Belief vs Lack of Belief

42 posts / 0 new
Last post
Eiho09's picture
Belief vs Lack of Belief


I am trying to get around the difference between believing that no gods exist, and lacking a belief that gods exist. To me, both statements communicate the same message. Can someone shed some light on this please.

Thanks to all the participants in advance.

Subscription Note: 

Choosing to subscribe to this topic will automatically register you for email notifications for comments and updates on this thread.

Email notifications will be sent out daily by default unless specified otherwise on your account which you can edit by going to your userpage here and clicking on the subscriptions tab.

mykcob4's picture
What do you actually want? I

What do you actually want? I am an atheist. I don't believe that there are or ever were any gods. If you want to disbelieve in the Abrahamic god but still want to believe in a different kind of god or gods, then it is my belief that you are NOT an atheist.
a) I don't believe in god.
b) I believe in a giant purple cow that is invisible and hides behind the sun.
Such a person is NOT an atheist.
Atheism is not skepticism about just one god but anything that cannot and is not proven.

charvakheresy's picture

an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.
"his belief in extraterrestrial life"
trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something).

1. Theists "Believe" in God and the Afterlife and a Book. (They Have Confidence in someone and something)

2. Atheists "Do not believe" the theists claim in God, the Book and the Afterlife. (We have no confidence in someone or something)

3. We DO NOT 'Believe " in no god..... Such a thing makes no sense. (We do not have confidence in No God. No god is not something)
Thus the statement that we believe in no god is nonsensical.

to summerise; Belief is an active mindset of accepting a tenant usually without proof. We reject that tenet. The do not accept rejecting that tenet as that is just absurd.

CyberLN's picture
There are those who identify

There are those who identify as agnostic atheists and some as gnostic atheists. A/Gnosticism is about knowledge. A/theism is about belief (sans knowledge). I reject the claims that gods exist because there is not sufficient or reliable data indicating such. I also have no knowledge that any god does or does not exist just as I have no date indicating fairies absolutely don't exist.

Truett's picture
Consider an analog in our

Consider an analog in our legal terms Guilty and Not Guilty. When a person is found not guilty, it is not a declaration of innocense but is instead a finding of insufficient evidence to find the person guilty. The jury might believe the person completely innocent, but they rule strictly on the question of whether the prosecution has sufficiently proven guilt or not. A given juror might be personally confident that the accused is innocent, but is rightly grouped with all those jurors who vote "not guilty".

When people are asked to believe in god, the question is "do you believe in god" or "do you not believe in god". A person who says they do not believe in god isn't necessarily saying they believe there is no god. If one says they do believe in god, that person is Deist or Theist. If one says they do not believe in god, that person is an Atheist.

I go further. I am personally confident that there is no god, and I am convinced that belief in god is destructive to human society and antithetical to the flourishing of life. These things put me in the Anti-theist column. But I am an Atheist simply by virtue of having voted that I "do not believe in god".

xenoview's picture
I don't believe there is any

I don't believe there is any evidence that any of the human created gods exist.

MCDennis's picture
All gods are human created

All gods are human created

boomer47's picture


AND without exception, all religions reflect the society which invents them.

There were once some tribes of illiterate, bronze age , nomadic goat herders in the Middle East. They lacked the wit to invent their own god ,so they pinched one from the Canaanite pantheon ; YAWEH (and his wife Asherah) Because their lives were nasty, brutish and short, their God also had to be nasty and brutish. Consequently, the YAHEH of the Old Testament is a complete cunt.

As time went by, their society evolved a bit, so YAWEH began to soften . He is unrecognisable in the New Testament, and indeed in today's Judaism .

It is my position that there is no such thing as a religion of war or of peace . Everyone tweaks his own religious beliefs to reflect his own character and needs. For many people such changes are merely a matter of focus and emphasis , but they are always there .

" A thousand monks a thousand religions" (Buddhist saying)

smutenheimer's picture
I respectfully disagree my

I respectfully disagree my friend based on the evidence of the book which proves itself to be a reliable historical document at the very least and divinely inspired if the evidence is allowed a fair hearing .The first verse of that book states " In the beginning God created..".

David Killens's picture


" In the beginning God created.."

Thus I reason that you are implying that since your god created heaven and earth, it was a god of love and peace? But if you read further into the bible that god also commits atrocious acts of cruelty and horror. I could arrive at the opposite conclusion, that your god created everything as a play toy to sate it's cruel nature.

