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The true meaning of atheism is the belief that God is just as likely to exist as not

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 841 times Debate No: 78234
Debate Rounds (4)
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Atheism: The lack of belief in a deity

The burden of proof is on me to proof that the meaning of atheism is to hold no preference toward the likely hood of God existing or not. The minute an atheist claims God is not likely to exists, on any level, they become an anti-theist and are no longer an atheist.

If you you hold no preference toward the likely hood of god existing then this is the same as believing God is just as likely to exist as not - it makes you completely neutral.

First round is for acceptance.

This is my first time debating


I accept your debate and look forward to an exchange of ideas that will leave both of us more informed.

This is only my second debate so I hope we can help each other learn the mechanics of debate :).

Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


You believe there is no lion exists in your wardrobe

you do not believe god exist but you do not believe god doesn't exist

Therfore, you believe God is more likely to exist than a lion in your wardrobe.

Anti-theism: the active belief that a deity does not exist

Most so called "atheist" are in fact anti-theist. To be an atheist you must proclaim that god is equally likely to exist as not

Firstly we must discuss what it is to believe something.

I'd like to break down what motivates our beliefs:

mostly, our beliefs are motivated by facts and reason. For example, i paid my water bill this month and i have not recieved any suspended service annoucements, therefore, i believe that water will come out of the tap. It is reasonable for me to believe this even though I'm not %100 sure that water WILL come out of the tap.

or, my mother told me santa clause exists, i'm only 5 and i trust my mother is not a liar or misinformed, therefore, i believe santa clause exists.

If reason and facts point to something being a certain way yet i believe the opposite then I'm either in denial, I'm hopeful or irrational. For example, if I'm now 45, all evidence points to santa clause being false yet i still choose to believe in him then I'd either be in denial or irrational. I'm in denial because deep down i believe santa doesn't exists but force myself to think otherwise or irrational because I trust my strong desire for santa's existence to be greater evidence than objective facts and reason.

A hopeful situation would be if i continued to search and call out the name of my lost dog even though most signs point to him being dead. It's still possible my dog is alive and i cling on to these possibilities, but objectively, i'd have to admit i believe my dog is dead.

Now, if evidence points to it being equally possible for my dog to be alive, that is, someone said they saw him dead on the road but another person said they saw him at the exact same time running across the park then objectively I wouldn't believe he is alive or dead but I'd keep searching because the reward outweighs the cost of searching for him. At that moment of searching I'd be in state of suspended belief. I would hold no assumptions either way. In reality, I'd usually assume he is still alive because it will motivate my search and increase my chances of finding him but this wouldn't add evidence for me to believe he is alive.

The reason I go in to great detail about beliefs is because the meaning of atheism is the lack of belief in a deity it is not the belief that a deity does no exist, that's anti-theism. Therefore, for someone to be completely objective when it comes to facts and reasoning about life then anyone who claims it is more plausible that God doesn't exist must assert that they believe God doesn't exist. They don't have to feel strongly about this but they must hold that stance if they are claiming to be objective. They can go on to say "sure, it's "possible" god does exist" but it is more possible he doesn't exist. If said person has no reason to believe God does exists but many reasons to believe God doesn't exist then it is only reasonable that that person believes God does not exist.

Let's examine:

Reasons for yaweh to exist:

1)explains the creation of the universe

reasons for ya weh is a made up fairtytale:

1)he is inconsitent

2)he is paradoxical

3) his actions are illogical

4)his existence was asserted by a human and humans have a long track record of making up bulldust.

As you can see, if we were to be like objective robots and form our beliefs based on evidence then we believe that Ya'weh doesn't exist, whether we are certain of this or not. Most Atheist claim to be objective when it comes to examining the claim of Ya'weh, so if they are to stay true to the objectivity then they must assert that they BELIEVE ya-weh doesn't exist. and this goes for all other God's under examination. This then makes them anti-theist, not atheist.

