One of the things I loathe about the irrational behavior of Christian Fundamentalists is when I show them what their Bible says and they refuse to acknowledge it. It is hypocritical to see in writing words that prove you are wrong and then not accept that clear evidence. As I mentioned in Part One, the structures of religious belief are the same in theism and atheism, so it is not surprising that some atheists have the same ideological denial that Fundamentalist theists do.
Language is a wonderfully flexible and fluid thing. Wittgenstein observed that language evolves and changes and the meaning of a word lies in its use. However, this does not mean that words can mean whatever you want them to mean. To have meaningful discourse with other people you can’t just make up your own definitions. As Wittgenstein said, to claim a private meaning, even within a group, for a word is absurd and meaningless–a word must have shared social meaning for communication to be possible. Some words for abstract concepts like “freedom” are hard to define and we can have long debates over what freedom means. Other words are more clear cut because they are descriptions of tangible objects or logical constructs. Atheism is such a word, a logical construct that just plain cannot mean whatever you want it to mean.
As I mentioned in Part One of Atheism is Illogical, one of the most curious phenomena in atheists is their attempts to deny that they have beliefs. There is good reason for this as we shall see in Part Three and to avoid the illogic inherent to the atheist position, atheists try to deny reality by creating a new private meaning for “atheist.” But such intellectual dishonesty is self-defeating because words do have meanings and meanings have logical consequences.
Let us look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of the word “atheist”:
The meaning of “atheist” is to deny the existence of a God. This is not a lack of interest, or a being unconvinced, it is taking the position that there is no God, what I described before as committing to the proposition “God does not exist.” The atheist, trying to avoid the logical consequences of this commitment, tries to pretend that they do not have a belief, they simple disbelieve. But let’s look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of disbelieve:
We see several interesting things here: one, that disbelieve is a transitive verb, meaning it must take an object. One disbelieves something tangible. We also see that to disbelieve is an active verb, one is actively refusing and rejecting the truth of something; in the case of the atheist, they actively disbelieve the proposition “God exists” necessarily committing themselves to the active belief in its negation, “God does not exist.” And as we see from the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of disbelief:
it is a positive unbelief. The atheist is not sitting on the sidelines unengaged with the question of God–the atheist makes a positive assertion by actively refusing the proposition “God exists” which means they are just as actively committing to the proposition “God does not exist.” Their active unbelief logically and necessarily entails an active belief. If they claim the title “atheist” then they have no choice but to accept what that word means. They are taking a position and positions must be defended with reason and evidence. The burden of proof is on the one who makes an assertion, and the atheist does make an assertion in their active denial and disbelief. Denying such clear logic and evidence is the very definition of irrationality.
Any atheist who tries to avoid the fact that they are engaging in the active, positive belief in the proposition “God does not exist” should have to explain why they are running away from their own beliefs.