Razor Swift

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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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