• Yes, It Is

    Atheism is the lack of belief. When my daughter was born, she had never heard of any gods, so she couldn't believe that any of them existed. Therefore, she was an atheist. It is true that some atheists arrive at their position through skepticism and reason, but these things are not necessary simply to lack belief in gods.

  • It is the null hypothesis.

    Substitute any other belief except "god" and no one would disagree that nonbelief is the default position. For example, the default on the existence of fairies is not believing in fairies.

    Religion must be TAUGHT. If one is not taught religion, then one never believes in gods. Thus, an atheist.

  • The Tabula Rasa.

    Firstly, agnosticism is the belief that the existence of God or other supernatural beings is currently unknown or unknowable; it is not something halfway between atheism and theism. If you believe in a god, you are a theist, if you do not believe in any, you are an atheist - this is a yes or no question.

    As it is clearly illogical to suggest that a baby is born with a belief in god, the baby is an atheist, because the baby is a tabula rasa - remember that 'a-' is 'without', and not 'against'.

  • Of course it is; it is by definition.

    Of course it is. Atheism is simple the lack of acceptance of theistic claims. Anyone who knows anything at all about science and logical reasoning knows that the time to believe a claim is when the evidence supports it being true. There is currently no good reason to assume that anything which might possibly be labelled as a god exists, and there is vast amounts of evidence that show that a god is completely unnecessary, and depending on how you are defining your particular god, possibly logically impossible to boot. So yes, atheism is the default position for anyone who is rational, the null hypothesis, as it were.

  • Tabula Rasa dictates implicit atheism is default.

    A child, when first coming into existence, is a blank slate, aside perhaps from a few unimportant genetic predispositions. Theism is a positive belief, specifically belief that at least one being, described as god and defined as any one or combination of Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent, exists. Atheism is nothing more than lacking this belief. Agnosticism is not itself a belief, but rather a statement of either a lack of knowledge or lack of possibility of knowledge, depending on the exact model used. The default stance for a human when first born, then, would be implicit agnostic atheism. That is, not (self-) described as atheist, just never considering the possibility of theism until it is taught, and not implying a definite knowledge that no god exists, but merely that god is not believed to exist.

  • Agnostic Atheism is still atheism

    The default position is agnostic atheism. They do not know if there is a god, and do not believe in a specific god, so essentially atheism is the default position, and when most people describe children being agnostics, they actually are thinking of agnostic atheism, just as many people think atheism is only gnostic atheism.

  • Yes, it is.

    Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. Agnosticism is the lack of knowledge. Both terms are not mutually exclusive. You can be agnostic and still be either a theist or an atheist. I'm an agnostic atheist. I reject all of the gods proposed by religion since religion is subjective and irrational and no religion has been proven to be true, but I don't reject the possibility of any deity outside of religion.

    None of us are born religious or theists.

  • The Man Is Real

    The man is real but the creator is not . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . . .. . .

  • The Man Is Real

    The man is real but the creator is not . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . . .. . .

  • One is not born with belief.

    Religion is taught. Religion is created. Atheism can not be taught, for atheism is simply the lack of belief. It would be illogical to assume someone is born with a belief, since the very nature of belief first requires something in which to believe, and this is bound by the limits of the person's imagination. The emotional desire to believe is a different subject entirely.

  • Nah not really.

    If anything, I would say Agnostic would be the default state. You don't really believe in God but you don't deny he could exist either. It actually makes quite a lot of sense as a default, at least until one can figure out what they believe in. The halfway point is a good default, as it is basically a clean slate.

    Posted by: O.Z
  • Of course not. Ignorant claim.

    This must, must, must, have been posted by an atheist. That is the only answer. I honestly believe that people aren't "born" with hardly a damn thing in there brains. If mommy tells you God loves you than that is what you know. If she tells you you're going to die and nobody is going to care than that is what you know.

    As for the "Island boy" situation (no mommy), I think people default to a form of agnostic mixed with a pinch of "there is a thing here doing something."

  • The "tabula rasa" argument is not good science...Or philosophy...

