Why do Athiests require 'proof' that God exists?

There are some things we cannot prove.

For example one cannot prove ones own existence – I could argue that you are a figment of my imagination, like a person in a dream. You would be unable to prove that you were a self aware, autonomous human being.

Using atheist logic I should therefore consider all other humans to not be self aware, sentient, concious beings as they cannot 'prove’ they have these qualities.

Would it not be better to accept that I can never know if other people are self aware like me? That I can never know if God exists?

Posted: May 7th 2012


I accept that I can never know if God exists.

I wouldn’t require proof to believe in God. Just a handful of good evidence, or reasons. Most people who disbelieve don’t feel they have that.

Posted: January 4th 2013

See all questions answered by EXSTEN


The concept of proof does not existing outside of formal logical systems such as mathematics. In the real world, we need to talk about standards of evidence and justified belief.

You are correct that one cannot be sure that objective reality exists; IIRC solipsism has been around since the time of the Greeks. I don’t really see where solipsism gets you; if you happen to believe that there is no object reality, then there really isn’t any point in discussing anything. Since you went to the trouble to use a planet-spanning electronic network to post your question, I’ll assume you aren’t really a solipsist.

So, back to what I think is your question. Atheists don’t require proof that god exists, but we do require evidence, just like we require evidence for the other things that we believe (assuming, for the moment, that we are being intellectually honest with ourselves). I’m sitting on my couch watching TV right now, and I have pretty good evidence that the couch exists.

Hope that helps.

Posted: May 22nd 2012

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

Galen Rose www

Actually, I have indeed accepted that I can never know whether a god exists. Similarly, I have accepted that I can never know if leprechauns exist (it could be that whenever I look behind a tree, he has already moved to the next tree). However, from the descriptions of all of the gods that I have heard or read about, none are backed by enough evidence to make their existence probable; all appear to be very slim long-shots, extremely unlikely to exist, and not worth betting on.

You clearly misunderstand atheism. An atheist is one who does not believe in gods. It does NOT mean one who can prove there are no gods.

Posted: May 21st 2012

See all questions answered by Galen Rose

donsevers www

Sure, we operate under assumptions which we usually don’t state before everything we say. In our modern world, we could preface everything we say with something like this:

“IF there is an external world of objects and methodological naturalism is a reliable way to learn about their qualities, THEN X.”

I am comfortable with assuming this much. Religious people do it, too. They only raise this issue when their additional, unsubstantiated beliefs are called into question. They are switching boats midstream. If they want to call ordinary perception into question, they can, but then they lose all their beliefs, too.

It seems that no worldview can justify its own assumptions. But naturalists have one worldview with one standard of evidence. Religious believers have two.

Posted: May 21st 2012

See all questions answered by donsevers

brian thomson www

Your question is confusing. For starters, questions of what we can and can’t know fall under the area of “gnosticism” vs “agnosticism”, and aren’t specifically related to atheism. The idea that we are all brains in vats isn’t an atheist idea, either. It’s solipsism, and doesn’t really add anything to the debate, in my opinion.

Then there’s the matter of “atheist logic”. What is that? How does that differ from logic in general, the same logic that applies to everyone, religious or not? It sounds as if you’re starting with a broken conception of what it means to be an atheist, and who atheists are. It means that we don’t believe in theistic gods; gods who are powerful and who have an interest in us. That’s all there is to it – anything else is up to the individual.

It’s quite possible that we will never have answers about the existence of gods, for practical reasons such as our limits as human beings, which is a reasonable agnostic position to take. It is not a problem to be an agnostic atheist at all – and there are many who describe themselves as such. You seem to have the idea that atheists, by nature, have answered the question with a defiant “no” – which is a flat-out lie told by preachers and others trying to smear atheists as irrational.

Where we diverge is in our responses the uncertainty and lack of knowledge. Not knowing is not a crime or a fatal flaw in our nature. What atheists find unacceptable is the way theists (and others) try fill in the gaps in our knowledge with nonsense unsupported by evidence, instead of accepting the gaps as they are and working to close them with solid science instead of archaic speculation.

Posted: May 21st 2012

See all questions answered by brian thomson


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