(Not) Debating God’s Existence

After a long period of attempting to debate the question of God’s existence on the internet, I made a rule for myself to interact only with those who actually take a position on the subject.
I had no idea, at the time, that this would exclude the overwhelming majority of self-styled atheists on the web.

While I’ll stress that this does not apply to all atheists, the average atheist I’ve encountered will answer the question “does God exist?” with “I lack belief in God”. It seems to escape many such people that this is not an answer, but an off-topic remark about their personal beliefs. “Yes”, “No”, “Probably”, and “I don’t know” are all answers. “I lack belief” is not.

To anyone who understands the discussion, this is a point of no small concern. To refuse to take a position on the basic question is to refuse to discuss the topic. Any comments about a lack of evidence (beyond the points in another post) are simply not driving toward any relevant point.

In my mind, this is not skepticism so much as dismissing the question. But, the moment I ask myself why so many would do this, I come back to an long-standing concern. It seems that this movement is all about winning arguments, rather than seeking truth.

Saying “I lack belief” requires no defense whatsoever. One can constantly challenge any position, without having to present a case at all, let alone a good case, so long as one simply “lacks belief”. It is only the person who actually wants to answer the question at hand that will be frustrated by this.

And that is me.

At least, it was until I lost interest in such interchanges. I have reasons for what I believe. These may not be convincing to all people, but an off-topic comment cannot, in any remotely logical way, be a better approach to life than those reasons.

As such, I’ve come to respect she who claims that God does not exist, and attempts to offer reasons for that, far more than she who simply avoids answering the question while attacking the answers others have given.

History is full of critics who only have complaints to offer. Each of us, whatever we believe, should be very careful to avoid becoming one of them.


2 responses to “(Not) Debating God’s Existence

  • M. Rodriguez

    Well atheism in definition is the lack of belief, so naturally following that default position is the lack of evidence. There is nothing wrong with taking a default and logical position.

    However u are right, in what you say. We live in a world were the word GOD has meaning. Granted the meaning might vary person, but it carries meaning, weight and belief behind it. So in that notion. We should have a reason when talking about the non-existence of God, the follow up question should be “Which god are we talking about, so I can tell you why he/she doesn’t exist?”

    • debilis

      Yes, that is one definition of atheism. Of course, I don’t know what standard of evidence one is using to say that there is a “lack of evidence”. While thoughtful people can disagree over whether or not the evidence for God is sufficient, no standard that would result in a complete lack of evidence would allow evidence for any person’s philosophy of life.
      As such, there are many atheists who have a reasonable position, but atheism itself is not any more automatically “the logical position” than any other.
      I do, however, completely agree with you that this is a valid follow up question. In fact, I’ve been frustrated that more people don’t ask it. The transcendent God in whom I believe (the God of classical theism) is a far cry from the physical, anthropomorphic god that many of my opponents in debate seem to assume I defend.

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