When i spoke with some believers in Slovakia i realized that, even when evangelism of american style are slowly gaining some popularity, most of the believers here are still anchored in the catholicism or “old school” christianity.
I had a discussion with one of the well educated catholics, who opposed a ... simple minded priest in an article, and i found him well educated about his own church. Thats quite uncommon thing to start with.
In some less productive debates with believers in Slovakia, when I stated my atheism, i wasnt accused of being in league with Satan, actually i was asked about the meaning of such statement. I usually answered in a manner that it was good to profess it for the purposes of activism against cultural discrimination i do. However i was asked again about more wider context of my statement, and fact that I actively started to learn about humanism and atheism. Religion or church isnt just “belief in a god”. Members of churches clearly do share culture, common morals and other stances they derive from their core belief.
First step was of course to refuse that atheism is a form of belief, and i am sure all people on this forum have been through it. Second was to answer the question “then whats the purpose?” or “do you want to destroy all organized religion, or to make other people to not believe?”
I realized that neither of the two is true.
Claiming that “its just a lack of belief in gods” clearly felt flat when attempting to explain why there are books and conventions which dabble with either atheism or skepticism, and it would not explain my motivation on challenging religious agenda. What could follow was “well you have religion of your own, you meet, you praise science”. There is a common theme among all atheists to have very positive relation to knowledge, and doubts about beliefs or impressions and a will to spread ability to think critically about everything. There is nothing holy.
I certainly dont want to destroy all the religions (many atheists would like to make it happen), and I certainly cannot inspect inside of mind of others if they do believe, or do not believe. In the end i dont think that a belief in a supernatural beings is itself harmful. What I do think is that gullibility, and its subsequent exploitation is the main problem.
I found myself in a battle for fact checking against hoaxes on social media, in struggle for making scientific explanations more popular, and on occasion in disputes with illogical religious claims. Also I realized that i applied to my thinking and decision-making philosophy of positivism, while I found it most useful in the current age of mis-information.
The gullibility does not have just religious element in it. Even when there is a lot of people who “wish to be a slave” to a greater good, while submitting themselves to a religious hierarchy, there are people who believe in non-religious “greater good” and submit themselves to political and social myths. And i have to stress the word “believe”.
Amid the Migration Crisis almost no refugee entered Slovakia (except 40 Syrian christians), yet local politicians were happy to announce that “government will not take any action which would lead to creation of muslim community in Slovakia”. This well-worded statement, could not be prosecuted as itself its a “declaration of pasivity”. First of all it came up late, because Slovakia already had a small muslim community - about 5000 people. When spoke amid migration crisis the message was clear. No refugees or migrants would be allowed into our country, regardless they were in fact heading for Germany and further to the west. So all the politics which gave a rise to far-right in our country of “protection” are in fact pure illusion. “I dont have any knowledge of Syrian refugees in Slovakia, but I do believe they are here.”
Knowledge and belief are commonly mistaken.
I am not proposing new definition for atheism, yet it appears to me that questions from believers are actually not asking for that definition. They are making an assumption that atheists are a society, quite similar to their church congregation, while what they are actually asking for is “What is your motivation?”. Well… my motivation is to make people more independent in their ability to search and process information.