Atheism Is NOT A Belief System

One of the things that irritates me about theists is that because they subscribe to a belief system that involves made up fairy tales, they only feel comfortable if they can claim that atheists subscribe to a similarly unprovable and delusional belief system. It’s the adult version of “So am I but what about you” epithet thrown back in defense when one is accused of something stupid. It’s as if theism would not be valid unless it’s compared with its opposite, which makes no logical sense. Theism should stand or fall on its own merits, but it always falls, as a belief system, upon even the slightest scrutiny. To deflect us from that scrutiny, theists point out that we hold equally silly beliefs. Let’s look at that.

By its very definition atheism is, at best, a lack of belief. And it is a lack of belief in a very singular entity – gods, or sometimes more encompassing, the supernatural.

There are lots of things – millions, probably billions – that I don’t believe in, things that theists share a lack of belief in. I don’t believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or leprechauns, or unicorns, to name three things that have some cultural, albeit fictional, reality. I also don’t believe in square circles, Gloogonians living on the 10th planet circling star H-437 in the Blodostic galaxy, or the existence of my 4th child. None of this means that I center my life around a belief system that positively disbelieves in those things. I don’t really care, and never think about them, and might even change my mind if someone showed me that circles were square, the Gloogonians had established an embassy in Washington DC, or if my long lost and previously unknown child knocked on my door with irrefutable DNA results.  In the meantime, they occupy not one inch, not one millimeter (for those in a 10 base reality) of my present worldview.

My atheism is more of a by-product of a few other “isms” that I find valuable in dealing with my life – rationalism, skepticism, materialism, naturalism and humanism. These combine to procure a worldview that is, by their very definitions, rational and logical tinged with a healthy dose of “show me before I believe it”;  a sense that “What you see is what you get” and that science, not dogma, produces the best results for obtaining truth about reality; and finally, that I owe allegiance to my fellow humans, and not some made up mythical being, because they are here and now and I am an integral part of them. The application of those disciplines and thought processes to the world produce as a by-product, and a relatively inconsequential one at that, a lack of belief in gods, because there is nothing that lends any credence to the assertion that gods exist – not so-called holy books, not revelation, not miracles. Nothing, nada, zip.

Atheism only exists because theism exists. The rise and prevalence of theism is perfectly understandable, given human nature, history, and other areas of inquiry, but if theism had never been constructed by man, if we had no belief in gods, then atheism wouldn’t exist either, because we’d have no need to define a word contrary to the delusion we call religion. Our commonly held understanding of reality would not include a belief in the supernatural, so atheism would not be needed.

Indeed, atheism would exist without acknowledgment or definition. The term for it would be “reality”.

43 thoughts on “Atheism Is NOT A Belief System

  1. Very cute, there, John, however, I do not take atheists to task. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t refer to you or your retinue as anything other than “infidels” or by your more technical and truer handle: “anti-theists”. That’s what you are, because, you so consistently and dogmatically preach that there is NO God. A true atheist wouldn’t even engage me on the subject, clearly understanding that there might be a God, only he/she doesn’t see Him. You turkeys, on the other hand, go to such great lengths to insult and mock God, which shows that He clearly exists enough in your minds to go to all of the bother.

    And, thanks for admitting, again, that you ARE religious, not only indicative by the zealousness and fervor of your attacks on God and Christians, but, with your admission that you are a humanist. Humanism is the religion of self-worship, something condemned as idolatry in the Bible. “Thou shalt not have any gods before Me” is the first commandment of God. Heathen self-worship (paganism) through the worship of nature, endowing nature with creative powers due only to God, then decreeing that we all belong to nature is subtle evidence of man creating God in his own image, denying that we are, in fact, created in His image. Pagans would or will not have God rule over them, so, they invented their own gods to give embodiment to their own inward desire to rule over themselves, excluding God.

