My Beliefs Really Aren’t That Hard to Understand and Other Things That Annoy Me


being-an-atheist-b3c62cda210561622974ee2e38dd11

It is incredibly common to come across people who say “I don’t understand atheism.” This is a very annoying statement to come across. Why? Because atheism isn’t a difficult concept. Yes, some people say this and mean “I don’t understand how someone can be an atheist.” This is a reasonable claim: if you could understand how someone could be an atheist you would be an atheist. I don’t understand how someone could be a theist. If I did, I would be a theist.

But more often than not, the person means literally what they are saying: they don’t understand what atheism is. If you don’t understand what atheism is, there are two choices. Either you live in a bubble where you have never met, seen, or even heard from an atheist. You pretty well have to live in a conservative small town where everyone is part of the same church and have no access to the internet for this to be the case. Or you have been ignoring what atheist have told you about what atheism is. It really isn’t hard to learn what atheism is in this day and age, and I know that I have explained it to a lot of people. The problem is, a lot of theists don’t want to accept what I tell them when I explain atheism to me. They want to question how I know that my definition is the true one, or they want to nit pick about how I phrase my definition. Sometimes they just want to disregard my beliefs all together. It is that habit that annoys me when people ask what atheism is. If you’re going to ask, then listen to what I have to say. You don’t have to like what I’ve said for it to be true. And if you’re unwilling to accept what I have to say, then don’t ask the question. You clearly have no interest in hearing why I believe what I believe and are simply using the question in order to ridicule my position.

As for the other things that annoy me:

atheists

Saying you’re an agnostic as opposed to a theist or an atheist is not like saying you don’t know if you like soccer. If you say you like soccer, you’re making a knowledge claim, not a belief claim. You’re not saying you believe you like soccer, you’re saying you know you like soccer. The same goes for if you say that you don’t like soccer. Saying you don’t know if you like soccer is a third option for the other two claims. Agnosticism isn’t a third option to atheism and theism, because it is a knowledge claim to two belief claims. It is not in opposition to those claims, so you can be an agnostic while being an atheist or a theist. You can’t like soccer but not know if you like soccer. This isn’t to say that one cannot call themselves an agnostic without also calling themselves a theist or an atheist, it is simply to say that agnosticism is not the alternative to atheism that people think it is.

Atheism isn’t a position taken to attack the religious, or because one feels that Christians aren’t Christ like. People become atheists simply because that’s the position that makes sense to them. Some atheists will attack religion, but they aren’t attacking religion because they are atheists. Rather they are attacking religion because they believe that religion is problematic and getting rid of religion will solve a lot of problems. It is a belief that they hold on top of their belief that atheism is correct. And believing that Christians aren’t Christ-like isn’t enough to make someone an atheist. It is possible to believe in gods while believing that Christians do bad things. Heck, most Christians seem to think that Christians do bad things. In order to be an atheist, one must genuinely believe that there are no gods.

No, atheists do not have the burden of proof. Why? For the same reason that I don’t have to prove that fairies and unicorns don’t exist: I’m not going against the evidence by believing that gods don’t exist. In fact, there is no concrete evidence. If I were to say that I don’t believe the moon exists, then I would have to show why all of the evidence that says the moon does exist is wrong. But theists don’t have that evidence to show that gods exist. Until theists can provide evidence of gods existing the burden of proof is not mine. Again, I don’t know if gods exist, but I don’t believe they do.

Yes, I believe theism is false. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be an atheist. And no, that does not mean you can shift the burden of proof on me. If I have to prove that your god is false, then you have to prove why every god that you don’t believe in is false. Do you really want to go there?

AtheistCat

I don’t care if you pray to god. I care if you try and impose your prayer on me. Please stop trying to make it sound like your being gagged whenever you try and pray. If you are trying to push a public organization to make a public prayer, then you are pushing your beliefs on me and every other person who is not a member of your religion. If you want to pray before you eat, or before a game or class begins, go ahead, but don’t drag me into it.

