What Is Atheism?

Atheism is actually nothing more than failure of religion’s messengers to be convincing. Far be it beyond my skill set to indulge in a discussion about linguistics or semantics. The best I can do with my own writing is try to remember my effort is intended for other people to read and understand, so I must choose carefully to assure that the meaning is clear and elicits an accurate mental image. The process makes me slow, and I generally hold my posts in a cue folder to age, and then edit again just before posting. Even so, rereading my older posts often brings forth, “EEEW! How did I miss THAT?

If you call yourself ‘Atheist’, I believe that you, like myself, live without organized religion, cult free, in a life free to act as our culture prevails upon us and our personal histories train us, still free to refine what we are into what we can become. We both have been sometimes called upon to explain ourselves to churchers who express disbelief that we accomplished what they will not. In the heat of inevitable battle, while they struggle to affirm (to themselves as much as us) that no one can live without religion, we fire back with whatever words come first to mind. “An atheist is anyone who lacks religion.”

Whoa! What’s wrong with that?

It’s incorrect: Lack gets defined as a state of need. Do you feel a deficiency—want—need for religion? No? Then, why do atheists everywhere use that word, and argue against not using it?

While not entirely correct, I suggest substituting ‘absent of’ in place of ‘lack’. In my opinion, it offers improvement without altering the sentence structure.  I try to (and often forget to) avoid both words, especially when writing about atheism. I always expect argumentative Xian readers, and try to read my own words using their wile-guided eyes. I live in a very rural part of Tennessee, and have many opportunities to learn their thought processes. It helps that I spent the first 4 decades of my life as one of them.

It also helps to have learned there are two (that’s TWO) kinds of religion (something more for us to dispute). Ecclesiastical religion, the kind that builds all kinds of structures dedicated to itself, that stand as public idols in every city, town and village, can be recognized as such all over the world. While more complex, temporal religion involves the memes and memeplexes that reside in the minds of every person with a functional brain. Not personal religion because memes make it spreadable and sharable. Not science, which follows strictly controlled processes for data gathering and relies on repeatable demonstrability; not secular, which involves working knowledge, shared with others, about everyday natural topics, temporal religion retains the opinions, methods and overall knowledge we all depend on in life. It differs from person to person. It involves our compulsive daily rituals, the things we think are true but can’t prove, my reasons for being a nudist versus your reasons for thinking that is gross, the moral values we share and those we don’t, and our differing reasoning on which each was based.

Ecclesiastical religion is what atheists live without, or insult themselves by proclaiming a lack of it. It is to what governments favor with a tax-free status. Temporal religion is to what atheists must grant their own recognition to halt the diminishment of atheism. Only when favoritism is removed from government practices by granting tax-free status to temporal religion, or removing tax-free status from ecclesiastical religion, will true religious freedom ever be achieved.