How do atheists think

10 reasons to become an atheist better today than tomorrow

by Lisz Hirn (Vienna)

1. Atheists believe too. Just because God doesn't exist.

Atheism is not the antagonist of religions it is believed to be. The clever hint came from Arthur Schopenhauer: “What a cunning trickery and deceitful insinuation there is in the word atheism! - as ampltheism would change itself.“Because an atheist believes that God does not exist. Because even not-to-believe-in-a-God is still a belief that can be classified under categories like true or false. Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most famous godless in the history of philosophy, writes in his book “Ecce Homo”: “I do not know atheism as a result, much less as an event: I understand it by instinct. I'm too curious, too questionable, too cocky to put up with a rough answer. "

2. Atheists are more independent.

The many social problems that are ignited by religious differences suggest that we need more atheistic inputs in society, rather than religious ones, in order to cushion the conflicts. Atheistic and agnostic inputs are able to deal with interreligious and moral conflicts on a non-religious basis, beyond the claim to absoluteness, while religion and religious perspectives tend to promote dependencies (between women and men) or emphasize differences (we Muslims are "morally better" than Christians).

3. Atheists have "made it".

After all, religious belief is not just a question of character. Social circumstances also influence the spread of atheism. As soon as people escape the precariat, i.e. have a reasonably secure existence and their primary and secondary needs are met, religion demonstrably loses its importance. When people have their daily bread, they don't have to pray for it. This is what the sociologist Prof. Phil Zuckermann points out in his essay "The rise of the nones in the US".

4. Atheists are more moral.

Studies also show that atheists act more morally than religious people. The more influence religion exerted on a child's life, the less generous it was. The most generous children, like those who punished moral wrongdoing less severely, came from atheistic families[1]. Philosopher Charles Taylor also pointed out that some of the Christian values ​​had developed further through secularization and relativization to culturally Christian values. Religious values ​​are not simply lost through secularism, but can - provided they have social relevance - continue to exist. In this way, Christian love of neighbor would have been transformed into the socialist concept of solidarity. There can be no question of atheism and nihilism going hand in hand!

5. Atheists have a positive impact on society.

Atheists usually have a strong weakness for secularism. Which is what Maryam Namazie, a leading humanist and activist, claims "Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society from the intervention of religion in people's private lives" to protect. It denotes nothing more than a worldview that is limited to the immanence and secularization of society and renounces religious questions that go beyond this. For this reason he advocates the strict separation of state and religion. Since the Enlightenment, which is known to have produced some atheists, it has been believed that there is a fundamental difference between the rule that is legitimized by a religion and one that is legitimized by the people themselves. “Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and to God what belongs to God!” Atheists take this Bible verse particularly seriously.

6. Atheists know: Believing does not mean knowing.

Atheists take the difference between religion and science just as seriously. You believe in something in both of them, but in a different way. Religious belief cannot claim to be justified true belief in the sense of scientific knowledge. Religious belief is always and above all based on that Will to believe. The following questions can make the difference between belief and justified, true belief based on methodical tests clear: Are alternative healing methods just as verifiable as conventional medical therapies? Is the belief in the all-good, Christian God just as legitimate as the belief in the flying spaghetti monster?

7. Atheists are more believers in science.

The boundaries between belief and knowledge seem to be blurring more and more, not only in the USA or Turkey, but also in Austria and Germany. Many people believe in scientists, e.g. doctors, but only if they say things that people believe in want. For example, that thanks to genetics and microbiology there will soon be more treatment options for serious diseases. They negate scientific facts if they do not correspond to their wishes and beliefs they have come to love. Would you like an example? In Austria in 2017 there was a survey among religious people with a Turkish migration background whether they believed in Darwin's theory of evolution. An oft-repeated statement goes like this: “I don't believe in evolution. I cannot imagine that humans and apes have a common origin. (...) Darwin is bullshit - because it is clear to Muslims that Allah created the world. We hear that from our parents, we hear that in the mosque. You learn the theory of evolution in school, but you don't believe it. "[2] The latter leads directly to:

8. Atheists are more likely to get smart.

We are also deceived by our feeling that religiosity has recently increased in some societies (e.g. in Poland, India, Turkey or Indonesia). Rather, it seems to have been a strong politicization of religion - with serious consequences for the youth. The education policy of the AKP can serve as an example. At the beginning it was still successful, but in the longer term the level fell rapidly, as the Pisa surveys show. How much religious education came to the fore before scientific education can be seen not only in the rapid increase in Koran courses, but also in the statistics.

9. Atheists know what it is like to be discriminated against.

Victim role or not: We hear about discrimination against religious minorities all the time, but this is far exceeded by discrimination against atheists, humanists, agnostics and non-religious people. Atheists are defamed as morally suspect or socially incompetent. The world map of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) clearly shows the problem: There is hardly a country in which atheists are not discriminated against. Germany and Austria are not a laudable exception here either. To make matters worse, atheists are poorly organized or not organized at all, i.e. they do not have a comprehensive, legitimate, official representation of interests. So while religions and denominations in many countries enjoy tolerance and special rights (or at least can demand them), the increasing number of atheists cannot.

10. Atheists do not need theodicy.

Why does God allow suffering when he must have the omnipotence, the omniscience and the will to prevent all suffering? Theodizees try to answer this question in different ways. How is subjective suffering in the world to be explained when God is all-powerful, all-good and all-knowing? Whenever atheists bring this accusation, believers try to throw it off by pointing to the lack of faith, spirituality or ignorance of the atheists. Instead of listening to constructive criticism, the valuable atheist inputs are instead lost. For example, a blind spot on theodicy is that it has never asked whether God is the happiest being.

Lisz Hirn is active as a philosopher, journalist & lecturer in youth and adult education and as a freelance artist involved in international art projects and exhibitions. In addition, she completed the diploma course for “practice-oriented project management” in 2017. Her philosophical and scientific work focuses on philosophical anthropology, political philosophy, intercultural ethics and cognitive counseling. The philosopher, who is engaged in intercultural dialogue, chairwoman of the Association for Practical Philosophy and is on the board of the Society for Applied Philosophy (gap) has worked as a guest lecturer at Kathmandu University in Nepal and has worked at Sophia University and Nihon University in Tokyo as well as at of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima. She also taught at the École Supérieure Roi Fahd de Traduction in Tangier, Morocco, as well as at the ULG Philosophical Practice at the University of Vienna. From October 2015 to January 2017 she was a fellow at the Research Institute for Philosophy in Hanover. Lisz Hirn currently lives and works in Vienna.