(Graphic courtesy of sickchirpse.com)
For those of you who know me, you know I am an atheist. I simply do not believe in a god or gods. That’s essentially what an atheist is, but some folks think it’s much more and I just want to take a few moments to clear things up for you.
Theism is the claim that a god exists – it can be the Christian god, the Jewish god, the Islamic god, the Hindu gods, the Norse gods, whatever. Atheism is not a claim that none of these gods exist, it is merely the rejection that they do based on the evidence. Atheism, by and large, makes no claims at all and, in fact, many atheists will say that they would believe in a deity if sufficient evidence was presented to them. It’s not an epistemological (knowledge) claim like agnosticism which states that someone doesn’t know if a god exists or that it can never truly be known if a god exists. There’s a big difference there.
Picture a closed pantry door. Some dude comes up to you and says that the pantry is stocked with Double Stuff Oreos. The atheist says “I don’t believe you. Show me the evidence” while the agnostic says “The door is locked, so we’ll never know and I’m frankly not sure.” The theist would say “I don’t need to open the door; I’ll just have faith.” To confuse you, the agnostic atheist would say, “I don’t think we’ll ever know if there are Oreos in there and, quite frankly, I don’t believe there are based on the evidence you provided, dude.” See the difference?
Everyone, at some point, fits into one of those categories at one time or another. Christians believe in their god, but they do not believe in the Hindu gods. That makes them atheists in that respect. You will hear famous atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins elaborate on this argument simply by saying that we are all atheists, except I believe in one less god than you do.
So, you may only be one step away.