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Atheism: What It Is And Why It Is

Metaphysical naturalism
Image via Wikipedia

Atheism is a term that is often misunderstood even by atheists themselves and constantly by theists. Atheism in it’s simplest definition is just a + theism where a as a prefix simply means without. Put in other terms that simply means one has a lack of belief in a deity. Commonly atheism is considered to be a rejection of theism either implicitly or explicitly. Let me clarify one thing before I go much further. The new atheism or anti-theism is in fact a subset of atheism, much like the government here in the USA has both democrats and republicans, but they are not representative of atheism as a whole. I must answer the claim made by many new atheists that ‘old’ atheists were much less vocal and satisfied with a live and let live attitude. To them I have one question, have you ever heard about Madalyn Murry O’Hair? A great book to read about her is The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O’Hair. I have heard many people, both atheist and theist alike, claim atheism means god doesn’t exist. Of course there is the oft heard claim by theists that atheism requires faith because their god is evolution. To put it simply, theism requires faith in order to believe nor is their any evidence to support their belief so faith is necessary.

Photo of Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
Image via Wikipedia

Now evolution has tons of evidence and is a well backed scientific theory that requires nothing more than an acceptance of the evidence. That isn’t faith. When a theist is claiming atheism requires faith they are doing it for the reason, perhaps unconsciously, that as soon as atheism is a positive belief, they can shift the burden of proof from themselves onto atheism. Besides, when a theist makes that claim it is almost as if they are saying “yes, my faith is irrational but you have faith and are just as irrational” which is something that certainly does not help the theists case. Considering that Atheism is not nor will it ever be a faith, or religion, the burden of proof remainssquarely on the shoulders of theists. Some may ask if atheism is a movement, and to those I will direct them to this article written in the Guardian by Ophelia Benson Atheism Itself Isn’t A Movement.

Why is there atheism? Atheism is a natural human state. One we are all born into so why is it necessary to name it, you don’t call people that don’t believe in faries afariests or those that deny evolution aevolutionists (I call them history deniers but that is for another blog post)? Technically it isn’t but since theists throught the centuries can’t seem to comprehend anyone that does’nt believe in their diety, it is a necessary name.

Three books I would recommend to anyone that would like to read further on this subject are Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy, The Path of Reason – A Philosophy of Nonbelief and The Non-Existence of God

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5 Responses

  1. There’s some evidence that actually brain function has evolved to look for agency behind events. Even further our cognition is a result of the evolution of complex social behavior that is constantly trying to assign cause, blame, and try to predict hidden meaning. So it’s no wonder that religion is a cultural universal at least in our evolutionary orgins, which has nothing to do with the veracity of the existence of deity. My schtick is that I am abeliefistic in that I have no belief at all. My morals have been learned at my parents knee and from the school of hard knocks just like everyone else including the religious. My political positions reflect my prejudices and my desires. I am a scientist and accept the theory of evolution. Belief itself is an outmoded and unnecessary way of thinking. We can speculate and hypothesize, but I can wait until enought evidence comes in to make what I hope to be an informed opinion. Belief itself simply doesn’t enter into it.

  2. You might want to read this blog that talks about consciousness. You might be suprised that we do not even exist at all.

    • ok….who wrote this?

      • He is a scientist at heart just like you. He wrote several books on topics such as “god ” is simply a part of the creation process and that the bible is nothing but an ancient historical book.

        In one of his Lawsinium paradoxes, he demonstrated that our existence is simply based on our consciousness or awareness. This can be proven by riding a 100-cars long railroad train. This train will enter a dark tunnel four times the length of the entire train. As the last car of the train moves towards the gate of the tunnel, all of a sudden there is total darkness. At this very moment, you begin to focus your eyes to anything, but you can not see anything if anything still exist. You only see darkness. Total darkness. And sometimes you become confused. You asked yourself: “Am I trying to see everything or am I trying to think of everything”. The concept of seeing stops and the concept of thinking becomes clear. You started to check with your mind if you still have your legs, your hands, and your body, but because everything is black you really do not know. And as time passes by, as you see the light in the other end of the tunnel, you see everything again. You now see your hands, your legs and your body but you begin to think and contemplate. Our brain can really play tricks on us. The thought of existence can simply be created by the brain. Nothing really exists. Everything is just a pigment of our imagination.

        Light and intelligence give way to objects or materials to exist. Light and consciousness also give way for god to exist. It is consciousness that creates god and NOT god creates consciousness.

      • Guess you didn’t understand my question was rhetorical.

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