the atheist handbook

I don’t think most atheists are familiar with their philosophy and/or philosophers or past & present pioneers/leaders in atheist philosophy. … I had a discussion with an atheist coworker, and he didn’t even know who Richard Dawkins or Nietzsche were or how these individuals have contributed to the development of atheism. If they knew, then would they still identify as or continue to be atheists? (RWL on Wintery Knight)

There seems to be a confusion about atheism from some people of a religious persuasion. Far from what the Christian above imagines, there are many routes to atheism (the lack of belief in gods).

Here is just a small selection:

– You examine the religion of your culture and come to the conclusion it doesn’t make sense e.g. the Christian who has a breakthrough doublethink moment and finally realises the Bible could never have been inspired by a benevolent deity.

– You examine all religions in detail, realise they can’t all be true and that they all seem as improbable as each other, cross reference this fact with a passing knowledge of general human behaviour, and come to the conclusion that gods and religions are all invented by fearful, ignorant humans.

– You may become suspicious that none of the many invisible gods invented by religions have made a verifiable appearance (records written a generation or more after a man doing tricks no more impressive than David Blane over 2000 years ago don’t really count) and come to the conclusion that, like ghosts or fairies, supernatural invisible creatures probably don’t actually exist.

– You might be born into a family or society where no-one believes in gods, and the idea of people worshipping invisible gods (if you ever stumble across it) as humans did thousands of years ago, is beyond bizarre.

– You might pick up a copy of a book written by one of the very many people who have reached the conclusion that gods don’t exist, and their outlook on life (which will vary from person to person, given that atheism doesn’t have a handbook or set philosophy) might influence how you view the world.

There may be several routes to religion, and Christianity in particular, but oddly enough I can only think of one:

– Another person tells you about it.