Personal Atheism And
The Various Atheist Groups
Angie Babez

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "~Angie Babez~"
Subject: Re: Atheism Info!
Date: October 23, 2001 4:46 PM

We are all were born atheists, so there's no "why" about it. If you do not have a god belief, for whatever reason, you are an atheist. True, many people are raised theists and then revert back to their original atheism, but this usually is because they discover that the theism they once thought was true is not true at all. Theism is a positive belief in that it has an object of belief: "I believe in God" or "I believe in Christ." Atheism is not a belief but rather is the very absence of a belief; it is little more than a way for us to distinguish ourselves from others -- people who believe in gods and the supernatural. All atheism means is that it distinguishes me from people who are religious: it is not a positive belief by any means.

I was raised an atheist. I later thought I might need some of the extra personal discipline afforded to one through religious faith. I soon learned that my moral system, the one with which I was raised and the one that, thought that training later placed myself under, was superior not only to those of people I observed in the church but was vastly superior to the moral system advocated by the Bible itself. People are always talking about the superior moral system of Jesus, but he never impressed me in that respect: I have always taken for granted a system that is much better than anything the Bible says about him.

So after discovering the Bible to be a book of lies, I left the church and reverted to the atheism of my youth and of my upbringing.
 

I don't think much of atheist groups and never have, even though I was very active in one for over seven years. They are an enigma, because only a very tiny fraction of the world's atheists would ever consider joining a group dedicated to atheism. There's really nothing much that you can do with an atheists-only group except cap on religion, and that, to me, is not something that I think I'd want to join a group in order to do (complaining about religion in general is not something I think I'd really enjoy doing, although it is important to challenge the more dangerous expressions of religion). I don't care what others believe, so I neither need nor desire to convince others that religion is a bunch of hooey. I know myself that religion is falsehood so I don't need for someone else to tell me that. So why would I want to join an atheists-only group?

The only reason I even call myself an atheist at all is to distinguish myself from theists when the need arises. This would not matter except that the majority of humans are religious. In most countries, the religionists dominate in the most dishonest and undignified ways. They do this because they have to: religion, being irrational, cannot be reasoned into a person, but must be hoodwinked or coerced or brainwashed or otherwise forced upon a person. Most people get their religion when they're very young and have not the skills of critical thinking to withstand the indoctrination given by religionists to the young.

Religion is not natural: it says, "Lean not unto your own understanding" and therefore requires careful grooming to obtain and maintain. You have to be talked into your religion and you must continually study the religious dogma or else your natural human tendency to reason and analyze will take over and rejects the religious tenets.

Atheism has none of this and is not something that normally needs to be groomed or maintained. Even those atheists who assert "no gods exist" do not have a positive belief but are stating, positively, a negative belief -- and stating it positively does not stop it from being a negative belief. So, I prefer to keep my expression of atheism in the negative or philosophically "weak" sense: "I lack a belief in gods"; "I have yet to encounter a reason for believing that gods exist."

Even when atheists get together and advocate for the social and political issues that affect atheists, we are better off joining with theists to do this work. There is no room in this work, really, for distinguishing between theist and atheist. And since the god-question is one of the stupidest reasons to get into an argument with somebody, there is no need for me to hang out with fellow atheists: I don't care what others believe and your religion does not bother me. Just don't expect me to live by your specific religious tenets and I won't have any problems with your religion. I'll even be glad to talk about it if you want. But the moment you tell me that I ought to believe or act as if I'm inferior for not believing, then you have begun to lie to me. In that case, I will respond as I would to any liar.

Theism is different, because with theism, you actually believe something and can easily rally around that positive belief. You don't hear theists saying, "I have yet to encounter a reason not to believe in God"! Rather, theists are encouraged to "be ready" to give the reasons for their faith.

So atheism, far from being something around which we can rally, is little more than a way to distinguish ourselves from the majority, who differ from us in ways that many atheists find quite objectionable.

My current views on atheist groups are stated in the letter from Juan De Gennaro, called "Why Advocate For Individual Activists?" Notwithstanding my views, people continue to form and enjoy atheists-only groups. So, if you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em. Thus, we have listed over 100 local and national groups and provided links to their web sites in our Web Guide under Local.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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