How Atheists Ruined Atheism

It’s atheism, not Atheism

17 December 2018

I’m an agnostic, otherwise known as a fence-sitter. I don’t believe in any god, but that doesn’t mean one can’t exist. To say with complete conviction either way, that a ‘creator’ must exist or couldn’t possibly, seems to me like arrogance.

However, if I had to choose a side, I’d probably fall into the atheist camp. I even used to call myself one. My beliefs weren’t any different from what they are now. The change of label occurred only when atheism began its move to ‘New Atheism.’

These are the people who don’t believe in God and don’t want you to either.

My original liking for atheism came from a kind of ‘live and let live’ attitude that I derived from it. As as far as I knew, atheists weren’t in the business of conversion. Unlike what a Christian might do with Christianity, we weren’t going to foist our worldview onto others.

Being someone who is a big advocate for freedom, I saw atheism as the ultimate response to stringent religion and morality, belief systems where the questioning of one aspect means the denunciation of all of it. If someone wanted to free themselves from an organised religion, losing their belief in its most central figure was a good start. But if you wanted to continue believing, that was fine too.

Atheism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. At its core, it is the belief in disbelief, a lack of faith in the God or gods that dominate cultures all around the globe. The word, ‘atheism’, unlike ‘Catholicism’ or ‘Buddhism’, isn’t capitalised, because it’s not a proper noun.

The term doesn’t describe a specific set of people or even an ideology. Indeed, atheism is at its best when its the opposite of religion—unorganised and unconcerned with what others have faith in. But that’s just not true anymore.

Nowadays, atheism is a movement, a community, and akin to a religion. Militant Atheists are the evangelicals of this world. They don’t just abstain from religion; they attack and criticise it. If patriotism is loving your country, and nationalism is hating everyone else’s, New Atheists are more nationalistic than patriotic.

At first glance, there should be nothing wrong with debating and scrutinising an ideology. I’m all for the free and open evaluation of ideas and concepts. We live in a democracy, and that’s what we do. However, when it comes to the topic of religion, a certain level of tact is required.

Respect is imperative, as a lack of it reflects poorly on every non-believer, especially now that they are all classed as being a part of a movement. A great number of myths already surround atheists, one of them being that they’re actively working to destroy religion, religion being something that is incredibly important to a great number of people.

Really, I don’t see the point in trying to debate people out of their well-entrenched ideas. You can certainly argue for things like the separation of religious and scientific education, but arguing against a religious worldview itself is basically futile. At the end of Bill Nye’s debate with Ken Ham, Ham ultimately conceded that no amount of evidence would change his mind.

There’s not much logical about creationism, but that doesn’t matter. If you’ve been raised to believe in anything, you’ll fight to uphold those instilled beliefs.

Another problem I have with the MO of New Atheists is their insistence that they are on the side of science. Firstly, it’s not like all scientists are non-believers themselves, as a Pew Research survey showed that 51% of American scientists have some kind of faith in a higher power. That’s less than the average population, although still enough to lower the veracity of the New Atheists’ assertion.

Secondly, atheism itself is not founded on scientific principle. Science is about drawing conclusions from facts, and ‘God does not exist’ is not a fact. The lack of scientific evidence for God does not equal complete scientific proof against God.

New Atheists are at fault for their numerous, baseless assumptions. For example, religious violence and extremism are terrible, but to say that violence would cease to be without religion ignores the very idea that humans are predisposed to violence. In other words, humans will always find an excuse to kill each other.

To say the ‘world is better off without religion’ ignores all the good that such institutions of faith provide us, be it the fact that in the United States (one of the most charitable nations in the world) the most generous households are in deeply religious regions of the country, or that on a personal level, religion can offer lost people the moral groundwork on which they can rebuild their lives.

Militant Atheism is everything atheism shouldn’t be. This new movement has turned a lack of belief into a staunch, on-the-offensive ideology, and as they shout louder and louder, fewer and fewer people will be inclined to listen.

10 comments

  1. ㅤPeople sincerely believe in God when they have lost faith in themselves and all things human. For them, finding hope in the supernatural is only natural. For the benefit of these hopeless people, I would say I believed in God even if I didn’t. It wouldn’t be the only white lie I’ve told.
    ㅤPlus from my experience, it’s been more important for me to associate with believers than to believe in God myself.

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  2. My first encounter with evangelical atheism was over 30 years ago. The shape-shifting of the atheist movement since then has not concerned me any more than its attempts to tell me what my own atheism is or what it means. For this question, I’m disinclined to let others define me, though they try with gusto. As with your own arguments defining what is and isn’t about faith and lack of faith, they don’t matter enough to me to be triggered into disputes.

    I suspect that the question of faith doesn’t always need to be addressed. That’s what agnosticism is for. But if it is addressed, the answer also doesn’t need to be projected across the spectrum. I answered the question for myself, and now the question is about as important as which toothpaste I use. I have a brand, but the question/answer are now banal. I have better fish to fry — more important ideas with which to occupy my thought.

