Atheism is defined as the disbelief in the existence of a god, godlessness and the belief that God does not exist. I have never been an adherent myself but similarly, I have never been overtly religious either. Like a large swathe people on the planet, I inhabit a niche in the belief system where firm belief in the existence or non-existence of a god or God is an opinion yet to be established and one that probably never will.
Personally I have never had any issue with the belief system held by any individual or even the non-belief system of any person. However, of late it has occurred to me that atheists and atheism as a non-belief system can, in fact, be narrow-minded, unaccommodating, prejudiced and intolerant. These are adjectives that one would usually associate with practitioners and advocates of the most extreme forms of religion, so how did I reach this conclusion about atheism?
Firstly and as far as I am aware, atheism is constructed on the base that the existence of a god cannot be physically, scientifically and empirically proven and ergo there is none.
Religion, on the other hand, cannot present any counterbalancing factual or scientific evidence to prove that a god exists and therefore from a factual viewpoint religion is immediately playing catch up. Similarly when we set about examining the world we inhabit, its woes, its ills, the multitude of evils and evildoers and the levels of injustice perpetrated against innocents; then indeed it does become more difficult to believe in the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, omnipotent deity.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, there are multitudes of people who persist in upholding their belief in the existence of a god or gods and also believe in the concept of an afterlife as a destination after this one reaches a conclusion. Similarly, it is important to add that atheists in my experience are no more or less moral than those who profess to believe in a supreme being.
Proving or disproving the existence of a god
However, what does proving or disproving the existence of a god, has to do with my earlier assertion that atheists can be narrow-minded, unaccommodating, prejudiced and intolerant? It’s the physical, scientific and empirical base that atheism is constructed on that has only served to make atheism that which it has become a non-belief system that is completely vindicated by its scientific base and therefore unwilling to accommodate any belief system that might contradict it.
People who have faith or believe in the existence of a greater being not only wrestle with the mountain of scientific evidence to the contrary but in my experience struggle with this belief when presented with the aforementioned woes of mankind. This struggle is frequently a daily one as they strive to marry that which they see around them with their own eyes, with the concept of an all-loving, omnipotent deity. This mental and spiritual struggle, which occurs on a regular basis for those who have the faith of any kind, is a clear indicator that they are the people who are exercising their minds in seeking enlightenment.
Atheists, on the other hand, have been presented with the scientific and empirical proof or lack thereof and have made up their minds.
Those minds are not for bending or changing unless by some act of divine intervention they are provided with first-hand physical knowledge that a god does in fact exist. Who in this case is a free thinker? The individual hosting the personal internal debate about the existence of a god? Or the individual firm in their belief that no such being can possibly exist?
Atheism and its adherents due to the scientific base upon which it is built cannot allow the suggestion that a god may exist. Religion and its adherents due to being faith-based rather than based on science can afford to deal with the issue of whether or not god exists and occasionally conclude that there is none. Again who are the freer thinkers?