Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Atheism is the Null or the Default


An atheist is a person who says no to the concept of God. The atheist fails to believe in the concept. That is not exactly a denial.  But it is implicitly a denial for it is saying there is nothing that matters that much that it should be worshipped. In that sense she or he denies the very concept. It is denied indirectly not directly.


For that reason, this failing to believe should not be seen as agnosticism but as atheism.


Methodology - in investigation you have to start somewhere.  Start with atheism and see if you can get any further.   Atheism has to be the default - it is the assumption you begin with.  It is what you stick with if anything else is inconclusive.


In Jungian thought, if you take doctrines and religious symbols seriously and literally that is a form of idolatry.  Taking them seriously is a bigger giveaway than literally.  You know that God is not literally a wafer and if you treat the wafer as God as in the Catholic Mass that is best seen as an attempt to take it literally.  You cannot really be insane enough to succeed.  You cannot really see God as a man in the clouds either.  Taking symbol seriously then is more intelligent but more subtly and dangerously idolatrous.  God cannot really be thought of without symbols.  Using nothing or refusing to use images does not fix the difficulty for nothing or a void can be a symbol too.  A symbol is anything you use to represent something.  In fact using the void or nothing as a sign of God is the bigges


Christians say God does not threaten human autonomy but gives us proper freedom. 


People talk about the meaning of life. By that phrase you would expect to mean being fully alive and feeling fully alive. As reason is a part of you and of life then reason has a role to play in allowing you to have meaning and giving you meaning. Without reason even a God is no good! If we were more rational and careful our lives would grow. If reason and so on says there is no God then we will get meaning by denying him. By caring about and following reason and evidence and thus ourselves we go on a path that might lead to God being abandoned as a superstition and a crutch. They are fundamentally non-religious tools.

Plantinga said that you don't need evidence all teh time - if you see somebody suffering you beleive tht without evidence. Somethign tells you it is true even if the eprson does not tell you they are sufering. YOu do not even go by how their bheaviour looks. You don't infer it from anything else. I would add that you do nto infer it even from God who says people suffer.

Is atheism the null or default?

What does that mean?

What do you mean by atheism?  Not atheism as in the position or belief that there is no God.

Atheism is the orientation that there is no God. 

For some it is also the denial that there is a God.

What is the difference?

The first is a denial in its own way.  Beliefs show up in your actions and reactions.   Orientation is more ingrained and more part of you than belief is.  Treating God as absent or dead or fictitious is a form of denial. It is an indirect denial.  This is our answer to those who say that those who say the null position is atheism are thinking of agnosticism not atheism.

The second is strict denial.  It is direct denial. 

The denial being indirect does not mean it is any weaker than direct.  Sometimes an indirect denial is a louder and more resolute one than a direct one.

What does the null or default mean?

It means for a start that it is where you start with.  If you list all the things about religion people can believe such as God or gods or nature spirits then atheism could be the 0.

A default that has hidden assumptions is not a default at all.  For example, you don't say the null position about the tooth fairy is not denial of her existence but merely the absence of belief in her.  What is wrong?  You are assuming her existence is an important question which it is not.  You are assuming she could exist.  So it is with God.  A real agnostic cannot assume that God could exist - the agnostic thinks you don't know if he could or couldn't or does or doesn't exist.

How can that be reconciled with the assertion that atheism is the null and is indirect rejection of the existence of God?  The answer is we are talking about direct hidden assumptions.  Indirect assumptions come with everything we think and do and say.  They are irrelevant.

The default of atheism means that you treat atheism as true even if you are not convinced or think it is not true.  It is like the way that if you don't know how much money is in your bank you will have to assume the lowest amount you could have.

Treating atheism as true is like flour to the loaf.  Belief in atheism is like something you don't have to put in such as salt unless the evidence tells you to.  We are talking about direct belief that atheism is correct. 

It means you treat atheism as true until you get good enough reasons to believe in God or something that is not atheistic.

It means atheism is the null position.  Unless there is a zero there can be no numbers.  Atheism is the zero.  A zero does not mean there is any other number. 

Atheism then is about evaluating.  All evaluation is an atheistic job. 

At its core atheism is about evaluating and treating the non-existence of the magical (the non-existence of God is too narrow - its is about more than that) as a fact. 

