An Introduction to Atheism and Atheists

Atheist stickers.
Flickr: Jason/Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot of resources here about atheism for beginners: what atheism is, what it isn't, and refutations of many popular myths about atheism. I've discovered, though, that it isn't always easy to direct people to all of the information they need - there are too many people who believe too many falsehoods about atheism and atheists. That's why I've collected some of the basics about atheism for beginners that I find myself linking to most often: Atheism Basics for Beginners

What is Atheism? How is Atheism Defined?

The more common understanding of atheism among atheists is "not believing in any gods." No claims or denials are made - an atheist is any person who is not a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called "weak" or "implicit" atheism. There is also a narrower sort of atheism, sometimes called "strong" or "explicit" atheism. Here, the atheist explicitly denies the existence of any gods - making a strong claim which will deserve support at some point. What is Atheism...

Who Are Atheists? What Do Atheists Believe?

There are a lot of misunderstandings about who atheists are, what they believe, and what they don't believe. People become atheists for many different reasons. Being an atheist isn't a choice or act of will - like theism, it's a consequence of what one knows and how one reasons. Atheists are not all angry, they aren't in denial about gods, and they aren't atheists to avoid taking responsibility for their acts. It’s not necessary to be afraid of hell and there are advantages to being an atheist. Who Are Atheists...

What's the Difference Between Atheism and Agnosticism?

Once it is understood that atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a "third way" between atheism and theism. The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge - it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not. Atheism vs. Agnosticism...

Is Atheism a Religion, a Philosophy, an Ideology, or a Belief System?

Because of atheism's long-standing association with freethought, anti-clericalism, and dissent from religion, many people seem to assume that atheism is the same as anti-religion. This, in turn, seems to lead people to assume that atheism is itself a religion - or at least some sort of anti-religious ideology, philosophy, etc. This is incorrect. Atheism is the absence of theism; by itself, it isn't even a belief, much less a belief system, and as such cannot be any of those things. Atheism is Not a Religion, Philosophy, or Belief...

Why Do Atheists Debate Theists? Is Atheism Better than Theism?

If atheism is just disbelief in gods, then there is no reason for atheists to be critical of theism and religion. If atheists are critical, it means they are really anti-theists and anti-religious, right? It's understandable why some might come to this conclusion, but it represents a failure to appreciate the cultural trends in the West which have led to the high correlation between atheism and things like religious dissent, resistance to Christian hegemony, and freethought. Atheism vs. Theism...

What if You Are Wrong? Aren't You Afraid of Hell? Can You Take the Chance?

The logical fallacy argumentum ad baculum, literally translated as "argument to the stick," is commonly translated to mean "appeal to force." In this fallacy an argument is accompanied by the threat of violence if the conclusions are not accepted. Many religions are based upon just such an tactic: if you don't accept this religion, you will be punished either by adherents now or in some afterlife. If this is how a religion treats its own adherents, it's not a surprise that arguments employing this tactic or fallacy are offered to nonbelievers as a reason to convert. Atheists Have No Reason to Fear Hell...

Godless Living, Political Activism, Fighting Bigotry: How Do Atheists Live?

Godless atheists are a part of America just like religious theists. They have families, raise children, go to work, and do all the same things that others do, except for one difference: so many religious theists can't accept how atheists go about their lives without gods or religion. This is one reason why atheists, skeptics, and secularists can experience so much discrimination and bigotry that they have to hide what they really think from others around them. This injustice can be difficult to deal with, but godless atheists do have something to offer America.

Top Myths About Atheism and Atheists: Answers, Refutations, Responses:

There are many myths and misconceptions about what atheism entails and who atheists are - not surprising, since even the basic definition of atheism is so misunderstood. Many of the myths and misconceptions addressed here will follow a similar pattern, exposing fallacious reasoning, faulty premises, or both. These arguments need to be identified as the fallacies they really are because that is the only way genuine arguments and dialogues can be made possible. Answers, Refutations, Responses to Common & Popular Myths about Atheism, Atheists...

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Your Citation
Cline, Austin. "An Introduction to Atheism and Atheists." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Cline, Austin. (2020, August 25). An Introduction to Atheism and Atheists. Retrieved from Cline, Austin. "An Introduction to Atheism and Atheists." Learn Religions. (accessed January 24, 2021).