July 1, 2019

Atheists Who Believe

atheist cat will not be herded

There are atheists. Outside of a handful of fundamentalist Christians, I can't imagine the opening sentence of this post will be terribly controversial. We know there are atheists. After all, many of us are atheists. But since I am in the mood to be controversial, let's extend that opening sentence a bit and try again.

There are atheists who believe...

We could easily keep going, but that's probably enough to make the point. There are atheists who believe some of these things. And as much as some of us might disagree with them about some of this, the fact that they believe these things does not mean they are not atheists.

Those of us who have taken the time to learn what atheism means recognize that the only thing atheists necessarily have in common is that we do not believe in gods. That is not to say that many atheists do not have other things in common; it just means that one does not have to have any of these other things in common to be an atheist. It is important to recognize that many atheists are not skeptics, humanists, or freethinkers. Similarly, many atheists are not particularly smart, insightful, enlightened, or well-versed in critical thinking. Atheists can (and do) believe all sorts of things.

When you encounter an atheist who believes some of these things with which you might disagree, you can certainly express your disagreement with him or her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe and arguing your position convincingly. But what you shouldn't do is make the mistake of questioning whether someone who believes these things can still be an atheist because he or she believes them. They can. There is nothing about atheism that precludes believing any of this.