I’ve heard this question a million times. People want to know how we as atheists can believe in anything, since we don’t believe in God. The answer to this question is not a simple one, since all any two atheists have in common is their disbelief in gods, but there are a few common answers. Some of which include “I believe in the goodness of people” or “I believe in people,” “I believe in the beauty of nature,” “I believe we all have different answers to that question,” and “I believe in doing what is right.” But there are any number of answers to this question, because God isn’t the only thing people believe it. We all hold many beliefs. As such, the question “what do you believe?” is a bad question. Atheists have beliefs. We have dreams and desires to. They just don’t involve gods.
However, this is a touchy question for atheists. Most people are willing to give some variation of the answers listed above, but there are two other common answers that are less positive. One answer is that the person doesn’t believe in wasting time worrying about what other people believe. This answer isn’t negative in the sense that it is mean or rude. Rather, it is an answer based on what the person doesn’t believe, not on what they do believe. Instead of worrying about belief, the people who answer in this way they prefer to worry about their own lives and how best to live them. These people generally think that there is nothing logical or worthwhile about theological or religious debates. The other answer is to say that atheists don’t believe anything. Obviously, I disagree with this. However, a lot of atheists think that “belief” is synonymous with “faith.” And “faith” to an atheist generally means “believing without evidence.” Most Atheists prefer to be as logical as possible, so anything that doesn’t suggest evidence is generally mistrusted.
So, as an atheist, what do I believe? I believe that people are neither good or bad. People are people. We all make good decisions and bad decisions. Some people make more good decisions than bad decisions, others make more bad decisions than good decisions, but most of us make around the same number of good and bad decisions. And most of our decisions are simply neutral. I believe that it is important to actively seek out new knowledge. The more true things we know, and the less false things, the better off we are. I believe that it is important to travel. I want to see the world. I believe it is important to help people, but we must be aware of how our actions affect the people we set out to help. Expecting everyone else to be able to achieve what I achieve is ridiculous, because we aren’t all born in a position of equal opportunity. But sometimes, by trying to help others, we actually do more harm than good. I’m a feminist, so I believe that men and women (and everyone else) should be equal. I’m a Socialist, so I believe that it is the governments job to help its people lead comfortable, safe lives. And, of course, I believe there are no gods. In fact, I believe there is nothing supernatural whatsoever. I believe in many other things too, but I think I’ll stop here for now.
My point is, atheists hold many beliefs as is anyone else, we just also happen to not believe in gods.