Atheist Belief

I know it is done to death in the past, and this is probably preaching to the converted but it constantly amazes me how many theists (and even some atheists) labour under the idea that “atheism” means believing there is not a God.

On YouTube there is a video from davidbpearson2 (calling himself FireFly515) about Atheists (which I strongly suspect is a joke anyway) which provides a good example of this thinking (I am not going to mention the rest of the nonsense in the video because he is either trolling or doing it as satire). (There are quite a few posts by FireFly515 in which he rants about destroying Atheism and the numerous responses but that is the subject for another post one day).

In a nutshell, lots and lots of the religious propaganda which mentions Atheism describes them as people who believe there is no God.

I don’t think I can agree with this.

I can only speak for myself (remember this is no Atheist Doctrine which tells all Atheists how they can think…), but I personally do not believe in any deities existing and to me this is an important difference. Saying I do not believe in God takes the prior assumption that God exists and makes it appear I am wilfully refusing to accept this.

Saying I believe there is no God is equally weak (again, please remember this is my personal opinion), belief is a characteristic of faith. Atheism is not a faith. I do not hold a belief in the face of evidence. I do not hold a belief on the basis of there being no evidence.

All I can say is, I do not believe in imaginary things, this includes deities, Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, Elves, Faeries, The Grinch, Goblins, Bogeymen, Little green martians, Witches, Ghosts, Hobbits, Treants, Orcs, Mordor, Harry Potter, Angels, Demons, The Devil, dragons and so on. To me a theist is some one who has cut this list a little bit shorter.

It would be interesting to see how others describe their Atheism.

7 thoughts on “Atheist Belief

  1. I don’t understand why you say belief implies faith. In the ordinary sense of the word, there are lots of things i believe on the basis of the evidence. I believe that my local City Hall is still standing, even though I haven’t checked it in several days, since public buildings don’t usually collapse without the fact being publicized. I believe that Bigfoot, the Tooth Fairy, and Yahweh are figments of the imagination.

    Faith is a particular kind of belief, arrived at with clear disregard for the evidence, on the basis of authority or tradition.

  2. I think you’ve fallen into an intellectual trap set by theists who think they’re clever, and unfortunately they are a bit.

    Not believing in a god (little g) or any gods (little g) includes not believing in God (aka Yaweh, etc.). If you have that belief, then it is just as correct to say you don’t believe in God (big G) as it is to say you don’t believe in any gods. It makes no difference to a Godite whether you believe in no gods or whether you simply don’t believe in God, because they only believe in one god, therefore their context of faith is that one god. Whether you don’t believe in God or don’t believe in any gods, you still don’t believe in *their* god, and that’s their problem.

    Saying you “don’t believe in God” is accurate, and reflects the fact that while many do believe in God, you, as a believer in no gods, do not.

    Basicaly, I don’t think you or any other atheist are being mischaracterised as “not believing in God”, because that’s true. If they then say you believe in some other god (e.g. Sat’n), then that’s a different story.

  3. This was precisely why I wrote the list.

    When I say that I’m an atheist, I’m saying that (in shorthand) that each of the individual god concepts that I’m aware of, I reject, for whichever reason is appropriate from that particular concept of a god.

    My position changes for each god-concept, some I’m not so sure about (agnostic) but don’t believe exist (weak atheist), some I’m convinced don’t exist as I see that there is strong evidence that they don’t exist (strong atheist), and some I really don’t know much about to make a reasoned decision one way or the other (ignostic atheist).

    However, all of these come under the general umbrella term of atheist (either defined as “not having belief in a god” or “believing in no gods” – I take both positions independently) so I’m happy to call myself one.

    And as far as “destroying atheism” goes, all someone would have to do would be to convince me that at least one god exists. All the evidence that I’ve seen so far falls very well short of achieving this.

  4. All good points. Thanks for the comments.
    I can’t even really tease out the semantic differences, here but I think it was a goood exercise in clarifying thoughts, so nice one TW.

  5. Thanks for all the comments – I dont have much time online at the moment so I can not respond fully, but I will do so soon.

  6. Personally, my atheism is technically stronger than the “I do not hold a belief in gods” type. Broadly, I park in the a-supernaturalist camp. I have never witnessed , nor have I ever been provided evidence that anyone else has witnessed a supernatural phenomenon.

    I have investigated more than a thousand supernatural claims in my decades of life and in every case the supplied evidence has been anecdotal one-offs, non-existent, or just plain ignorance.

    I have no reason to think that the claims by people from times gone by would be any different. They were even less well informed than most are today, and credulity was therefore higher.

  7. Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Regarding the early comments, I never said belief implied faith, I said belief was a characteristic of faith. As I said in the post, believing in something without evidence is a characteristic of faith, and the term “taken on faith” is often used in such circumstances.

    For me, there is a big difference between saying “I believe god does not exist” and “I do not believe god exists.” My atheism is not borne out of a different set of beliefs than a theist, it is simply the absence of belief.

    Gary, you say:

    I believe that my local City Hall is still standing, even though I haven’t checked it in several days, since public buildings don’t usually collapse without the fact being publicized.

    and I couldn’t agree more – although to me, the evidence for your belief is that nothing has been publicised. This is the point I was trying to make.

    K – I am aware there is no functional difference between not believing in God and not believing in any gods. However, when someone describes “atheists” as not believing in God, they are creating the implied assumption that God exists and atheists are going against the grain. If people walked around saying “Wow, you don’t believe in Santa” it would be ridiculous, yet true. Saying “wow, you don’t believe in God” seems to be a legitimate claim to make because there is an underlying assumption that God exists.

    I don’t believe in Loki, but no one ever mentions that…

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