Friday, April 22, 2011

Atheism 101

Hello students! Welcome to atheism 101 where I, your brilliant instructor will attempt to teach you some basic facts about atheism. But first, what is atheism?

Atheism is a disbelief in gods. Quite literally an atheist may say, “I don’t believe in God.” However this usually means that they don’t believe in any gods, just like all the other gods a Muslim or Christian doesn’t believe in! Atheism on its own doesn’t mean anything else except a lack of belief, this does not mean they know there is no God, they just don’t believe.

However, they could be a Gnostic Atheist, meaning they don't have a belief in God, but also know there is no God, just like how many Theists will say they know there is a God. However, most Atheists are Agnostic Atheists, meaning that they just don’t know for sure. This is usually the case for Theists since most believe faith is tantamount in importance.

So now when someone says they are an Atheist you know what they mean by that statement, and you can now press whether they are Gnostic or Agnostic Atheists! Good for you!

This is a picture of the Four Horsemen, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. This title wasn’t necessarily chosen by them but it fits in the Christian community who deem them as such. Of course, Jennifer Hecht, and Susan Jacoby were writing mainstream, atheistic material long before these guys, but since they were women they probably weren’t chosen by Christians to be the Four Horsemen.

Many people believe that these men are the de facto leaders and prophets of atheism, as if it’s a religion! This is an obvious stance of ignorance because if anyone listened to these four men they would realize that they do not agree on plenty of things, and in the DVD, The Four Horsemen, they actually argue back and forth some. They all may be more confrontational than the average atheist, but they certainly are not prophets.

And I must point out that Atheism is not a religion! This is absurd! Religions are belief systems that worship or revere a superhuman being or entity, particularly gods. In Atheism you can certainly assert that it has a belief system, but its belief is that there are no gods. This is the antithesis of religion, the prime opposite. Atheism a religion, please.

Atheism has its roots go back as far as religion! The most concise writings we have go back to the Indian subcontinent where Buddhism and Hinduism led some to not believe in gods, though they could still believe in the supernatural. Diagoras, Euhemerus, and Epicurus are all major atheist figures from classical antiquity as well. Before the bulk of the Bible was written there were writings denouncing the gods.

This will conclude Atheism 101. It should be noted that there are many other facets to Atheism, such as its rich history of great thinkers, the role of science, the theory of evolution, the debate on morality, and whether or not religion is good for the world!

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