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Believing in Nothing

I was watching American Atheists president, Dave Silverman on Fox News yesterday and toward the end of the segment, his opponent made the remark that atheists believe in nothing. In fact, yesterday after I posted a comment on an article at Huffington Post, a Christian made the same remark. But yesterday wasn’t the first time I have heard this attack and I am sure it won’t be the last time either. Still, I want to address it.

First, I don’t want to speak for all atheists, but I will say that I have never met an atheist or a theist for that matter who literally believed in nothing. Even Nihilism which is often misrepresented as a belief in nothing is not really a belief in nothing. But I digress.

Maybe religious believers can take a moment to dial down the hate and actually ask an atheist what we value and/or what we believe. While atheism isn’t a belief system in and of itself, every atheist does believe something (usually on pretty solid evidence) and in the interest of compassion, it might be nice to ask that atheist what that something is.

As it turns out, most atheists in our greater community of reason tend to share a certain set of beliefs and values. We tend to value reason, logic, science, evidence, and in most cases humanistic values like compassion, equality, justice, fairness, etc.

It’s true that every Christian is different too. Not every Christian values the same things and not every Christian values the values they do share in the same priority. However, Christianity is at least a common belief system. Atheism is simply a lack of a god-based belief system. Atheism doesn’t tell anyone about what an atheist values. Christianity at least gives you a general ballpark.

I tend to generalize Christians into about three categories in my writing to a general audience, but on a one-on-one basis I make a point to inquire further into someone’s beliefs and values because every Christian is different. This is once again an example of my humanist values giving a greater courtesy to the religious then the religious generally give to atheists.

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