Atheism entails the belief that there are no deities or supreme beings. It is the opposite of theism which is the belief in the existence of at least one Supreme Being or deity. In simple terms, it can be said to be the belief that there is no God or gods. Religion is a very broad and controversial aspect as it entails the inner belief in regard to the existence, nature and power of God. Different people have different stands in relation to religion and what they believe in and hence the existence of a variety of religions all with different doctrines and beliefs.
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The most common religions are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism (Baggini, 2009). This piece of work discusses the various aspects associated with Atheism with much emphasis being given to the misconceptions that exist about Atheism, the way the misconceptions people have on religions that they do not belong to could be minimized as well as what should be of essence to people in a particular religion.
Common misconceptions about Atheism
Atheism is not very common or well known among people and hence the presence of a lot of misconceptions. It has some variations for instance the strong, positive, critical and explicit atheism which refers to the individuals who assert the non existence of God positively. Weak, negative or implicit atheism on the other hand involves the individuals who lack a belief in God basing their argument that the existence of God has not been proven to them and meaning that in the event of being proven they would change their mind. Militant atheism also known as antitheism constitute of atheists who view the belief in God to be wrong and superstitious hence find ways of do away with it (Baggini, 2009).
Some of the basic principles underlying the belief of atheism include the fact that there is neither the existence of God nor that of the devil, there is no sin that can be accrued to the violation of God’s will and teachings, there exist no supernatural realm, that the universe is generally materialistic and measurable and so should God be, that evolution is entirely scientific with no any spiritual aspect, that man is material and also that the idea of ethics and morals is relative and therefore they should not be adhered to strictly among other life perceptions
Lack of the understanding of the various issues that underlie Atheism is the leading contributor towards the increase in misconceptions about Atheism. Negative criticism has been received from different angles with people seeing Atheists to be very evil based on the single fact that they do not believe on the existence of a Supreme Being, God (Solomon and Higgins, 2009).
People, those who are not Atheists, have the believe that atheists not only believe in the absence of God but also that there is no morality; no meaning to life but rather takes it to be absurd and also that there is no human goodness. This is however not true as some atheists only have a problem in the existence of God and other gods but are usually positive in regard to other aspects of life for instance upholding ethics.
Atheists’ belief of the non existence of God is followed closely by the rejection of any transcendental or supernatural belief or reality. Some of the issues that the atheists differ with most of the other religions include, the belief in life after death, that there is no atonement, no resurrection, no deity, no virgin birth, no existence of miracles, the inexistence of immortal souls and supernatural powers, that man is not made in the image of God and ghosts among other aspects
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Other common misconceptions about atheism include the idea that atheism has no regard or motivation to be good due to the lack of conception of the existence of heaven or hell and that atheism is an impossible doctrine. There is also the issue of considering atheists and other non believers to be an insignificant portion of the whole population and hence the belief that their interests and opinions can easily be ignored without major damage.
Another misconception is that atheists are bigoted and hence a tendency to be prejudiced by other religious people. Atheists are also considered to be against civilization based on the fact that they do not uphold patriotism and good citizenship. Atheists are as well considered to be guilty of the aspect of scientism where they differ with most scientific related ideologies. Despite the presence of these misconceptions, there are some deviations where not all people hold them, for instance, through education some people have been able to refute some of the misconceptions (Parsons, 1998).
Minimizing Misconceptions People Have About Religions Not Their Own
The fact that a lot of misconceptions have been witnessed in regard to religious beliefs is enough justification that there is need to come up with ways that are aimed at minimizing the misconceptions in an effort to make the world a better place where different religious members are able to live in harmony while appreciating each other.
It is evident that the main cause of misconceptions in religions is ignorance or lack of knowledge of what transpires in other religions. The belief that ones religion is the best is also a contributing factor towards misconceptions where all other religions are regarded to be negative and wrong. Education is therefore an appropriate step towards minimizing misconceptions about religions especially in respect to atheism. Simple issues that underlie religion should first be informed to people so that they may be able to understand the other concepts involved in particular religions. It is the understanding of these concepts that some of the above named misconceptions will be cleared (Cline, 2009).
What Is Important To People inside the Religion?
Religion is a relatively complex aspect. This is so because of the many concepts that are contained therein. For this reason, there is dire need for people to realize the important aspects inside their religion and also in others in respect to what they do, what they profess, how they behave, what they adore and value as well as what they talk about. The realization of all this will lead to a better understanding of what religion entails and hence reduce the number of misconceptions and blames people have on religions that are different from their own.
Some of the issues that can be discussed in regard atheism and what it believes include abortion, gay marriages, church and state separation, the teaching of creationism, justification of war, provision of health care, the issue of taxation and environmental regulation. In all the above situations, there are no clearly defined distinctions on how the atheists and the rest of the populations take life based on religion.
For example, when it comes to gay marriages, the disbelief in gods has nothing to do in regard to gay or straight marriages. However, atheists are less likely to oppose gay marriages. In regard to abortion, different atheists have different views, some supporting it and others opposing it since there is nothing about atheism that mandates a particular ruling on abortion. On the aspect of separation of the church and state, there is a disagreement on how strict the separation should be. Atheists oppose the issue of teaching creationism in public schools. War is another issue of contention where different atheists have varying views in regard to whether war should be justified or not (Ustream, 2011).
It is evident that there are various religions in the world all of them professing different beliefs as stipulated by their doctrines. There however appear to be a very great difference between Atheism and other religions due to the conflicting beliefs that exist especially in stating that there is no God.
For this reason there have been a variety of misconceptions about Atheism since people generally argue on the belief that there is no God without basing their arguments on other issues that are associated with Atheism. There is therefore a dire need of informing people on different aspects in regard to different religions in an effort to reduce the misconceptions that they have about other religions that they don’t belong to. The understanding of the crucial aspects contained in different religions is important in bringing about unity among people from different religions.
Baggini, J. (2009). Atheism. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
Cline, A. (2009). Dealing with Misconceptions: How Do We Deal with Deep Ignorance? Web.
Parsons, M.K. (1998). Seven Common Misconceptions about Atheism.
Solomon, R. and Higgins, M.K. (2009). The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy.8th Ed. New York: Cengage Learning.
Ustream. (2011). The Atheist Experience.