Atheism as a historical philosophy and its relevance in contemporary America

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Disbelief in the existence of God is an enduring, worldwide phenomenon that is quite possibly also one of the most misunderstood belief systems in the world. For many, the term “atheism” immediately spurs negative imagery inspired by years of indoctrination – churches proclaiming the sins of the infidels, and how questioning God’s infinite love will result in instant damnation. Atheists are perceived as dark, nihilistic, immoral, amoral, pessimistic, and even evil, because without God, clearly they are also without morality and goodness. But if this disbelief is so negative, why would nearly 1 billion people globally, and more than 16 percent of the American population identify themselves as “nonbelievers”? In fact, a survey published in …show more content…
Many of atheism’s critics are quick to call the worldview invalid because they assume it wouldn’t exist without theism – without the idea of the Divine. In fact, some even go so far as to say that atheism is actually parasitic on religion. This is an incorrect statement. Without theism, the only part of atheism that wouldn’t exist is its name. Julian Baggini, the editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine, weaves this analogy in his book Atheism:

In Scotland there is a deep lake called Loch Ness. Many people in Scotland – almost certainly the majority – believe that the lake is like other lochs in the country. Their beliefs about the lake are what we might call normal. But that is not to say they have no particular beliefs. It’s just that the beliefs they have are so ordinary that they do not require elucidation…However, some people believe that the loch contains a strange creature, known as the Loch Ness Monster. Many claim to have seen it, although no firm evidence of its existence has ever been presented. So far our story is simple fact. Now imagine how the story could develop The number of believers in the monster starts to grow. Soon, a word is coined to describe them: they are part-mockingly called ‘Nessies’. (Many names of religions started as mocking nicknames: Methodist, Quaker, and even Christian all started out this way.) However,
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