Your god is described by people of your faith as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (all-present).

Thus on creation it knew eveything that would happen once it began this chain of events, and knew the horrors and pain that would follow. It could have created a different world, where there were no wars, no horrors, no slavery, and no children suffering a painful death from cancer.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Vochensmut - ...the evidence

Vochensmut - ...the evidence of the book which proves itself to be a reliable historical document at the very least and divinely inspired if the evidence is allowed a fair hearing.

Yeah; you aren't going to find many members of AR who think the Bible is accurate, trustworthy, or divinely inspired (I assume you were referencing the bible in that quote).

MCDennis's picture
If I assert that no gods

If I assert that no gods exist, I have the burden of proof. The person asserting that god or gods exist has the burden of proof.

ThePragmatic's picture
My version:

My version:

Lacking a belief that gods exist:
I don't hold any belied in any gods. There is simply no credible evidence for such a belief. If some form of credible evidence were to surface I would believe, in proportion to that evidence.
When a theist says that god exists, I answer: I don't believe that, is there any proof to back your claim up?

Believing that no gods exist:
I believe (or even claim to know) that no gods exist. There is evidence that supports that no gods exists, there can never be any evidence found for the existence of a god.
When a theist says that god exists, I answer: No, your god does not exist.

That said, I lack belief in gods, but at the same time I also believe that no gods exists.

Note, that it matters what definition of god or gods is being used:

I have no proof to back up a claim that there is no god of any kind. A deistic type god could very well exists, thought there is little reason to think so.
But, a litteral Biblical god, cannot exist. Omnipotence alone is self contradictory. The Bible contains self contradictory statements, etc. (But due to the fluid nature of the believers personal interpretation of what their god is or isn't, and their interpretation of Bible passages, there is little point in pointing such things out.)

Truett's picture
Great write up, Pragmatic.

Great write up, Pragmatic. This is my position as well.

Kostas Louritis's picture
1. Believing that no god

1. Believing that no god exists is in my opinions the same as believing that he does exist .. ist something you can't prove simple as that there could be something outside the unicerse that created it but we cant know .. saying that no god exists means that you somehow have knowledge outside the universe for example .. it is as irrational as any theist that believes that god does exist !
2.A lack o a belief in god means that there are no evidence to support the claim that there is one so you don't believe in it just like other mythical stuff !

bigbill's picture
tell me do you see any

tell me do you see any evidence of a god or gods in your life,I certainly can`t in my life.Does God or gods talk to you do you see visions? do you simply explain coincidences as a sign of god or gods? Just look around you and see what has happened since the beginning of humanity, The famine the wars over 100,000,000nmillion people killed kin the 20th century alone.The others dying by disease etc, the struggle for survival just to get by. No my friend it is so simple to take the time read history books look at documentary evidence I believe that roger Ingersoll and Charles Darwin were correct in there formulation that humanity simply evolved.I have a much longer argument for the no gods hypothesis but I`ll leave it at that for now.

ProgrammingGodJordan's picture
non theist quote:

non theist quote:

tell me do you see any evidence of a god or gods in your life,I certainly can`t in my life.Does God or gods talk to you do you see visions? do you simply explain coincidences as a sign of god or gods? Just look around you and see what has happened since the beginning of humanity, The famine the wars over 100,000,000nmillion people killed kin the 20th century alone.The others dying by disease etc, the struggle for survival just to get by. No my friend it is so simple to take the time read history books look at documentary evidence I believe that roger Ingersoll and Charles Darwin were correct in there formulation that humanity simply evolved.I have a much longer argument for the no gods hypothesis but I`ll leave it at that for now.

As an atheist, I can express that atheism has become akin to theism. (well, atheists tend to be more open to data, but let me explain)

Atheists may ridicule theistic god view, but there is a plot twist.

Creation may not be impossible, and may rather be likely.

I can be an atheist and express this, because the "impossibility" of creation (that is, the contrast of such impossibility, where there exists the probability that creators (i.e. ourselves) are probable) is viewable with science, and fortunately, we don't need to believe in science, as science is true regardless.

(1) Modern science may prove that the universe is information bound/some form of computation. (Digital Physics, Adinkra Physics...)

(2) We have already began to create our own sophisticated (although still crude) information driven simulations of our own cosmos. (See illustris)

(3) As time passes, technology improves. Simulations may approach contexts that include conscious beings.

