I believe that many people get confused about the term "Atheist." Is an Atheist just a person who doesn't believe in a supreme being or is there more to it? How does one become Atheist? What is it like be in a world that is dominated by religion? Please give me your feedback on this topic. Help me gain insight on the Atheist community so to speak.
To become an Atheist, you need only look at the evidence provided by science and then compare it to what is in the bible - preferably the New King James Version rather than the traditional King James Version. The grammar in the King James Version is archaic, difficult to follow, and easily misconstrued. Don't read it with symbolism, metaphor, or allegory in mind - that's how the religious make sense of it. Symbolism, metaphor, and allegory are unreliable means of communicating ideas since interpretations change with the times and are subject to bias. You can make sense of just about anything if you look at it only with symbolism, metaphor, and/or allegory in mind.
What's it like to live in a world that is dominated by religion? It just plain sucks. I've never felt so bogged down by the stupidity of those around me. That may sound conceited, but when around 50% of the country's people qualify as Creationists (a.k.a. hypocrites who ignore a myriad of scientific evidence) and with around 80% (plus or minus 10%) of the country believing in a god, I can't help but feel like I'm surrounded by intellectual zombies that are trying to infect me.
As to what an atheist really is... that's a tricky question, since atheism is the opposite of a belief system. In the words of Sam Harris, atheism is "devoid of content. It's like being a non-astrologer."
What atheism allows is what makes it so crucial. It makes room for Free Thought and a general rejection of any dogma. It basically opens up your mind in full to the wonders of the universe. In computer terms, it "frees up" RAM by terminating useless processes and programs. If a theory - or even a thought-to-be-fact - is found to be false, the atheist must discard it. This is something that religious people almost never do, which is why they still exist.
The standard answer to this question, for some of the more wimpy among us, is that “atheist” only means “lack of faith” and does not carry the more confrontational meaning of implying an overt assertion of some sort. In essence, it is really a variant of the term, “agnostic,” and implies some level of respect for the beliefs of religionists, of which I have none.
That’s why I avoid the ambiguity implied in that label. I don’t just “lack faith;” I totally reject even the possibility of the existence of all things supernatural. So, rather than leave any doubt as to my strong belief that there is NO SUCH THING as God or gods of any kind, I prefer to call myself an “antitheist.” Or, if you prefer - a “filthy atheist!”
I am really getting tired of hearing this same question posed so often in so many ways. Who cares what the word “atheist” means? The bottom line: call me an atheist, an antitheist, a free thinker, a secular humanist, a rationalist, a communist - whatever. It all boils down to the fact that I think the whole idea of there being such things as ghosts, goblins, souls, spirits, angels, devils, leprechauns, zombies, vampires, Santa Clauses, sasquatches, flying saucers, and such is utter insanity. And gods? That’s the most preposterous concept of all.
Your first paragraph is odd. Why does it make someone "wimpy" that their position is not confrontational? The 'lacks belief' definition doesn't imply respect for religion. It could be used evasively or with deference to religions, I suppose, but it can also be quite dismissive of religion. It can be used to say that religions, as hypotheses, are so absurd and poorly supported that they do not even warrant serious consideration let alone denial.
I think in the case of many atheists it is even simpler than that though. I think many atheists are trying to align scientific method with their broader personal outlook on life and the universe.
Well, just a point of view. Take it or leave it, of course.
Using myself as an example, there's one simple reason why an anti-theist won't confront a theist: they just don't like confrontation. I have nothing but contempt for religion at this point, with both contempt and pity for its propagators, yet I wear a mask of false tolerance around theists. Unfortunately, I see them as a lost cause, and there's no point in wasting time and energy on something that's lost. I feel like I'd have a better chance of finding gold in my backyard, though I doubt it's truly that hopeless for them.
The standard answer to this question, for some of the more wimpy among us, is that “atheist” only means “lack of faith” and does not carry the more confrontational meaning of implying an overt assertion of some sort.
Atheism is lack of belief in theism, either by conscious rejection or by having no concept of gods. As such, atheism requires no assertion on the part of the atheist.
