And they’re not alone.
Here’s an image they seem to have created (or pinched) in order to illustrate what they think atheism is and what its ‘problems’ are.
Let’s take it apart bit by bit.
Following the arrow then, by numbers….
1. Defining Atheism.
In its broadest definition atheism simply means to be minus belief in god. ‘A’ – a prefix meaning ‘without’ and ‘theism’, meaning belief in god. So, in its most encompassing atheism is just ‘I don’t believe in god/s’. That is all. That is its sum totality. It is not ‘less’, it makes no assertion, that is all it is. Absence of belief.
2-4. Is Reality Godless?
As the column says, reality is subject to investigation. However, it is not rational to believe something just because you might find it. You can’t prove a negative, you can prove a positive. There are innumerable examples of how this works including The Invisible Pink Unicorn, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Russell’s Teapot and oh so many more. Reality may or may not be godless, the problem is that there are a huge number of possible god concepts and while a huge number of them can be disproven there’s always some other claim coming along from a weak deistic god to Deepak Chopra’s vague and woolly woo-woo idea of cosmic consciousness. What matters then, what we discern on is whether there is positive evidence for a claim. There isn’t, hence atheism.
It is a question, but atheism is not an hypothesis, a doctrine or a claim. Yes, many of us do say ‘God does not exist’ but this is really just shorthand – easier to say, requires less explanation and to all intents and purposes it’s true. The idea of a god being real – without any evidence for it – is so remote as to not be worth considering until/unless evidence turns up.
Without evidence this is the ONLY rational position to hold. Ref 1, Ref 2.
Atheism is not a belief. This is very hard for people who are entangled in a belief so ‘important’ to their life as god to grasp. It is, rather, the absence of belief (or rather faith) in a god. Again there are huge numbers of examples of what this means. Atheism is a belief like off is a TV channel, like bald is a hair colour and so on. It may help to think of it this way, the absence of an apple is not a fruit. A disbelief is not a belief. There’s no equivalence.
8-9. Rational Reasons to be an Atheist
As covered above. The total lack of evidence for a god is sufficient for atheism as it is not rational to believe in things without evidence for them.
Personally, I would also include the fact that naturalism provides a far better (in that it is more effective and has testable results) model of reality.
10-11. Belief/Disbelief Statement
These are irrelevant to atheism and the chart thinks belief and disbelief are part of the same thing. There are strong atheists who would positively assert ‘I believe there are no gods’ but these are rather rare, I’ve only met a couple.
12-14. Causes and Effects
So what are the genuine causes and effects of atheism?
Well the causes can be many and it varies from person to person. Again speaking only for myself it is because a) there is no evidence for any god and b) naturalism offers a more complete and effective understanding. You’re reading this on a turing-complete electronic processing device, not a prayer-box, there’s a good reason for that.
The effects of atheism?
In and of itself nothing, just that the person who is an atheist doesn’t believe in god.
Some of us take it further, campaigning for secularism, against religious irrationality and hatred, against religious indoctrination and so on. This is beyond simple atheism however and is contingent on beliefs, rather than disbelief.
Misunderstanding layered on misunderstanding and without a correct foundation everything built upon it is false. Even if it were corrected to attack a particular manifestation of anti-theism or secularism it would still be problematic because it assumes atheism to be as irrational as theism – which I hope I have demonstrated above. Given that there is no rational reason to support or go along with theism it can only be rational to oppose its corruption of society.