    That, my infidel friend, is religious behavior. You can’t weasel your way out from under it or around it. Communism actually spawned humanism as a means of attacking and breaking down society for the purpose of subjugating it, by attacking it through it’s religiously-spawned moral sensibilities and beliefs. By accepting socialistic dogma, you, John, are aiding and abetting totalitarianism AS WELL as adopting their religious philosophies.

    Your track record up to now isn’t very good, John, where interpretations are concerned. Not good for someone that presumes to interpret the laws of the land for a living. I suggest that if you’re bound and determined to die, at least be honest with yourself as to what it is that is going to destroy you. Your demise will be of your own free choice, not an inevitability left to chance through an even chancier and fallacious evolution.

    • Gideon “Humanism is the religion of self-worship, something condemned as idolatry in the Bible.”
      Pah! The religion of self-worship is theism. Your god is the mirror of you, the omnipotent inkblot of your psyche. That’s why your god is an asshole.

      “Pagans would or will not have God rule over them, so, they invented their own gods to give embodiment to their own inward desire to rule over themselves, excluding God.”
      I ruled over myself once. It was awesome. Eventually the other people in the coffee shop (Heretics!) told me to stop spanking myself.

      “By accepting socialistic dogma, you, John, are aiding and abetting totalitarianism AS WELL as adopting their religious philosophies.”
      Yeah, John! Take that!
      Gideon is so anti-socialist, he’s for disbanding the State-owned, socialist military! When he gets robbed he yells “Help! Help! Private security!”, and when his house is on fire he lets the Invisible Hand of the Market put it out!

  2. Jesus Christ! “Lack” of belief? Seriously? You know, I’m beginning to think that de-converts secretly harbor a serious LACK of self esteem. Blame it on the indoctrination if you must, but deep down you all seem to harbor some shame for being an atheist, shame for not living up to the expectations set by your family and society to be a good Christian. Oh sure, you do your atheist blogs and your speaking events but then there it is, like your inner, shameful self sending a signal out through the cool, controlled atheist veneer, “I lack belief.” Yes, well perhaps you do. I don’t, because I find desiring such a thing amazingly foolish. “Lack” of belief? Un-fucking-believable.

    • What? “Absence of belief” sounds better? More accurate?

      Probably. OK, yes. Semantics, but I’ll give it to you.

    • Philly:
      Is the absence of belief more acceptable to you? The word lack has a negative connotation that bothers me too. Absence is often a good thing. For example, I’m very pleased to enjoy the absence of cancer from my body and would like to continue in that state. Of course, faith-free is another good description – cancer-free, faith-free, etc.

        • Not that this is something I think is worth getting one’s balls (or boobies) twisted over in the first place, but how about just “I don’t believe in god” or “I believe there is no god.” Simple. Straightforward. Active voice.

  3. “Blame it on the indoctrination if you must, but deep down you all seem to harbor some shame for being an atheist… etc.”

    Spoken like a true anti-theist, Philly. That’s a rant even I can appreciate. Lose it, much?

    REAL atheists just don’t ‘protesteth’ like that, son.


  4. Gloogonians living on the 10th planet circling star H-437 in the Blodostic galaxy

    Hey SI, that prospect is a lot more plausible than most religious claims!

    • Except for the fact that I made that up out of thin air. But replace it with an actual planet in an actual solar system in an actual galaxy, and yes, you are correct.

  5. There, now, see, Philly? Chappy did a better job of portraying an atheistic view than you. You gotta use more restraint, there, big guy! More sophistication.

    Luv the analogy using cancer, there, Chap. Shows you’re completely unbiased and removed from the issue. Totally neutral!


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  7. Boy are you guys stuck in 1859, and in the sophomore grade level of 1859, to boot!
    The arguments you repeat ad nauseam are a coup-counting mind game of puerile oneupsmanship.
    Sometimes I check back here to see if you know anything yet.
    (Guess what I find?)

