Are Babies Atheists?
BY Jimmy Akin
| Posted 5/28/13 at 11:20 PM
One of the most common topics in discussion between Christians and atheists is the question of what atheism actually is.
For a long time, the word has been defined as the view that there is no God--i.e., the claim "God does not exist."
More recently, some atheists have begun to define it differently.
According to them, atheism is simply a lack of belief in the existence of God. On this view, a person would be an atheist if he thought there was no God, thought it unlikely that there is a God, or didn't know if there is a God.
Simply not agreeing with the claim "There is a God" would make you an atheist.
Some atheists have claimed that this is the natural state of humanity. On this view, we all start out as atheists and we have to learn belief in God.
In other words: Babies are atheists.
Are they right?
I understand why the atheists who make this claim would be attracted to it. At least, I understand why I would find it attractive if I were an atheist:
But consider this . . .
One problem with the argument some atheists pose is that it is reversible. One can just as easily say:
The fundamental problem is that babies do not make a good test case for determining the popularity, natural-ness, or default-ness of any claim that is beyond their years.
You might be able to appeal to the beliefs of babies to support things like:
But advanced concepts like God, atoms, and the stock market are beyond their ken.
Babies neither believe nor disbelieve in these things.
They have no opinion on them, because they are not yet capable of understanding the concepts involved, because they have not heard of the concepts, and because they have never considered or agreed to the concepts.
It is therefore a mistake to appeal to babies one way or another regarding what the popular, natural, or default belief concerning them is.
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