As I showed in Part One and Part Two, atheism is a positive belief in the proposition “God does not exist,” or Not-GE. As I mentioned, atheists strangely try to evade the fact that they have taken a position on the question of God. Why? What are atheists so wary of? The answer becomes evident when we look at what exactly the truth claim of atheism is.
The atheist cannot deny that atheism is the claim that Not-GE is true. But what kind of truth claim is that?
The atheist truth claim is not an analytic truth
An analytic truth is a proposition that is necessarily true because its negation is a logical contradiction. For example, “A is A” is an analytical truth because “A is Not-A” is a logical contradiction. We saw another example in Part One in the analytical truth that “If GE is false then Not-GE must be true.” That’s because God either exists or does not exist, existential propositions have no third option. But this does not mean anything more than that. “Either GE or Not-GE” is an analytic truth, but neither GE or Not-GE on their own are analytic truths. That is because neither proposition is self-contradictory—it is logically possible that GE is true and logical possible that Not-GE is true. Therefore, neither proposition can be held to be necessarily true. Yes, that mean the ontological argument for GE is false–it is not necessarily true that God exists. However, this does not hand the atheist the victory they seek. Because GE not being necessarily true does not mean GE is not true. It is not logically impossible that GE is true. So the atheist proposition Not-GE is not necessarily true and thus the atheist truth claim is not an analytic truth. But like the claim GE, the claim Not-GE is not necessarily true does not mean it is not true; it is logically possible.
The atheist truth claim is not a synthetic truth
A synthetic truth is one that is contingently true, for example, “it is raining.” That could be true or not true for any given time and place. Analytic truths are proven by logical analysis, hence the name. Synthetic truths are demonstrated by experience. The tricky thing about synthetic truths is that they are never necessarily true, only contingently true and can never be proven to 100% certainty. “It is raining” is demonstrably true based upon evidence of water falling from the sky. However, observational evidence is never proven beyond all doubt. We may think it is raining but we could be being fooled into thinking it is raining. This isn’t about hallucination, dreams, or any such fake doubt arguments, it is the case, as Edmund Gettier brilliantly demonstrated, that despite all sincerity and observational skill we can still be mistaken about a synthetic truth. The most we can hope for is a “justified true belief” but we cannot assert it as 100% certain truth. I will deal with the question of justified true belief for GE and Not-GE in Part Four.
Any truth claim that is not an analytical truth claim must be a claim for a synthetic truth–there are no other options. So both GE and Not-GE are claims to synthetic truth. Synthetic truth claims are not provable but can be demonstrated through evidence. This is where the atheist jumps up and shouts “aha! the theist can’t show evidence that there is a God!” Well, this is not a true statement about evidence, but I will deal with that issue in Part Four. Sticking with our topic of the atheist proposition, it is evident to any rational person that failure to provide evidence for a proposition does not mean that the proposition is false. If I have no evidence that it is raining does not necessarily mean that “it is not raining” is true. This is perhaps the single most common logical fallacy that atheists commit. Because even if we assume that there is no evidence for GE (hardly a slam dunk) this would not entail Not-GE is true or assertable as a truth claim! We have no evidence that there is extraterrestrial life, but any truth claim that there is no extraterrestrial life is clearly illogical. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence–you cannot logically accept Not-A from an alleged lack of evidence for A. There is, in fact, no evidence that can prove that something does not exist, only that we can’t yet demonstrate that it does exist. Anyone who is not prejudiced on the issue can see that it is illogical to claim that there is no extraterrestrial life, just like it was illogical for Medieval Europeans to assert there wasn’t a New World or other stars, etc. The only logical position on a proposition for which there is a current lack of evidence is “we don’t know yet,” which is agnosticism; a-extraterrestrialism is illogical. You could say it is your unjustified personal belief, but it is illogical to claim it is anything more than your hunch and you have no basis for asserting it or being critical of anyone else’s position. The exact same is true for GE. Even if there is no evidence, it is illogical to claim Not-GE is true. So if you believe there is no evidence for the synthetic truth claim that God exists, that is your personal belief, it is not a synthetic truth claim. It isn’t even a valid truth claim if it is based only on GE not having proven its case which is a logical fallacy. We will deal more with evidence issues in Part Four.
But for now, we can conclude Part Three as showing that atheism as a truth claim is neither analytically true not synthetically true. It is not proven or even demonstrated. It is a personal belief and carries no weight or validity. Any atheist who asserts atheism is asserting an illogical proposition. The probable reason they are so wary of admitting that their atheism is a belief is because they know it is illogical, and worse, they know they have no rational evidence for their belief, as we shall see in Part Four.