    Mankind does not know everything, and never did. His centuries-old crawl towards objective knowlege therefore had to be instigated by an admission of unknowingness. The as-yet undiscovered connecting truth embedded within the unknowing may be termed “The Tao”…the way things are. The Tao…. unseen…undiscovered….undiscoverable per se , will never be fully apprehended. As a concept, it recedes just outside the circle of the proven. (Anything proven, is defacto not the Tao.)

    Tao is therefore a mental construct harboring man’s hope of eventual understanding within a vessel always kept empty, so as not to mistakenly substitute hubris for intellectual quest.

    I know you see it coming, so I’ll just stop here, and let you arrive on your own.
    ( I’ll be like Tao, and recede before your understanding).

    Tao is similar to what?

    Is Tao imaginary? Has the quest resulting in fire, smelting, technology, law, reason, art, & modern science been accidental? If it was accidental, does another science lie unfound outside our common ken somewhere? Or has Tao ( that which really is….the way of things) passively guided the manquest down a channel of the real, towards things that truly exist?

    If you credit modern science with veracity, the Tao (that which is) passively allowed only that to be found, which really existed…..preventing delusion, but guiding man towards the not delusional by the very same token.

    If this is so, the apriori organization of things made man discover all that man has discovered.

    Yes, we have arrived.

    If the apriori organization of things guided science to where it stands today,
    then science merely found a design, already in place.

    If that design, already in place, guided human science to its discovery (by simply existing), then it has influenced human history with its own embedded internal coherence…. ( its intelligence).

    See, you got there, and never knew it.

    Welcome to 2010.

  8. It’s difficult to express not having something as a positive. Absence isn’t neutral either, as it’s used generally to denote a negative (ie – absent from school, feeling one’s absence, etc.) The only word I can think of that’s clearly positive is free (ie – cancer free, free of debt, etc). You wouldn’t say you’re free of funds or free of patience, but you would say you lack funds or lack patience. If it’s something desirable, you lack it or it’s absent. If it’s something undesirable, then you’re free of it or from it.

    Lifeguard is half right, take an active voice. Say you’re free of god belief or better yet, pin the lack on the believers and say they lack critical thinking or reason. Some of you will say that’s attacking them, but if you believe that, then why don’t you believe it’s an attack when they say we lack belief, or realize it’s self deprecating to say it about yourself? It’s as clear as day, yet it amazes me how deconverts won’t open their eyes and see it, or should I say admit it? The roots of indoctrination still run underground even though the tree is long since gone. Use some Rid-X already. 😉

    • The roots of indoctrination still run underground even though the tree is long since gone. Use some Rid-X already. 😉

      Yeah, I get it. I frankly struggle with it constantly. This blog, in a small way, is an attempt to break away from the hold that early indoctrination had on me, by constantly making me face it in post after post. I don’t find your criticism of, for instance, my use of the word “lack” to be out of place at all, in fact I welcome it as constructive criticism. It’s exactly what I asked for in my first post, and repeatedly since then. Shit, we’ve discussed this in the past, on the podcast and elsewhere, and I still wrote that (though to a certain extent, it was just lazy writing, fast writing without analyzing it before hitting “publish”. There’s still that automatic, visceral way of dealing with things.).

      It really shouldn’t amaze you that deconverts are still pulled into “stinkin thinkin”. It’s incredibly hard to break free of. Look at people like Gideon. It has him by the throat and there’s no hope of it ever letting him go. When I spoke the other night to the Pa Nonbelievers, I told them that even though I had made a conscious decision that atheism was true, and that hence I was an atheist, my early indoctrination still caused me to question that, whenever confronted with a plausible theistic claim, and that’s why I keep at this on this blog.

  9. If the totality of all things discoverable really does exist, and if the Tao guides science towards that totality, it is easily seen that more of the totality is encountered later in time, after intervening discoveries are made. Conversely, the totality appears more unknowable in earlier time, when man lacked all the intervening discoveries, relying on simple faith in Tao to seek that which is (was) unknown. Therefore it is seen that faith in future science created science itself. Science itself is therefore a faith-based enterprise, not different in kind from deistic cult beliefs.

