In cruising the information superhighway, checking out billboards and flipping stations, I see and hear a lot of misconceptions about atheism and atheists. I’ll probably update this page as I come across more, but these are the ones I see most often for now…
Keep in mind – as I respond to these, I am speaking only for myself. I can’t be in the heads of fellow atheists, so I can’t tell you what they think or feel. One of the things I hate most about these myths is the wild overgeneralizations, so I will try not to contribute to them. If you agree, or have another perspective, please comment and share your own take on any of these topics…
1. Atheists are rejecting religiosity, not God
There’s no denying that religiosity and organized religion are major turnoffs, but I rejected those for a long time, without rejecting God. I do not believe in God because the evidence does not support the existence of a God. It’s that simple.
2. Atheists deny God because they don’t want the accountability (i.e., they can party without guilt).
Yeah… I am accountable to people that aren’t imaginary. I am not worried about some posthumous judgment day in the sky. I have to answer to my husband, my family, my boss, my coworkers, my professors, and society in general.
Also, I’m not looking to party. Been there, done that. Oh, and I was a fairly actively practicing Christian at the time.
3. Atheists have no moral center, because that comes from God.
This concept shows a remarkable lack of confidence in humanity. Humans, in general, act on the Ethic of Reciprocity. Most people know this as “The Golden Rule.” But this is not a concept exclusive to or created by Christianity. We are empathic creatures by nature.
4. Atheists hate Christians because they hate God.
This is actually a pointless argument. It is illogical to claim a person hates something they don’t believe exists. I despise some of the things done in the name of God, and I really don’t like the willful ignorance some Christians employ in propagandizing their ideas. Many times, I see this argument in the context of a Christian responding to cogent arguments by atheists.
5. Atheists are Satanists
Similar to the response in #4 – if an atheist doesn’t believe in God, why would she believe in God’s supernatural nemesis?
6. Atheists are sad, empty, unfulfilled, incomplete, etc.
I actually have found a great deal of contentedness in letting go of God. I no longer struggle with guilt over lack of prayer, over having fallen away from the church, etc. I no longer have the cognitive dissonance that comes with bumping the God ideal up against the real world. I no longer feel like I have to lead a “purpose-driven life,” or at least one that has been pre-ordained. I finally feel free to find my own path and pursue my own dreams, without fear of abandoning some mission for God.
7. Atheists want to destroy society.
People who make this argument haven’t thought it through very well. After all, atheists still need to live in society, too. My goal is to contribute to a society with a free exchange of valuable information, as opposed to the current flow of often-egregious misinformation. Unfortunately, this is often seen as “corrupting,” rather than cleansing.
8. Atheists have a hopeless world view
This is, of course, because we don’t believe in an afterlife. What point is there to living, if we aren’t working toward some ultimate reward? Well, there is the idea that maybe we should make the most of the short time we’re given. Maybe we should think about contributing to the life of our descendants.
9. Atheists believe that we are descended from monkeys.
Okay, first of all… this shows a wildly inaccurate view of the Theory of Evolution. But that’s beside the point.
Granted, many atheists accept evolution over creation. But the fact that a person is an atheist does not automatically sign them up as an evolutionist, too. The word atheist, literally, means “without deity.” That’s all.
So, just to clear it up, we are not descended from monkeys. We are related to them, being descended from a common ancestor. That’s the short version. There are a lot of people out there that have written that better than I could – I’m no evolutionary biologist. Now, go do some reading on the topic… I’ll post some more links later, but here’s a good place to start: Australopithecus