    There is NO evidence that children are born with a "clean slate". Not only do they learn from parents and others from the day they are born, but there IS evidence that they already have formulated a number of perceptions before they are born (meaning a lot of stuff happens genetically, etc.). The genetic and environmental passing on, as it were, of various perceptions easily could have started eons ago...Even from before the start of the human race.

    Even if we were to accept the "clean slate" myth for a moment, however, we'd still be challenged to explain just how "belief in God" ever became the majority view, which has been the case for most, if not all, of human history. One response might be that humans are prone to belief in fairy tales. But, if so, then THAT belief must be figured into the default belief, with force at least equal to atheism (if not replacing atheism altogether).

    The "null hypothesis" theory isn't necessarily a "clean slate" theory, but I believe it often serves as a cover for the "clean slate" theory. The null hypothesis posits that--whether clean slate or not--logic should lead us to reason that atheism is the default, because just "looking around" we observe natural phenomena and can't "see" evidence of God. But, again, if the majority view has been theism of one sort or another, this apparently pervasive theism has to serve as one piece of evidence that SOMETHING could be there that we can't see.

    The fact is that what we can't see is part of what we see. I believe that every bit of knowledge and perception (and understanding) that we humans experience is pervaded with mystery...And that, when we use sound reasoning or spiritual tools (such as meditation, education, and prayer), we become more and more aware of this fact of the "unknown". The prospect and presence of the Wholly Other that is otherwise unknowable pervades every aspect of our experience from the time we are still in the womb. As Paul writes in Romans, "everyone knows...And is without excuse..." (my paraphrase).

    So, my vote is that the default lies on the side of belief, as I believe "belief" is a necessary part of human experience. But I don't tend to play the BOP (burden of proof) or "default" card. I'll settle for 50-50, or, at least, not ENOUGH of a burden to rely on it heavily in discussions such as these.

    Posted by: thg
  • If atheism is the default, then where did theism begin?

    The premise is flawed because most of the supporting arguments revolve around "tabula rasa"; if every child was born a blank slate, then where did the original supernatural beliefs come from? I think we're all born with a predisposition to believe in things which cannot be explained by our own experiences; culture may steer those beliefs in a certain direction (or even cause some to reject them at some point), but the potential for belief is neither atheism nor theism.

  • Well Technically No....

    When a baby is born they are essentially a blank slate. As they grow, ideal and values from society, parents, friends, media etc bombard the child and as such they will choose those they wish to follow and believe. Hence, if a child is born into a family with atheist parents, they will likely become atheists themselves due to their parents ideals. If they are born into a highly religious family they too will likely take on the same religious beliefs. Thus Atheism is not the default position, but neither is Religion it depends on the individuals life experiences.

  • No, Agnosticism is

    Whatever your belief system is, atheism, theism, etc...It is (usually) based off of personal convictions and thought, as a result of discernment. What I mean is, you cannot truly be a theist, atheist, or any thing else, without having thought about it, about why you believe what you believe. I suppose the true default postition, is agnosticism. We are born with no real idea of "God" or "religion". It is influenced by many things, mainly our parents and family, and the mainstream culture (atheism is in right now, afterall). But we are born agnostic, or more accurately, ignorant. We don't know what to believe, or that there's even anything *to* believe, but eventually are persuaded to believe in one thing or another, as a result of family, culture, and hopefully our own personal thought process and discernment. But I do not believe atheism is a default position. We are born not knowing anything about the idea of God and religion, therefore, we don't truly disbelieve, as real atheists do, as a result of their own thought process and discernment. Our default position is agnosticism, or as I said, more accurately put, ignorance.

  • "Belief" is a distractor word.

    Agnosticism is the default for evidence because the word being negated is "knowledge" not "gods". We assume a blank slate, or agnosticism, is the default.

    It's not the same with atheism. No one is arguing that someone does or does not hold a belief, have an opinion, or has made a guess to whether god exists or not. Negating the word "belief" distracts from the true claim of either "there are gods" or "there are no gods".

    Even making the claim that "implicit atheism" (i.E. The "babies are atheists" argument) as a default, requires a redefinition of "atheism" that includes a subset of atheists who "don't believe gods don't exist." To take it a step further, implicit atheists are also likely to not believe in evolution, and possibly not believe in Kepler's laws of planetary motion, the universal laws of gravitation, or even that the earth is round. That doesn't mean that implicit atheists believe in creationism and geocentrism, but there's a good chance they subscribe (to some extent) to a belief in phenomenalism and flat earth cosmography.