(4) There is no reason to ignore the progression/trajectory above; no law of physics that forbids the simulation of detailed universes.

Now, (4) is not to be confused with argument from ignorance. In contrast, we see viable scientific indications that don't forbid the probability of creation.

Many skeptics have become blind to data, in ironically theistic like manners....

xenoview's picture
This proves creation how?

This proves creation how?

bigbill's picture
bigbill's picture
please see above this states

please see above this states my position fully.

ProgrammingGodJordan's picture
please see above this states

please see above this states my position fully.


I had seen that video by Sean Carrol, long before your posting of such a video today. (I ESPECIALLY ENJOYED WHEN SEAN CAROL DESTROYED WILLIAM LANE CRAIG IN A SEPARATE VIDEO)

It doesn't alter the scientific facts in my post before; humans have:

(1) already engineered sophisticated simulations of our cosmos. (GETTING BETTER STILL)

(2) created non trivial artificial intelligence, that already exceeds mankind in some cognitive tasks. (MORE AND MORE COGNITIVE TASKS ARE DONE better by brain like machines as time passes)


This shows that human intelligence is perhaps 'CREATABLE'.

San Harris is a popular atheist.

See his comment: "WE ARE BUILDING SOME FORM OF GOD" here:

See minute 14:11.

Eiho09's picture
I appreciate the responses

I appreciate the responses given so far. I just want to fully understand the difference between the two statements. I consider myself an atheist because I lack a belief that gods exists.

Teller's picture
The reason the line is blurry

The reason the line is blurry here is because theists are partially right. Not believing in god is by definition still a belief, so a lack of belief in god is still "the belief that no god exists". There is no way or need to disagree here. However what can help you is knowing the definition of knowledge. Knowledge is: true justified belief. Not believing in god is a true justified belief. One can of course say the belief ingod also fits this description of knowledge and that is when you must know Karl Poppers falsification razor. It states: for something to be true it must be falsifiable. This idea applies to knowledge as knowledge must by definition be true. And it is impossible to refute god, therefore it is wrong. The same way that saying we live in a computer simulation and a scientist is controlling our thoughts is irrefutable and therefor wrong. Where as you can refute the laws of physics by just showing a counter example. So you not only have the belief there is no god, you also have the knowledge that there is no god (you know god does not exist). (To fully grasp falsifiability/refubility I recommend you just google it and see a few examples, as I explained quite inadequately. Karl Popper brought arguably the most innovative statements in the philosophy of science) :)

ThePragmatic's picture
- "Not believing in god is by

- "Not believing in god is by definition still a belief"

Try again... how is 'lacking a belief in something' a belief?
You're trying to flip it over to "believing there is no god", but that is something else.

France Su's picture
Not believing in god is by


Not believing in god is by definition still a belief, so a lack of belief in god is still "the belief that no god exists"


No it's not. The difference is well understood, and crucial.

A lack of belief in gods is a rejection of the claim "gods exist" and is not a claim or belief. It's the opposite by definition: a lack of belief. I could say "intelligent life definitely exists outside our solar system". I you then reject this claim, you are indeed under no obligation to accept the opposite (intelligent life definitely does not exist outside our solar system"). A lack of belief refers to a rejection of both the positive position life exists and the opposite claim that no life definitely exists. In short it's the "I don't know" position.

xenoview's picture
I have found no evidence that

I have found no evidence that any of the human gods are real. No theist has every been able to prove their god or gods are real.

Matt007's picture
I tried to get a faith healer

I tried to get a faith healer on YouTube to see that. I told him if he could heal me of my disability by praying to his god then I would believe in his god. Several unsuccessful attempts later he still didn't get it.

Lets have some fun. Here is a transcript of my conversation with a faith healer.

Me: How much do u charge to "magically" heal people? You're no different than the televangelists who con people to make them BELIEVE they're healed. It's pretty sad when those people who thought they were healed of their cancer die the week or month later.

FH: I charge NOTHING! Freely we have received, and freely we give!
MAT 10:8 "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
Jesus Christ is LORD & CREATOR, Hebrews 1:2.
Healing is the easy part, saving souls is the difficult part!!!

Me: you may charge nothing, but people still donate funds and you accept them. That is your whole income and business, just like the televangelist shills. If u can heal my genetic muscle disease than I will doubt u no longer, but please understand my intelligence is far greater to know that'll never happen.

