Thursday, March 19, 2015
Top Ten Misconceptions about Atheists - Part One
All right, I should probably have called this “Top Ten Lies about Atheists” or “Top Ten Misrepresentations about Atheists” or even “Top Ten Things People Claim about Atheists Even Though They Know Full Well They Aren’t True and Have Been Refuted Repeatedly,” but I figure there must be at least some theists out there who are sincere and honestly believe what they have been told about atheists. This post is addressed at these hypothetical sincere theists and not those who go out of their way to repeat stuff they know to be false for the purpose of advancing their own agenda (“a.k.a. “Lying for Jesus”).
Having said that, there are certainly gradations as to how different atheists approach or define their non-belief in god. There are many atheists, true, who have investigated the claims of different religions and have come to the conclusion that the gods described by those religions can’t possibly be true, whether because of logical impossibility, contradictory statements in the holy scriptures about the god in question, lack of any supporting evidence that should be there if the god existed, actions of those who profess belief in those gods (“by their fruits ye shall know them”), etc. But there are also many atheists who haven’t really given it much thought and simply have no reason to believe in any particular god, usually because they were raised in a family or a culture where God was never discussed. Many theists may believe that a belief in God (they’re personal version of God, of course) is the natural state of man and that one must actively resist that belief in order to be an atheist. In fact, however, all you need to not believe in God is to not be taught to believe in him in the first place. It's sort of like claiming that belief in Santa Claus is the natural state of man (despite the fact that many people have never even heard of Santa Claus and there are wide variations in how Santa is depicted even among those people who do believe in him). You don't need to be actively taught that Santa Claus doesn't exist in order to not believe in him -- you just have to never be taught that he does exist in the first place.
As for atheists being angry at God or hating him, I suppose it is certainly true that some people who call themselves atheists feel this way. Again, though, as comforting as it is to think that God’s existence is so obvious that the only people who claim disbelief are those who KNOW he exists and actively reject him, the truth is that most atheists either have lost their belief due to learning more about the world or never had a belief to begin with.
As always, I apologize if any of the “misconceptions” I describe seem like straw men arguments of their own, misrepresenting what theists say about atheists. I certainly don’t claim that all theists have these misconceptions, but they are all legitimately misconceptions I have personally encountered from different theists.
Oh – and this list isn’t ranked in any particular order and probably won’t have exactly ten items….
Misconception Number One -- Atheists Believe There Is No God, Are Angry at God or Hate God
First off, let me preface this by pointing out that the word atheist literally means somebody who does not have a belief in a god of any sort. Beyond that, it’s really hard to lump all atheists together and say what they do, or do not, believe or what their “true” motivations are. Just like, beyond the fact that all theists, by definition, believe in a god or gods of some sort, it’s impossible to say anything else about “all theists.”