Atheism is more than simply ‘non-belief’
I often encounter many atheists who claim that atheism is simply ‘non-belief’ in god(s) and that this statement contains no positive statements of ‘belief’.
The debate that these posts have generated has been quite substantial and this post is an attempt to further the conversation a little further by proposing that any belief in atheism (or non-belief in god) is associated with a collection of principles and assumptions. These principles and assumptions in turn form a series of ‘positive’ statements of belief about the world and the universe in which we inhabit. For example I propose that all atheists must believe these positive statements:
- The universe came into existence though no external agent (possibly it was spawned from an eternal multiverse).
- The universe self-organised to form galaxies, stars, solar systems and planets, again with no external agency.
- Inorganic (non-living) material became organic (living) material when life on earth began and this event occurred by natural processes alone.
- The diversity and complexity of life on earth came about by random mutation and natural selection alone.
- Morality is socially constructed and there is no ultimate right or wrong.
- There is no ultimate justice or judgement in the universe.
- A human being is of equal intrinsic value to a tree or rock.
- In time the Earth will be consumed by the Sun and all remnants of Earth and human civilization will be obliterated (unless humans manage to escape the Earth and live somewhere else).
- Jesus was not resurrected from the dead.
- Jesus did not perform miracles.
- Jesus was wrong when he made claims to be God.
- (another point added 21/5) – Humans do not survive death in any form – death is the end of human consciousness.
These all flow directly from atheism. I think that every atheist (regardless of their political or sociological perspective) must affirm that these statements are true.
This post is not to offer a discussion on the relative merits of each individual statement, but merely to suggest that all atheists must believe these points and thus that atheism is more than simply ‘non-belief in god(s)’.