Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Sifting Reality
“Atheism is a belief, and it is a worldview, but I understand that it isn’t a religion even if some Atheists hold to their atheism religiously. Newly trending is the creation of churches of atheism — pun intended. […] The fact that Atheists discuss, promote, evangelize, congregate over, and erect monuments to atheism leaves little doubt that it is something, and it means very much to them.”
Atheism is not a belief.
It is a position vis-à-vis Theism, and that position is not one of negation, but rather one of excepting oneself from the conversation, since one doesn’t accept the basis for that conversation and therefore – there being no common ground, no common sets of rules and norms – there can be no dialogue on the matter.
A/Theism: Where Theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, Atheism is the non-engagement with that belief.
I am an atheist. But I could just as well say I am secular. I adhere to secular humanitarian values.
To an atheist, to posit the question of God equates to posit the question of Harry Potter – please bear with me, no insult intended and I will explain – in so far as both subjects are to an atheist the invention/creation/work of human beings’ imagination. So they do have value, but only as human creations, nothing else.
Man created God to make sense of a world that can be at times difficult to understand, frightening to cope with, and permeated with uncertainty.
Several questions, which I hope you will help clarify for me:
1. Are they actually called churches or are they community groups or public houses perhaps?
It seems strange to me that atheists would be “congregating” in “churches.” It is far more likely that they would be meeting in community centres, schools or academies, and the above vocabulary would be used by Christians to try and make sense of what it is that atheists do, and lacking the necessary secular jargon – or perhaps simply choosing not to use it – they call the meetings “congregations” and the meeting halls “churches.”
2. I understand that atheists are still very much a minority in the US (truth be told atheists that actually declare themselves as such are still a minority everywhere in the world).
I also understand that being “out” as an atheist can mean being excluded from many community projects, volunteering opportunities and other group activities which in America tend to be organised by church groups.
Is it possible that what atheists are attempting to do, is to get together and set up alternatives, where they can still do the things they want to do, without being prevented from contributing to society because they happen to be non-believers. Again, I’m using stories that I have been told by American atheists over the years, many of whom have felt ostracised once “out”.
And you are quite right. There is something that means a lot to us atheists: humanity.
danielwalldammit says: “It is entirely possible that the ‘something’ which makes atheism meaningful is not an object or even a lack thereof in the belief so much as the social significance of the stance taken amidst so many who opt for its opposite.”
zqtx says: “I think the organizers are illustrating the point that you don’t have to be a faith-based group to do good deeds or inspire others to do good deeds in the community.”
John Barron says: “I don’t know if this one calls itself a church, but there are ones, in England at least, that do. But your definition of atheism is not the definition that has been used for centuries. Yours is rather new and seems to be for the purpose of not having to defend your belief that no gods exist.“
I beg to differ. The burden of proof lies with religion. Why would one be required to defend their lack of belief?
I don’t feel the need to defend myself, because I am not under attack. If someone tried to burn me at the stake for being a witch because I’m an infidel or a non-believer – then I’d get worried and build up a defence.
My definition is not new. It is simply a crispier repackaging of what Atheism stands for.
In any case, I did not say that God does not exist, only that to me God is an idea not an entity, and whilst I understand why others believe, for all intents and purposes I’m not part of that flock. I have my own set of truths, norms and values that I shape my life around.
Do Christians believe in a white dude with a beard that sits up in the skies?
I’d say not. If accepted as valid however, then yes, atheists don’t believe that the white guy in the sky with a big beard exists.
Regarding the “white guy with a beard in the sky” – as far as I’m concerned, it is not a Christian belief, but a caricature of it. Unfortunately this is also the case for atheism: what gets most press coverage are caricatures.
For the sake of mutual respect, it would be nice if the equivalent simplistic definitions of atheism would also be disposed of, alongside simplistic definitions of Christian beliefs.
Personally I trust that human beings are intelligent enough, and given the chance, articulate enough, to go beyond two-a-penny caricatures of their beliefs, thoughts, etc. and actually engage in mutually beneficial discussions about the meaning of life and death – because ultimately, each in our own way, those are the answers we are searching for.
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