Anti-theism (also known as 'hard atheism') is an active assertion that God does not exist and opposition to religion on grounds that religion is harmful.
Thus, wimpy newborns the world over are atheists. They have to grow up before they can become toughie anti-theists like yourself.
Science provides the anti-theist with enough evidence to make a strong case against theism and demonstrate the harmfulness of religion. But it requires time to present. Moreover, the questioner will resist, deny, and refuse to become informed by anything you say. So this approach is best taken when you have a patient audience willing to listen.
If you're tired of that burden, and of answering questions, take the atheistic approach. Answer the question as posed. Leave the burden of proof on the theist.
The standard question is: "Can you prove God doesn't exist?!" To which the standard response is: "I can't disprove your evidence because you haven't provided any."
It's a lot quicker.
The way I explain it to theists is: The way you feel toward all gods besides your own is the same way I feel about all gods including your own.
There might be a better phrasing, but it is what it is
We just answered all of these questions for a guy calling himself Stephen, who deleted all his comments and left with his tail between his legs.
Quite simply Keith, we are all born atheists until some of us are corrupted by superstitious adults.
Are you guys working in shifts?
Stephen self-destructed too? Not even a little pile of smouldering ashes? Tragic
I suspect he was Raptured, but let's keep it our secret --
Gen 5:24 "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."
For me, only the most fundamental definition is necessary. For me personally this seems to stem from a stronger need for truth.
OK, Ladies and Germs, I have a confession to make. It will likely get me kicked out of the Atheist's club, they will probably, effective today, change the secret handshake, strip me of my decoder ring, and if they could find where I've hidden it, take back my recipe for baby Bar-B-Que.
Let me preface my confession by saying that I do not believe in ANYthing supernatural, but I just watched a rerun of "The Santa Clause 2," with Tim Allen and Elizabeth Hamilton ("Juliette," from "Lost"), and I'll admit I laughed, and I cried.
I've also teared up at every episode of "Ghost Whisperer," for the very same reason.
I've come to the conclusion that - and don't ask me which evolutionary survival technique it involves - we Humans WANT to believe in things supernatural. We Atheists, of course, and rationally so, discount any possibility of magic, but the concept is so ingrained within our heritage, that, at least subconsciously, we bemoan our loss of innocence, an innocence that didn't depend on mathematical formulae or carbon dating - magic did it. The tooth fairy was real, and Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and yes, gnomes, and elves and fairies without any specific professional occupation.
This need of ours, and again, I have no empirical evidence, is responsible for all of the gods we Humans have ever worshiped. To lose the need, is to lose our collective childhoods, our collective innocence, and although we know, in our minds, that it's the logical thing to do, logic is not a thing that makes us laugh or cry.
And no one's getting my recipe --
The difference is that you can differentiate between fantasy and reality.
There is an evolutionary survival technique in imagination. With imagination, we can decide that we would not eat a mixture of fish, custard and crushed spider - even though we have never actually tasted it. Someone else will probably have a far better analogy, but with imagination we can make choices, because we can imagine several outcomes of different actions, etc. I'm sure you see what I mean.
Fantasy is simply a spin-off from imagination. We, as humans, entertain children and ourselves with magical stories, but even so, you will note that the underdog usually wins, and good triumphs over evil in an absolute way in these stories. So I can see that we might yearn for that to be as clear cut in life - which it isn't.
The films you watched were actually designed to have the emotional effect that they seem to be having on you. That is the precise outcome that makes people want to watch them. But tell me, do you really look around you and imagine you can see real ghosts, after watching the Ghost Whisperer? Of course you don't.
That is because you can differentiate between fantasy and reality. At some stage, you discovered that Santa and co were not real. I wonder if you would have been so certain of that discovery if all the adults around you were seriously certain he did exist. Eventually you might have worked it out anyway, but not necessarily immediately.
Religious folk have not managed to learn how to differentiate, because nobody in their surrounds has taught them how to tell the two apart.