Atheists In Kenya (AIK)

Bringing together non-believers

Six things you didn’t know about Atheists!

Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice, or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings.

Some atheists go beyond a mere absence of belief in gods: they actively believe that particular gods, or all gods, do not exist. Just lacking belief in Gods is often referred to as the “weak atheist” position; whereas believing that gods do not (or cannot) exist is known as “strong atheism.”

1. Atheism is not a philosophy.
In fact, atheism is the result of a philosophy. It describes the view that there is simply no evidence for supernatural forces, imaginary friends, gods, or otherwise. Skepticism is the tool, atheism is the consequence. Atheists are not motivated by atheism, they are motivated by a dedication to reason. Thus, the argument “But X,Y, and Z terrible dictators were atheists, therefore atheists are evil!” misses the core idea: Atheism tells no one to do anything. Unlike religious texts, which describe methods of worship (keep the Sabbath, mutilate your genitals, spread your beliefs with a sword, etc.), skepticism gives no normative instruction.

Sam Harris sums it up quite beautifully:

“Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, ‘atheism’ is a term that should not even exist. No one needs to identify himself as a ‘non-astrologer’ or a ‘non-alchemist.’ We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

2. “Atheist” does not mean “amoral.”
Atheists are frequently derided as amoral, presumably because many assume humans are incapable of being good without god. Recently, the Catholic Church made sure to remind atheists that we’ll all wind up in hell. (As you can see from the picture below, at least we’ll be in good company.) However, to most atheists, morality exists outside of — and indeed predates — religion. This means we believe humans to be fundamentally capable of conscientious, ethical behavior without an oppressive authority or fear of eternal torment to keep us in line.

This belief in the fundamental capability of humans to live good lives leads many atheists to humanism. Humanist groups like the American Humanist Association emphasize our capability and responsibility to work to improve the human condition, realizing two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.

3. Atheism is nondogmatic.
If Cthulhu, Mohammed, or Thor show up tomorrow, atheistic ideas will be subject to revision and evaluation, just like any other rationally-derived conclusion. Atheists, as skeptics, will challenge and update their theories as their body of knowledge grows. This willingness to revisit accepted theory is a fundamental aspect of science.

Historically, the heliocentric model deposed the geocentric model, phlogiston theory was replaced by oxidation, and the caloric was replaced by the mechanical theory of heat. The distinction cannot be emphasized enough: Science corrects itself when it is wrong, and gains explanatory power in the process. Scripture, on the other hand, remains static, as its authority draws in part from its immutability.

4. Atheism does not have all the answers.
When skeptics point out the flaws in religious creation stories, we are often met with the response that we have no better explanation. But this is a fundamentally flawed argument. Atheism doesn’t require that you have alternate explanations to existing religious beliefs.

You don’t have to be sure about the Big Bang, the origin of life, or the existence of intelligent aliens to reject the idea of a seven-day creation story, reanimation of the dead, or talking snakes. Quite simply, the lack of an alternative explanation does not make the religious explanation any more likely.

The certainty of many religions answers to life’s greatest questions is what can makes religion so psychologically appealing. Our brains are wired to crave certainty. Thus there is a real biological cause for the fact that we are more comfortable when we are sure about a given subject. It may be less cognitively pleasing to maintain a position of indecision, but an honest assessment of the situation is preferable to the fantastical guesses of world religions.

5. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive.
This one is an important distinction to make, as the two terms are often incorrectly used to describe opposing sides of the same coin. Gnosticism, from the Greek word gnosis, meaning knowledge, is used to indicate absolute certainty in a specific belief. Thus, “a-gnosis” describes degrees of uncertainty about a specific belief. Theism, as noted above, is commonly described as a belief in god. Hence, “a-theism” is its opposite.

Gnostic theists, therefore, are absolutely sure that god exists. Conversely, an agnostic atheist is convinced there is no god, but doesn’t rule out the slim possibility he could be wrong, much as one might not totally rule out the existence of unicorns. Thus, many atheists you meet are also agnostic, and many theists are as well. Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world’s most prominent atheist, describes himself as an agnostic atheist. This means he sees a very low probability of god’s existence, but short of zero. In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins explains it clearly: “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

6. Atheism is about the burden of proof

This is atheism’s defining feature, and it often gets lost in the debate. Atheism isn’t about egotism, megalomania, or persecution of believers (we’ve been on the receiving end too long, and know how it feels). Neither is atheism about Jesus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Vishnu. Skepticism is about setting a standard of proof to be met before we accept assertions as facts. Just as we demand evidence before we accept phenomena like climate change, we ask for proof before we bow down before alleged supernatural forces.


12 comments on “Six things you didn’t know about Atheists!