    Psychologically, by the time a child is 2 years old, and in the pre-operational stage of cognitive development, they've already moved past "no belief" and are in the "magical thinking" phase. It's a time for a child to create any number of superstitious beliefs to explain why things work the way they do in his world. Adults who grow out of this stage usually decide that the true default position for any claim, is to base it on evidence and knowledge, rather than on "beliefs".

    Implicit atheism is one of two negations of the word "theism" and is contradictory (and therefore useless) in defining "atheism". The true default position for theism is "I have no opinion to whether gods exist or not".

  • I think we are predisposed to believe.

    I hear this a lot, that atheism is the default position and that children have to be brainwashed into believing. I, having made an effort to unpick my own indoctrination, have looked into this a little bit, and find myself agreeing with the conclusions of some of the research which states that "humans are predisposed to believe in gods and an afterlife, and that both theology and atheism are reasoned responses to what is a basic impulse of the human mind."

    In my opinion, it comes more naturally to believe in supernatural agency and some sort of afterlife than not to believe. I think skepticism requires more effort, cognitively speaking, and that we like to trust our intuitions and our instincts when, very often, the truth of a matter will be counterintuitive.


  • The claim "lack of belief is the default position" is a positive claim that would need to be proven.

    A) To support that claim, you'd have to prove everyone is born tabula rasa (blank slate), and that people are not in any way genetically hard wired for belief. Some scientific evidence indicates people are in fact programmed for belief

    -- Boston University Study Examines the Development of Children’s Prelife Reasoning, The Development of Children's Prelife Reasoning: Evidence From
    Two Cultures JAN 2014
    -- 2013 Trends in cognitive Neuroscience, Yale Dept of Psychology

    b) You would also have to prove that there is no innate knowledge whatsoever; competing with theories that there is at least some level of innatism or universal symbolic language structure necessary to for learning (Chomsky, Fodor, et al).

    C) Also, the notion of "lack of belief" infers the ability to "hold a belief". Efforts to claim "lack of belief" trivializes it to the point that the definition is meaningless, incoherent and encompasses things other than "atheism" which clearly are not atheist.

    -- Rocks and twigs "lack belief", but that isn't atheism.
    -- Ignorance of a proposition and therefore the truth or falsity is a lack of belief, but that is not atheism. It's simply ignorance of the proposition
    -- Agnosticism (the position that the truth or falsity of theism is unknown or unknowable) is not atheism. Though it may be more closely related to "lack of belief" it still requires considering the proposition. And an agnostic may lack belief in theism. But an agnostic can also claim not be an atheist.
    -- people lack beliefs in a great many things they've never consciously considered. For that matter all living beings "lack belief" in an infinite number of things, INCLUDING THINGS WE HOLD TO BE TRUE. Yet we do not run around claiming them to all be a-"whatervists". Because it's irrationally and incoherently trivial.

    D) claiming that "disbelief" by an atheist can be represented as "lack of belief" and not disbelief or rejection of belief (based on some other belief) is also a positive claim, and a false one. Science has shown that people cognitively choose perspectives and value systems and, unavoidably, an associated belief system when faced with the truth or falsity of a proposition. Multiple scientific studies have shown that disbelief is still belief based on other values, and uses the exact same regions and processes of the brain as religious belief.

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fractaldreams says2013-07-03T09:51:18.780
For me, the idea of a blank slate or tabula rasa, has gone the way of the nature versus nurture debate, it is on its way out. I do not wish to argue that we are no more than our genetic inheritance, that would be absurd. We are the subtle and constant interplay between our genes (which predispose us in some respects) and our environment and upbringing. This is a little extract from an article in the New Scientist:

"a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Education and experience teach us to override it, but it never truly leaves us, he says. From there it is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and, of course, gods, says Pascal Boyer, a psychologist at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. Boyer points out that people expect their gods' minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables us to think about absent or non-existent people."

fractaldreams says2013-07-03T11:43:40.977
This might be a better (more substantial) link for anyone who is interested in this topic: