I have absolutely no problem admitting that I am an atheist and I have no tolerance for such euphemistic alternatives as humanist, agnostic, pantheist or the brand-new one, anti-theist, all of which describe varying degrees of what boils down to an absence of belief in the supernatural.
I can understand the purely economic reasons for not revealing one’s lack of faith during one’s working life. I was an entrepreneur with my own manufacturing company employing 20 people for 32 years and some of my wholesalers had varying degrees of religious belief. I know some of them would not have taken kindly to my atheism so I simply kept quiet about my lack of faith. Only my immediate family and very close friends were “in the know.”
Atheism is not a religion, in exactly the same way that not collecting stamps is not a hobby. Atheists are united only by their unwillingness to believe in gods of any description without hard evidence, the same kind of evidence that would result in a conviction in a Court of Law.
There have been so many gods since human life began on earth, Zeus and Thor, just to name a couple from two different civilizations. Thor was the Norse god of thunder, among other things, until science gave a rational explanation for what the unenlightened had attributed to Thor. Zeus had similar “responsibilities” in Ancient Greece, until science prevailed over superstition.
Most atheists recognize the needs of gods for religious people, including the Abrahamic gods, Yahweh the God of Israel, the Christian God and the Muslim God Allah. Atheists equate all gods with unicorns and fairies.
There is no doubt in my mind that any intelligent atheist (and, make no mistake, there are plenty of unintelligent atheists), would renounce his or her atheism if incontrovertible proof were adduced to support religious claims of a deity.
There is no such thing as a “typical atheist.” Politically they come in all shades of opinion from extreme left to extreme right. In terms of wealth there are billionaires, millionaires, people who are just getting by and every conceivable group in between. Socially atheists tend to belong to all groups. Organizing atheists has been compared to herding cats – they simply do not fit into one homogeneous group.
There is nothing nihilistic about atheism. Where religious people who hold this idea are in error is the assumption that negativity is implicit in the concept of opposition to something. War is horrendous – being anti-war ceased being such a bad thing ages ago.
For Christians to utter such meaningless platitudes as ”God is beyond time and space” and “God is ineffable “ only confirms for atheists the words of St. Augustine, ”If you can understand it, it is not God,” although why any Christian would agree with any pronouncement by St. Augustine, given his retrograde, one might even say deviant, views on women, is beyond me.
I must thank Claire Paradis for asking me to share a column with Pastor Savage, and Pastor Savage for graciously consenting to joust with me on these matters. I am truly grateful and very excited at the prospect.