Atheism is often defined as the position of having no position. In fact it is a method and a starting point and not a position. If it were a position its role as a method and starting point would matter more than it being a position.  Its being a position could be seen as collateral or a side-effect. The position of having having no position describes dogmatic agnosticism not atheism.  The agnostic is meant to be open-minded not settling for a position that they are taking no position on atheism or theism.


Atheism is the null value or the default and is not direct belief that there is no God at this stage though it is indirect unbelief. 


Do not forget that we are talking from now on about direct beliefs and direct assumptions.  Indirect beliefs and indirect assumptions are left out for they are really the side-effects of things you don't believe in and things you do.  They are irrelevant.  And we all have indirect beliefs that we are not even aware of.

Default is the assumption that should be automatically made by a person who hasnít decided what assumption or position to take. Religion - even in its moderate form - denies the default doctrine that atheism must be assumed to be true until shown otherwise. Thus it gravely misleads its victims.

Atheism is essentially the lack of belief in any god or magical being.

Could atheism really be the default position?

You may believe there is no reason to believe in God so you assume there is no God.  Assuming there is no God is not the same as denial.

Assuming there is no God is the basic form of atheism. It does not amount to a direct denial of God but to a denial that you believe.

In itself to say you have no reason to believe in God does not amount to disbelief in God. Maybe you are undecided. You are an agnostic and  not an implicit atheist until you decide to assume the non-existence of God.

Atheism that denies God is based on implicit atheism. There can be no such thing as a person who says the evidence says there is no God unless that person firstly sees that there is no reason to believe in God. No reason to believe is the first step. Then you must present the evidence why you must go further and reject God.

As soon as a child is able to believe anything she will not have heard of the idea of God or understand God as a God should be understood.  She will think and act as if she assumes there is no God and that makes her an implicit atheist.

An explicit atheist is one who knows what God means and who asserts this being probably or certainly does not exist. Implicit atheism is her default.

God or Creator or both?

You might reject implicit atheism on the grounds that having no evidence for God does not mean there is no evidence. But is that rejection?  No it is dismissal!!  You have to hold that x is guilty of murder when all the evidence before you says he is even though you know there could be evidence that he is innocent. 

Some thinkers about the evidence for God have checked matters out and found there is none. Some say there is no evidence for God and admit there could be evidence that nobody has learned of yet. But that entitles them to presume that if there is unknown evidence then it refutes God. Why? Because if you have to make a big presumption and a smaller one then make the smaller one. God is too big of an assumption. You could assume a creator but it need not be a God. You don't need God to explain where things came from or how they seem to have been designed. And you want to avoid having to think that God is right to allow such terrible suffering to happen to innocent babies.

The atheist as evidence

God is by definition that which alone counts or matters so God is an action word. To act as if there is no God is to be an atheist without actually verbally claiming that atheism is true. A claim doesn't need to be verbal or explicitly a claim to be a claim.  This kind of atheist is not claiming there is no God but is being evidence that there is no God. He gives evidence by his action and is indicating that his experience of the "spiritual" and of evidence shows there is no God. He bears witness.

If your atheism is merely an assumption then you are not claiming that religion is true.  If you don't claim that atheism is true, then you have no duty to show that atheism is true. You have no burden of proof.  The burden of proof falls on somebody so the somebody is the person who says atheism is wrong.

The atheist who has the weak belief that there is no God does not have the burden of proof as heavy as one with a stronger belief.

The atheist is primarily atheist in how he lives.  And in how he thinks - thinking as if there is no God and taking no account of God counts as atheism - atheism need not be clear disbelief in God.  And he is also basically atheist in how he lives. The evidence he may look for and present for there being no God (or no reason to believe) is an offshoot of that.

Surely beliefs influence actions? Yes - atheist beliefs influence actions but the actions are still more important. The belief is more important in the sense that the action cannot take place without it. But the action is more about you - it expresses you. It turns you into atheist action.

