There is a common assumption that, although atheists do not believe in God or gods, they must believe in some other supernatural beings. This is 100% false. The term “atheist” comes from the word “theism,” which refers to the belief in gods, creators and a supreme being. Atheism, on the other hand, is the opposite of theism. Therefore, people who identify as atheists do not believe in God(s). While that is sorted, what do atheists actually believe in? This piece tries to answer this.

The Whys

To better understand what atheists believe in, let’s start by identifying the whys. A lot of people follow the religion of their parents or guardians. If one is born into a Catholic family, the odds are they’ll follow this religion until the end of time. If anything, most atheists come from religious families. It’s only recently that some parents have stopped forcing religion into the minds of their children.

Back to religion, most atheists were theists. That is, they believed in a supreme being. However, somewhere along the line, atheists begin questioning their faith. This doesn’t matter whether it is Christianity, Hinduism or Islam.

After having doubts about a particular religion, they consciously decide to abandon the beliefs ingrained in their brains at birth. However, this is not a blanket reason why atheists become so. Different factors push people into not believing in a supreme being, dictating the type of atheists they become.

The Different Types of Atheists

There are four types of atheists. First, some simply do not subscribe to any religion. Basically, they care less about other religions and their beliefs – they make up the majority of the bandwagon.

Then there are emotional atheists whose lack of faith in gods is based on negative emotions. For example, one may become an atheist because they went through a traumatic experience/s that makes it difficult to believe in God/god. Emotional atheists are forced by bad experiences to reject the presence of God.

The third type is social atheism. These are atheists who do not share their beliefs about God in social settings but may have some spiritual beliefs in their private moments. Finally, there are antitheists who reject all religions for various reasons.

The Common Belief

It doesn’t matter the type of atheist in question. The general rule is that atheists do not believe in any supernatural being such as God, gods, goddesses, the one, the Holy Spirit, deities or anything that would be labelled as supernatural. As a matter of fact, atheists do not practice something called “a belief” because believing would imply that one acknowledges the presence of a supernatural force.

For many theists, not believing in a superior power might be hard to comprehend. That’s why atheism can best be associated with a profession such as nursing. Somebody can either be a nurse or not a nurse. There is no in-between. In the same way, one can either be a theist or an atheist. Someone who is not a nurse can’t put on scrubs and treat people in the ER. An atheist cannot conform themselves to the beliefs of a particular religion or spiritual beliefs.

Because they do not believe in God or supernatural beings, atheists have a very different perception of life. For instance, atheists will credit the beginning of the universe to scientific theories such as the Big Bang instead of believing God created the earth.

The Telling Differences

An atheist community attending a lecture in San Jose, California, United States, in 2017.

Atheists do not pray or offer sacrifices because whom are they addressing? As for morals, atheists use reason instead of beliefs. According to them, being an atheist does not mean that they have the answer to everything about evolution and humankind. They don’t believe that a supreme being is in charge of everything.

Also, not all atheists are the same. Unlike religion, which is cohesive, atheism is not structured. Therefore, atheists can have varying opinions or approaches to life. There are no leaders in atheism, church, or place of worship; they do not rely on any sacred text for guidance.

Atheism is available in all corners of the world. It is not limited by race, gender, background and nationality. It is also not influenced by politics or other demographics, such as the LGBTQ community.

Atheists Do Not Worship Satan

For a long time, there has been a misconception that atheists believe in Satanism. This is also not true. Believing in Satanism would affirm the concept that there is a god or supernatural being. Satanism is not the same as atheism. Actually, Satanism is a form of theism.

As for agnostics, they are also not atheists. Agnosticism refers to people who do not know whether God exists or not. However, one can be both an agnostic and an atheist. That is, somebody can believe that god does not exist and not fully know whether god exists. Agnostics can also be theists.

Like theists, there are both good and bad atheists. Throughout history, great men and women have openly shared their lack of belief in god. In the same breath, Data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons has shown that theists commit more crimes than atheists. Therefore, one can’t generalize atheists as bad or immoral people in society.

The Key Takeaway

The question of what atheists believe is more straightforward than what most people know. They simply do not believe in a supreme being. It doesn’t matter if it’s a God, god, or even Satan; they don’t subscribe to any of that.

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Religion, Society,

Last Update: June 22, 2024