What does Atheism actually mean? An atheist is simply someone who does not believe in human-imagined gods – that, by implication, are affecting the world with untestable supernatural powers. Despite popular misbelief, atheists come in all forms, and it’s really okay to call oneself an Atheist. You’re just simply calling yourself a non-theist. Many who attend religious services are atheists, and just don’t know or realize that they are this. Or, are afraid of the word, because they don’t quite understand what it means.
Despite what is taught in religious communities, Atheists are not all anti-religious – rather, only a few are. Many atheists are quite religious, but they are practitioners of non-theistic religions. Meaning, there is no god entity that needs to be believed in and worshiped within their religious practices. Atheists simply place no belief in theism as a basis for addressing reality, beyond that of recognizing it being beliefs, writings, and practices that are held by humans who believe in such things.
Atheists, both religious and non-religious, believe that mystical aspirations by humans is best kept in balance by active conscious reasoning and embracement of facts over maintaining fantasies. Many atheists form religious communities that fulfill all the traditional roles that religious congregating is expected in society to fulfill: birth recognitions, coming of age and marriage ceremonies, and death bereavements. They are called by different names: Freethought Churches, Humanistic or Skeptic Societies, Sunday Assemblies, and so forth.
Atheists do not believe in dogma. Nor, especially in relation to Christians, religious Jews, and Muslims, that the words of a book written by numerous humans over the period of a thousand years – before being compiled into one official inviolable book – to be the inspired words of a human imagined vindictive and jealous “God.” The proof to atheists is in the writings themselves: the unethical moral stances, the contradictions between the various writings, and the obvious fact that such a god is unseen, only subjectively knowable, and must be believed in with faith to be perceived as experienced.
Atheists reject the sheer audacity of the religious premise that, despite the demonstrated evidence to the contrary, the “bible” alone is the ultimate proof document of god’s reality and existence. Atheists understand that humans have evolved to be seekers of what is good and moral in this world, that this itself is a relative and evolving process within humanity, and that some humans insist upon objectifying and projecting our natural born tendencies upon a god-image who demands a rigid set of absolutes – or the consequences will be dire.
Atheists do not feel the need to be emotionally affected by theological beliefs and stances, because atheists understanding it is good to question and doubt these things. Especially, when it is obvious that the ethics and morality that atheists believe in and act upon is by far much improved over that of religions that discriminate, in often violent and oppressive ways, against those who do not adhere to present theological doctrines of rightness. Atheist are not bought into the emotionally tailored fear-invoking heaven or hell afterlife thing, either.
To atheists, reality as it demonstrably is trumps religious fantasies about that which is not provable or actually known. Atheists understand that the burden of being a beneficial and life-supporting member of society is in this life, and this is reason itself to do good to the best of one’s ability – even without a belief in a god. Atheism means being godlessly good and compassionate towards others, by using reason to temper our human emotions. Most atheists actually do not seek to indoctrinate their children into desired patterns of beliefs, but rather seek to inspire their children to think for themselves and come to their own reason-based conclusions.
It is okay and even beneficial – quite good – to call oneself an Atheist, if you’ve realized that you are one. You will encourage others to do the same and this, too, is good. It is even more helpful to actually promote Atheism, both as a reason-based societal movement and as a rational religion that is not based in thought-limiting dogmas. Explore it, get to know the atheists that live in your neighborhood, and judge for yourself whether Atheism is such a scary word after all. You’ll find that, overall, atheists are like all other respectable humans, a lot of fun to be around and refreshingly honest in their opinions.
I am an American Atheist, a reason-based Skeptic, a rational-religion promoting Freethinker, a scientific Agnostic, a political Secularist, and an ethnic secular Humanistic Jew. I support atheist Conservatives and Liberals for Public Office, and will only support by my vote religious candidates that have a proven record of not imposing their personal religious beliefs into the practice of common law. I believe in the tenets of democracy: freedom from religious tyranny, of the people and by the people, and indivisible with liberty and justice for all.