Atheist activists proudly proclaim “there are no gods” (and drop the whole “lack of belief” handwaving)

We previously saw that the view of atheism as being merely a lack of belief in God/gods doesn’t make much sense when you consider a few questions born of critical thinking. 

But there is another problem with this view – not many atheists may actually subscribe to it.  That is, it might very well be the case that most atheists instead believe there is no God/gods.

After all, consider the title of a posting on the popular atheist blog, Friendly Atheist:

“There Are No Gods” Sign Goes Up in IL Capitol Building for 11th Straight Year

And the sign reads:

There are no gods,
[…..]
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

So let’s consider the data.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a popular activist group among atheists, has, for eleven years, declared “there are no gods.”  And so far, no atheists have objected strongly enough to get them to change their wording.  What’s more, Hemant Mehta himself does not raise any objection.  And as of my last reading, not one of his atheist followers have any objections.  It is as if the “there are no gods” position is the dominant, defining position of most modern day atheists.  It’s only when they get called on it and can’t defend the position that they retreat in the weak “atheism is just a lack of belief in God” claim.

Look, at the very least, the next time an internet atheist tells you, “Atheism is just a lack of belief in the gods,”  inform them that their opinion is not shared by the FFRF and its allies.  The FFRF declares, “there are no gods” and no atheist has ever onjected.  And as far as I am concerned, the FFRF has more authority when representing atheists than some random internet atheist you encounter.

 

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10 Responses to Atheist activists proudly proclaim “there are no gods” (and drop the whole “lack of belief” handwaving)

  1. Mark Plus says:

    Sounds like one of the signs in the underwater city of Rapture in the computer game Bioshock, which announces, “No gods or kings. Only man.”

    In practice atheism doesn’t refer to some mysterious void in the universe denoted by “lack of belief in gods.” Instead it means the active criticism and rejection of religious beliefs, practices and institutions. I don’t understand why many atheist activists want to obfuscate what they actually mean when they talk about atheism with their Mysterious Void definition of the term.

    A few years ago an atheist writer named Tony Pasquarello argued for the practical meaning of atheism based on the behavior of real atheists in an article “Atheism and Natheism,” published in American Atheist magazine. Unfortunately I can’t find this article online, but as I recall he dismissed the Mysterious Void definition and compared atheism to the heliocentric theory of astronomy, in that both heliocentrism and atheism make assertions about the contents and structure of reality. He ridicules the Mysterious Void definition by comparing it “lack of belief in Santa Claus,” when you should just come out and say that the name Santa refers to an imaginary fictional character.

  2. nsr says:

    //Look, at the very least, the next time an internet atheist tells you, “Atheism is just a lack of belief in the gods,” inform them that their opinion is not shared by the FFRF and its allies. //

    Ah, but then they simply reply that the FFRF doesn’t speak for them, they are an independent mind and a free thinker not beholden to anyone else’s authority, unlike we foolish religious types.

  3. grodrigues says:

    “Ah, but then they simply reply that the FFRF doesn’t speak for them, they are an independent mind and a free thinker not beholden to anyone else’s authority, unlike we foolish religious types.”

    There is another curious consequence. So much Skepticism and Reason and Science ™ and blah di blah and they cannot even agree on the *definition* of atheism. Astounding.

  4. There’s enough disagreement between Christians that they frequently disagree on the definition of Christianity. Some think that anyone who believes in Jesus’ divinity is Christian. Some assert that a belief in the Trinity is necessary for Christianity. Some assert that only people who believe in literal interpretations of the Bible are Christians. Some claim that only people who use the King James version are actual Christians. Et cetera, et cetera.

    Honest disagreement implies nothing about the reasonability of people who use a particular title.

  5. I think that all Christians will at least agree to the positive statement that God exists.

  6. pennywit says:

    I’d like to put forward an alternate interpretation of the phrase “atheism is just a lack a belief in gods.” But first, consider this joke, attributed to Emo Philips:

    Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

    He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

    He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

    Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

    Philips’ joke speaks to the pettiness of religious bigotry and rivalry between people who actually have quite a bit in common. But I also think it speaks to intellectual diversity within religious faiths. There are important differences, apparently, between the Council of 1912 and the Council of 1879. And to conflate the two is a grave mistake.

    To analogize it to the real world: Pete Buttigieg and Franklin Graham both say that their faith is important to them. Both of them believe Jesus was the son of God and, was crucified, and was resurrected. Yet Buttigieg and Graham hold wildly divergent views on a number of political and theological issues. …But both call themselves Christian.

    There is a diversity of thought, not just a pack of ideas (beyond core theology) that both must believe in because they are both Christian.

    To me, “atheism is just a lack of belief in gods” is an attempt to emphasize the political and philosophical diversity among atheists. There are pro-life and pro-choice atheists. There are liberal atheists and conservative atheists. There are atheists who despise the religious and would eradicate religious faith, and there are atheists who would prefer to reach an accommodation with their religious neighbors.

    That’s what I think the quote speaks to.

  7. TFBW says:

    I prefer the original Irish joke. Irishman encounters man jumping off a bridge, and tries to dissuade him from doing it. “Think of your wife and kids!” “I have no wife and kids.” “Well, think of your poor, heartbroken mother and father!” “They passed away some years ago.” “Well … think of Saint Patrick!” “Who’s he?” Pause. “Jump, ya bastard.”

    Also this is better: https://youtu.be/WboggjN_G-4

  8. Dhay says:

    > Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

    Got that, Sam Harris? Buddhism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

    The FFRF says so.

    Or vary it a little, in keeping: Tibetan Buddhists are but myth and superstition peddlers who harden hearts and enslave minds.

  9. grodrigues says:

    “Honest disagreement implies nothing about the reasonability of people who use a particular title.”

    Fair enough. Now go and tell that to the atheists that like to pretend they are Oh So Much More Reasonable than Christians (or religious people in general).

  10. RobertM says:

    This story from Canada seems relevant here:

    “ Is atheism a religion? The Ministry of National Revenue is a non-believer”

    Appeal court says Church of Atheism of Central Canada failed to meet bar for charitable status

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5384686

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