Nine Random Misconceptions About Atheists

by Laura

1. We hate God. Absolutely not. We have no bad feelings about God. We rarely, if ever, even consider God. Unlike most believers, we have never questioned Him, cursed Him or felt betrayed by Him. He’s just not a character in our movie, that’s all. Now organized religion is a different story. And again, most of the time, we don’t care about that either. But when organized religions try to spread intolerance and bigotry, influence politics or kill people of other faiths, we get a little miffed.

2. We worship Satan. Nope. I’m afraid not. We don’t believe in him either.

3. We don’t appreciate the good things that happen to us. Of course we do. We just won’t blame God if things go wrong. Remember when Wolf Blitzer asked the atheist tornado survivor in Oklahoma if she thanked God for being spared? She didn’t, but she was grateful just the same. I’m sure she was thrilled that things went the way they did. But she also knows things could have easily gone the other way, and it wouldn’t have been God’s will if they had. Wind kills sometimes. We don’t feel the need to pray to God to make the winds shift. Wind doesn’t have ears. Wind doesn’t care. It just blows. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to believe that God saved me and killed someone else. I mean, that’s seriously messed up. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I thought some all powerful being was deciding who would be killed and spared that day. That’s sick. It’s just wind. It happens.

4. We’re immoral. Psst. A little inside info here… You don’t need religion to have a moral code.

What!? No way! Get out of town!

Oh yes, my friend. It’s true. You can have a personal philosophy on what is right and wrong without believing in God. Guidance from parents probably plays a big part in this.

Wait, wait. You mean religious parents. Maybe you only know right and wrong because your parents were religious and you chose to betray them! Ha!

Ha yourself. My parents were atheists, too. Morality comes from all over the place. And perhaps some, or a lot of it, is innate. I can’t say for certain, although animal studies do seem to support this theory. (Google it. Fascinating stuff. Rats can be altruistic.)

5. We hate Christmas. Okay, now I don’t know anyone who hates Christmas. My atheist friends like Christmas. My Jewish friends like Christmas. It’s a day off. The music is kind of nice, in short bursts. Twinkle lights are adorable. Nobody wants to wage war on Christmas. Some of us are a little uncomfortable with nativities on government property, but it says “God” right there on our money every day of the year, and I don’t know anybody who wants to wage war on cash. Let it go. We’re not out to ruin your Christmas.

6. We think about atheism all the time and are “just as bad” as other religious fanatics. Yeah, we really, really don’t. I mean, some are. Some activists have made names for themselves by speaking out, but that’s become their “thing.” And a few of us are vocal, simply because the whole business is kind of unfair and frustrating and we’re tired of being a marginalized, yet rapidly growing community. But we’re just living our lives, for the most part. The vast majority of agnostics and atheists hardly think about it at all. Because there isn’t much to think about. Religion is not a part of our lives.

Oh yeah, well you have the word ‘atheist’ right there in your web address.

I do. Because I wanted to make it clear from the start that I am not looking for any kind of religious support or encouragement. And because grief really is different for those without faith.

If you truly believe you will see your loved one again when you die, you are simply missing someone. And that sucks, too, no doubt. But you think it’s just a matter of time. Atheists don’t think that way. We don’t anticipate a reunion. Ever. Not at the moment of death. Not after death. Not for eternity. Never again. Ever. And we don’t think our loved ones are playing with Jesus or hanging out with long-dead Grandpa Al or watching over us and applauding our successes from above. They are just gone, and that’s a really hard thing to handle. So hard, in fact, that many of us believe it’s the whole reason why God was invented, to make it make sense, to make it less awful, to soften the blow of reality. This doesn’t mean we always like reality. We’re just trying to live with it.

7. We don’t want to play by the rules because we’re kinky weirdos. Yeah, a lot of us think it’s okay to be gay. Or get divorced. Or treat women as equals. But here’s the thing, we don’t find anything taboo about that. So while believers seem to “get off” on doing naughty things behind God’s back, we just do what we do. Which state consumes the most porn? Utah. End of story.

8. Nothing significant, miraculous or truly horrible has ever happened to us to make us believe. This is my mother in law’s favorite. Sorry, MIL, but most of us have experienced the full range of human experiences and emotions and have still come to the conclusion that God is an invention or unproved concept. We have had near death experiences, given birth, fallen in love, lost loved ones, suffered with disease, seen tornadoes and hurricanes and fires, been beaten down and crawled back up, witnessed things we couldn’t explain, even been in foxholes… and still, no.

9. We’re arrogant. Nope. We’re humble. We don’t believe in a God that is the one true God, better than your God, whose rules must be followed or else. We don’t think we have the answers. We don’t think you have the answers. We don’t think we’re important enough to be personally watched and judged by a supreme being. We don’t pray to request. We don’t pray to thank. We still have our quiet moments. We still want the best for those around us. We still think about those in need, although we believe we can serve them best by doing something for them. We still want to help. We still crave community. We still want to live meaningful lives. On the whole, we’re pretty decent people, just like you.

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