Atheism Is A Philosophy

What Is A Belief System?

In the endless debate between Christians and Atheists, there arises familiar arguments on both sides on why God exists or why he doesn’t, as well as how to approach life based on each worldview. On the Christian side, we accept that our system of beliefs are a faith but to the common Atheist, he/she rejects that theirs is a faith or system of any kind; just simply a negation or a lack of belief. Some will wager, that, a negative stance is a mere absence of belief, but is that absence of belief void of any belief against its opponent? No it is not. Consider the “Straight Edge” subculture which are opponents of the hedonistic adherents of punk rock. The Straight Edge lifestyle in general “is a philosophy of staying clean and sober: meaning refraining from using alcohol, tobacco, and any other recreational drugs.” [1] They believe that the hedonist Punk Rockers are wrong in what they do. They believe that not drinking at all makes for a better/healthier lifestyle etc. This philosophy can apply to many groups indeed -as it is not exclusive to one group- but the “Straight Edgers” are also a particular subculture aimed at another (like Atheism is to Deism/Theism). Their sole basis and founding is built off a negative to combat a positive affirmation of belief.

The same case can be made of Anarchists. They are a negatively rooted stance against a positive affirmation of belief. Not all Anarchists are in harmony of their disbelief (much like Atheism) and how/what they’re rebelling against of government and authority is not universal. Nevertheless, Anarchists share a certain family resemblance, [2] or shall we say, philosophy or system of beliefs.  Another simplistic way to look at a negative position opposing a positive, are people that:

  • fight against fighting-equals fighting
  • hate against haters-equals hating
  • believe against believing-equals believing

I can see very clearly why Atheists would reject that Atheism is a philosophy or system of beliefs. As to affirm it is, would carry us closer to a faith of sorts dare we say *gulp* religion. As a friend of mine put it, “the religion of unbelief”. I’ll let you make the decision if you think it’s a religion or not. The question we must ask, what exactly is philosophy? In a varied list of answers, we see that it’s a “system of values by which one lives” [3] and a “set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity“. [4] As we read earlier, a system of beliefs from a negative stance, doesn’t have to be universal acceptance of the variables but yet can have a common bond of what they’re rejecting in general. The same principal applies to the positive side of affirming a general belief while differing on the methodology, “rules”, or belief to an affirmation. Can the case be made that Atheism has a system of beliefs, that, directly relate -as in the reason for a particular worldview- to a lack of belief/disbelief in a God? It is my position that it does. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Atheists (if not all) are subscribers to Naturalism. And only with this worldview do they approach the world’s questions and problems. A few more examples of Atheistic beliefs (some universal) that spurn from rejecting God are:

  • humans cease to exist after death, hence no afterlife
  • the big bang happened without an outside source i. e. God (evidently, nothing created everything)
  • humans are merely animals with an evolved conscience of reason
  • Truth is relative to the individual rather than based on a supreme universal standard
  • Seeing anything appearing “supernatural” i. e. apparitions, angels, demons, ghosts etc is either the result of unknown science or a delusion

What I find interesting about Atheism is this. For it being a “non belief system” you have certain views, dogmas, beliefs *ahem non beliefs* (Positive Atheism verses Negative Atheism; which Agnosticism can fall under as well) split under the general umbrella term of “Atheist”. Positive Atheism basically states in the definitive that there is no God while Negative Atheism says that perhaps there is, or “I don’t know” or knowing is unknowable. For one to be a Positive Atheist -saying for a fact there is no God, also called a Gnostic Atheist- there is certain criteria/belief one must believe in order to be one, if not, then its the other. I ask you, even if there is only one criteria to be considered either or, does that discredit either from being a belief system? No it does not. Only one central principle is needed. For example, the singular belief of a Pacifist is to avoid violence and ultimately war at all cost. In closing, even staunch atheist activists like Rob Sherman will try to argue that, Atheism is the philosophy that makes sense. [5]

 

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Endnotes

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_edge

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchists

3. http://www.answers.com/topic/philosophy

4. Ibid

5. Atheism vs Christianity

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5hOza8GTqk

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About Razor Swift

Rich Christian who is the founder of Razor Swift, seeks to open hearts and minds through the platform of apologetics. It's his desire to approach Biblical, faith, and other issues from a different perspective rather than just preaching to the choir in the Christianese dialect. He maintains that faith and reason mustn’t necessarily be at odds with each other, but can be complementary. May no stone lay unturned.
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5 Responses to Atheism Is A Philosophy

  1. De Brevitate Vitae says:

    I find your post to be very interesting.

    I agree that a non-belief in gods is a ‘position’ that all atheists have in common and that people live their lives differently based on their level of belief or lack of belief. However, I think it would be important to clarify what you mean by ‘belief system.’

    For example, having faith that Santa Claus exists is a belief that gets kids to act a certain way, particularly around Christmas time. Would you say that the people who do not believe in Santa Claus have a different ‘belief system’? Their lack of belief logically leads them to other beliefs such as, there will not be any presents on Christmas unless I buy them and cookies that are left out for Santa will not be eaten.

    Agnostic atheism is just like the people who do not believe Santa Claus exists and logically conclude that everything that requires a god would not exist either. (ie. no heaven, no god that started the big bang). If that is considered a belief system, then not believing in Zeus is a belief system, not believing in Big Foot is a belief system, and not believing in ANYTHING is a belief system.

    Could you clarify this point? Why is atheism different?

    The reason why atheists have such a number of beliefs in common is not because of the atheism, but because we are similar in other ways that tend to cause people to become atheists. For example, being skeptical of things that are unsupported by physical evidence (ghosts, demons, gods) and that break the laws of nature (leading to naturalism). Does that make sense?

  2. razorswift says:

    De Brevitate Vitae,

    Thank you for your comment.

  3. y2think says:

    It must be very hard and even scary for theists to imagine life without religion…

    That’s why they try and try again to “prove” that atheism is just another “belief system”.

    If theists really want to understand how atheists think, they need to study first of all psychology and logic. They also need to study the basics of natural sciences – just to know in general how the world works.

    If they study hard enough they might eventually change their way of thinking and will be able to think rationally and without fear.

    Then they might realize that they simply don’t need religion anymore.

    For anything.

    And then they might also realize how lucky they are.

    Good luck! 😉

  4. razorswift says:

    y2think,

    Thank you for your insight.

Comments are closed.