What is the purpose of atheism?

Question from Jai:
Given that theism has well documented goals and purported benefits. What do you see as the Purpose of opposing the premise on which these are based? This is aimed specifically at The Weak Atheist given that he allows for the possibility of in his view the lessor probable prevailing.

Answer by SmartLX:
Before I start, notice (here and in the other thread) how you capitalise “Atheist” and “Atheism” but not “theist” and “theism”? One is no more deserving than the other.

If the purported benefits of theism were all there was to consider, there’d be fewer reasons to oppose it. Religious faith has needlessly led many directly to misery and death, both through the actions of organised religions and through personal interpretations of the wishes of deities. Atheism has not done this; of course atheists have done horrible things too, but it has seldom if ever been their atheism which actually led them to it.

If there were good evidence that a particular god among the multitude of invented characters is in fact the real one, all the trouble caused on Earth by religious faith wouldn’t amount to much because there would clearly be a longer, better life after this one to prepare for. As it is, we have wildly contradicting instructions from different religions on how to prepare for the next life. Even if there is a real god, without indicative evidence the chances of it being a given believer’s own particular god are vanishingly small, and most if not all theists are worshipping false gods. Upon their death, they might well fare even worse than atheists if the real god is jealous. If there is any evidence out there, the best way to bring it into the open is to publicly advocate atheism. (The theist material unearthed so far has been lacklustre.)

There’s a personal reason for trying to advance atheism which you and I have already discussed, Jai: I am an atheist. I did not choose to be one, I realised I was one, and I have no wish to lie about it. That makes me a self-proclaimed atheist, and a visible member of a minority which in some places is hated, feared and disadvantaged due to misconceptions, stigma and of course society’s ingrained deference to religion. I haven’t suffered very badly myself, but many others have, do and will, and I want to help. Society as a whole I have no idea how to change, stigma will fade unassisted if not reinforced, but misconceptions I can confront directly, and hopefully dispel. Fortunately, inquisitive theists bring them straight to me at ATA.

One thought on “What is the purpose of atheism?”

  1. You can have well documented beliefs and purposes, but if they don’t make much real sense then what’s the point of bundles of documentation?
    And if they do not make sense, then the purpose of opposing their premise is clear – to strike at the root of the fallacious purposes to ensure that no more fallacious purposes get established after the current ones are reasoned away.
    Fallacious purposes cause a lot of damage to society particularly by people who take them seriously. And most theists take the purposes of faith seriously because of their underlying faith (the premise of the purpose). So it becomes necessary to oppose the premise – the misguided faith/ religious dogma/ religious thinking etc.

    Ultimately most theist purposes relate to the imaginary – attainment of some sort of nirvana, heaven (full of virgins) or heaven (full of singing angels) etc. and the smaller purposes that lead up to the ultimate purpose tend to be as bizarre. And the premise of all these purposes is as absurd a premise as you can ever get, of-course.

    Atheists typically tend to be humanists and moralists so they would say that the purpose is to cause as little social harm as possible, or cause as much benefit as possible.
    Philosophical types might quibble about the absence of any objective meaning of “beneficial” but that is just hokum. Not cutting people’s head off for uttering a perceived blasphemy is probably objectively beneficial to the person and to society in general too.

    Atheists may have no “ultimate” purpose like the attainment of Nirvana. But then we do have achievable purposes, not imaginary ones.
    And what happens when you attain the achievable purpose? You raise the bar that’s all. That’s how society progresses.

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