What Is Atheism?
Atheism can be summed up in a few short words. Atheism is the rejection of a belief that is called theism by its creators and supporters.
So, what is theism?
Theism is the belief that there is a supernatural entity, intelligent and all-powerful, that created and, most importantly, can intervene in the universe and, especially, in the personal lives of human beings. Theists call this supernatural, supreme entity God and believe that God must be worshipped. To put it concisely, theists believe in a personal god who must be worshipped.
Is theism different from deism?
Yes. Deists believe that a God created the universe and laid down the laws which govern the universe but cannot intervene in its evolution. Deists do not believe in a personal, intervening god so reject theism.
What about polytheists?
Polytheists believe in many gods. For instance, thunder is a god, a mountain can be a god and so on. The gods are usually based on natural objects or events. There are many forms of polytheism and even similar polytheistic beliefs can vary in different areas of the world. Polytheism always involves the worshipping of the gods. An example is worshipping the god of lightning and hoping that by worshipping it, lightning won’t strike you. Theists, while they retain the belief that they must worship their God, reject the concept of polytheism. Because theism involves the rejection of polytheism and atheism rejects theism atheists automatically reject polytheism. Deists also reject polytheism.
Is there any evidence for a god or gods?
Deism is difficult to disprove as there is no evidence to gather. If a god created the universe and all its laws then who can prove it did not?
Polytheistic beliefs in many, natural gods has been shown to be false as science gathered the evidence about natural objects and events and gave them purely naturalistic explanations.
Theism, like polytheism, should also be relatively easy to disprove: if there is a god that intervenes in the universe evidence of that intervention should be observable and measurable. However, even as scientific evidence is gathered and evaluated, theists change the goalposts. Ah, they say, scientists cannot see the evidence because they do not have faith and evidence can only be seen by the faithful. There is plenty of evidence of God, theists also say, because of the personal testimony of believers.
There is no doubt that many humans get a psychological boost from the biological changes that can occur from belonging to a group of humans who hold the same or similar beliefs. Theists often become unstable at any suggestion that their beliefs are untrue. Because of this instability, reason can leave the group completely and normally rational individuals can become violent and aggressive. This violence and aggression can lead to murder and even genocide.
Can we deduce anything more about atheism from this short study of theism?
- Atheists are often sceptical of beliefs for which there is no scientific evidence or which cannot stand up to sceptical enquiry and reason.
- A deist can be an atheist because deists reject theism; however, most atheists reject any belief that cannot be proved scientifically so most atheists reject deism.
- Polytheism is rejected by atheists because polytheistic beliefs have been disproved by science.
- Because atheists reject theism, and theistic groups can become unstable and lose touch with reality, most atheists are determined not to allow themselves to lose their ability to reason.
- Many atheists are against the idea of forming groups themselves because, whether based on theism or any other belief or idea, groups can become unstable.
- Many attempts have been made to bring atheists together but have failed. One of the reasons for this is because atheism is not a worldview; atheists have many and varied worldviews and they are often incompatible.
- Atheists often remain intensely individualistic and many form their own worldviews distinct from one another.
- Atheists’ only common interest is the rejection of theism.