Atheism - Defining the Terms
There are two basic forms of atheism: "strong" atheism and "weak" atheism. Strong atheism is the doctrine that there is no God or gods. Weak atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
Weak atheism is often confused with agnosticism, the lack of belief or disbelief in God or gods, and skepticism, the doctrine that the absolute knowledge of God's existence is unobtainable by mere man. Many agnostics and skeptics are "practical atheists" in that they actively pursue an atheistic lifestyle. The exclusion of God necessitates moral relativism.
Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) declared, and philosophers generally agree, without God there is no absolute truth and thus no universal moral standard of conduct. Humanist John Dewey (1859-1952), co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto I (1933), declared, "There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes."
Atheism - Strong Atheism
Does "strong" atheism correspond with or contradict objective reality? Let's look at this question objectively. Suppose someone asks you, "Does God exist?" You could answer in one of three ways: "I know for certain that God exists" (assured theism), "I don't know whether or not God exists" (insecure theism, agnosticism, "weak" atheism and/or skepticism), or "I know for certain that God doesn't exist" ("strong" atheism).
To know for certain that God exists, you don't have to know everything but you do have to know something - you must either know God personally or you must be aware of some evidence establishing His existence. To be unsure whether or not God exists, you don't have to know everything. In fact, by your own admission you don't know everything. However, to claim to know for certain that God doesn't exist - to positively assert a universal negative - you would have to know everything. To be absolutely certain that God doesn't exist outside the limits of your knowledge, you would have to possess all knowledge.
Let's make this practical. Do you know everything? Do you know half of everything? Do you know 1% of everything? Let's be incredibly gracious and suppose that you know 1% of everything there is to know. Thomas Edison confidently declared, "We do not know a millionth of one percent about anything." Nevertheless, given the supposition that you know 1% of everything, is it possible that evidence proving God's existence exists in the 99% of everything you don't know? If you're honest, you'll have to admit that it's a real possibility. The fact is, since you don't possess all knowledge, you don't know if such evidence exists or not. Thus, you cannot be a "strong" atheist - you don't know that God doesn't exist.
Atheism vs. Theism
Strong atheism is a logically flawed position. Weak atheism, agnosticism and skepticism are all "I don't know" theological positions, with weak atheists subscribing to atheistic presuppositions, true agnostics "sitting on the fence," and skeptics capitulating to ignorance. Assured theists are the only ones who claim to know anything. What do they know? In the end it doesn't matter what you believe. What matters is what's actually true. You might not believe in gravity. Nevertheless, if you step off a tall building you are going to splat on the ground below. The existence of God has enormous implications for you and me, and prudence would have us make a full investigation of all the available data before putting our eternity in the care of any one belief-system. Ask yourself these types of questions: "How do I know something's true?" "What is the source of my information?" "Is my source absolutely reliable?" "What if I'm wrong?"
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