Many "atheist" will claim that they don't assert God doesn;t exist because that would require evidence. What these people don;t realize is they have plenty of evidence to prove that each asserted God doesn't exist using the points i made above. remember, at the end of the day all proof is subjective. If I hold out my empty hand and say "prove i'm not holding an apple" and you said "there is not apple in your hand, we cannot see it or feel it, that is proof" then i could say "prove we're both not hullucianating". At the end of the day we have to make an assumption based on reason and logic. In this situation, majority of atheist would NOT say "I do not believe you are holding an apple but i also do not believe there is no apple" the atheist would say "you have no apple in your hand", they would assert that there is no apple in my hand because it is unreasonable to believe there is, so then why are most "agnostic atheist" afraid to assert there is no God when it is unreasonable to believe there is? You don't need physical evidence to disprove something. We didn't need physical evidence to prove i wasn't holding an apple.

My claim is that a true atheist is someone that holds no assumption as to the existence of god. They truly do not believe he exist nor do they believe he doesn;t exist, they are neutral. A baby would be what i call an inactive atheist. It does not believe God exists but it also does not believe god doesn't exist. A baby would not say it's unreasonable to believe in God. A baby would not say God is not plausible because the baby is not aware of the concept of God so as far as the baby is concerned God is just as possible to exist as not. The baby is an inactive atheist because it not inquiring or searching.

Another example of this is if i say to you Jujubaba exists on mars. Now, you are an a-jujubaba'st by default but you do not believe it's more plausible that jujubaba doesn't exist. you are neutral. First you inquire, "what is jujubaba?" then i'd respond "it's a material" --at that stage you still believe jujubaba is just as plausible to exist as not -- then you'd further inquire "what's this material made out of?" then i'd say "candy" at this point you have gone from an a-jujubaba'st to an anti-jujubaba's, you now actively believe jujubaba does not exist on mars.

That is, if someone is a true atheist, the do not deny god but they also do not believe god then they do not believe God is implausible which is exactly the same as saying they believe god is just as likely to exist as not.

I'd like share some examples that atheist use to explain their position and I'll demonstrate how these are false:

Guilty, not Guilty, innocent

Atheist claim that theist assert god is Guilty of existing, anti-theist assert god is innocent of being guilty and they themselves claim God is not guilty. This is true, however, if you hold this position then you must admit it's highly possible God exists. here's why:

GUILTY: We have concluded our deliberation and we believe that is beyond doubt that God is guilty of existing, you'll be wasting your time if you continue to investigate

NOT GUILTY: we do not not believe God is guilty or innocent of existing, we do not have enough evidence to support guilty, therfore, not guilty, HOWEVER, because you've show it's highly possible God could be guilty we'd encourage you continue your investigation to provide evidence. We do not believe the defendent is innocent, he seems to fit the profile, but we also do not believe he is guilty.

INNOCENT: We believe that all evidence points to God being innocent, he does not fit the profile for existing and we descourage wasting any time and resources on continuing this investigation.

Here are the catergories of belief:

Gnostic theist: I believe God exists and i'm certain

Agnostic theist: I believe God exists but I'm not certain

Atheist: I do not believe either way

Agnostic anti-theist: I belive God doesn't exist but i'm not certain

Gnostic anti-theist: I believe God doesn;t exist and I'm certain



Firstly, I would like to point out that I do not completely agree with the definition of Atheism that you gave, being "The lack of belief in a deity", however, since I did not make any mention of this in the acceptance round and this is the definition I therefore agreed to use, this is the definition we will use.

Despite this, I still believe that based off of our definition here I come to the same conclusion that the true meaning of atheism is the belief that god is just as likely to exist as not. I will spend the rest of my argument explaining how I came to this conclusion and why the voters should without a doubt, vote con to this notion.

First off, I would like to bring up that this entire debate is in a sense just an argument over semantics- something that is often shunned away from the realm of debate. Despite this, I believe I have a strong semantic case for why this notion is false.

Now the underlying premise to my argument is that any word that generalizes a group of people should have it's meaning derived more so from the qualities that those people who self identify with said group than by the concrete definition of the word.

To give an example think of the word liberal. Now imagine a liberal person. What traits define this person? What you likely think of is a person who wants more welfare, or believes in the separation of church and state, or maybe a person who is pro choice, or possibly someone who favors a stronger governmental economic regulation. What you most likely did not think of is "open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values", which is the definition for liberal given by google(1). The reason for this difference between the definition and meaning of the word is that no definition could encapsulate the motivations and convictions of a group of people so diverse as liberals. There are self identifying liberals who hold on to some traditional values, such as the words "under god" within our pledge of allegiance, while other liberals do are willing to discard this traditional value. What makes a liberal a liberal is not adhering unconditionally to this simple definition, but identifying generally with the motivations and convictions of liberalism. Same is true for countless other groups, such as conservative, theist, capitalist, communist, feminist, and surely, atheist.

