Judging by the comments on my “lack of belief” post, I was right to think this is a controversial statement within the atheist community. I want to make clear that my intention isn’t to correct people who use the phrase. The wording “I lack belief in God” is valid...but it’s not any more valid than saying “I don’t believe in God” or even “I believe there is no God.” I find the distaste some atheists have for “I believe there is no God” is due to mistaking the statement for “I know there is no God.” To claim certain knowledge about the existence of God is to accept the burden of proof. To claim belief isn’t much more than a statement of opinion. Hopefully we all hold informed opinions that can be backed up with argument and evidence, but proof is hardly needed. Many beliefs I hold are built upon much more flimsy foundations than my atheism. I strongly believe there is no God. I also believe that I could be wrong. If I thought the likelihood that I am wrong was greater than 50%, then I would cease to believe that there is no God. Make sense?
Believers, on the other hand, generally invoke faith to make their beliefs into perceived assessments of objective truth. In reality, they don’t hold certain knowledge of God, but their claims of this knowledge should burden them with proof. However, the mystical framework of religious faith exempts them in their minds. If they had proof of God, then there would be no need for faith in God--and since faith is valued by God, there can be no proof. Yes, they have the burden of proof, but it’s fruitless to argue the point because not only does it not matter to them, it can't matter within the framework of their worldview.