It is reasonably common for religious persons and others to class Atheists as those that have a “belief” system. It is taken for granted that the Atheist’s “belief” system is somewhat different from a “belief” in the supernatural and sundry. Proponents of such loose use of the language would wish to bring Atheists down to their level of accepting un-evidenced dogma. They then “reason” that it is far better to have a “belief” in that which has some perceived beneficial or “moral” good than that which is “godless” and therefore immoral. How very wrong, incorrect and opposite to the truth is that thought.
The Macquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary definition of “belief” is:
1. that which is believed; an accepted opinion.
2. conviction of the truth or reality of a thing, based upon grounds insufficient to afford positive knowledge:
Most other Dictionaries tender similar definitions.
Those definitions are basically saying that a “belief” is not formed by critical scientific investigation but by emotions, feelings and unsubstantiated opinion.
As a child I can hold a “belief” that the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are real characters. I can have a “belief” that Unicorns exist and that Ghosts and Goblins etc. are also real.
As an adult I can hold a “belief” that any one of the numerous gods purported, do actually exist, and that humans have an immortal “soul”. Some even have a “belief” in UFO’s, the power of crystals and a myriad of other unproven paranormal activity.
Atheists do not accept that any of the above imaginary creatures or powers do exist as no scientific evidence is extant in support of those propositions. This is not a “belief”, it is just lack of scientific evidence in their support.
The word “belief” has been incorporated as part of the religious language of ethereal nonsense with a design to confuse the faithful. Certain words have been with humanity since the beginning of time and have been refined in use to fool the unwary. “Belief” is one of them.
If religion was not evolutionary driven, with its majority acceptance “seen” as a herd benefit, then the word would not exist in its present form but would simply be a word or phrase that states that we do not know.
That which we do not know is our ignorance and seen in that light, a “belief” in the supernatural etc. is giving ignorance far greater credibility than reasoned thinking should permit.
Many so-called examples of our “beliefs” are thrown at the Atheist, but none come anywhere near being good explanations. For example, we have a “belief” the Sun will come up tomorrow. Forgotten, so it seems, is that by example of the Sun coming up every day for billions of years hence, shows a pattern that cannot be denied that it will come up again tomorrow. “Belief” has nothing to do with it.
Another is since we do not fully understand how electricity works, we somehow have a “belief” in the workings of electricity. It may not be fully understood but it is accepted that if a toaster is connected to it, the bread will cook. Again and so on and so forth, “belief” has naught to do with it.
If religions and such could do likewise and show by previous experience or experiment that some part of future action could be predicted, it would then no longer be a “belief” system.
If “belief” in the super-natural had some kind of quantifiable substance to it, then it would escape the realms of our acceptance of ignorance as a way of explaining the world.
The religious and others have a “belief” that ignorance is superior to empirical knowledge.
Atheist see no credible empirical or scientific evidence for the super-natural and therefore reject the notion as one only originating from our ignorance.
There is absolutely no similarity between the Atheist philosophical stance in life and that of the religious. Atheists accept only facts, whereas the religious et al find no need for them.
By David Nicholls