Advertisements

12 responses to “My Beliefs Really Aren’t That Hard to Understand and Other Things That Annoy Me

  • Daleen

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post! I live in a theist-saturated community and am regarded as an alien or non-human merely because it is completely inconceivable to them that a concept such as atheism can even exist, so when they say ‘I don’t understand atheism’ I actually believe them and move on. I do not share their need to justify or explain my belief system. (That, incidentally, baffles my mind even more than their lack of understanding – their need for justification! What you believe has no bearing on my life, unless you torture, rape, disfigure or kill me in the name of your chosen religion or belief) The test should be whether your beliefs improve your Self and make the world around you a better place. If it does, go well and carry on

    Like

  • dianaashworth

    In my first term at uni I had to share a room with a theology student who knelt by her bed every night and prayed aloud that God would stop me studying so late and waking her when I came in — she went to bed a 9pm. The ultimately in defensive assertiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

  • darby

    Great post. I also get frustrated when I have conversations where people label themselves “agnostic” then proceed to tell me that they do not believe in a god or gods. I then say some thing like, “Oh, so you’re an atheist.” But they shrink away as if they are uncomfortable with that term, like its a bad word. Atheism is still so stigmatized as a negative, aggressive belief.

    Hopefully we can change this as more people become open about their beliefs (I love the first image’s “what religious people think I do.” Too true). P.S. Have you checked out Richard Dawkins’ “Openly Secular” project? You might be interested. http://www.openlysecular.org/#/about

    Like

  • Once theist, always theist | Christians Anonymous

    […] “It is incredibly common to come across people who say “I don’t understand atheism.” This is a very annoying statement to come across. Why? Because atheism isn’t a difficult concept. Yes, some people say this and mean “I don’t understand how someone can be an atheist.” This is a reasonable claim: if you could understand how someone could be an atheist you would be an atheist. I don’t understand how someone could be a theist. If I did, I would be a theist.” [ref] […]

    Like

  • Amy!

    Oh, very well said. Images are amusing, as well!

    Like

  • equippedcat

    It does require quite a lot of work to fail to understand what atheism is, and why some people choose to be atheists. I fully understand why people are atheists, yet I’m not one (any more). I had a pretty good idea why people are theists, yet it took me quite a while to become one.

    Before I became a theist, I used to eat lunch each day with a theist friend at work. He’d sit down with his food, wait for me to get there, THEN say grace. Used to annoy the snot out of me, having to wait for him to get done when he could have got that out of the way before I got there. “Having to”, of course, is relative; I could of ignored him praying, but attempted to be courteous. Needless to say, he was not a factor in my becoming a theist. I later met far better examples.

    I spent a large part of my life neither believing that God did NOT exist or believing He DID exist. I considered myself an Agnostic, because I did not believe either way. I was not making a belief claim; I was making a lack of belief (and knowledge) claim. By current definition, I was an atheist, but I did not think of myself that way. In those days, there was a fairly clear delineation between those who believed, those who believed not, and those who did not hold either belief. The “atheist” definition has blurred so that all those not believing in God can be covered by the atheist umbrella. Is this a good thing? I don’t know; there are valid points made by people on both sides of that question.

    Is there a better term for one who does not have either one of: belief, or not belief? Or is it truly better for those who do not have a belief to all be lumped into one category?

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      If you’re neither an atheist (or an agnostic, skeptic, etc.), you’re simply non-religious. At least, that’s how the stats deal with the problem. Without having a belief one way or the other, I’d say you were never an atheist. Atheism is a belief claim, and you lacked a belief.

      Like

      • equippedcat

        That was my original thought, but on these forums, I thought I was informed that “atheism” is the “opposite” of “theism”, and that those who have no belief in gods one way or the other fell under that definition along with those who believe there are no gods. So now I’m confused again 🙂

        Like

  • clubschadenfreude

    In my experience, I’ve noted that when a theist says “I don’t understand atheism.”, it often seems to really mean “I don’t want to understand atheism because that might mean I’m wrong.”

    as always, a well-written post.

    Liked by 1 person

  • tastehitch

    Roberts said “we are all atheists, some of us just believe fewer gods than others”. Atheism isn’t a difficult viewpoint to take (as you rightly say). If people do struggle, just ask them how their worship of Oden is going.

    Their rejection of pagan faith is the same process of rejecting all religion.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Once theist, always theist | Mijn Verhaal

    […] “It is incredibly common to come across people who say “I don’t understand atheism.” This is a very annoying statement to come across. Why? Because atheism isn’t a difficult concept. Yes, some people say this and mean “I don’t understand how someone can be an atheist.” This is a reasonable claim: if you could understand how someone could be an atheist you would be an atheist. I don’t understand how someone could be a theist. If I did, I would be a theist.” [ref] […]

    Like

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: