You Might Be An Atheist

June 11, 2012

Who is an atheist?

Polls produce all sorts of statistics about what people say to questioners, but each person has to first think for themselves.  Honest thinking can produce surprising results.

Dan Dennett's terrific talk about how "you might be an atheist" can be viewed below.  Got me thinking too, about who probably is an atheist...  It seems to me that there's plenty of ways to arrive at nonbelief, as Dan suggests.  Atheists should not get trapped into supposing that there's some "right way" to becoming an atheist.  As far as I'm concerned, I don't really care what kind of path brought you to disbelief in god and religion.  I'm just glad that you've joined us.

Have you ever had any of these ideas?

If you think that no god or spirit is really involved with the world’s creation, or with how the world is going, or with anybody’s life, then you are probably an atheist.

If you think that religious people are foolishly wasting their lives thinking about fictional stories that debilitate their reason and divert their moral attention, then you are most definitely an atheist.

Or, if you think that all these feelings, emotions, and inspirations people get from religion are sincerely real, and make a big difference to the world because religious ideas and communities have precisely the power that people give them, then you are probably an atheist.

And if you think that people create and sustain religious convictions in order to make life a little better because fidelity to each other is all we’ve really got, then you are probably an atheist.

Any of these thoughts is a good sign that you are an atheist.  You can't see where anything divine or magical is really involved with what religion does.  Welcome, nonbeliever! 

And if you have ever talked with someone, who in a moment of honesty reveals these kinds of sincere thoughts, then you’ve probably met an atheist.  No matter what their journey has been to nonbelief, welcome them with the same enthusiasm.

Here's Dan Dennett: