Understanding what Constitutes Atheism


What an Atheist does with her Atheism itself is, in most circumstances, not much. It’s not an obsessive presence in her mind every minute of the day. In the absence of any belief in gods, she simply lives her life in the best way possible. She takes responsibility for her choices, her decisions, her actions, her behaviors, her desires, and her habits. There’s no angel sitting on her shoulder to guide her, and there’s no devil in the details when she errs. She is on her own and she knows it.

Atheism is not a religion, not a belief, not a faith

Therefore, it is easier to say what Atheism is not, than what it is. Atheism is not a religion, not a belief, not a faith. Atheism has no dogma, no commandments, no “deadly sins.” It makes no threats of eternal punishments, no promises of eternal rewards. Atheism requires nothing of an Atheist – no evangelizing, no preaching, no praying, no testimony, no suspension of common sense, no adoption of incredible “articles” of faith. Atheism upholds no book, no person, no object, and no place as “holy.”

In other words, the weight placed upon the Atheist by his absence of belief in gods is very light indeed. This is good. This is freedom and accountability wrapped up into one bright and beautiful package. From this remarkable and singular gift of self-direction, each Atheist makes a meaningful and satisfying life in his or her own style.

The difference between Theism and A-theism

Some, like such brilliant supporters of Atheism as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, become strong communicators of the differences between theism and a-theism, and reveal how the world might be a better place for everyone if the bigotries religion begets were replaced with sound reasoning and logical thought. Some become strong humanitarians, establish humanist societies, and actively participate in improving the human condition. Atheists inhabit every profession, from househusband or housewife to nuclear scientist, from kindergarten teacher to lawyer, from farmer and beekeeper to taxi driver and actress. Earth now nurtures about 42 million Atheists, each contributing their own talents and ideas to the human picture. They are as individually varied as any population of that many million would be.

What constitutes Atheism, then, is a broad-based, multifaceted, freethinking and active mass of people who neither have nor desire to have supernatural or metaphysical beliefs. They are among your friends and your neighbors. One may be pumping your gas or bagging your groceries. Another may be representing you in court tomorrow or trimming your rose bushes. Still another may turn out to be the mother or the father of your children one day. Yes, an Atheist is as lovable as anyone else!

So, if none of these Atheists have harmed you yet, relax – hurting other people is the last thing on their mind. They’re busy making a life, just like you. They’re just doing it without dependence on, or fear of, gods.

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