Atheism is denial in a belief in God (or gods) and the effect of God (or gods) upon or lives or society. Agnostics believe in God, they just feel that God does nothing. Both types need to understand the philosophy of religions. Perhaps British author Terry Pratchett expressed it best in his book “Feet of Clay” with the following argument between two characters:
“‘Atheism Is Also A Religious Position,’ Dorfl rumbled.
‘No it’s not!’ said Constable Visit. ‘Atheism is a denial of God.”
‘Therefore it is a Religious Position,’ said Dorfl. ‘Indeed A True Atheist Thinks Of The Gods Constantly, Albeit In Terms Of Denial. Therefore Atheism Is A Form Of Belief. If The Atheist Truly Did Not Believe, He Or She Would Not Bother To Deny.”
Just as this quote states, atheism is a religious position, even if it is just denial. Atheists should care about the philosophy of religion because they are, in this way, religious! They should also care about it because, even if they don’t consider themselves religious, enough people in the world are religious and they need to understand the philosophy of these people to better fit in to or comprehend society. Some atheists do, but many don’t.
Religions of the world today
If there was more understanding of the religions of the world today, there would possibly not be as many problems. Many of the wars are currently being fought in the “name of religion”. Many cults and such that affect the children in society today are using religion to gain control. Understanding the philosophies of these groups may help in a better understanding of the children. This applies to atheists as well as the differing religions understanding the philosophies of each other!
Also, if an atheist is going to try to reason with people that do believe in God and get them to change their beliefs (thinking this may decrease conflicts) the atheists need to understand the philosophy that gave rise to the religion to start with. You cannot successfully deny something or change their minds if you don’t understand what is responsible for the original belief.
And that, in summary, is why atheists need to better understand the philosophy of religion, so they can know better where they stand and what they believe, as well as what others believe. So the atheists can better understand others, and so everybody can better get along! This will make for a better, more coherent society.