Friday, July 1, 2011

Self Respect (Atheistic Myths #3)

In earlier posts you may have seen me write about how Atheism is simply a lack of belief in deities. However, it would appear that a lot of the myths surrounding Atheism are based on this not being the case. Most myths I have found have almost exclusively focused on us presumably having a deeper faith that we hide, even from ourselves at times. As this series of posts continues, I'm going to note just how many of these myths focus on an incorrect definition of Atheism.

Perhaps this one will put things into perspective:

"Everyone worships/believes something. Atheists just worship/believe in themselves."

While it is rather difficult to have absolutely no beliefs of any kind, it is still entirely possible. However, let's not focus on that, as it is still a rarity. Let's focus on the second half of this, where Atheists worship themselves or only believe in themselves. Worshipping oneself is a lot more difficult than most people realize. For starters, the definition of worship is typically something like this:

The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
~ Google: Define: Worship

Unless one considers themselves a deity, it is rather difficult to even consider worship. And to consider yourself a deity, you must believe in them, which Atheists don't. However, there is the other half of this sentence to consider, the part where Atheists only believe in themselves. This is also not true.

As I have said before, there are Atheistic religions. Taoists, Buddhists, Jainists, Hindus, Pagans, many religions have Atheistic qualities and/or subsets. Even Jews and Christians have members amongst their ranks who consider themselves to be Jews and Christians while not believing in any deities. And we haven't even considered the many smaller religions dedicated to Naturalism and Humanism. In fact another way this myth is presented is that Atheists worship Humanity or Nature. Again, this would raise them up to be deities.

All of this aside, let's look at the underlying problem with this myth. Atheists, in general, don't have to worship anything. This myth is based on the supposed fact that worship is a requirement for a healthy life. No worship is required, even amongst those who do believe in deities. Take the Wiccans, for example. They do not all worship their gods, some make their gods work for them with their incantations. Yet, these people are theists. They believe in very powerful deities. They just also believe that humans are in control.

So, we have established that it is possible to go your entire life without worship. One would know this if they simply looked at the definitions of these words. Worship requires deities, Atheism requires a lack of deities. These two things are completely incompatible. And this is the second myth I've tackled that was based on a false assumption of what Atheism is. How many more myths are based on this one, larger myth?

The answer may surprise you.