As all atheists know, there are a lot of preconceived notions what atheism is and what atheism isn’t, what it means, what it doesn’t mean. There are jokes and stories about how theists (religious people) think that atheists eat babies, worship Satan or something similarly absurd. In reality, these stories are shown only to be a slight exaggeration.
Sometimes it’s almost impossible to believe the comments you can read under atheist posts, how much misunderstanding is there. So, we created a few memes to try to convey as much information as possible in a compact form. The intention of these memes s to show that atheism is not “a monster” like some comments on Entangled Life’s Facebook page say.
First up: What atheism is and what it isn’t.
Atheism is lack of belief in gods
It is NOT:
To be fair, some atheists do have a problem with a definition “lack of belief” and this can be understood because it seems to imply that if we had the capacity or willingness to believe, we would be as smart or whatever as religious people. However, in the interests of brevity, this definition will suffice for now.
Next meme tries, to sum up, what desires we have. Obviously, from the definition that atheism is a non-belief in gods it follows that we cannot be satisfied with the tales about the world. So, we use reason, logic, evidence and we think for ourselves.
Atheism: The desire to know the Real World.
From this lack of belief also follows that we have the notion that anyone who doesn’t solve his or her own problems, but instead prays for a solution is not really taking control of their life. But this is not what the next meme is all about. Being an atheist means acknowledging responsibility for your own life.
In short, being an atheist means to stop hoping for a rescue or punishment from heaven and start taking responsibility.
Atheism: Being responsible for your own life
A lot of times you will hear an argument that goes something like this: If there is no God, why be good? What makes you good? Basically, what religious people are telling us that the only reason they are good is because they are afraid of burning in hell. But, this is a discussion for some other post.
The point is that atheists see that the Bible and other holy books are not such a good source of morality and if we were still living by them the world would be a much worse place. Instead, atheists recognise that human morality predates the Bible, as it’s evident in the writings of Confucius, in Babylonian literature, in the existence of The Golden Rule which says that we should treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. So, it is clear that human morality was evolved and has been evolving ever since humans themselves have evolved.
Also, we humans are social species, which means it’s even in our best interest to be good to others. This also means we do have altruism and empathy.
Atheism: Doing good simply because you are good.
In short, atheism means doing good things because you are a good person, not because your holy book tells you to.
Now, what can follow from that and from the fact that we don’t believe in any gods is that we realise that religion is only a human idea, similar to socialism, or communism or democracy … and this means it can be criticised like any idea. So, when atheists are thinking about issues in the world, our solutions will almost always put humans before ideologies, even if that means offending someone.
Atheism: Putting Humans before Ideas.
We believe that offence of a religious person’s feelings is a much lesser evil than putting your fellow human beings through suffering, torture, or even death. Obviously, this is a bit of a simplified argument, but it should serve well to illustrate the notion. We consider people before we consider ideologies.
Finally in this series of memes, next one tries to address the issue about our purpose in life. Religious persons like to believe in a fairy tale that they are special, that they are buddies with the creator of the Universe himself and even in more extreme cases that the entire Universe, all the billions of light-years, countless galaxies, stars and planets were created specifically so that human beings can be put on this little speck of dust, around and insignificant star, in an insignificant galaxy and worship their Creator who watches them masturbate and cares what they do with their sexual organs.
Atheists, of course, realise how ridiculous those notions are.
Atheism: Being Bold. Creating your own Purpose.
We recognise that there’s no innate purpose in the Universe, there’s no purpose for your existence. You simply exist. It is a wonder that you exist, as the “possibilities of people created by the human DNA are endless”, but you do not exist with any special purpose a supernatural creator deity has given you.
But that doesn’t mean that your existence is meaningless. Being an atheist, you are free to create your own meaning. Life can mean to you whatever you want it to mean. You are free to dedicate your life to whatever the cause you desire, to whatever purpose you wish. Isn’t this a better way to live, ultimately? There’s something to be said for being brave, admitting to yourself and the Universe that the might be no meaning, and still standing tall and trying to improve the world in your own way?
The universe might be without purpose, so what? Create your own purpose!