Even More Facts About Atheism

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I never intended my ‘some facts about atheism’ hub to become a series, but after ‘some more facts about atheism’ I discovered that there were still a few more common misconceptions that I wanted to address. As with before, these articles are the observations of one atheist (me) and therefore do not reflect the views of all atheists. The purpose is to dispel as many generalizations as possible.

Atheists don’t think they have all the answers.

Having spent a lot of time discussing atheism on various internet forums, one of the frustrated responses I’ve seen is this one. It’s some variation of “how can you think you have all the answers?” I assume this is a response to things like the big bang and evolution which are seemingly finite answers to infinite questions. Though I’ve always found this response perplexing because atheism is the suggestion of an absence of something, rather than the existence of something specific (God). In fact, I don’t know any atheist who would claim to have all the answers to anything. But I think this is a misconception of atheism as an equivalent to faith-based belief, rather than being a conclusion. I addressed this in my second article, but I’ll reiterate that atheism isn’t faith-based. The evidence in the world around us, as of right now, has led us to the conclusion that there is no god. We don’t know all the answers of the universe, nor can we definitively disprove god, we just know that the data available points in a different direction. Atheists are capable of staring at the universe in awe and wonderment, it’s just that we haven’t assigned any labels to the unknown.

Atheists consider more than just scientific evidence.

Speaking of evidence, there is a lot more that goes into atheism, as a conclusion, than just astrophysics and evolutionary biology. I think there is a tendency for some theists to assume that atheists are using science as their only grounds for disbelief. In other words, the big bang and evolution are the pillars of our logic. While I would argue that all evidence is technically scientific, most atheists have come to their label through a vast array of fields. I’ve stated before that my atheism was influenced heavily by my study of literature. Puritan writings in early America showed me the mechanical usefulness of religion, which distanced it from the spiritual. Reading epic fantasy novels showed me that average humans could conceive of, write, and present a creation myth to the world, without divine intervention. And my study of ancient mythology showed me the enormous pool of forgotten deities that, by today’s standards, are no different from Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Human imagination and history are my basis for atheism. The sciences are just one area I’ve learned and considered before coming to my conclusion.

Atheists do not condone atheistic dictators.

Some dictatorships have, through time, used atheism as a tool to further their agenda. If you want to establish yourself as a supreme leader of a country, you can’t promote a power higher than you. Because of this strategy, some theists will point to these dictatorships as evidence that atheism doesn’t work, or that it is somehow corrosive to society. When I see these arguments I often point out that Christianity has its share of humanitarian atrocities. Often times the response is that those doing bad things in the name of Christianity aren’t real Christians or that they aren’t following what the religion is actually teaching. And I agree that a whole belief system shouldn’t be judged by its most extreme followers. Which is exactly what I’m trying to do with atheism. Dictators, who are also atheists, do not represent atheists in the same way that the Salem Witch Trials do not represent Christianity. My mission is to get people to see that.

Atheists don’t want to overthrow Christianity (or any other religion).

Which leads me to my next point; atheism, as a belief system, has no end game. While I’m sure there are militant atheists out there who want religion gone, they aren’t the majority. Your average atheist is the same as your average theist. They get up every morning, go to work, come home, kiss their family and watch some TV. People who have come to atheism as a conclusion (rather than being forced into it by a dictator) are not going to go to war in order to spread atheism. And people who stir the pot, like Richard Dawkins and David Silverman, aren’t going to demand their fans burn down a church. Because of this, atheism isn’t something to be feared.

Why do atheists care what Christians think?

There are many theistic religions in the world, so why do atheists seem to focus on Christianity whenever the topic comes up? The simple answer is that most of these discussions (at least the ones I participate in) concern the United States specifically. And, in the United States, the majority of the population is Christian. If the majority was Muslim, then atheists would be debating Muslims. But, again, why would an atheist care what a Christian thinks? It doesn’t affect our beliefs and people can say whatever they want; it’s a free country. Well, remember I said that Christianity is the majority and, in a democracy, the majority rules. That means they have legislative power, monetary power and a larger platform from which to speak.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but there are two potential problems. The first is the freedom of religion. Our government isn’t supposed to establish any sort of favoritism. It’s the basis for all legal battles between atheists and Christians. However your average atheist probably doesn’t care about that nativity scene. It’s the second potential problem that concerns me more, which is that a louder voice has the power to misrepresent and even harm a quieter voice. In other words, if the majority population of a country believes that atheists are the same thing as dictators, what’s to stop them from banning atheism? They have the numbers to do it. What’s to stop them from driving atheist’s out of business? They have the money to do it. What’s to stop them from associating atheism with so much negativity that no one ever wants to go near it again? Now, obviously I don’t expect any of that to happen, mostly because of our freedom of religion, but public opinion can be a powerful thing. Atheists care what Christians, and other theists, think because Christians are the ones in a tank, while we’re on a bicycle. And, the last thing you want to do is get on the bad side of the guy in the tank. But the solution isn’t to match arms for arms, it’s to dispel generalizations so that the guy in the tank comes down and shakes our hand. There is no reason we can’t share this country.

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Comments 11 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 21 months ago from Midwest

Voted up and across - you share my sentiments entirely and you state it all so eloquently. Well done! :)


Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 21 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Now, if only we could get the people who would most benefit from realizing these facts about atheists to read such pieces of writing and not blank out over the bits fueled by their burning strawmen.