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  3. atheists and atheism haven’t changed at all. We’ve always been here and we’ve always been just as confrontational. Why you want to pretend we haven’t been is beyond me and it shows you’ve never read Robert Ingersoll,et al from the 19th century.. Is it that you want us to sit down and shut up by trying to make directness a “bad” thing? That Ham admitted that he is an idiot and would rather believe a lie than accept anything else is no bad thing against atheists. It sure does show poorly for theists.

    And yes, atheists *are* on the side of science. We know that the lies of creationists are not based on reality. Not one claim of a theist about their myths and magic has ever come true. Atheism is the scientific position since we know that there is no evidence for theist claims and plenty of evidence for completely different events happening. The gods as described by their believers don’t exist. They have attributes claimed to them and thus then can be tested with no problem. Beleivers know this for they keep trying to change their definitionof their god, with Christians like Karen Armstrong, makin their god vaguer and vaguer so their god can keep hiding in the ever shrinking gaps.

    You might want to hide and not confront people who lie. That is your choice. That does not make atheism and atheists wrong. Us “rough men” allow you to hem and haw and insist that your way is the only way.

    As for your claims of all of the “good” religion has given us, what is this good and why is it religion that is the source of it,rather than just decent and humane human beings? You seem to be intent on ignoring the harm that religion has done, the children that the faithful have sacrificed on the altar of their ignorance sure that their god will heal them, the genocides caused by the religious sure that anyone who disagrees with them is evil and satanic, the destruction of science because the religious can’ take anyone showing that their god is imaginary, etc.

    as for your false claims about how charitable believers are, all they are doing is contributing to themselves. Their contributions to the church for that great new sound system are part of this charity that you cite without thinking. That great big megachurch is technically a charity but funny how the actual charities in those towns go begging for money from everyone. In my town, we have ten pages of churches in the phone book but funny how the local homeless mission has to ask for money from an atheist like me. Moral framework is not from religion which constantly changes what it wants to claim “objective morality”. Or do you want to claim that genocide is just peaching since religion claims that their gods want this?

    author, you seem to be no more than a religious apologist who doesn’ like atheists having the facts on their side.

    .

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  4. as for humass being disposed to killing one another, wouldn’t be nice to have one less reason for that to happen, especially one based on lies about magic beings and whose imaginary friend is better than the others?

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  5. I was a fan of Christopher Hitchens for a lot of reasons, including his atheism – to some degree. He could make a fair case for the non existence of God. But when he teamed up with Richard Dawkins in the New Atheism movement he sounded just as dogmatic as the people he was criticising.
    Like you, my self-description has moved from atheist to agnostic. I don’t know, I may never know, and I can live with that.
    As someone said to me on my blog today – Merry ‘Whatever doesn’t offend you’ Day to you!

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  6. “Militant Atheism is everything atheism shouldn’t be.” You say. I say, the scam of salvation, resurrection and afterlife has been raising havoc for some 2000 years. It must be opposed, but not by yelling at the deluded who have been convinced that they are special. They, the monotheists, believe the world is Supposed to End. Be agnostic is you like about God, but do you really believe that you will be resurrected and that you have an eternal soul. The faithful really believe God exists, I really believe that it does not. GROG

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  7. Ultimately beliefs guide actions. If your actions are not guided by a belief in God then it would seem you are atheist. I think many atheists are sort of in between. Do you go to Chuirch? No. Do you act as though anything is sacred? Well sort of. They may deny that it is sacred but they might treat human life as sacred. Etc.

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  8. I am an atheist. I bo not believe there is a superior intelligence in our cosmos. That is what I believe. To me, atheism is a personal matter, an army of 1 against the world. I left the world of theism, that I was forced to believe in as a child, because it stopped seeming possible. Any god who chose to kill babies to teach their parents a lesson, or killed parents to teach their children a lesson, etc., was not a god I was willing to believe in. If ever there was a definition of evil I could believe in, that would be it. I don’t believe in evil. I believe in chaos. Accidents happen, and the results are completely impersonal. That violence which is not accidental but intentional, that is due to people who do not know how to be responsible for their own actions, whatever the cause of that might be. But I digress.
    When it comes to there being a god or not, that is a personal choice. No one needs to voice it. But nor does anyone need to keep it a secret. My atheism is a part of me. What anyone else wants to believe is up to them.
    In my eyes, anyone who feels the need to proselytize is not a theist, or an atheist. They are weak people struggling to find strength in numbers. A “true” atheist, if there is such a thing, finds strength in the number 1. If you need to share your belief with anyone, as New Atheists appear to need, those people I call anti-theists. They want to break down, instead of to build up.
    You, MM, do not have to hide your atheism behind a word like agnosticism. If ever proof is found that a real god exists, you can change your mind. That is your right. But you know that proof will never be found, it does not exist. This world can be hell, but it can also be heaven. We do not need to wait for some great cataclysm to befall in order to enjoy our lives. If you can, live like you are happy, and show others of all persuasions and philosophies that happiness is not just a future possibility, but something you can have right now. And they can choose to do the same if they want to. I model, I try not to preach. I do not rely on others for my happiness. I am what I am. I hope others will be what they are. That is the road to an acceptable future.
    There is no need for force.

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