What is Atheism?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, atheismis disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God. This is the only accurate definition of atheism. If I am an atheist, it simply means I do not believe in the existence of a god â any god. It does not mean that I am angry at god, or that I am a Satanist. It does not mean I have no moral code (Iâll come back to this). It simply means I do not believe in any god. There are many different people who are atheists, and they do not necessarily agree on anything else. The only thing they definitely have in common is that they donât believe in any god. If one atheist is a genius, that does not make all atheists geniuses. Similarly, if one atheist is a moron, that does not make all atheists morons. Atheists are just people, running the whole gamut of styles and behaviours, who just happen to not believe in any god. Got that?
What is Theism?
Going back to the OED, theism is defined thus: Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism. Unsurprisingly, it is the opposite of atheism, with all other caveats regarding individuality, geniuses and morons applying equally.
What is Antitheism (also called Anti-Theism)?
Lets see what the OED has to say: Opposition to belief in the existence of a God. Thatâs a bit of a tricky definition, because it leaves us, if we are trying to be precise, asking what we mean by opposition. There are, clearly, many different ways in which one can oppose something. Verbal argument is one form of opposition, but unfortunately, so is a terrorist campaign. In the same way that there are many different types of people who can be atheists, or theists, then you can see the same applies to anti-theists. Just because one anti-theist might be aggressive, it doesnât mean they all are. The only thing all anti-theists definitely have in common is that they are in some way opposed to belief in gods.
Why Would an Atheist Become an Anti-Theist?
We have to start that answer with the caveat that there are likely to be almost as many reasons for this as there are anti-theists (the individuality position, again).
Almost as many, but not quite. I think it is reasonable to assume that a number of atheists would have become anti-theists for the same or similar reasons. Iâd like to put forward one reason which applied to me, which I suspect applies to many: A moral code. In my personal journey from believer to atheist and then anti-theist, there has been an inexorable logical development. Experience of life led me to question my religious belief. Questioning led to research and education. This led to an understanding that god is a logical impossibility, and, importantly, that religion is dangerous. Once the understanding of the dangers of religion landed, there came the feeling of responsibility â that I must act in a moral fashion, and speak out about the dangers of religion. This is moral code in action. Iâm not interested in trying to sell myself as a paragon of moral virtue, far from it. But Iâd like to try to do my own little bit in the world. My conscience simply wonât let me not speak up. This is why I sometimes post things like Gods and Knives and guns and Bombs and Wedges.
Â© Darren R. Scothern 2015