Flew said unbelief is the default

Former Atheist Antony Flew wrote There is a God -, How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

Page 54, 56 has Flew standing by the view he popularised in his book, The Presumption of Atheism, that when you have believers in God and unbelievers in God debating, the burden of proof is on the believers to prove there is a God to the unbelievers and even to themselves! Unbelief is the default position. Unbelievers are not entitled to disprove God if they don't wish to any more than a disbeliever in the tooth fairy is entitled to disprove it if he or she doesn't want to. It is those who say such entities exist who have the duty to try and prove their existence.

Flew states on the same page that atheism's being the default position is the same as innocent until found guilty. There should be no belief in God until you prove there is or probably is one. Now your innocence can only be disbelieved in if your guilt is established beyond all reasonable doubt. That must be the case with God too. You must establish his existence beyond all reasonable doubt. You need proof before you have the right to promote faith in God. Otherwise you are like somebody that expects their neighbours to believe the parish priest molested children without providing proof to the neighbours. You may say, "But that is harmful to the priest if the allegation is not true. What harm does it do to promote God without proof? It's not the same thing." It is harmful. It is a different form of the rule that a person must be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. To oppose one is to oppose the other for it is one rule stated differently for different things.

God is not just an entity. God is an entity that demands entire self-giving from us. If what you call God is really a God whole and entire self-sacrifice will be your duty to him. That is no trivial matter.

Promoting God without sufficient evidence or proof is harmful is because it is saying that God is the being that deserves all our love and whose authority must be obeyed and respected so that anybody who does not do this is extremely evil. Logically, it is better to sexually abuse a child than to refuse to acknowledge God. The promotion is malicious at worst and irresponsibly dangerous at best. It cannot be approved of.

And believers hold that somehow God is morality. They say that there is no goodness without belief in God. That is no trivial matter either.

No wonder we cannot assume lightly that God exists. We need overwhelming evidence. God has to exist or devotion to him is a bad thing.

Belief in a creator and in a God are not necessarily the same

Belief in a creator is not exactly the same as belief in a God. If there is a creator, he might not be the being that deserves to matter to us above all else.

Deserving might not apply. God by definition is the only real good and God alone should be valued if he exists.

You can believe in a creator and still be atheist.

Thus we see that if belief in a creator or a God is the default then the default is belief in a creator.

God needs to be default to be God. He cannot be that which alone counts unless he is. But he is not.

Thus God is an incoherent concept. To prove God incoherent is to disprove God.

Believers have no business demeaning a person by asking them to accept God without giving adequate evidence for his existence first. You need absolute proof to show that something as ridiculous or important (choose your word!) as God exists.

Which Atheism is the default?

Disbelief in God is not the same as unbelief.

Unbelief is a lack of belief. Suppose a Catholic does not know that Hinduism exists. He has a lack of belief in Hinduism. It does not mean he believes there is no such religion as Hinduism.

Disbelief is the belief that there is no God.

If one of them is the default then which one? It can only be one of them.

Atheism as in unbelief would be the default position. This certainly implies that people should start off with unbelief and should not be conditioned to believe from childhood. The baptising of babies with a view to conditioning or at best unduly influencing them as in Roman Catholicism is totally against the rights of the babies. It is an implied insult against unbelief and atheism's right and position to be the default. It is an implied insult against atheists. It follows that religion should accept converts reluctantly instead of taking them in when they can't or don't know all the facts.

Is atheism in practice the default?

Atheism in practice is living without caring about God's alleged rules. It denies God in your life not necessarily in your head. Some ask if the default position is that there should be a lack of belief in God? Perhaps outright rejection of belief in God is not the default position but rejection of his authority is the default? Some would say rejection of divine authority is enough for it is far more important not to bend the knee to a God than to deny that God exists. But we don't need to reject the authority. We can just neither accept or reject. Rather than rejecting God's authority, we simply do not care if he has it or not.

If you take the denial of the existence of God as the default, then rejection of the authority of God is implied in this stance. If we tease out the implications of a lack of belief in God, one is that we will live without regard to God's alleged concerns and commands. It is none of his business how we conduct ourselves.

Denial of the existence of God by how you live is irrelevant to answering the question, "Is atheism the default position or not?" That is an evidence question not a question about how you live your life.

Atheism in practice is the default way to live your life if and only if in fact the default as in evidence is unbelief or disbelief in God.


God might want us to have the presumption of atheism

Unbelief in God or a religion is the starting point and should be the starting point.

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007