Mel92114 profile image

Mel92114 21 months ago

Great article. I am not an atheist but I do have a family member that is...I will be showing him this terrific hub. Through him and witnessing his experiences myself, I hear about and see how often atheists are misunderstood and how they are often treated very differently than believers, at least in my neck of the woods. What really gets to me is when I see him being treated with contempt from believers like he deserves the harsh/cruel treatment because he believes differently than they. It makes me so sad.

Voted! Well done!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 21 months ago from Queensland Australia

Grea hub MT., and I am a Christian. But this helps me understand where mainstream atheists are coming from without jumping to conclusions and putting them all in the same basket. I can see you point that you have to speak up to be heard in a country where The Christian lobby has such a powerful majority. In Australia I think only around 27 percent of the population claims to be Christian and even a lower percentage is practicing. I honestly don't think people like Richard Dawkins help the cause..they just alienate Christians totally. We all have to live together and work for the greater good of the community and the world so shouldn't have to continually argue the point for our belief or non belief...morals and ethics are much more important.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 21 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Thank you, MT for expressing your views in such a non-threatening and logical way. Now, if only the ones that "label" atheists as evil will read and understand these hubs to know where we are coming from.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 21 months ago from Arkansas

MT, I wish people of all faiths and "nonfaiths" were as level-headed and well-adjusted as you are. I've mentioned before that I grew up in a house with a Christian and an atheist, and I am thankful for them both. Through my parents, I got a balanced view of the world. I wish other people would listen to the minority side. There are those of us who are neither atheist nor Christian (Muslim, Jewish, whatever). In some ways we are treated the same ways as atheists in this so-called Christian nation. It isn't just an "atheist thing" if that is any comfort to you.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 21 months ago from United States Author

ChristinS - Thank you for the comment and the compliment!

Kylyssa - I'll admit it can be difficult to get this information into the hands of the people who need it the most. So I'm approaching it from the perspective of 'saturation'. The more we write about the reality of atheism, the more likely it is to counter-balance the negative stories floating around out there. So I encourage all atheists to write hubs about their personal experiences. Thanks for the comment!

Mel92114 - I hope they enjoy the article. Treatment definitely varies from location to location. And while atheists can technically 'hide' their belief, I do hope that one day everyone can be open about their beliefs without it impacting their lives in a negative fashion. Thanks for the compliment and the comment!

Jodah - I do agree that Dawkins isn't necessarily helping the cause. I think, from his perspective, theism is on its way out and he's just helping it along. Whereas I don't think theism will ever fully go away. And that one difference of opinion changes how each of us reacts to theists. My opinion is we should try to live in harmony, since neither of us are going anywhere. Thanks for the comment and the compliment!

Austinstar - As I said to Kylyssa; I'm definitely shooting for saturation more so than I am changing any minds. If someone google's 'atheism' or 'atheists' I want them to find articles like this, rather than just those that paint atheists as villains. There will always be those out there who still want to label atheists 'evil', but I think all of us have the power and obligation to counter that stereotype. Thanks for the comment and the compliment!

MizBejabbers - You're absolutely right; many other religions get similar treatment from whoever is the majority. Even Christian's can be treated poorly if they find themselves in a town or city that has a majority of some other belief. Which is why I think it's so important to stress compassion and understanding. A war of beliefs might declare a winner, but only at great personal cost. Thank you for the comment and the compliment!


Ghonx profile image

Ghonx 20 months ago from UK

Nice article MT, completely agree with each point. I live in the UK, and while its consider a Christian country (CofE specifically) I think the vast majority are beginning adopting Deism the more we learn of the universe through science. In your opinion, could you see the same happen over in the US?


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 20 months ago from United States Author

Ghonx - While I can see why Deism would become more popular as science advances, I would be surprised if it happened in the states. One of the biggest problems the U.S. has right now is a distrust in science. Whether it's evolution, vaccinations, or global warming, there is no shortage of people willing to 'speak out against it'. And, so long as they are loud enough, others will hear.

I'm not saying that naysayers of science should be silenced (that's counter to free speech) but we certainly don't have to present unsupported opinion as equal to facts. That's why our political system is as crappy as it is. I would say that, of all the belief types, agnosticism is the most likely to become the majority here. Both theism and atheism have been too closely associated with their extremists, where as agnosticism occupies this sweet spot of neutrality. Great question, thanks for commenting!


Devin Meys profile image

Devin Meys 17 months ago from United States

Great hub, I think this sort of demystification is something us atheists sorely need. I'm happy to see it done in such a responsible and tactful way. One question though; are you morally opposed to religious dogma? Or does it simply not pan out logically for you. I think for me the fact that I'm morally unsettled by so many modern religions has steered me toward the path of skepticism.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 17 months ago from United States Author

Devin Meys - Thank you for the compliment and the comment! I actually think there are many ways that religious morality and non-religious morality overlap. I've donated, more than once, to a local religious non-profit that helps the homeless and the unemployed in my home city. While we don't agree, philosophically, we do agree on a humanitarian level.

My perspective is that religious dogma, while illogical, isn't inherently harmful. So, if someone is a bad person, they will be bad with or without religion, and vice versa for someone who is a good person. However, I do often clash with believers about the origin of morality because, if they're unable to separate it from religion, then non-believers will always be evil in their eyes. And the best way to demystify atheists is to prove we aren't immoral or anti-religion.

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    M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer671 Followers
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    M. T. Dremer has been an atheist for more than 20 years and has been debating theology openly for almost 7 years.



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