As an Atheist, I want to talk about the misconceptions relating to this title. I am simply responding to ignorance about Atheism expressed equally by religious and non-religious people. I first need to mention that I don’t talk about this just to create conflict, or relish in imposing opinions. I assure you I am acting out of love for the world, not hate, these misconceptions that I’m about to mention are holding back overall progression of humanity, it affects peoples decision making and this concerns me. I am concerned by anyone who expresses strong actions or views based on false or dishonest premises. So I am here to rid the airwaves of the misleading baggage attached to Atheism that simply isn’t warranted (Obviously Theism will be touched on as well). Let us begin.. .
What does proclaiming one’s self as an Atheist mean?
Knowing someone is an Atheist barely tells you anything about their beliefs. You only know one thing for certain. This person rejects the presented concepts of God. That is the only uniting and defining quality of an Atheist. Anything an Atheist expresses outside this framework isn’t in the name of Atheism, because this notion has has no scripture to claim itself. An Atheist may accept or deny evolution, an Atheist may be opposed to gay marriage. These are not defining factors of their Atheism, the only common factor between these people is a non acceptance of deity claims.
It really shouldn’t even have a word, why is there no special word for “non-astrologists” or “non-fairy believers”? Is everybody who denies the existence of Faries united in their non-belief? If we all deny Faries, does this mean we all share the same opinions on other issues? No, of course not, and Atheism is exactly the same. If you can’t see the difference between Atheism and Religion, you will struggle to have an honest discussion.
People incorrectly compare being an Atheist as the same “leap of faith” as being religious
When you admit to a religious belief, you are prescribing to all the unjustifiable claims of that belief, can you show me where these claims are made in the name of Atheism? It simply isn’t possible, being an Atheist implies you are NOT being bound by one scripture, which is quite the opposite of theistic religion. An individual Atheist could be spiritual, an Atheist can appreciate the narrative teachings of several religions, an Atheist can redefine and change their world view based on evidence, yet somebody belonging to purely one religion can’t.
There is simply no getting around the fact that certain sets of religious claims cancel out opposing religious claims, while also contradicting a few things that we do know for sure in science.
Why attach yourself to something close-minded and contradictory? (Theistic Religion)
This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from religion, I mean every religious person reads their holy book, to pick and choose only morality that is socially acceptable for their current time period and location. Attaching yourself to the word Atheism doesn’t weigh you down like this, there are no claims to weigh you down with. Atheism is open minded, theistic religions are not, as clearly spelled out in their own scripture (its not me claiming it, they do a great job themselves). I don’t need the threat of hell to do good things in the world, my brain allows me to discern wrong from right. I would have to question your moral character if you told me that humans wouldn’t be able to discern right from wrong without the teachings and laws of a holy book. This ability existed in humans before any “holy commandments” appeared. I am getting side tracked with morality, how does this always happen haha, moving on… .
***** Fundamentalist Atheism is Not Healthy *****
Fundamentalist ANYTHING isn’t healthy! It happens in all walks of life (Christianity, Islam, Non-religious, Dave Grohl is God-ists.. . .). This discussion isn’t concerned with extremists, they are so openly beyond reason and discussion. I believe it is up to the moderates, the less irrational activists to better inform their groups and hope the future brings less extremism in general. Back on topic now… .
Agnostic or Atheist?
Atheists and Agnostics both share the view that they can’t disprove or prove a God exists with any certainty. So how are they different? I’d say it is a shift of worldview. An Atheist is willing to take a position and say they don’t believe in the presented ideas of God, and will act in their life as if there is no God until they are shown sufficient evidence on this. They are not closed off to this idea. Some Atheists admit that if a God figure shows himself proving his powers and knowledge, they will accept his existence, but choose not to follow him if he is anything like the scripture versions of a God. This is just the opinion of one Atheist, It is not prescribed as apart of Atheism.
Why not be an Agnostic, why take it to the next level and call yourself an Atheist?
I ask you this in return, can you prove a Fairy exists? If you can’t disprove a Fairy, surely you must be an Agnostic towards Faries? If you can’t disprove a God, why not be Agnostic towards a God? Personally, I wouldn’t want to live my life as if something exists if there is not sufficient evidence for it. If you have no reason to believe a Fairy exists, how is it helpful, or healthy to live your life sitting on the fence as if a fairy could exist? Surely with every claim their is a more reasonable position to take even if we can never truly be 100% certain about anything. This is the difference between Atheists and Agnostics.
I know not everything is black and white, but sometimes in life taking a position can be positive especially if people are informed of the meaning. Many people are weary of carrying the fabricated negative associations of “Atheism”, so lets stop the religious people defining the word, lets clear the misunderstanding and clutter return to the reality. Next time you hear somebody misrepresent Atheism, correct them. It is more a matter of integrity, don’t allow people to get away with misleading and intellectually dishonest arguments for or against religion.
Why does Atheism provide no alternative to the religious holy books? Why does it not have its own narratives or moral guidelines for people to learn from?
In other words, if you are encouraging Atheism and free thinking, there will be some religious people that expect an alternative answer. Many atheists encourage all kinds of learning which is usually grounded in science. Evolution is a tool used by some Atheists to dismiss aspects of religious or creationist claims. Secular morality is another topic that is the alternative to scripture based morality. There are so many books on secular morality and its superiority. When Atheists write books, enter public debates and talks, they aren’t just promoting Atheism, they promote all the ideas solidify their Atheistic view of reality.
Richard Dawkins doesn’t enter the public domain just to promote Atheism (many people view him as close minded). He encourages research based belief rather than faith before reason. He is a lifelong evolutionary biologist and this is his main tool that lead him to affirm his views. He is gravely concerned with the fact that creationism is taught over evolution in many places in the world. His worry is that many children are missing out on rock solid information because they have been indoctrinated so young. He often mentions his concern that 40% of Americans think the world is only 6-10 thousand years old through interpreting religious scripture literally.
He has a letter written to his daughter on how to think and make up her own mind rather than telling her what dogma to believe (This letter is published online). The point I’m illustrating is that Atheism is used by many people in a larger effort to promote free thinking and the seeking of truth in the world. Not every Atheist will be as aligned with each other as every Roman Catholic would be aligned with each other. They will only share the notion: rejection of deity based claims due to a lack of evidence. I’m not asking you to agree with Atheists, I just want more people to understand what the word entails.
I’ll finish by saying, if more people knew what being an Atheist meant, I believe more people would admit to it. Think twice, maybe understand what an Atheist is before you discourage the notion. Identifying yourself in this way doesn’t limit what information you are open to exploring in the world, I’d say it’s quite the opposite.
I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment!
– Jono 🙂