Now that I have shown why the meaning of the word atheism is derived more accurately through the motivations and convictions of those who choose to self identify with the group of atheists or word of atheism, I need only prove that the motivations and convictions of people who self identify as atheists are more in not in line with the description "the belief that God is just as likely to exist as not". To do this, I will use a combination of quotes from figure-heads to the atheist ideology, as well as my personal experience in multiple forums for atheists.

I would first like to look to a Facebook page that i personally "liked", called Atheist Republic(2). This page (unsurprisingly) is primarily liked by those who describe themselves as atheists (I don't want to randomly fabricate statistics, but it would be more than reasonable to assume that at least 95% of the people who like the page identify as atheist). This page is particularly relevant because throughout the time that I have "liked" it on Facebook, there has been a very active community that frequently comments on posts by the page and discusses issues related to religion. From this experience I can say that almost every one of these people feels strongly that god does not exist.

Secondly, I would like to analyze the beliefs of the most prominent self described atheists in modern society. To be fair, rather than selecting these prominent atheists myself, I will use an article entitled "The 25 most influential living atheists", which is the first link to come up when I googled "most prominent atheists"(3). For the sake of time and avoiding redundancy, I will only be looking at the top two, who happen to be Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. A brief analysis of Richard Dawkins religious views will yield the irrefutable conclusion that rather than believing that god is "just as likely to exist as not", Dawkins believes vehemently that the likelihood of gods existence is negligible, as exemplified in his writings in- and the mere title of his book The God Delusion. Sam Harris is certainly in agreement with Dawkins on the likelihood of gods existence as shown by an article he wrote for the Huffington Post entitled "There is No God (And You Know It)" (4). The fact that the two "most influential living atheists" disbelieve in god rather than lack belief in god is solid evidence that the atheist community as a hole disbelieves in god rather than believing "that God is just as likely to exist as not", thus proving that the unifying conviction that makes an atheist identify as an atheist is the disbelief in god, rather than the lack of belief.

My final point that I will make in this round is that believers of the idea "that God is just as likely to exist as not" already have a mainstream identification, and it is not atheists. This group of people identifies as religiously agnostic. The word agnostic is defined by google as "a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God"(5). The similarity between this definition of the word agnostic, and the "meaning" the pro must ascribe the the separate word of atheism is obvious. Why would the meaning of atheism be essentially the same thing as the definition (or in other words, meaning) of the word agnostic? This is one of the many reasons, the Pro's assertion that "The true meaning of atheism is the belief that God is just as likely to exist as not" is false.

Debate Round No. 2


Con: Firstly, I would like to point out that I do not completely agree with the definition of Atheism that you gave, being "The lack of belief in a deity",

The definition i provided was the dictionary definition.

atheism asserts no system of beliefs so if you believe God doesn't exist you are not an atheist, you are an anti-theist. someone completely without beliefs, by default, gives equal possiblity to all scenarios in question. This is the meaning of being un-biased

The definition of atheism is supose to represent neutrality but it has been hi-jacked by anti-theist to respresent a belief that God does not exist. This is why there is so much confliction as to the meaning of atheism. Weak atheist, strong atheist, agnostic atheist, gnostic atheist. But none of these makes sense. How can someone lack belief in God weaker or stronger? Either you believe, do not believe or believe not. You can't strongly not believe as oppose to weakly not believe. Just like you cannot be a gnostic atheist. How can you know God does not exist (gnostic) but not believe God doesn't exist(atheist)? This is a direct contradiction. You can only be a gnostic anti-theist: I believe God does not exist and I know this is true.

CA1: Con states this a debate about semantics. It is not. The definition of atheism is clear: The lack of belief in a deity. Many atheist claim they do not believe God DOES NOT exist they just do not believe he does. In order for someone to hold true to this statement then they cannot assert one way or another what the plausibility is of God existing. Therefore, they can't say it's less plausible for God to exist.

