Ordinarily I’d side with Atheists who would object to the Theist (Christians mostly) who would assert that the Atheist does in fact know God exists. Not because I think the accusation is wrong, but because telling someone what they believe is generally not a good starting point. Why would a Christian confidently insist that the Atheist knows God exists?
(Romans 1:20-21) — For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
I’m going to go on the record as saying that I am confident that every avowed Atheist does in fact know God exists. This is different from believing in God, which more so entails a trusting acknowledgement. I think it will be obvious to every Theist who has argued with an Atheist about the existence of God. And it will be internally obvious to every Atheist, though you will be resistant and offer plenty of excuses — yes, excuses.
I can admit that I sympathize with the Atheist who’ll not want to be told what they know. But let’s think about it. Whenever the definition of atheism is discussed, self-identified Atheists bemoan a definition which includes “a belief that no god(s) exist”. In fact very few will accept a definition which includes a firm denial of God’s existence. They always attempt to define their view as one that simply lacks a belief, or that there isn’t enough evidence to affirm God’s existence, or that they are merely not a Theist. Why is this?
Two reasons I think. It benefits the Atheist to take a position they believe they won’t have to defend. After all if they don’t actually believe something, they don’t have to defend it right? Well, the view: God does not exist, is a view that needs to be defended. Unfortunately, that is a difficult position to defend, and they know it hence the definitional gymnastics. I even have great difficulty getting an Atheist to answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ the question: Does God exist? They meander back with, “well it hasn’t been proven to me…” or “there isn’t enough evidence to say…”. It’s like pulling teeth to get a clear and precise explanation of what they do believe about whether God exists.
The second reason is because subconsciously the Atheist does know God exists and leaves himself an “out” based on a linguistic technicality. “Well I never said He didn’t exist…” Why else would the Atheist be so reticent to state with confidence that God doesn’t exist?
But notice this hesitancy is only when the focus is on them and what they believe. When the discussion is centered on what the Christian believes, the Atheist has no qualms about making such statements about how the Theist believes in a “non-existent God” or “an invisible sky buddy” or “an imaginary friend for adults”. The Atheist is perfectly at home making firm declarations that they believe God is a figment of the believer’s imagination, a psychological comfort, an emotional crutch invented by man, an invention by the early powers that be to control the masses.
I have to say, I am beginning to believe that the Atheist really does know God exists. They tacitly admit this when they fumble for a loose definition of atheism to hide behind. Then confirm this knowledge when they are willing to mock the Theist for his belief that God does exist. This talking out of both sides of their mouth belies their intellectual puffery no matter how hard they pound the podium.
There’s two ways to solve this. Either admit you know God exists but hate the idea. Or admit that your view is: ‘no god(s) exist’ and defend it.