What Is Atheism? – The Quick Explanation


People have a serious misconception of what atheism is. Even some atheists don’t understand it. Almost anyone who claims to be purely agnostic substantially doesn’t get it. So, let’s talk about atheism.

The quick illustration:

Agnostic/Gnostic – These refer to knowledge. Do we know or can we know if a deity exists?

Atheist/Theist – These refer to belief. Given the knowledge we have or can have, do we believe in a deity?

Atheism is not an assertion that god does not exist. The burden of proof lies with the positive claim that a god does exist.

OK, so let’s look at it from that viewpoint. There is no evidence for a deity. None. Being a Gnostic in either direction is intellectually dishonest. So, we start with the fact that we don’t know.

From there, where we do go?

For me, the most rational response to an assertion such as “there is a god,” where no evidence exists, is to not believe; atheism. Others take the tact to believe; theism.

I don’t believe you can be truly honest in your worldview while believing in something without evidence.

What do you think?

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

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9 thoughts on “What Is Atheism? – The Quick Explanation

  1. to be honest with and live up to your own world view is difficult in the best of times… when someone asks you to explain and defend it, it gets even tougher. I can defend an atheist position, even a nihilistic one. I’ve not seen any theists who can do the same nor that live up to their world view in any spectacular way.

    • Absolutely. It gets even harder when you start coming up against apologists (or those trying to be). They use dishonest argumentation techniques to try and get you to stumble on your viewpoint. That’s a bit of why I did this post. I wanted to break it down for people in the simplest possible way, so it can be explained to anyone.

      • As a nihilist, I find it hard to explain that to others. When you look them in the face and tell them that neither their life nor my own means anything, well, you have to do a lot of explaining….

        When you tell them that they are just saying that because of the neurological electrochemical pulses in their head have solved the problem of whether my proposition is congruous with the rules they have in their mind for simulating the world… well, their first reaction is to demonize me… so it is in life.

      • People often demonize a viewpoint they don’t understand. Myself, I don’t hold the nihilist worldview. I do, however, see how easily you can logically come to it, and can’t fault anyone to embracing it.

        Everyone, however, speaks from the sum of their own experiences, so they often make judgements on those whose experiences (or the viewpoint that stemmed from them) that they can’t possibly understand.

      • I have a theory on how this works in the mind… we have two halves, one temporal, one sensory in nature… we are naturally predisposed to one or the other but can choose to use one over the other, as we live and experience we choose what it is that has the most weight in our further adjudication of the world around us. Those that choose the sensory weighting are less likely to arrive at the same understanding as those that choose the temporal.

        To accept a view different from your own requires you to be able to use the appropriate thinking… this is where most people fail, their brains are not appropriately skilled at both modes… so agreement cannot happen.

  2. Pingback: Atheism | Earthpages.ca

  3. I love the simplicity of the poster, but have a quibble with the grammar. It should be “Believing in one fewer gods than you.” ‘Less’ and ‘fewer’ are often confused, but I expect intelligent folks, such as fellow atheists, to get it right. When something can be counted, like gods, words, people, you use ‘fewer’. Anything that can’t be counted….liquids, happiness, love…it’s less. It’s easier to be on the high ground when your language is spot on.
    Other than that.. love your blog.

    • Haha thanks for that. I actually recently brought an editor onto the project for the simple reason that I’m terrible at edited my own work, so hopefully that will happen less.

      I’m not finding the “less” in the post, however. Can you point out where it is so I can fix it?

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