If you want to assert that it's unlikely that God exists then you must call yourself an anti-theist not an atheist. This may not seem important to anyone but it is. atheism is suppose to represent neutrality not propogation of any perspective; much like a baby. Babies are considered atheist because they have no awareness of God (no belief) therefore make no assertion as to Gods existence being plausible or not. The minute an "atheist" makes an argument to discount the existence of God they become an anti-theist (it doesn't count if they are trolling). When people attribute something to the hospitable nature of neutrality they expect a neutral perspective. Anyone that says God is just as likely to exist as pink unicorns is not being neutral. they are implying the chances of God existing are minimal. This person is not neutral, therefore, not atheist. They are anti-theist.

CA2: Con states that any word that generalizes a group of people should have it's meaning derived more so from the qualities of those people. but atheism was not conceptualized to define what people are but what people are not. That is all. Athesim does not mean to actively oppose God's existence, that is anti-theism. It does not define lifestyle habits or worldview. This is why "atheist" often claim that anyone/thing that doesn't believe in God is an atheist. babies, animals, some sects of buddhism... "atheist" claim that the default mentality of living things is atheism. This is true but when those living things start opposing God's existence they now become anti-theist or anti-alienist (if you believe aliens don't exist) or anti-santa clause... Con cannot have his cake and eat it.

CA3: Con goes on to use the word liberal as an example to the broad definition of certain words used to describe people. But liberalism describes an entire worldview. Atheism does not describe a worldview and in fact that is something "atheist" constantly denounce. There's no central atheist doctrine. There's no atheist morality system. There's no authority on atheism. Atheism is simple - the lack of beleif in a deity. Liberalism is a worldview. Atheism is not a worldview. Atheism is the lack of something not the addition of something.

CA4: Con says that he has shown us why the meaning of the word atheism should be derived from the motivations and convictions of those who choose to identify with it. once again, this is a totally unreasonable way to define things. Just because a group of people decide to start calling themselves aliens it doesn't mean they can dictate the offical definition. Not to mention the fact that majority of atheist don't choose to indentify with it (babies, people not aware of God) it is forced upon them by default. This is why an opposition to God should not be hidden under the banner of atheism, anymore.

CA5: Con then goes on to use the opinions of many self-described atheist and the larger atheist Facebook community as a means to judge the true meaning of atheism. Con goes on to share quotes and opinions as to how these people pro-claim God's existence to be very unlikely. we can effectively say that these people believe God doesn't exist and they assert it. But this is exactly my point; we already have a word for these kinds of people and it's anti-theist.

Agnostic anti-theist: To believe no deity exists but without claiming absolute knowledge (uncertainty)

Gnostic anti-theist: To believe no deity exists and with absolute knowledge (certainty)

As you can see these above definitions encapsulate the opinions of said atheist figureheads and community without trespassing on the true definiton of atheism. Or else, how would one tell the difference between an atheist by default (a baby) and an agressive atheist by choice (richard dawkins)? They'd both be under the banner of atheism. This creates a lot of confusion and allows the mainstream anti-theist community to hide from criticism when people question their beliefs. They claim "atheist have no beliefs" yet many of them believe God is very unlikely to exist. they cannot have their cake and eat it.

CA6: Con goes on to claim that the believer of the idea "god is just as likely to exist as not" already have the title of religously agnostic and he then goes on to describe it as follows: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

Ok, so what about the people that believe it CAN be known? Are they still religious agnostic? And does that mean humans are born relgiously agnostic? Or what about people that believe there's reason to believe In a creator (God) but there are equal amount of reasons to believe in naturalistic materialism (no God) and believe the answer can be found with diligent search?

relgious agnosticism and atheism seem to share the exact same definition: lack of belief in God, except religious agnosticism claims a worldview of not being able to ever know the truth. Atheism has no world view.

CA7: Con states that because the definition of religious agnosticism resembles my contention that atheism means to believe God is equally likely to exist as not that I must exclude the word "atheism" from occupying this defintion. Firstly, religious agnosticism makes the claim that one cannot know if God exists or not. I'm not making that claim for the meaning of atheism, the reason being is because it's not neutral. To say something is equally as possible as not is a neutral stance. I'm claiming the definition of atheism is to remove beliefs not add them. Meaning, as soon as you add beliefs related to the realm of theism you a no longer an atheist. A neutral party by default must assert neutral odds to all contenders or else it is not neutral. For example, I have 3 suspects involved in a crime but I hold no belief towards who done it then I must state it's equally possible any one of them could have done it. If I don't believe suspect 1 is innocent then I must believe it's equally possible he's guilty. Atheism does not claim that God is innocent of existing so atheism means that God is equally as possible of being guilty of existing as all other suspects.

remaining consistent with Con's logic, we already have a word for his beliefs - anti-theism - so why should it be atheism as well?


notatheist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


In order for someone to declare something is likely or unlikely to exist they must have vested beliefs in that something. Either for that something (positive) or against that something (negative) either was, asserting that something is unlikely to exists is an active position.

