Frequently asked questions, from the Atheist Foundation of Australia.
What is the definition of atheism?
Many common definitions have been written by non-atheists. Others, by atheists, can vary slightly in depth of meaning and intent. The “Atheist Foundation of Australia” definition is: “Atheism is the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural.”
Is atheism just another religion?
No. Religions appeal to a supernatural realm controlled in most cases by a god or gods. Support for a religious idea can be in written form or orally passed down through the ages, supposedly proclaiming the wishes of a supreme being. Atheists have no written revelations, no god or gods and do not accept the existence of a supernatural realm or a creative super-being as no evidence demands that they do. Atheism is therefore a rational evaluation of nature, whilst religions result from imaginative guessing.
If you do not believe in “God”, then from where does your morality come?
All rules of conduct are human made. They are the result of requirements necessary for cooperation in maintaining social order. The higher animals, including humans have evolved empathetic and compassionate traits beneficial to survival. Our intellect continually refines these, as circumstance requires. Ask yourself these two questions:
(1) What religious rule do you know about that has not or is not capable of having originated from humans?
(2) If you found evidence, conclusively proving that a god did not exist, would you become an immoral person?
Do you believe in life after death?
Of the billions of creatures, human and otherwise, that have existed and died, none has returned to report an afterlife. There is no evidence whatsoever that life continues after death. Because we can imagine such a comforting concept, does not make it true. Any wish for extended or eternal life should make us wary of those using the idea to advantage.
Do you believe in a supreme being?
It is not a matter whether an Atheist ‘believes’ in a supreme being or not, it is more to the point that atheists accept there is no evidence for such an entity. That the thought of the existence of a supreme being can enter the minds of humans is absolutely no proof that a supreme being exists anymore than does the thought of fairies make them real.
Does the thought of death and thus the state of non-existence frighten atheists?
Religions play on death and escaping from it as a consistent theme. Promoting this on a continuing basis produces an unhealthy attitude to mortality. On the other hand, Atheists soon accept that death is a reality of life and therefore spend little time pondering it. Most Atheists find that death is a regrettable but natural part of living and have no choice but to accept the reality. No-one wishes to experience the final parting of family and friends but wishing for a better outcome of everlasting life will not make it so no matter how intense is that desire.
Don’t atheists have to prove that a god does not exist?
Those proposing that fairies, bunyips or gods exist must produce supportive evidence. It must be acceptable to all peoples and not only to the adherents of a particular ‘faith’. Over the last six thousand years, there have been 20,000 religions.* They have all claimed, equally fervently, that theirs is the ‘true’ one, rejecting the other 19,999 as false. Atheists reject, as fabricated, 20,000. It is the highest form of unreasonableness to expect Atheists to prove the negative of wild unsupported assumptions. Atheists demand evidence but none has been forthcoming over the history of humanity. *A Guide to the Gods’, by Marjorie Leach.
Do atheists hate religious people?
The hurt that religions do results from the adherent’s blind acceptance of fanciful stories and traditions. Most Atheists are vehemently opposed to all religions. It is an exercise in futility as well as being a notion steeped in ignorance, to blame the victim of any hoax. Atheism promotes that young people should not be indoctrinated into a particular theistic system.
Children have no intellectual defence against such authorative adult methods. Instead, education about all religions, the harm they create and their unevidenced status, is the only ethically correct course of action. Theistic induction is a form of mental child abuse. Atheists would support people freely choosing religion as the result of broad information, as this would render it a minority affair. The proviso being, that its practice should only happen between consenting adults and not used to influence politics. Its present form is a consequence of a narrow based indoctrination procedure and/or taken for granted cultural correctness.