    The dual (reversing) time perspectives are useful here. If all is Tao (organized but unknown) at the beginning, and “Tao guidance” informs “science faith” to move forward, science itself is seen correctly as a human attempt to reconstruct the discoverable totality, an enterprise identical in every way to carving a bust of Zeus out of marble, or a flathead totem on Easter Island.

    The difference is simple. Zeus does not exist. The flathead polynesian god did not exist. Therefore, at some point, the Zeus statue outgrew the Zeus-faith.

    However science suffers from no such limitation. With Tao at the helm, man’s science-statue will not be completed until time (or the human race) ends.A God that by definition cannot be outgrown ! My god is bigger than your god !

    When all history has transpired, man will see not the second coming , but the first (and only) coming of “god”. God will have been constructed out of wish by humans guided by Tao, on a pedestal of history, the discoverable totality of existence revealed at last, the artwork of the human race, who exists only at the end of time, called “God” by those who wish to collect money in his name.

    That’s why you can’t find him.

  10. You must allow the possibility that undiscovered (and unimagined) stuff might exist.
    Otherwise you are playing knowlege-deity.

    Playing gnosis-deity is a delusion. A sickness masquerading as knowingness,
    based on wishful personal hubris.

    I’m amazed at people who think the nuclear age began in 1945.

    It existed whether we knew it or not.

    Julius Caesar was a bag of neutrons.

  11. Wow. This place is sure going south, fast! Now, we’ve got some swami in here giving us the “Grasshopper” philosophical pitch. What, did the warden forget to lock your cage, again, Springer? Did you forget to rub Buddha’s belly, this morning?

    Whew! Anyway, John, it does my heart good to hear you admit that Philly’s poisonous attitude hasn’t totally swayed you. Do you see the fervor with which he attacks anyone trying to leave the ‘fold’? If that isn’t religious zeal, I miss my guess!

    Seems like everyone’s got their own version of the one TRUE faith, these days. Some, like the Maharishi Springer, here, have definitely lost their landing gear. Yet another prophecy fulfilled, dealing with the false Christs that would all come scrambling out of the woodwork in the last days.

    Catholicism may have stunted your perceptions of God, there, John, but, He’s still in the fight… the outcome, of course, being entirely up to you.

    • Catholicism may have stunted your perceptions of God, there, John, but, He’s still in the fight… the outcome, of course, being entirely up to you.

      No. Sorry. TKO in the first round. I’m on to bigger and better fights.

  12. …and if the Tao guides science towards that totality

    Well you can stop right there, since it doesn’t. The only faith-based enterprise I’m witnessing here is your building of suppositional foundations. Far from “faith in future science” being responsible for science itself, it was the inadequacies of faith as a means to know reality which spawned the scientific method. It was the disconnect between what faith dictated and what observation told us that made science necessary. Look to Gallileo for an example.

    You must allow the possibility that undiscovered (and unimagined) stuff might exist.

    Indeed, but until the undiscovered is discovered and demonstrated, or at the very least evidence points to its existence, then it’s comparable to not existing and thus, deserving of the attention due to non-existent things.

    Btw, any relation to Jerry?

    • I’m glad you were able to make sense of at least a portion of what he was talking about, Philly.

      I must be really thick.

  13. Philly

    I guess the belief in something like Atoms before they were discovered would have been irrational, right? #68 Chief, you do me and I will owe you one.

    • Like the dozens of other times you asked, yes.

      Let’s say I buy a lottery ticket because I believe I know the winning number, and then max out my credit cards since hey, I’m going to be rich tomorrow. If my number is the winning number, was maxing out my credit cards irrational? What if I didn’t win?
      A: Irrational whether I win or lose, because the outcome has no bearing on whether holding the belief is rational.

  14. I saw Pearl Jam this past May on the national day of prayer and Eddie made a joke about petitioning the government for the band to be considered a religion with only that one commandment-DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE.

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