Today, I decided to start a new series on some of the strange questions you hear as an open atheist. The above question seems to come up a lot in debates and I don’t think it ever gets less annoying. The idea that belief in god is a requirement for belief in anything is sketchy at best, but it is also incredibly illogical. Think of it in another context…”If you don’t believe Star Wars is the greatest movie series in history, do you believe in anything?
Atheism is simply the lack of belief in god. It is not a counter belief that there isn’t a god as many apologists would have you believe. Does it require belief to say, I don’t believe I can fly? If you say it does, then is the act of being unemployed actually a job in itself? People who try to say that lack of belief requires belief are only doing so in an attempt to make it out that Atheism is a religion unto itself. It’s dishonest and what’s more, if you ask them if they require a belief in the lack of fairies, unicorns, or leprechaun’s? They will tell you that these things are illogical and require no belief. If they don’t do that then they will say any stance requires belief and will drag you down their slippery slope to absolute nothingness.
However, let’s talk about what I, as a single person who is an atheist, believes in?
I believe in survival, and by survival I include those qualities that we as humans need in order to survive. These things include but are not limited to: Love, Friendship, Dignity, and Respect; without which life will lack a certain zest that most of us need to embrace it at its fullest.
Love may or may not be a series of chemicals released while you are around certain people, its evolutionary aid may simply be to ensure that genes are passed down from generation to generation but it’s effects rise above and beyond the genes. Love is a beautiful thing that you can witness in many corners of nature from protective mothers, monogamous species, and care given to those in your particular grouping. Human love though has taken this to another level, and is something we all yearn for in one way or another.
Friendship may or may not simply be a response to an evolutionary need to stick together and defend one another from attack but it has also risen above and beyond its genetic reasoning. We find those that we share common interests with, form a camaraderie that can take us through some of the roughest patches in life. Friendship can be shared with many or few, it can be helped by the one you love or by many others.
Dignity probably has no evolutionary basis that I can think of but it is in our shared genetic makeup that we can see that we are all truly created equal. Every single one of us is a mix of our mother and our fathers genes and thus a truly unique human being deserving the ability to make their way in society as best as they can. When humans work together towards the dignity of humankind, we see what we can truly become if we strive together and stop bickering about petty differences in belief and location.
Respect has the evolutionary advantage that it allows you to also be treated with respect. If you don’t like people treating you like a dick, it’s probably a good idea not to treat others like a dick. It is no wonder to me that one of the shared traits of many faiths is a form of the golden rule, in other words, “Do to other people as you would like done to yourself.” However as we have progressed as a species our ideas have gotten better and perhaps a better rule today is to treat others as they would want to be treated. In this we can all share a mutual respect for one another.
Some atheists throw out the believe word altogether, feeling it is far too connected to faith. Instead they use the term, trust. So instead of saying…I believe in the goodness of man, they will say…I trust in the goodness of man. I too have used this tactic when in a debate where someone says that belief requires something outside of yourself and unsure in nature to depend on.
These are just a few of the things that I believe or trust in outside of faith. Simply put, Atheism is the lack of belief in a god. What you believe in outside of that is completely up to the person. There are atheists, like myself that lack belief in anything supernatural at all, and atheists who believe in ghosts, spirits, and even some form of an after life. There are liberal atheists and conservative atheists, there are logical atheists and completely illogical atheists, there are atheists that are open and direct with their lack of belief and there are atheists that are closeted and even some that stand behind pulpits every Sunday.