What is Atheism?
To put it simply, atheism is a lack of belief in God or gods. That’s it! No, really!
There are several philosophical clarifications I wish to make, though. There are those who “believe” there are no gods or God which is classified as strong atheism.
There are those who believe God to be unlikely, but do not believe there are no Gods or God which is labeled as weak atheism. There might be or there might not, but as of right now I don’t believe in one.
There is also agnosticism. Most people confuse weak atheists with agnostics. Agnosticism is the idea that there isn’t enough information to make a determination either way, but some may have a belief in God and some may not. It amounts to “I don’t know, but I don’t think you do either.” so Christians can be agnostics and have faith in God. In other words their faith is solely based on faith. Atheists can be agnostic too. Most atheists would probably say “I need more evidence to be able to formulate a belief in God.” So atheism is a position on belief and agnosticism is a position on knowledge.
Atheists unfortunately have to deal with a lot of hate. I think this is wrongly deserved. Many atheists are moral precisely because there is no one looking. In other words I believe in treating people with kindness on principle, not because of a carrot (heaven) or a stick (hell). That doesn’t mean there aren’t atheists who are immoral or who are jerks. I would presume there are as many varieties of atheists as there are Christians, Muslims, Jews Buddhists or whatever. As a percentage of prison inmates, atheists make up one of the lowest. I believe we are wrongly maligned because there are some ideas about morality that causes fear. For example, it is believed one must be religious to be moral. Also the “new atheists” like Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchens (affectionately called the four horseman) are pretty vocal against religion in general. I’ve read and enjoyed their books, but I do not have the same view of anti-theism that they espouse. Atheism is still a political death sentence. Hopefully, with time the religious will see that atheists are just like themselves. We are human, fallible creatures who jam out to tunes on their way to work. They pay their taxes and want to contribute positively to the community at large. And atheists can have OCD!