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Analyzing Atheism Essay

1147 words - 5 pages

Religion is one of the touchiest subjects in America. It is something that is rarely on the forefront of many people’s minds but as soon as someone brings it up, everyone has an opinion. Similarly, the idea of no religion, of atheism, is equally opinionated. While Americans of “faith” often have conflicting opinions with each other, they often stand united on the stance of atheism. For them, atheism is bad and atheists are bad. However, what really is an atheist? At its most basic, an atheist is merely an individual who rejects the idea of god and religion. It is nothing more, nothing less. Nevertheless, many people of faith attach secondary implications to this definition. They unify atheists under a series of assumptions concerning morality, belief, organization, and just plain illogical misconception. As an atheist of eight years myself, I find such assumptions to be insulting and prejudiced. I am an individual. My lack of belief does not entail other beliefs. The same is true for all atheists.
The first misconception I bring up is the most radical and illogical. Very few hold this sort of belief, but those that do I am unlikely to sway with simple logic and common sense. They are the type of people who only see what they want to see and hold onto their preconceived prejudices like a life preserver in a dark sea. Thus, I will address it first and be as quick and succinct as possible. As an atheist, I do not believe in the devil and so I cannot be a Satanist. That is a logical impossibility.
The next misconception is a little more subtle, but by far the more widespread. Many people believe that morals are a religious construction and that without religion there is no morality. Thus, they conclude that atheists are amoral or at the least morally compromised. There are several reasons that this is not true. First, morals are not purely a religious construction. While it is true that religion and its institutions were among the original enforcers of morality throughout human history, it is not true that religion is its creator. Morals largely evolved from good survival practices that developed from the complex social interactions of primates and early humans. As humans continued to develop complex social groups, we further developed moral codes that promoted the benefit and survival of the group over the individual. The emergence of religion helped expand on and enforce these moral codes (Wade). Second, is the emergence of atheist moral philosophies such as Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism is a philosophical system which “necessarily disbelieve in God (naturalism) and just as necessarily oppose thuggery and tribalism on principle (an outgrowth of ethics)” (secularhumanism.org). In other words, Secular Humanism promotes the idea that we can and should develop morality independent of religious or supernatural belief based on the ideas of ethics, justice, and the betterment of humankind. It recognizes the interconnected fate of humanity and...

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