Atheism is the belief that there is no such thing as a deity (most commonly referred to as "God"), or that the existence of such is unlikely enough that it can be ignored when making important decisions. Atheism is the opposite of theism, which holds that the existence of one or more deities (and, usually, the supposed views and intentions of that deity) is an important factor to consider in at least some major real-world decisions.
Atheism is compatible with agnosticism, the belief that it is not possible for humans to know whether any deities exist.
In practice, atheism equates to a rejection of dogma, especially where it is religious in nature, and an embrace of rationality as a guiding principle for making decisions based on real-world evidence.
Arguments and Opinions
Theists often ask atheists to defend their non-belief, which is silly; people are not normally required to explain their disbelief in things which cannot be proven either way. The only necessary response to "Why don't you believe in God?" is "Why should I?".
- organized atheism
- troll phrases:
An argument often used against atheism is that atheists have been among the worst perpetrators of atrocity, with the prime examples being Adolf Hitler, Stalin, and/or Pol Pot. The implication that Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot were atheists, however, is actually untrue; Hitler was a very vocal Catholic, Stalin was born, raised, and educated in Russian Orthodox Catholicism, and Pol Pot was born, raised and educated Catholic. (More sources needed.)
- Conservapedia has a rather distorted view (no surprise); e.g. "Since atheism is denial of the existence of God or gods, it is important first to identify in which God and/or gods the atheist denies." The word "atheism" means belief in no god(s).
- This article is locked for editing, and therefore cannot be collaboratively corrected.
- Public Awareness of the Atheism Article: "Conservapedia wishes to increase public awareness of its atheism article to counter the many atheist websites targeting young people."
- Debate: should atheists be barred from Conservapedia?: some interesting claims about atheism
LessWrong Wikiredirects to religion (as of 2009-11-23; confirmed 2010-07-13)
SourceWatch: no equivalent article (as of 2008-04-26)
- 2010-07-20 [Talk|Index] ABC News Airs Segment About North Carolina Atheist Billboard § “In a matter of days, there were two different segments on ABC about atheism. .. First, we had the horrible, embarrassing, people-should-be-fired-if-they-think-this-is-journalism piece on Nightline. .. And last night, Diane Sawyer discussed the "One Nation Indivisible" billboards in Asheville, North Carolina.”
- 2010-07-09 [Talk|Index] What proof of God would you need? § Jen asks “What kind of proof would it take to convince you that God really exists?”, and readers respond at length.
- 2009-10-19 [Talk|Index] America's secular saboteurs § “Yesterday's radicals wanted to tear down the economic structure of capitalism and replace it with socialism, and eventually communism. Today's radicals are intellectually spent: they want to annihilate American culture, having absolutely nothing to put in its place.”
- 2008-07-17 [Talk|Index] Living the Thinking Life (The Evolution of an Atheist) § “So by the time I was fifteen, I learned that god is a blatant lie; that religion is a social construct used by the powerful and the wealthy powermongery the finances, sexualities and destinies of others (especially women); and that words have tremendous transformative power that profoundly affect one's thoughts, ethics and worldview. I also learned that reading is a powerful way to learn more about the world and to interact with others who, throughout all written history, also thought about these issues in great depth and in doing so, challenged the establishments of their day.”
- 2008-07-08 [Talk|Index] The U.S. Christian military? § “Hall grew up reading the Bible every night and saying grace at dinner. Then, after his first tour of duty, he met some friends who were atheist and decided to read the Bible again. He read the whole Bible, and had so many unanswered questions, he says, he decided to embrace atheism. .. In the army, he says, that cost him dearly. .. Hall says he was denied a promotion because of his beliefs, and felt his life was in jeopardy. He says the army assigned him a full-time bodyguard because of threats. .. At Thanksgiving, Hall refused to pray with his table and says an officer told him to go sit somewhere else. .. Also, after he was nearly killed when his humvee was attacked, he says a fellow soldier asked him, "do you believe in Jesus now?"” Commentary: Pharyngula
- 2008-07-05 [Talk|Index] What If? § The author responds to leading questions posed in a religious pamphlet: “What if the creator-god really loves man, his creation? Love is an action. Dead-beat dads may claim they love their children, but it is the actions that speak louder than words. The claim that this creator loves us is like saying I love squirrels. If I donâ€™t demonstrate that love, and there is no evidence of that love, then I have not loved that squirrel. Time for me to go make a squirrel chapel.”
