Gods Deconstructed

Beliefs and their objects, dismantled.

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?

Well, yes.

  • 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.

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2 thoughts on “What Is Atheism?

  1. Hi, rogerivanhart.

    First of all, nice blog. I like your writing style, and your posts seem pretty well thought out.

    The word “reason” appears several times at key points in your post, but you didn’t define the term explicitly. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it leaves me wondering what force your charge that theism is irrational is intended to have.

    I mean, suppose a belief is irrational – what exactly is wrong with holding an irrational belief?


    • rogerivanhart on said:

      Let’s take an example of Christianity and Islam.
      For Christians, that Jesus is the son of god is the undeniable, rational truth. Mockery of this belief, or calling it irrational, used to be punishable by death.
      The problem is that while Christians insist their beliefs are perfectly rational and true, another group, Muslims, insist they are irrational lies.
      Translation of the Holy Koran by Shakir. Sura 9 Ayas 29-34.
      9:29 Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
      9:30 And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!
      9:31 They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and ( also ) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one Allah only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up ( with Him ).
      9:32 They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse.
      9:33 He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse.
      9:34 O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn ( them ) from Allah’s way; and ( as for ) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement
      Neither position is provable, you could argue that Jews have never been known to claim Ezra is the son of god but Mohammed may have been told by a Jewish cult that this is what Jews believe. There is no way of proving it now.
      However, the tragedy is that a belief one group finds rational and another group finds irrational can lead to a situation like 9/11 and the deaths of nearly three thousand people in towers dedicated to the pursuit of monetary gain.
      Atheists find both sets of beliefs irrational. For most atheists rationality tends towards the epistemic, that rational thinking must always lead to truth and not to proving of a previously held belief, which can lead to rational irrationality.
      Atheistic rationality can only be achieved with an open mind, only accepting evidence-based truth and incorporating new evidence as and when it arises.

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