The title is pretty self-explanatory. I had just assumed that after my research and falling out, I chose to be an Atheist. The other day I was speaking to my brother, and he said that to him Atheism wasn't really a choice. And in a way it's true. I don't think I could ever force myself to return to Christianity or believe the things I was taught. I'm kind of stuck, really. So, what do you think? Is atheism a choice?

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Nobody is born as religious or as an atheist. Traditional influences make a person a religious person. Non-tradional thinking makes one an atheist. That what I mean to say.

No, atheism is the default position since it is a lack of belief in a deity. A positive belief such as naturalism or theism is something that can be acquired, but it is not something intrinsic in humans. 

Children have a tendency to see purpose in objects that you and I perhaps would not, a rock is for a cow to rub against, a tree is for protection from the rain. If anything children seem to be animistic in nature, perhaps one of the many reasons why children are not considered to be mature and capable of making informed decisions is because they are basically insane.

They just cannot grasp reality until a certain age, they can be incredibly naive as well. That's why they need supervision and protection.

Anyway, there are many ways to become a theist or atheist, but they are different things all together and they do not compare well. Atheism does not hold any positive statement or affirmation of a belief, it is simply a lack of belief in a deity, religion on the other hand is a positive statement that contains statements about reality.

Although a lot of people think that atheism is a belief, it is not. If you're an atheist it means that you have other, positive beliefs such as my belief in scientific materialism (FTW!). From that positive belief flows that I am not convinced of theism's statement that there is a god. 

Not trying to only argue semantics here, but I do believe that a distinction is in order.

Yes, you said it better than I did Rob. "Atheism is the default position...".  Exactly.  Atheism is NOT a belief.  It's a lack of belief, and kids aren't born believing in any deity.

No, atheism is the default position since it is a lack of belief in a deity.

Rob van Senten

I beg to differ with you. Belief in god and religion  can be accepted withot knowledge but that is not the case with atheism. Athiesm can not be ignorance, atheism means that we know why there is no god. I do not accept that an ignorent child is an atheist. If we accept this, then the difinition of atheism has to be altered.

John D

The answer I have given below to Rob van Senten includes an answer to your question too. I would not attempt to change a so well established definition and even if I dare to do so, I will have to provide massive explaination.  The definition of atheism does not tell us when atheism arises in our mind.


What definition of the word "atheism" are you using here?

I've presented the definition that I (and many, if not most atheists that I know) use, but I've yet to see yours.

Atheism is not a statement of knowledge, it is a rejection or lack of belief if you feel that this is not the case, than please present us with your definition.

Rob van Senten

I agree with you that atheism is not a statement of knowledge, and I do not intend to change its definition also. It is my belief that atheism comes by and should come through knowledge. We become atheists even after having been religious because of whatever knowledge we have, where as a small child is not able to distinguish between faith and atheism and is unable to make any distinction between the two. Therefore, such a child at its age or at its birth can not be said to an atheist. My definition of an atheist is the same as that has been stated by many here, that is, someone who does not believe in any supernatural power.

Atheism therefore is not a statement of knowledge but a demonstrable effect of knowledge.


As long as kids are not capable of understanding theism they are by definition atheists. Not because they have knowledge about (a)theism, but because they lack a belief in a deity.

If you use the same definition I really don't see why you could say that "atheism comes by and should come through knowledge" as that does not computer if you use the definition that atheism is a "lack of belief".

You are an atheist towards deities that you've never heard before, not because you have knowledge about these beliefs, but because you lack belief.

How many religions and deities should you have knowledge off before you can reject theism and become an atheist? And if knowledge is a part of being an atheist, than please provide your own definition that shows that atheism is not about a lack of belief but that it's about knowledge as well.

Rob van Senten

There appear to be two different interpretations here.  

You are an atheist towards deities that you've never heard before, not because you have knowledge about these beliefs, but because you lack belief.

This appears to mean that atheism is directed towards a particular deity or deities, but when one becomes an atheist, one decides that no supernatural power exists. I know that this is not my definition because I have sen this here at AN too. Possibly, it can be found elsewhere too. This definition makes me think that atheism is knowledge based.

It is a practice amnog Hindus in India to make even a child of less than one year old to fold his hands in worshipp, regularly. What can be the status of such a child?

Talking of myself, I had little or no idea of Judaic/Christian god or other gods. I became an atheist by deciding that a supernatural power that can create miracles etc can not exist.


Atheism is not aimed at a particular deity, I attempted to use these examples as a method of showing that atheism is not about knowledge (of religion/deities/supernatural or whatever).

Atheism is not the rejection of the supernatural, although most atheists would happily reject the supernatural. It is nothing more then a lack of belief in a deity.

I lack belief in deities for the same reason that I do not believe in sentient strawberries; I am not convinced by the claim that it is true. I don't have to proof that sentient strawberries do not exist,   which is why I lack belief.

I'm not saying that there are no sentient strawberries, that would be a claim of knowledge. I am simply lacking belief in them because I haven't been presented with sufficient evidence. 

Physics and its laws are only thins that exist

One can choose whether or not to expose oneself to evidence. One can choose whether or not to listen to other points of view. One can even choose to deny evidence in spite of having been exposed to it, or to denounce opposing views as lies. What one cannot do is face all of the evidence, listen carefully to others' views, analyze the resulting knowledge in an intellectually honest way, and still fail to conclude that religious belief is baseless. Red pill, blue pill. Once the machinery that perpetuates religion is exposed, it loses all of its power and the only way back is to lose or repress the knowledge of its true nature.


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