposes can be applied to a fork e.g. a paper weight, a weapon, a back scratcher, a catapult for common or garden vegetables etc. Such innovation is a product of subjectivity.

That is because the fork has no set purpose, it was created by someone with intentions which were undeniably subjective and despite these intentions the fork can be used in any creative, imaginative way we like.

"Subjectivity refers to the subject and his or her perspective, feelings, beliefs, and desires." [3]

In regards to life; I cannot agree that there is any objective purpose for the existence of life or any naturally occurring phenomenon. I am merely a product of phenomenon, whose origins can be explained, but who cannot have an absolute purpose; my purpose is what I choose it to be through my subjective experience. Even if you evoke your God, it is still through the subjectivity of a conscious being that purpose is attributed to life.

"A proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are met and are "mind-independent"— that is, existing freely or independently from the thoughts of a conscious entity or subject." [4]

I stand by my point that purpose and meaning exist, but are purely subjective concepts and that objective purpose or meaning is nonsensical.


I do not wish to refute your excerpt since the definitions are correct and simply reaffirm my own. I will however use the information provided to make a few points.

"atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings."

Atheists do critique metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings on the grounds of lack of evidence. You lack the requisite evidence to convince me to believe that a God or spiritual being exists and so I take the position of non-acceptance of your claim – this could be described as a "denial" of belief.

"1. A refusal to comply with or satisfy a request.
2. A refusal to grant the truth of a statement or allegation; a contradiction.
3. A refusal to accept or believe something, such as a doctrine or belief.
4. The act of disowning or disavowing; repudiation." [5]

I refuse to grant the truth of the statement that God exists, to accept or believe claims that a God exists and repudiate statements regarding the existence of God on the basis of lack of evidence. This conforms to the definition and remains merely a stance of non-acceptance.

To briefly address your conclusion, here is the definition of "disbelief."

"The inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true." [6]

This does not include "active disbelief" which I referred to in previous rounds.


I take issue with your contention that Atheism is a negative belief, despite clearly showing that to include "belief" with atheism is inconsistent with official definitions of the word. You repeatedly use etymology and wordplay to misrepresent Atheism as a position of faith, yet even this fails as careful reading of the definition and origins of the word shows clearly that you've misinterpreted the position. I have not been convinced that Atheism is a faith position and in the same way that bald is not a hair colour; I maintain that Atheism is neither a belief nor a religion.

Indeed this has been a most interesting debate, I thank you also.

Vote Pro.


Debate Round No. 4
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