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Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists Still Believe In Something Bigger

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists do believe in something bigger than ourselves. We understand that the universe, laws of nature, the human race, the arc of history, principles of ethics and kindness, etc. are bigger than we are. We simply don’t believe that these big things come from God, or are in any way supernatural. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. says

    Posted a comment linking you to my article which mentions this meme (and your meme about atheism not being a belief), but can’t see my comment. Trying it a different way.

  2. Maria says

    Even San Francisco’s own atheist blogger, Greta Christina, is split on the issue of whether or not atheism is a belief or a lack of belief. In her April 15 Atheist Meme of the Day, she proclaims that atheism is not a belief, but more recently, in her June 10 daily meme, she affirmed that atheism is a belief in something bigger, although not God.
    I don’t think that’s quite what Greta is saying. You can’t really define Atheism as “belief in something bigger although not god”. This meme is just an answer to the claim that atheists don’t believe in anything bigger than themselves, which many atheist do. And the assertion that “anything bigger” must be a deity or something supernatural, which it doesn’t have to be at all.
    But atheism is not defined that way. Greta is not really “split on the issue”.

  3. says

    Maryann:
    You have completely misrepresented my position. I do not think atheism is a belief. I think atheism is a provisional conclusion based on the best available evidence. And I have made this position very clear in my writings.
    Yes, atheists do have beliefs. We believe in things, including principles of ethics and so on. But “atheists have some beliefs” is not the same as “atheism is a belief.” My atheism is not an a priori assumption that there is no God. My atheism is the conclusion that the God hypothesis is unsupported by any good evidence, and that unless I see better evidence, I’m going to assume that God does not exist. If I see better evidence, I’ll change my mind.
    Finally: In the future, if you’re going to write about my positions, it might serve you well to write to me first to clarify my position. A two-minute email before posting this piece would have avoided this mischaracterization of my positions. Thank you.

  4. says

    Maryann, I will also add this: This is a classic example of atheists being put into “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations. If we say that we don’t believe in anything, the word “belief” gets parsed as meaning “values,” and we get accused of being cynical, amoral, etc. But if we say that we do believe in things, the word “belief” gets parsed as meaning “a priori and/or unquestioned faith,” and we get told that atheism is just as dogmatic a faith as religion. We can’t win.

  5. ckitching says

    Of course, since this meme is a generalization, it’s not even true all of the time. There certainly are nihilistic atheists out there, who would disagree with every word of it. However, full-on nihilism is extremely rare, even among atheists.

  6. Flail says

    “she affirmed that atheism is a belief in something bigger”
    I wouldn’t call that a misrepresentation so much as an outright fabrication. I see nowhere in the post that you claimed “atheism is”.
    That aside, I like the meme today. It seems like atheists get mistaken for nihilists far too often.

  7. Valhar2000 says

    However, full-on nihilism is extremely rare, even among atheists
    We will cut off your Johnson, Ckitching!

  8. DSimon says

    Valhar2000, I love the part at the end of that movie where the nihilists whine “But it isn’t fair!”

  9. Valhar2000 says

    Fair? What the hell kind of nihilists are you anyway?
    John Goodman FTW!!!11!!1!!

  10. says

    Maryann Spikes: You are assuming the thing you are trying to prove.
    To take just one example: The strong atheist — 6 on the Dawkins scale — does not “believe” that the evidence against God’s existence far outweighs the evidence for it. She has *concluded* that the evidence against God’s existence far outweighs the evidence for it. You didn’t make as argument for why this conclusion is an article of faith. You simply called it “belief,” and then equated that belief with religious faith. You assumed the thing you were trying to prove.
    You keep saying things like, “Lacking certainty, this is a position of faith.” By this logic, *any* conclusion based on evidence and reason that cannot be proven with 100% certainty is a matter of faith. By your definition, it’s a matter of faith to conclude that dropping a rock will cause it to fall to the earth and that magic pixies won’t carry it up into the trees. You’re defining as “faith” any conclusion other than mathematical or logical propositions, along the lines of “if A and B, then C,” which can be proven with 100% certainty within the axioms of that system. And that’s an entirely useless definition of “faith.”

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