Justified True Belief

I read the other day that the common epistemological definition of knowledge is justified true belief. Let’s take a look at atheism through this definition.

Atheism is a ‘lack of belief.’ Therefore if knowledge is belief, atheism can’t be knowledge, because it constitutes no belief. So we start off 0/1. 

Justified means having valid reasons to believe. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But as an atheist, you don’t actually believe, you simply ‘lack belief’. If you had reasons to lack belief, your position would be that God doesn’t exist, not that you simply lack belief in God.

‘True’ would only be applicable if the atheist position was ‘God doesn’t exist.’ Or that the claim ‘God exists’ is false. The only sense where you could consider the atheist position as true is by looking at it as self-affirming. Something like ‘it is true that this atheist doesn’t believe in God.’ But that just doesn’t get us any closer to whether or not God exists.

So if we can define knowledge as justified true belief, atheism fails on all counts. If atheism is framed as a rational pursuit of knowledge, it fails to answer the only question that it attempts to answer.

17 thoughts on “Justified True Belief

  1. Most people accept that for a belief to be knowledge it must be, at least, true and justified.” Broadly speaking, knowledge is objective truth while belief is subjective truth. … Belief, however, is an idea or concept which is held as true to the individual who holds it, and not necessarily to anyone (or everyone) else, therefor likely not true. Real truth would be true to a believer and non believer alike.


      • Define god. Then we have a place to begin. If you are referring to the biblical god, it is highly unlikely because that is not where the evidence leads. Unless one concludes the layers upon layers of immortality, ambiguity, and contradiction as necessary attributes of deity that eludes what has developed naturally over the millennia. In life we are constantly presented 2 wrong choices. In your case and mine that would be the biblical god or atheism. So if there is no god is there nothing at all? When humans have the experience or glimpse into that other world, it is always interpreted through the lens of the anchoring biases. Historically those that have known none of the typical god have seen it much differently and not as a religious experience at all, but a happening that has no hierarchy. When the religious bias is present they take on a role of self importance. I call it the Jehovah Effect. Now you must do what I say and listen to what I have to tell you. Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Jesus, Ellen White and her handlers, etc, history is smattered with these types. Then they become endtime zealots with no reference to time because at that moment of experience there is none. The masters or those others that prepare rigidly to have the experience see it and basically burst into laughter. Everything is one thing and I AM takes on its actually meaning. You are the whole thing. So no, IMO there is no god as believed by those who were not prepared for the experience. It was always interpreted through the current belief. Even Jesus used “the father and I are one”. I AM, but so am I and so are you. Muhammad came through the lens of his own background as wheel as the others. It’s not something one can claim ownership for but most often do.


      • Yes. If you could prove there was a god then not believing would be willful. I’m not sure why you so easily dismiss any alternative to Yahweh? Most of the world does. You’re special pleading and faith (ignorance?) is the only way Jesus is creator of the universe. No one in history has learned this without having it being forced upon them. The idea of it failed so they turn to swordplay. It’s simply an artificial religion, made in Israel.


      • For the sake of this post, I’m not trying to prove the existence of God, only showing that atheism is not justified, necessarily true, nor a belief. Therefore is not knowledge.


      • Belief is not knowledge. Atheism is not belief. So what? You’ve actually proven nothing. If you have to philosophize god into existence you can just as easily philosophize him out.
        The only funny part is belief is dictating your reason, which is untrue to the non believer, and true to you only by faith, which is actually nothing but a thought you’ve grown attached to.


      • You actually don’t know whether God exists or not. Nor do you know my reasons for believing. So while atheism may just be a smokescreen, theism could very well be knowledge. Atheism, for this reason, is more a religion than Christianity, asking people to blindly accept an unjustified ‘lack of belief.’


      • You’ve gone to a lot of effort here to reason your belief. Congratulations! You’ve bought the ridiculous claim and solved the 1000 year riddle of the greatest minds in history. And actually absence of evidence is evidence of absence.


      • I believe that you are putting words in other people’s mouths, and an unfair onus on their shoulders. Religions claim that God exists. It Is up to them to prove His/Its existence.
        Atheists generally claim that they have not been presented with sufficiently convincing evidence. They are content to happily proceed with their lives, ignoring the question, until they are confronted with an unfounded, militant claim. 😯 🙄


      • So if the lack of evidence led you to a lack of belief, and thus, a lack of knowledge, why are you so passionate about it?


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