I hear atheists saying both of the following statements and it would be nice to have it cleared up.
Which statement should atheists be using?
1. There is probably no god.
2. There is no god.
I should note that when I say “probably no god” in #1, I mean any amount less than 100% certainty.
I’ve habitually been saying #1 most of my atheist life. A lot of readers argue it ought to be #2.
Proponents of #1 include Richard Dawkins (who has a chapter in The God Delusion titled “Why there almost certainly is no god“) and advocates of the atheist bus campaign slogan “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” We don’t have absolute knowledge so we can’t know for sure whether or not a god exists, but it’s *very* unlikely one does based on what we know so far.
Proponents of #2 say we have no hesitation about saying unicorns and Zeus and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist. We don’t say “Mary probably didn’t have a virgin birth.” We don’t say Scientologists are probably wrong. So why do we bother qualifying the statement when it comes to a god?
Which phrase is the right one?