Holy Sunday Post: Misconceptions About Atheism
I’ve been considering writing a blog post about being atheist for while now. I was going to give some reasons why I am an atheist and what it means to me. The only reason I considered it is because I haven’t really put it down in written words before. I know how I feel, I have read a lot about the subject including religious texts, scientific books, anti-religious writings, etc, but when I talk about it with friends or family I tend to go off on tangents or rants and I am not really sure if I have ever been able to truly get my point across the way I would like to. Writing a blog post about it would give me an opportunity to do this, without it turning into a debate or rant.
I will probably write that post down the road, but instead, I am going to write about the common misconceptions about atheists that can really make my blood boil. Here goes:
1. Atheists hate religion/religious people. Maybe some do, but I would say the majority do not. This is an unfair generalization. Most atheists were probably religious or at least theistic at one point and probably took a long journey of questioning and discovery before they came to the point of being an atheist. Quite a bit of hate in my experience comes from religion, and the majority of atheists are kind and accepting of all people. Most just want to live their life and not be forced into a religious societal framework.
2. It takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a Christian. This is false logic and also presumptuous. It presumes that all atheists believe the same alternative to theism (whatever that is) and that they must have faith to follow this doctrine just the same. The presumption is wrong because all atheists do not believe the same thing, they just follow the same non-belief. Also, it doesn’t take faith to not believe in a talking penguin. Non-faith is much different from faith.
3. Atheists are not happy. If you are religious, and that religion makes you feel happy and warm inside, don’t assume people without that religion are not happy. Just as many religious people can be unhappy, atheists can too. But it’s condescending to assume unhappiness in the faithless. To me, atheism is extremely freeing and I am overall a happy person.
4. Atheists want to offend people. I honestly don’t understand why some people are offended when an atheist simply says they don’t believe in God. I understand that some atheists may enjoy offending uptight zealots, but for the most part I think the average atheist honestly does not want to offend anyone. In fact, I could very well get offended on a weekly basis when I am bombarded by religious billboards, anti-abortion campaigns, religious influence in the media and government, etc. But I don’t.
5. Atheists are pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, want to stifle religious freedom, etc. It’s unfair to assume anything about an atheist other than they don’t believe in a god/deity. Atheism in no way outlines a set of moral guidelines or rules in the way that the major religions do. The great thing about being atheist is that I can form my own opinions and beliefs based on evidence, personal morals and logic… As opposed to an outdated text full of loosely interpreted rules and stories. Most avid atheists strongly believe in religious freedoms, but disagree with religious influence in social policy catering to the major religions by way of tax exemptions and public school funding. It probably is fair to say that a majority of atheists do indeed support gay marriage and pro-choice… but this is an opinion each person makes for themselves.
6. Atheists believe that something came from nothing. This one kills me. I have heard a lot of religious people say that atheists think all of the animals and the earth came from nothing and the complex human eye magically and randomly created itself. The argument is that if you see a brand new Ford truck, with all of it’s complexities, you know it was created. It didn’t just magically come into existence. Therefore the human body must have been created, and atheists believe it magically sprung up into existence. This, again, assumes a common belief about atheists first of all. Atheism implies nothing other than a non-belief in a god, it doesn’t say ‘this is what we think happened’ or ‘there is no god, so all of this stuff just showed up overnight’. It simply says ‘I reject your claim of a god/creator’. Secondly, it demonstrates a huge misunderstanding of the common scientific theories (i.e. evolution). Don’t make an argument when you don’t know what you are talking about.
That is all.