FH: I have never received a donation in my life!
"Freely we have received, and freely we give!" - Right
GREAT! Let's heal your disease!
Salvation is not by your intelligence, which I shall baffle, but by grace alone!!!
I have done it before with another youtuber in Singapore! Heck, my brother Paul healed with his shadow!
If I heal you in the name of Jesus Christ, will you believe in Him? Will you come to Him?

Me: My disease is progressive spastic paraparesis. It got worse the more I grew up to the point where I now require a walker to get around in open places. I'm waiting.

FH: Thank you for your sincerity! I have no clue about all this, all I know is that Jesus is the GREAT PHYSICIAN!
Now I simply need 3 questions answered so I can send the Holy Ghost to you, so He may sort you out.
1. What is your name? (your first name will be just fine, no need family name).
2. What country are you presently located?
3. What is your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 is the highest). So we can test if you have no more pain or if reduced?
Thank you.

1. Don't see how that is relevant. Isn't your god all knowing?
2. See 1
3. Zero pain at this moment, but it depends how much I've been on my feet.

FH: OK. I will now put myself on my knees and pray for your whole body to be restored in the name of Jesus Christ. You shall get up and walk around your flat to test! OK. HERE I GO!

FH: Alright! I am done! Now walk around and tell me how you feel?

Me: I appreciate your commitment and efforts, but it was useless. Zero change. Don't you get it? You never had the power to heal. That is why I go to a doctor because they do the healing.

FH: Not the first time. Listen to me. I beg you put yourself on your knees and I will do the same now. Sometimes we have to pray 2 times...Here I go!

I went on my knees

FH: I am done a 2nd time. Why do you revert to insults? Stand up and walk. How do you feel?

Apparently telling him that he does not have the power to heal is an insult.

Me: Same result. No change

FH: I did not remark your insults, neither did I perceive your arrogance. I shall pray for you a 3rd time. YET I SAY, you are not the first and not the last, and it is NOT my will but the will of my Father who art in Heaven. HERE I GO AGAIN, a 3rd time.

Outsider: One must accept the healing, in order to receive it. You can't force healing on a faithless person. If he wanted to, and knew how, he could greatly improve, perhaps even heal himself. But there is nothing wrong with putting ones faith in the medical professionals, and medicine, because it is FAITH indeed. And miracles have been worked through doctors and medicine, many times. Even atheist doctors will attest to this. Perhaps praying for him to be healed through his treatment will produce results. God opens doors, but we must walk through them. The man who prays for God to save him in a flood, yet refuses the passing boat, because he expects a miracle, is a fool. Because God already provided the will of the people to help, with a boat.

FH: No brother. Jesus healed sinners and I have healed sinners all the time. Some are tough cookies and there may be need for fasting and prayer...

Me: They are not insults or arrogance. They're the cold truth. You or I can go down on our knees and pray till they bleed. It won't heal my disease nor anyone else. Once medical science and technology has progressed enough then maybe they could improve my suffering just a bit, but until then nothing can heal me.

FH: OK. OK. Forgive me but my words are in Scripture. OK. I will go on my knees a 5th time and concentrate on your tightness. I WISH I COULD LAY MY HANDS UPON YOU! Please forgive me my Words, but again, they are Scriptural... HERE I GO AGAIN FOR THE GLORY OF JESUS CHRIST!

FH:I HEAL VERY DAY!!!! IT IS NOT THEORY! Anyway, I have done it a 5th time and concentrated on your tightness as you kindly indicated. Tell me, walk around, do your thing, has the tightness left? How are you feeling?

Me: No change. Faith healing has been shown to never work. It's something you don't want to hear because you believe in your god so much. It's like believing in Santa Clause, who is actually based on a real man, but for the children it's a story of magic and wonder. You grow out of it at some point.

FH: I am so sorry you are a paraplegic! Do you insult your doctor like this everytime you see him? I have had more than enough of your insults, but because I love my LORD more than I love you, I will go on my knees for a 6th time. I repeat I have healed before and I do it as often as God gives me the opportunity. YOU DO REALISE WHAT WE ARE DOING, THOUSANDS OF MILES APART, NOT KNOWING YOU, but starting to get a clearer picture.

Me: Nothing changed after the 6th attempt. If you want to heal people? Become a doctor. It has been tested time and time again and never shown to actually work. James Randi has made quite a career out of exposing faith healers as frauds. Check out some of his work.

