There Are No Atheists

I have often heard it said that there are no such thing as atheists, even atheists believe in God. Now, no atheist would ever agree to this proposition, however I always believed that it was a clever play on words (to be an atheist = (literally) to be  “without” “god.” Hence you need to believe in God in order to deny that there is a God. Clever. Well along comes David Bentley Hart in The Experience of God and makes a clear argument why even atheists believe in God. Here is what he has to say:

It is an old maxim — one that infuriates many unbelievers, but that happens to be true nonetheless — that one cannot meaningfully reject belief in the God of classical theism. If one refuses to believe in God out of one’s love of the truth, one affirms the reality of God in that very act of rejection. Whatever image of God one abjures, it can never be more than an idol: a god, but not God; a theos, but no ho Theos; a being, not Being in its transcendent fullness. I will not argue the point here, however. I shall simply say that any dedication to truth as an absolute or even preeminent value is at best a paradoxical commitment for a person of naturalist bent…/ Anyone who sincerely believes that truth ought to be honored, and that the mind should desire to know the truth as a matter of unconditional  obligation, thereby assents to a very ancient metaphysical proposition: that the True is also the Good.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

5 thoughts on “There Are No Atheists

  1. Technically, the term comes from “without gods”, so it’s enough not to believe in god without believing “not” “god”. And of course, it’s enough to believe that people have such a DEFINITION of “god” to reject it, you don’t have to believe in the thing itself. If you say, you belief in inivisble pink unicorns, I don’t have to start believing in them too, to reject the belief – I just have to believe you, that you have defined them in that way – and this definition i can reject.
    And I hope you realize, that the god of “classical theism” has absolutely nothing to do with the thing written about in the bible? To classical theism, the bible describes an idol, “a god” but not “God”, etc.

  2. “Hence you need to believe in God in order to deny that there is a God. Clever”

    Not clever so much as a misunderstanding of terms.

    There is the concept ‘god’, and there is the being ‘god’. I believe in the concept, but not the being. In the same way that I believe the concept of ‘unicorn’, but not in the being of ‘unicorn’.

  3. Reblogged this on The Dixie Flatline and commented:
    Reblogging this so that (a) folks at my blog can have a fucking good laugh at the erm, “logic,” and (b) i can point out that it’s fucking hilarious, without having my comment spirited away where the woodbine twineth.

    Seriously, if anyone can sort out the word-salad and explain to me how not believing in gods equals believing in gods, I’ll… I dunno, but I’ll think of some kind of reward.

  4. Nonsense. Atheists don’t “deny” the gods… they come to understand the gods (those notions and supernal meanderings superimposed over the deafult position of a child at birth, a-theism) simply don’t exist.

  5. We do not reject god until we are told that one exists. Have you ever rejected belief in diamond fairies? No, because nobody has ever told you that you have to accept the existence of diamond fairies. I am sick and tired of being told that because I am an atheist, I therefore believe in a god.

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