- 2008-05-26 [Talk|Index] Open the Door to Conversational Evangelism § “When an unbeliever makes a statement concerning God, the world, man, morality, ethics, or any other subject, he asserts it as an absolute certainty. For example, an atheist who believes in evolution may say that God does not exist. However, on his worldview, he has no basis to make such a statement. On his worldview, knowledge is obtained through observation (or the scientific method). His problem is that he has limited knowledge and ability to obtain that knowledge. He does not have the ability to search every square inch of the cosmos to determine whether or not there is a God. On his worldview, he cannot know that there is no God. His statement of certainty is rendered completely uncertain.” This article was seen as an overt challenge to atheists in at least one or two places.
- 2008-04-26 [Talk|Index] Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats § “When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending. .. But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. â€œPeople like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!â€ Major Welborn said, according to the statement. .. Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.” Commentary: Pharyngula
- 2008-03-23 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers: The Elvis Presley of atheism? § “The Information Age must be frightening to parents who wish to keep their children insulated from the scary outside world. All a child has to do is type the word â€œatheismâ€ into a search engine, and theyâ€™ll find millions of pages dealing with the subject. For young people who subscribe to the stereotype of the atheist as the unhappy, god-hating local crank who tries to get nativity scenes removed from peopleâ€™s lawns, the internet probably does a lot to shatter some myths about atheism. .. To counteract all this information, some religionists have taken to Defending the Faith by shooting the messenger, so to speak. Why bother refuting atheism or providing evidence for Intelligent Design when itâ€™s so easy to attack a biology professor in Minnesota?”
- 2007-10-15 [Talk|Index] atheists and anger § “I want to talk about: (1) Why atheists are angry; (2) Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary; and (3) Why it's completely fucked-up to try to take our anger away from us.”
- 2006-11-23 [Talk|Index] Suspension of Disbelief § “In the classroom that day, Averill says one young woman was talking about her belief in energy layers and astral beings. .. "I jokingly asked her if she believed in leprechauns. It turns out, she does. They live on another energy layer," Averill wrote in notes to himself later that day. "In the interest of bringing my own view to the discussion, I began to ask her how she knew these things. Again I know all too well that people can be sensitive about their spiritual beliefs, so I was pretty much walking on glass as I did so." .. Averill says he wasn't trying to disprove the other student's religious beliefs, but "to convince her not to insist that they were scientifically proven." ... It was the last time he'd be in an Art Institute classâ€”within two weeks, he was expelled, less than a year before he'd hoped to graduate.”
Groups / Projects
- Daylight Atheism
- Goosing the Antithesis blog: "We promote rational individualism, and are opposed to those who assert incoherent supernatural claims."
- the evil Atheist conspiracy: difficult to categorize; appears to be a collection of videos on various atheism-related topics. Longer on presentation than content.
- The OUT Campaign
- Whole Valley Church of Sanity and Reason: videos, quotes, and other atheism-related resources
- Atheist Planet: mostly videos
- The Atheism Tapes: 2005 BBC TV series by Jonathan Miller
- The Root of All Evil?: 2006 British TV series by Richard Dawkins (the title was not Dawkins's choice, and he insisted on adding the question mark)
- 2007-03-12 Why I'm not a "friendly" atheist
- 2007-03-11 Why I'm Not An Angry Atheist
- 2006-11-16 Why Are Atheists So Angry?: this is actually the first part of a well-written multi-round dialogue between atheist Sam Harris and believer Dennis Prager. Unfortunately, Prager's responses seem to be mostly diversionary, including an ad hominem attack on Bertrand Russell [W] which does nothing to answer Harris's posing of Russell's celestial teapot [W] analogy. He does seem to get more real about the dialogue towards the end, however.
- 2006-08-15 The Language of Ignorance by Sam Harris: answers the religious arguments in Human Genome Project head Francis Collins's book The Language of God
- 2006-02-08 An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris
- The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos by Sam Harris
- 2007-01-02+: Rationalism, not atheism: forum discussion on the value of the term "atheism" and various alternatives
- Most religion supposes the existence of one or more gods (theism), and hence is diametrically opposed to atheism.
- Atheism and religion often come into conflict, for obvious reasons.
- Active atheism is a movement which holds that atheists should not refrain from attacking religious irrationality.
- Blake's Law considers anyone who suggests atheism is a religion to have automatically lost the argument.