Atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods. By contrast, agnosticism is lack of knowledge of any gods. Thus, it’s possible to be both an atheist and an agnostic.

Some people object to atheism because they think it means absolute certainty there are no gods, but that’s not necessarily what atheism means. If you are an agnostic atheist, you don’t claim to know gods don’t exist, but you think that the most reasonable conclusion given your experiences would be that no gods exist.

Some people object to atheism because it’s “cold and unfeeling” or it’s “immoral”. However, atheism is a relatively simple claim; it’s wrong to say there is anything inherently cold or immoral, or for that mater, loving or moral, about atheism. Suppose we lived in a society in which 80% of people wore purple shirts. There is no one way you could correctly describe the other 20% other than as “non-purple shirt wearers”. Similarly, there’s no correct way you could describe all atheists other than “none of them have a belief in gods”.

However, as human beings, many of us enjoy companionship and being an active member of a community. We also feel that certain actions should be encouraged and others discouraged or forbidden. Although there is nothing inherent in pure atheism that calls for compassion, most people who happen to be atheists tend to be just as compassionate and moral as their religious counterparts. The unfortunate truth is that for many years, people interested in organizing and practicing acts of compassion had no option but to join with a group that also forced them to accept the existence of a god or gods. The continuation of this situation led to widespread acceptance of the misconception that those who simply disbelieved in gods were uncaring, unemotional, or even immoral. Fortunately, in recent years ideas like Secular Humanism, or just Secularism, have begun to gain acceptance. While pure atheism is simply a disbelief, Secularism is an actual belief, and a belief that many atheists generally accept.



I’m starting this blog as an outlet for my thoughts on religion, it successes, shortfalls, and how I get along without it. As an atheist and secularist, I often get accused of only believing in “cold logic”, to which I respond, “What’s so cold about it?" Just because I think critically where where religious people don’t doesn’t make me cold, immoral or unfeeling. I’m not anti-religious per se, though I feel some religious practices do get a free ride where they shouldn’t. The main reason I’m an atheist is that I think a life lived on secular priciples is a better way to live. In reading this, you’ll probably see plenty of ideas you’ve heard before, and hopefully a few you haven’t. With any luck, you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and we’ll both be better off.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism
(image: happy human)

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