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What is atheism?

Summary :

Quotations about atheism

The various approaches of the question : "Does God exist?"

In a first time, it's interesting to thrash out the question : "What's God ?"
As there is no unambiguously and unanimously admitted definition, as God is only known by what he is supposed to have made (the creation, miracles...), by revelation or by promises he is credited with (redemption, salvation, heaven...), every one has built his own conception, including the non-believers who try to imagine what is God for the believers.
Therefore let every one reply with his own definition.

If there were proofs of the God's existence, one's would know it and one's would not ask the question.
So, unless to be illogical or illuminated, it's impossible to reply "yes" to the question "Does God exist?"

Conversely, it's impossible to prove the non-existence of something which is, by definition, inaccessible to the reason. Consequently of this inaccessibility, the reason is absolutely no use to a logical demonstration of the God's non-existence.

So we cannot reply yes or no to this question. It has to be formulated on term of belief.

The believer
Two kinds of believers may be distinguished, but it's quite schematic and subjective :
  • The practising believer who believes in God, who has faith. He takes seriously the "messages" attributed to God. He summons up all his faith to follow them.
  • The non-practising believer who believes God exists, but no more. This belief has no consequence on his life and doesn't modify it. It's almost the same for the deist who doesn't believe in a revealed God.
The reasons for people believe are many. But when the rational analysis of these reasons brings the believer to the end of his arguments, well then he takes refuge in the two last arguments. The first is of a personal nature : "To believe is a question of faith". The second argument is of a general nature: "The man needs to believe".

The pantheist
The pantheist answers that the universe is divine and that God stands in every thing. As the world is not perfect, so God would be imperfect. This opinion may quickly bring to the agnosticism and to the atheism.

The agnostic
As the truth could never be known, the agnostic answers carefully : "I don't know reply to this question." God being unknowable, the agnostic can't give an opinion about his existence. Practical consequence : for him, it's of no use to make a cult for God.

The atheist
The atheist answers : "I don't believe that God exists".
  • If he proceeds no further, this purely private opinion doesn't change his way of life. This attitude is sometimes called the passive atheism or the practical atheism.
  • If the atheist openly declares his unbelief, if he wants that other people share it, it becomes positive, active, indeed "militant" atheism. As he can't prove that God doesn't exist, he produces the arguments that, for him, had swung the balance toward the unbelief.

Is atheism a belief?

If it seems obvious that "not to believe in God" is not a belief, the problem has to be asked when the question is formulated like "to believe that God doesn't exist".
It would be a belief in the non-existence of something!!!
About this point of semantics, yet minor, the opinions may be divided. I do thing that the term "belief" had to refer only to a positively expressed concept. "To believe" it's to look on the existence or somebody or something as a certainty; it's to subscribe to an opinion, to an idea. To believe in somebody, in God, it's also to put trust in him.
I consider that "To believe in the non-existence of something" means nothing and even is absurd. At best, this expression is equivalent to "not to believe in God" that's not a belief.
Consequently, I think that atheism or unbelief, can't be considered as a belief or even as a faith, because it would be to subscribe, to put trust, to be faithful to the non-existence of something.

The practical atheism

The active or militant atheism doesn't come into action in the name of a "Non-God's" belief, but for other aims, ideals, even beliefs, that are positively formulated.

Examples of the more frequent among these:
  • bring down the influence of the religions on the State, on the education,
  • reveal the damages of the sects and of the religions,
  • enforce the principles of the secularity,
  • defend the Human Rights,
  • try to improve the critical mind and the free thinking among the believers,
  • show how it's possible to live very well without God,
  • make the atheist philosophies known or those where the God's existence is not necessary : Humanism, Epicureanism, existentialism…
The main point is to have quite plainly stated the aims of the atheism.

We all are atheists by birth

The atheism is an universal state insofar as the man is always atheist by birth.
As long as the family, cultural environment or as the educational speech of an adult has not immersed him in a religion (this one, not that of the next-door neighbour !), has not talked about God, he lives very well without this concept. This conditioning happens at an age where the mature mind allows him not to resist to a ... dictated indoctrination (that people call less pejoratively the religious education).
At the adulthood, his critical mind being sleepyhead indeed hidebound, the believer usually keeps his "mother" religion, by tradition, comfort or conformity.

Atheism is only a start

The sudden awareness of one's own unbelief is like a new birth. It's like to inhale a huge breath of freedom.
Nevertheless nothing is ordered, all is to be built.

If the question "why the life" is not the most important, it yet remains the basic questions ?
  • For what to live? With what aim?
  • How to live? With what ethics?
  • How to meet the ordeals of the existence, the misfortunes, the death?
Aware of one's unbelief, the atheist has to choose one's way of life and to be responsible.

"Atheism is not a conclusion, it's a starting point!"
(Mathieu Delarue)

The traps of atheism

The atheist is a human being, so he isn't perfect. If he isn't vigilant, he may fall in the same failings for those he reproaches the believers.
Here are some examples :

The pride
It may happen to come by those who have received a religious education, who have thought to have the faith and who live now one's new atheist's life like a rebirth, a liberation, an emancipation. They may feel their personal story like a victory, with pride, even haughtiness. If really there is pride, it had to be only momentary and the atheists follow their way of life without caring about religious questions. The seldom atheists who militate had to show humility faced with the hugeness of this task.

Intolerance, the anti-belief fanaticism

The dogmatism
Build a "single-thought" system with atheism.
If the atheism becomes a cause like a religion to which one's has to adhere, it would be contrary to the spirit of the free thinking.
The atheism should not forget the monstrous deviancies that has produced the communism which was based on the unbelief in God.

Believe that Man is his own God

Idolise a man or a woman
Replace God by a singer, a sportsman, a political man...

Purely negative attitude
Only "demolish" without proposing something else that comes up to man's expectations, those which lead them to religions.

Forget the man's need for "supernatural"

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