FH: have never healed a paraplegic before. In any case I am NOT the one doing the healing, it is Jesus. I heal everyday and am terribly sorry I dared try with you. But at least I tried when many will shy away! I will give it a night's rest and get back to you if you desire. Would you like to provide me your email? In the meantime I have a brother in the USA who may be able to at least lay hands upon you. YOUTUBE: TOM LOUD.
I know in whom I believe nothing can turn me back, it only strengthens my resolve for some we need fasting and more prayer. SO I THANK YOU, you have motivated me to fast, pray and seek God even more.

FH: I REPEAT I HAVE HEALED HUNDREDS SINCE 5 YEARS! NOBODY CAN MAKE ME TURN BACK! Don't worry about it! See my previous message. I am terribly sorry for you and your disbelief. But the game is far from over. Please see my message above. ref: TOM LOUD in the USA. I will be praying for you

Me: Hundreds? Really? Do u even have evidence for your claims? Doctors are supposed to keep records on their patients. Do you?When people come to u they're desperate so they'll believe anything you tell them. "You're healed!" They believe it.

FH: You do not understand what I do and how I do it. I cannot take your arrogance and your vile mouth any longer. I am sorry, like I said before, I have never made anybody walk. But it shall come in due time. Now if you are serious, you may youtube my brother TOM LOUD. I wish you all the best, and shall pray for you again tomorrow as time and priorities permit.
By the way, you are not the first and not the last. Amen

Me: "You do not understand what I do and how I do it"
"I have no clue about all this, all I know is that Jesus is the GREAT PHYSICIAN!"
it appears you don't understand either.
"I've never actually made anyone walk"
What do u mean by that? Are u finally admitting you never healed someone!?

And it ends with that. I had allot of fun with him. What's wrong playing with ants who do not know they're ants? Now I don't even try because they will not see through their beliefs.

One of the most horrible aspects of faith healing is that when it fails, as it almost always does, people will place the blame on their own lack of faith, rather than the absurdity of the practice. At those rare times it appears to work, placebo effect, it's a miracle. When it fails...well, God works in mysterious ways or it was your time to die.

How many sick children have to die because of their parents religious beliefs? The constitution has to be rewritten on religious freedom. It should not be allowed when it endangers the lives of others. We can't allow such exceptions in law. These children deserve the protection of the law as much as any other child, no matter how stupid their parents are. We are diminished as a nation if we allow these abuses to continue at the hands of the monsters who are supposed to be their guardians and protectors. Does anyone else agree?

CyberLN's picture
I worked with someone whose

I worked with someone whose spouse believed that if she were not so much of a sinner and if her faith were only stronger, she would be able to get up out of the wheelchair. The disease killed her. It's just gut wrenching that someone went to their grave believing they were just not good enough.

France Su's picture
The claim "god(s) exists" can

The claim "god(s) exists" can only be true, or false.

On any claim such as this there are always 3 belief positions

1) the claim is true; (theism)
2) I reject the claim is true; (weak atheism)
3) I reject the claim is true; the claim is false (strong atheism)

Atheists are always position 2 or 3, and are what your comment refers to. What all atheists have in common is that they reject the claim "god exists": they reject theism as being true. However this rejection can be strong or weak: strong atheists go further and assert "no gods exist" (position 1 is false).

TokyoJones's picture
Despite the variety of

Despite the variety of opinions and complexity of some of the responses, the question of belief or lack of belief is a simple logic proposition. If we define "belief" as an opinion one holds to be true, as opposed to knowledge which is justified true belief, then

T: It is the case that god X exists.

A: It is the case that god X does not exist.

S: I do not accept either T or A as true, but neither do I reject them as false

Notice that T is an ontological statement about something which actually exists, whereas A asserts the opposite. Both positions are making claims as to fact, and both require evidence to substantiate. On the other hand, S does not make any claim as to the existence or non-existence of something, but only to one's own current opinion of the claim.

Thus T expresses a belief, A expresses a belief, and S expresses the lack of belief.

Where T is a proposition of existence, the only possible answers are "true" or "false" - it is a bivalent condition. It is therefore the case that S does not answer to the proposition at all, and is in fact a subject change.

France Su's picture
Well said, I find falling

Well said, I find falling back on the logical explanation (as you would for any proposition) helps with clarity of thinking. Otherwise I can confuse even myself. I think it should be first explained in logical terms, as that underpins everything else which follows in a discussion.


Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.