Since then, I’ve lived a relatively quiet atheistic life. It never seemed like a big deal before, because I lived in a secular environment. Even though England has a national religion, it didn’t seem forced upon me. I was free to say I didn’t believe in God, and never felt ostracised because of my lack of belief.
Things have changed, though. Even in England, the anti-atheist rhetoric is growing, and in America, where I live now, it can even lead to being turned down for employment, or worse still, death threats. Both these people suffered because they were vocal about their atheism, and in the latter case, because she stood up for her rights under the US constitution. People accuse atheists of being angry or strident when we speak up against religious bullying. Or they try to dismiss atheists by popularising and repeating misconceptions. I’d like to talk about those misconceptions and why they’re wrong.
Atheists don’t believe in anything.
This isn’t just an untruth, it’s a big stinking fib and the people repeating this myth should look down to find that their pants are indeed on fire. Atheists believe a lot of things. Not all atheists believe the same things. I, for instance, believe that we, as humans, have a duty to take care of the planet and not spoil it for future generations. I believe that if you want people to treat you with respect, you should treat them the same way. I believe that a society can be judged on how it treats its poor people. I also believe that people should do good things because it’s the right thing to do, not to earn cosmic brownie points towards the next life. There are a whole lot of other things I believe, and to list them all would make this a very long post indeed, so let’s leave it there, with a big ‘you’re wrong if you think I don’t believe in anything.’
Atheists hate God.
No, we don’t. How can we hate something when we don’t believe he/she/it exists? Do you believe that Zeus, or Odin, or the Morrigan exist? How about Pan? Mars? No? Well your lack of belief in all those other gods is exactly the same as our lack of belief in yours. I, personally, am fascinated by mythology. I just don’t believe that any of it is true. This includes Christian mythology.
Atheists worship Satan
Nope. Not even close. If we don’t believe that God exists, how would we believe that Satan – a creation of God – exists? That would be silly.
Atheists are always so sad and angry because they don’t have God in their lives!
Not a chance. I’m actually quite a happy person on the whole. I savour this life, because as far as I know, it’s the only one I have. I also don’t worry about stupid things like how other people live their lives. I do get angry, sometimes, as an atheist, when I am made to feel marginalised, or when horrible things are done to others in the name of religion. I really do have no problem with what anyone believes as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. It’s when it does bring harm, or is forced upon me and others through preaching hate in public schools, or even evangelising the military.That’s when I get angry and that’s when I feel the need to speak out.
Atheism is a belief system too.
This is the one that really gets my goat. No it’s not. It’s an absence of belief. I simply do not believe that there are any gods and unless I am presented with undeniable proof that I am wrong, I will continue to not believe there are any gods. I do have beliefs, as noted above, but atheism isn’t one of them. It’s simply a word describing my lack of belief in gods.
There are probably a lot more of these misconceptions that I’m missing. I just wanted to touch on some of the more common ones. Atheists are very much like anyone else. We have our strengths and weaknesses, our fears, loves and yes, sadly, our hates. The only difference is, we have to take responsibility for our actions because we have no one else to blame.