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Top Myths About Atheism & Atheists: Answers, Refutations, Responses

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Atheism is a Denial of God That Requires Faith:

The most common misunderstanding about atheism is the definition. Many insist that atheism is really the denial of the existence of God, but there are two errors here. First, it pretends that atheism is exclusively about their god, the god common to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Second, it focuses on a narrow sub-set of atheism and atheists to the exclusion of all others. Standard dictionary definitions list "denial of God or gods" second; first comes "disbelief in god or Gods." Disbelief is not the same as denial, it's either the absence of belief or the presence of skepticism. Atheism is Not the Denial of God...

Atheists Choose to Disbelieve in God:

I frequently hear the claim that atheists choose atheism, usually for some morally blameworthy reason like a desire to avoid taking responsibility for their sins. My response is basically the same every time: You may not believe me, but I didn't choose any such thing, and I can't just 'choose' to start believing. Maybe you can, but I can't. I do not believe in any gods. Evidence would make me believe in some god, but all the playacting in the world isn't going to change that. It's arguable, in fact, that no beliefs are choices that people can simply change their minds about. Atheism is Not a Choice or Act of Will...

What is a "Real" Atheist? How Do "Real" Atheists Behave?:

One effective means for critiquing a belief system and/or its adherents is to point out significant contradictions between how believers behave and the ideals they espouse. These contradictions can suggest that they don't really believe what they say, that the ideals aren't taken seriously, that the system teaches worse things, etc. Atheists do this with religion frequently, but can religious theists do it with atheism? They try by presuming to say how "real" atheists would or would not behave. These arguments fail because atheism isn't a philosophy that compels any particular behavior. Who is a Real Atheist...

More People Have Been Killed in the Name of Atheism & Secularism than Religion:

A common criticism raised by atheists against religion is how violent religion and religious believers have been in the past. People have slaughtered each other in large numbers because of differences in religious beliefs or because of other differences which are justified and intensified through religious rhetoric. Either way, religion has a lot of blood on its hands. Can the same be said for atheists and atheism? Haven't atheists killed more people in the name of atheism than religious theists have killed in the name of their religion? No: atheism isn't a philosophy or ideology. Atheism Hasn't Killed Anyone...

Atheists Haven't Experienced the True God or True Religion:

Atheists have constructed many trenchant critiques of both religion and theism over the years. Some of these critiques can be responded to reasonably, but others are much more difficult to address in anything like an adequate manner. Sometimes, it may be easier to simply find a way to dismiss atheists entirely and thus avoid having to address any of their critiques in the first place. Common ways of doing this are to argue that atheists have never had any of the relevant and necessary experiences to teach them about God and religion. If they did, they would understand and believe. What Do Atheists Know of God...

Do Atheists Have No Reason to be Moral? Are There No Atheistic Moral Standards?:

For most religious theists, their religion and god provide the basis for their entire understanding of morality and values. Because of this, some find it inconceivable that atheists who don't believe in any gods and who have no religion could possibly have a basis for morality or even understand what true moral behavior really is. Many go further and argue that this is a good reason to reject atheism, that it leads to immoral behavior, that it cannot account for the existence of morality, etc. None of these arguments hold up because they are based on false premises. Atheists Can Be Moral...

Atheists Lead Meaningless Lives of Despair Without Love or Beauty:

Some theists who cannot defend theism or criticize atheism through logic or evidence are left attacking the alleged implications of atheism. If they cannot prove that atheism unreasonable, they hope to prove that the consequences of atheism are so abhorrent that no one will want to take the chance. One popular target is to claim that atheism leads to hopelessness and despair, that atheism makes life meaningless, or that atheism eliminates reasons to be moral. None of this is true, but even if it were that wouldn't make their theism or religion more likely to be true. Atheists Don't Lead Meaningful Lives...

Atheists Worship Satan, Themselves, Money, or Some Other God:

The claim that atheists replace worship of God with worship of something else ranges over man possible objects for worship: Satan, themselves, humanity, etc. In addition to being wrong, these myths share the belief that worship is somehow fundamental to human existence such that it simply isn't possible for a person to live a decent life without worshipping something. This is false, though. No matter how important religion or theism is to someone, this isn't a good reason to conclude that they are also important to everyone else, even those who deny having any god or religion. Atheism Doesn't Involve Worship...

Atheism is a Product of Rebellion & Pride:

There are many myths about atheism and atheists which claim that people are atheists due to some sort of rebellion (against god, religion, church, families, fathers, etc.) or pride. These myths come primarily from Christians whose religious mythology gives an important place to rebellion against divine rules as the origin of evil in the world (Satan is depicted as having rebelled against God). At most, these myths might be true of some but not all or even most atheists; even if true, however, none of these myths would have any implications for the truth or reasonableness of atheism itself. Atheism Isn't Rebellion...

Atheists Want to Impose their Secular Religion on America:

There is a popular belief with America's Christian Right that secularism is an atheistic conspiracy and an attempt by atheists to impose a secular religion on America. This would undermine Christians' religious liberty and force them to conform to atheists' secular, possibly communist, vision for America. None of this is even remotely correct: most atheists are not religious, secularism by definition cannot be a religion, atheists are not trying to undermine religious liberty, and secularism protects all Americans' religious liberty - including Christians' liberty. Atheists Aren't Imposing a Religion on America...

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