Given the absence of evidence for God, the suffering, and wishful thinking that religion thrives under, atheism would be the only sensible position to stake out against religion and the belief in God. This is a position that people have proudly and publicly adopted. The use of this term is a mistake, a mistake that comes with some consequence. We who do not believe in God, are collaborating in this misunderstanding by consenting to be named and by naming ourselves. Atheism is not only unneeded, but restricts us as “non-believers” from dealing with important issues. I believe in the concepts of reason and evidence; one should be free to express themselves without confining to a label–this being the categorization of atheism.
One simply is not tempted to call people non-astrologists who do not believe in astrology. A more significant example would be to consider racism. The majority of people have seen the horrific images of lynchings and gruesome deaths, and are aware of the despicable actions committed because of racism. Nonetheless, the severe brutality has greatly diminished in America, and we are living in a time when racism is no longer tolerated. My question is how many people have had to identify themselves as non-racists to participate in this process of defeating prominent racism? Is there a non-racist alliance somewhere for me to join? The point is that just like atheism, “non-racism” is not a philosophy, or unit at all.
A problem with this label is that atheists are thought of a cranky subculture that is unfairly analytical and nit-picky. This new movement of atheism has been used to keep our criticizing of religion at arm’s length. It has allowed people of faith and religion to reject our arguments without meeting the burden of actually answering them. Reason against faith, and science against religion will further marginalize under this label of atheism. We should not call ourselves atheists, secularists, humanists, free thinkers, or rationalists; we should not call ourselves anything at all. Atheists should go under the radar, and be decent, honest human beings who destroy bad ideas where they find them.
Rather than call ourselves atheists, we should simply advocate intellectual honesty and reason. And when disagreement collides, we should be quick to counter any faults, unjustifiable actions, or unsupported claims. A huge problem with atheism is that it attacks the basic concept of a God, and all religions not supported with evidence equally. To be consistent as atheists, one must appose, or seem to appose all faith claims evenly, and the belief in a higher being as false, regardless of religion. This is a waste of precious time and energy.
Another dilemma with calling ourselves atheists is that most religious debaters think they have a knock argument against atheism. Here are a few examples. The most common argument is that atheists cannot prove there is a God. Of course as atheists, it must be so that we do in fact, believe there is no God. However, in actuality, we are just not making the claim that there is definitely, without a doubt, a God. The next example is in regard to: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot. The claim made is that the genocides these leaders committed were because they were atheists. Of course, this a senseless assertion, but these arguments will not go away until our label of atheism is done away with.
What about the charge that atheists are dogmatic? Here is the irony in that claim. Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim that their holy books are so profound that they could have only been written by an omniscient being. An atheist is simply a person who has entertained this claim, has a good understanding of the books, and found the claim to be ridiculous. There is nothing that an atheist needs to believe on insufficient evidence in order reject the biblical God. As Sam Harris says, “would it be dogmatic to doubt that the Iliad or the Odyssey was dictated by the creator of the universe?” (23). The atheist is simply saying that as Carl Sagan did: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (The Cosmos). Instead of using atheism, let us just use words like reason or evidence. Nobody wants to believe things on bad evidence intentionally. Without the arguments directed towards atheism as a whole, the focus would shift directly towards reason and evidence. Instead of wasting time debating as an atheist, which is considered a religion in its own right, one would be debating as a honest person, just searching for some substantial proof. The fact of the matter is atheism is a not a religion. Atheism is a term that should not even exist. As Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith puts it:
We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and there cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. (55)
Harris cleverly identifies the absurdity of having such a label attached to people who disagree with the belief in God or religion. Instead of using Elvis or aliens as an example, anything that one does not believe or support could have been replaced with instead. I believe that Atheism is a burden on rational and skeptical non-believers.
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