  1. adolphus lwovaa
    July 31, 2012

    Motto …..what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence


    • j.w
      August 31, 2012

      All intellectually honest scholars and even skeptics never disapprove that Jesus was a real historical figure. They may disagree on His resurrection but not His existence. There is more historical evidence on the existence of JESUS CHRIST even outside the Bible than there is for ARISTOTLE, SOCRATES, PLATO, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, CONFUSIUS, JULIUS CAESAR, BUDDHA etc. If you disapprove the historical existence of Jesus Christ then you also have to say all the above are also myths! Here are suggestions of where you can get this verified in addition to your doubtful sources! Just Go to Youtube and look for the following documentaries! 1) THE CASE FOR JESUS by LEE STROBEL. 2) THE RESSURECTION OF JESUS by GARY HERBAMAS. 3) ZEITGEIST DEBUNKED by ELLIOT. My brother I am praying for you to come to know the truth. Just the same way it dint require your consent to be born, it will not require your consent to face the LORD JESUS CHRIST on Judgement day!Whether you believe in HIM OR NOT. Before you respond. Please look at the videos \i have suggested. Your eternal destiny actually depends on it!


      • Nick
        September 21, 2012

        J.W., no one disputes the existence of Jesus. There is independent historical confirmation that Jesus lived. Personally, I have read that the historian Flavius Josephus mentioned Jesus (and indeed John the Baptist) in some of his writings at the end of the 1st century A.D. To say, however, that there is more evidence for Jesus’ existence than that of figures such as Aristotle or Plato sounds like a bit of a stretch. These are people who left behind actual written works that are still read widely today, unlike Jesus who we only hear about from second parties. I have not personally seen the documentaries you list above but I do agree that Jesus was in fact a real historical figure because there is independent confirmation from other sources. However, your claim that the existence of Alexander the Great and others is somehow tied to the existence of Jesus is a fallacy. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Deal with each case on its own merits.

        Now, what I do have a problem with are the claims that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was resurrected from death. These are extraordinary claims, and they require extraordinary proof. No one has ever provided any evidence for these claims other than scripture, in this case the bible, which you will forgive me for saying is plainly biased. Indeed, there is no other historical source that ascribes deity to Jesus. Even the other two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam, reject the idea that Jesus was God, and instead treat him as one of the prophets. To me, Jesus was among the great teachers and moral leaders of his time, much like Mahatma Gandhi, or Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But he was certainly no God, in the same way that Gandhi was not God, and the prophet Mohamed was no God. There is a lot of good that can be learned from his teachings, as well as the teachings of many others, but we do not need to make him a God to draw out the good from his teachings.

        I would also like to recommend a book to you: “How the great religions began” by Joseph Gaer. It’s a very interesting book on the origins of the major world religions; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and several others. It also compares what they have in common, such as the tendency of followers of a religious leader to impose divinity on his memory after death. It’s an easy, non-technical read, and even if you do not agree with it, you will have learned something about the roots of religion, and how astonishingly similar they all are.


      • makagutu
        October 8, 2012

        I think we need not duplicate responses to this matter! j.w kindly look at the responses we have written on this issue in ‘what we do’


      • kimtaicho
        October 22, 2012

        j. w if you do a bit of research you’ll find that there are a total of 16 deities pre-dating the story of jesus that have all the key points i.e virgin birth, ministry at age of 30, killed at 33, crucified and resurrected.


    • Okoth Midigo
      November 27, 2013

      It is good you are not forcing this under our throats. My take is that only Satan opposes God. in other words….this is satanism


      • Leonard
        March 23, 2014

        From which point of view is satan opposing god. Is it the bible? Otherwise both are non-existent.


      • Samuel Kimathi
        March 26, 2014

        I cant oppose things i don’t believe exist, i think it would be prudent to do a bit of research about what atheism actually means and considering its explained above very well i don’t see how you missed it. while your at it research satanism as well.


  2. j.w
    October 4, 2012

    RESURRECTION? FACT or FICTION: Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law & co-founder of Harvard Law school, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the “myth” of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated:

    “it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . .”
    (Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).


  3. j.w
    October 23, 2012

    At kimtaicho, I am acutely aware of the many other stories that predate Jesus Christ. Please allow me to explain something. Just for the sake of argument, please assume that The Biblical God exists and by extension the devil exists. if that is the case, and the devil wished to distract men from their potential savior Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t he do everything including fabricating counterfeit characters who would seem to fit the bill exactly. After all God had already revealed centuries before by the prophets e.g. Isaiah that the messiah would be virgin born etc. Have you ever seen or heard of a counterfeit 2000 Kshs note! I think note. Thats because there is no genuine 2000Kshs note. Only the Genuine is counterfieted. But for a more detailed and elaborate address on this issue, please feel free to go to youtube and look for the videos; “ZIETGIEST DEBUKED” by ELLIOT et al, & “KNOW YOUR ENEMY” by THE FUEL PROJECT.
    Enjoy the viewing.


  4. j.w
    November 1, 2012


  5. Raphael Munyui
    July 17, 2013

    I would like to know where you meet and how I can join you. I am a philosophical secular humanist libertian who ascribes to agnostic teachings and I would like to make a presentation based on the philosophy of god with regards to anthropological studies.


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