So-called weak atheism (or soft atheism) describes the position of a person who does not believe that God exists but who also does not deny that God exists. I’ve raised the following objection to weak atheism before, but I thought it would be worth restating it.
Let’s begin with atheism as conventionally defined. Atheism is the view that God does not exist. And so, the logic of weak atheism is as follows: a person who fails to affirm or deny the truth of a particular state of affairs (e.g. the state of affairs of God’s not existing) can be described as weakly endorsing the position in question (e.g. being an atheist). Thus, the person who fails to believe or deny that God exists can be called a weak atheist.
For the sake of discussion, we can call this the weak principle. And to assume that weak atheism is not engaging in an idiosyncratic and ad hoc use of language, we will charitably assume that the weak principle has general application. Thus, we will assume that it is generally the case that failing to affirm or deny a particular state of affairs is sufficient for one to be described as weakly endorsing the position in question.
With that in mind, let’s return to the position of a person who does not believe that God exists but who also does not deny that God exists. As we have seen, according to the weak principle, this position is sufficient to qualify as a weak atheist. But by the same logic, this is also sufficient to qualify as a weak theist. Thus, every person who is a weak atheist is simultaneously also a weak theist.
And it gets worse. By this logic, the same person who qualifies as a weak communist also qualifies as a weak anti-communist. The same person who qualifies as a weak relativist also qualifies as a weak non-relativist. The same person who qualifies as a weak skeptic also qualifies as a weak non-skeptic. And so it goes.
In other words, the consequences of the weak principle are utter nonsense. And that means that the weak principle is itself nonsense. And that means that weak atheism is also nonsense.