The title of this post may sound like a contradiction to some, particularly to those who follow some form of organized religion. However, it is not a contradiction. Everybody believes in…well, I am not going to say something because the truth is everybody believes in a lot of things. By that I mean everyone believes in the existence of many things.
In fact an Atheist is, technically, defined by what he or she believes. Specifically, an atheist believes no deity exists. That does not mean an atheist must deny the existence of all thing supernatural, although many do. Some may even claim one cannot hold any supernatural beliefs and be a “true” atheist, but this is as bad as any organized religion pushing a specific creed and not accepting any who believe even a little differently. The word “atheist” is formed from two parts: “a” as in “not”, similar to amoral (not to be confused with immoral) or asexual or asocial (not to be confused with antisocial), and “theist”, meaning a believer in a deity.
Some feel that atheists are amoral or immoral. There is an important distinction between the two: Amoral is having no morals, no sense of right or wrong. An immoral person knows what’s right or wrong and specifically chooses to do wrong things. An amoral person, if such a person could exist, would go through life with little care about the consequences of their actions. It’s a little harder to give a specific example of an immoral person because morals are such a personal thing. For example, many religious folks feel homosexuality is immoral, but other religions’ do not. Some creeds justify murder in some cases, although most find it immoral (to say the least). Morality is a very personal definition, then.
That being said, most atheists fall within the bounds of moral, ethical people. Some atheists get just as holier-than-thou as some religious folks, stating things like they don’t need the promise of heaven or the threat of hell to be good people. In the strictest sense, this may be true, but it suggests religious folks are good only to get to heaven or avoid hell. That atheists are good without such motivation means anyone can be good just because it’s the right way to be. So religious folks can be the same way with heaven as a bonus for being who they would be anyway.
So it all comes down to a question of what one believes to be true. I am an atheist, so I believe there is no such thing as a deity. I am keenly aware this is a belief, not something proven one way or another, so I could be wrong, and there could, in fact, be a deity or deities out there. However, corollary to my atheistic belief is I believe if there is a god, there is no way any human can really wrap their mind around the way that god thinks. Such a being would certainly be near impossible to write a book about. Language would simply fail to be an adequate means of communication. This, too, is a belief, and it could be wrong. The problem is, most religious folks, as well as quite a few atheists–at least by my observation– reject this line of thought, believing (there’s that word again!) their point of view is the only possibility, ignoring the definition of belief, which requires faith, not proof, and as such can be incorrect.
The thing about faith, I suppose, is that it’s hard to dissuade, regardless of the facts. This is why some people still believe the Earth is flat. Evidence to the contrary has been acknowledged since before Christ. As I have phrased it before, nevermind the facts, I have my own opinion! That aside, I believe (there’s that word again!) there’s room for many different beliefs in this world. So I accept that I may be wrong and respect others’ belief in what I consider to be fiction. I could argue my point of view, but I am unlikely to convince anyone. Such attempts are more likely to cause friction and emotional pain than resolve anything.
So I ask any who might read this: Accept my beliefs as being mine, and I will accept yours. I promise to not try to show you the flaws in what you think if you have the same respect for me.