I have talked previously about what I mean when I say I am an atheist, about myths, cynicism, and my take on some of the stereotypes regarding atheism and I have talked about what Atheism is not… But I have never really talked about what my being an atheist tells you about me.
For instance when somebody says they are a Democrat, you can often times assume they are Liberal, they believe in universal health care, they support equal rights for all people, etc… When you learn somebody is a Yankees fan, you can assume they are obnoxious, they enjoy being on the bandwagon, and they have a man crush on Derek Jeter… When somebody tells you they are a Mormon, you know they have at least one pair of magic underwear, they are continually and annoyingly smiling, and at some point in their life they annoyed the shit out of people on Saturday and Sunday mornings….
So my atheism must tell you something about me, it’s only logical, right? Let’s start with what is atheism, since there are many misconceptions about this word:
a⋅the⋅ism [ey-thee-iz-uhm] –noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Origin: 1580–90; < Gk áthe(os) godless + -ism
So of course this means that when I tell you that I am an atheist, you know that I do not believe in any god or gods. This is the obvious one, since it is the definition of the word…
But what else does my being an atheist tell you about me? There are a number of ideas that many people have, but are they actually true?
Surely it tells you that I am against god, doesn’t it? But are christians “against” Zeus? Are Buddhists against Santa Claus? Of course not, how can you be against something imaginary? So it doesn’t tell you that…
Then something a little more obvious, being an atheist means I don’t go to church. This may be true for many atheists, but I know of many atheists that go to Unitarian churches regularly (primarily for the community and for the sake of their children), and there is a Humanistic Judaism movement where many people of Jewish descent who are atheists still go to temple, listen to their rabbi, get their children circumcised, etc… So once again, it doesn’t tell you this.
Then surely with all of the headlines that atheists are making today, my being an atheist tells you that I protest against religion. Well certainly this blog tells you that I do, but the reason that the “New Atheist” movement is newsworthy, is because we make noise about religion, where as many atheists still prefer a more “live and let live” approach. So being an atheist does not tell you my views on organized religion.
So what does my being an atheist tell you?
In fact, it tells you nothing…
As I posted previously:
“Atheism offers nothing because it doesn’t need to”
But it could also be said, that atheism tells you nothing, except that I lack belief in gods…