Atheists increasingly like to define atheism as the lack of belief in God rather than the affirmation that God does not exist, essentially transforming atheism from an ontological claim to a psychological state. Richard Howe recently had an interesting critique of this redefinition, pointing out that on this definition of atheism both atheism and theism could be true:
It is becoming increasingly more common for atheists to define atheism, not as the denial of the existence of God, but as a lack of belief in the existence of God. … This definition of atheism entails the quirky conclusion that atheism is logically compatible with theism. This is so because if atheism is the lack of a belief in god, then it could be the case both that atheism is true (i.e., it could be the case that George Smith, for example, lacks the belief in God) while at the same time that God actually exists.
- What exactly does it mean to be an “atheist”?
- Not So Fast: There is No Presumption of Atheism
- Atheists may lack belief in God, but they do not lack beliefs about God
- No one is born an atheist
Richard Howe, “God Can Exist Even if Atheism is True”; available from http://quodlibetalblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/god-can-exist-even-if-atheism-is-true/; Internet; accessed 15 December, 2014.