God as creator of all and the one to whom we owe all is obviously a serious subject.

Those who do not encourage strong faith in him then are denying him.  To be not for him is to be against him for he is so important.

Most of us do not encourage such strong faith.  Many encourage nothing.  Pagans who comprise most of the religious world prefer their own spirits and gods and thus reject God.  99 out of 100 who try to nurture somebody's faith are in fact treating it as a comfort mechanism and a placebo.  They want faith to comfort others but not to empower others to obey God and create a society under his command.  If you want to avoid religious intrusion in your country's laws and customs you put out the idea that faith should be personal private space.  The paradox is that if these private believers get numerous enough it will have an effect on how the nation is ruled.


Some say that if you just don't believe in God as opposed to believing there is no God then that is enough to make you an atheist.  It is true that normally the absence of belief is not a belief.  But here you are showing that you have a framework based on actions being louder than words.  You show by your ignoring God that you are sure he does not exist.  We are not talking about a ghost down the garden.  With God then it is different.  A ghost is not claimed to be something you should be wholly devoted to if it is real.

So it is not a direct "There is no God." But it is a "There is no God."  "Marry me" is direct but there are other ways to suggest marriage.  It is the difference between a point and a context that does not too obviously make the point.  Same principle.

Atheism can be implicit. A person can be atheist and not realise it. She or he is implicitly atheist. Negative atheism is implicit atheism.
If you want to think about atheism, you have to start with negative atheism.

Because the biggest question in relation to God is, "Is there any evidence that he exists meaning there is a reason to believe?"
The next biggest question is, "If there is no reason to believe, then is there evidence against God?"
You always need the evidence for something's existence before you can think about the evidence against it. Why bother looking for evidence against things when there is no reason to think they exist? There is no point. Looking for evidence for something comes first because if you show there is no evidence for it then the way is open for you to examine the evidence against. If you care about evidence you cannot do the con and not the pro. Doing the pro first avoids being biased against it. It is more important for there to be no evidence for something than for there to be evidence against it.

One might think the problem with negative atheism is that its reasoning would justify stupid things. It would seem to justify acting as if one’s long gone wife is dead because there is no evidence that she is alive. Or that your employee is a thief for there is no evidence that he is not. But the difference is that if there is a God he will tell us he exists but the wife cannot for she does not know what one thinks or if one wants to know. She’s not all-powerful and all-knowing like God and it is the same with the employee. Being negatively atheist about something that supposedly directs and makes and sustains all things is not the same as saying your wife must be treated as dead and buried for there is no reason to think otherwise. Your wife is not the creator that makes you and is around you and gives you all you have.
Also, the problem does not exist. Negative atheism does not justify thinking the wife is dead because of the absence of evidence that she is alive. It is not about whether she is alive or not but about the fact that you have no reason to think that she is. You are not believing anything. Saying there is no wife if there is no evidence or her existence is sensible.   But saying she must be dead as there is no evidence she is still alive is not the same thing. Not hearing from her may not mean she is dead.
The principle behind negative atheism is useful when you are on about whether an entity exists or not. If we are sure she did exist (past), evidence of her absence COULD BE evidence of her non-existence (current). But it IS NOT evidence for absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, if she does not exist and never did, evidence of her absence is evidence of her non-existence.
It is easier to prove that you do not know a thing than that you do know it. This view indicates that there is a third option after theism or atheism which is agnosticism.

Negative atheism is the lack of belief in God.

Negative theism is the lack of non-belief in God.

Positive atheism is saying there is no God.

Positive theism is saying there is a God.


Agnosticism is what you have when you choose none of these  You consider the evidence to be too unclear to you to decide.
Anthony Kenny wrote that it is better to presume that you don’t know something than that you do for it is easier to prove you don’t know a thing than that you know it (page 58, What is Faith?). He says this means that it is better to presume agnosticism. Kenny argues that it is easier and more reasonable to assume God exists in the way negative theism does it than to assume that he does not like Professor Antony Flew wants us to. Both Flew and Kenny agree that there is no evidence for God.
In reply, if there is no evidence for the existence or non-existence of the ghost upstairs then it is clearly more reasonable to believe the ghost doesn't exist. If Kenny thinks it is more reasonable and easier to believe in God for God explains things then that is a denial that there is no evidence for God. Kenny must think that it is better to presume God exists in case he does. But we can't go about honouring nature spirits we don't believe in just because they might exist. And there is something fake about honouring a monarch who you think is not really a monarch.  Same with these spiritual entities.
And as for agnosticism, when it says there could be a God and there is no need to believe in God, it makes sense to make things simpler and just be an atheist. Reason bids us to go for simplicity. Agnosticism falls with theism for it is half-theism.  

With anything we must take two approaches. We must first avoid making errors. Second we must seek the truth or the best explanation.

Which one comes first?

Well we have to weed out errors first so that we can see clearly enough and find the straightest road to the truth. Then we will have more confidence that we have attained the truth. You do not want to be thinking wrongly that you have got the truth.

Agnosticism is too prone to errors for clearly you must have a preference for one of the four.  If you are not looking properly at evidence then you will not see that your agnosticism is just a label.

Interestingly some define themselves as agnostic atheists.  They are just atheists.  By agnostic they mean, "I am not totally certain if God does or does not exist."  It overlooks that knowing something does not mean you can prove it totally.  You just need to avoid any reasonable doubt.  By atheist they mean, "I do not believe in God."  This is based on knowledge being very - not necessarily totally - strong and belief is somewhat weaker.  Do not let yourself get bogged down by those who say that knowledge itself is belief.  We know that but that is not how we use the terms.

Don't let religion or anything fool you about what the word know means. Nothing is 100% knowable or certain. That does not even matter. What you want is a very high probability that something is true. That is what everybody means by know. If it is extremely improbable that God exists or loves you if he does, that says it all. Yet religion will come along and say, "But you don't know" meaning know in the unrealistic and 100% sense. This is gaslighting and trying to make you doubt yourself. And it is an insult if there is a God who has made us depend on probabilities. Possibilities do not count. Probabilities do. If there is a God he is abused by religion for its own ends.

To be an atheist in your belief and thinking is to be a theoretical atheist.  To live as if there is no God to be accountable to is functional atheism.

You can be a theoretical atheist and not realise it. Your actions, your living as an atheist, your functional atheism, says it all.

Agnosticism is not theoretical atheism. It is just open to it. But it is practical atheism. Even if the agnostic is an Anglican bishop doing services he is still acting as an unbeliever. Prayer for him is not about committing to a God who should be your main or chief personal relationship. It is about what he wants to do and is not about God. Giving your mother a gift that suits you not her is not really giving her a gift. It only looks that way. Same idea.

A functional or practical atheist is just one who thinks that he or she should live as if God has no proper say. You can be a believer and be one. 


Just not having faith or belief in God makes you an atheist simply because you are showing that your lack has implications which amount to denying there is a God. You have no duty make a case for atheism for you are not directly claiming anything. It is up to the believers who say there is a God, it is up to the atheists who directly deny God, to prove their case. In practical terms, believers should only accept those who they can educate and give a reasonably informed choice to into the fold. Capturing families and schools and politicians is not acceptable at all. It is an injustice.

When you cut away the lies and confusion you see that atheism has to be commoner than anybody realises.  Many atheists think they believe in God.  Thinking you believe is not the same as believing.


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