The definition of atheism is to lack beliefs in God.

the definition of belief is to have an unproven opinion on something.

So to think that God is likely or unlikely is to have an unproven opinion and therefore, belief in the status of God's existence.

This is in turn disqualifies said person from being an atheist.

It follows that if one has no opinion as to the status of God's existence then they must be in a poisition of equal plausibility.

If Person A has been alledged of a crime and I do not believe he is guilty nor innocent I would be in a state of suspended belief until I have gathered enough evidence to manifest a conviction. At which point I would have vested beliefs in the status of Person A's guilt.

If I hold the atheistic stance of non-belief in God's existence then I cannot assert whether Person A is likely or unlikely to be guility or innocent.

Even slight belief is belief. So, if i so much as slightly believe Person A is more likely to be guilty than not I am no longer in a state of suspended belief in regards to Person A. I will follow up with these unproven opinions in the hopes that they are confirmed or rebuted.

If I remain in a state of suspended belief even as mounting evidence proves that person A is guilty I could still not assert it is likley or unlikely for as long as I suspend belief. I may do this because mounting evidence has historically been proved wrong up until a certain point. Therefore, i would have equal evidence to contradict the mounting evidence. In this case, it was past experience, which could be considered a form of subjective evidence.

So, I have demonstrated that to state non-belief in something is to imply a position of equal plausibility. As soon as you formulate a belief for or against a claim you no longer lack belief and therefore cannot be considered an atheist because atheism means lack of belief in God's existence. Not denial or believing God does not exists but a complete lack of belief.



notatheist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
That's fine, but theist will continue to assert that atheism is a system of beliefs because %99 of outspoken atheist have a system of beliefs against God's existence. So it's really a disservice to mankind if we want to carry on with this huge miscommunication.

And miscommunication is the number 1 cause of conflict
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
Well you don't have to call anyone atheist, but the name will still get used by believers and nonbelievers alike. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
well that would make u an atheist because you hold no beliefs in god's non-existence.

u can't apply attributes like "unlikely" or "likely" to God if you lack total belief in him. Or if "lack of belief in God" means to solely reject God then how can atheist say atheism is not a belief? or denial of God? Clearly it can be. If atheism is simply a lack of belief in God then any beliefs you have in God's existence (which includes damning beliefs like unlikely or impossible) must disqualify you from being an atheist
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
I don't actively believe God doesn't exist, I just don't care to believe in unhealthy delusions.
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
Even if we confine God to the definition of a supernatural being that doesn't change the validity of my argument. I'm only stating the true meaning of atheism is neutrality not proposition against God; that's anti-theism.

People who believe God/Gods are a man-made myth are not atheist because atheism means lack of belief. Therefore, we should hold true to it's meaning instead of constructing several definitions which are used interchangeably because athiest themselves don't adhere to the true meaning of the word.

Why are atheist so afraid to say they actively believe God doesn't exist? Beliefs are not proven convictions
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
So the true meaning of atheism is the belief that something so vague it avoids definition, but it is just as likely to exist as not.
Atheists are just people who believe that god or gods (or other supernatural beings) are man-made constructs, myths and legends or who believe that these concepts are not meaningful.
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
*only 1
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
because there's one 1 definition of atheism
Posted by missmedic 3 years ago
How can you be so certain on the definition of atheism and yet so vague on the definition of god.
Posted by wallfly 3 years ago
None in particular. But I'm referring to the assertion of God's non-existence at all. You can assert that yaweh and allah are false whilst remaining atheistic because you havn't denied God you've just denied the abrahamic interpretation of God. Christians often denounce islam yet they are they are not anti-theist because they're not denouncing God just the islamic interpretation.

I consider God to be anything immaterial that caused the universe. Perhaps consciousness even.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Unbelievable.Time 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF