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User:ListenerX/Why I am an "atheist"

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Despite having converted from atheism to a pagan religion with more Gods than can be counted on the hands, I am still an "atheist." Allow me to explain.

Atheism is "the absence of belief in the existence of any gods."[1] Some sorts of atheists may have additional relevant beliefs, or lack of beliefs, but this is the common baseline.

Although most arguments for atheism are grounded in philosophical naturalism or in science — with a disbelief in Gods following from a disbelief in everything supernatural — not everything supernatural is a God, and it is possible, some would say, to believe in the supernatural, even to worship certain supernatural entities, and still be an atheist — just because the believer does not call those supernatural entities "Gods." In other words, an atheist can believe in fairies and Santa Claus, but YHVH is out.

As part of my religion I believe in a number of Gods in addition to other supernatural entities. Why, then, am I an atheist? Well, unlike the very objective distinction between the natural and the supernatural, the distinction between a God and a supernatural entity that is not a God is somewhat dodgy. So dodgy, in fact, that some atheists have had to say that just calling something a God does not make it one.

Richard Dawkins said:[2]

[I]f the word God is not to become completely useless, it should be used ... to denote a supernatural creator that is 'appropriate for us to worship'.

Therein lies the grind: the Gods of my religion are certainly supernatural, and appropriate for worship, but they are not creators. Even someone with enough sensory orifices sewn shut to maintain belief in a literal interpretation of the Norse myths — which I do not believe were meant to be taken literally in the first place — believes that the universe existed before any of the Gods did, and while some of the Gods had a hand in creating some parts of the universe, some of them did not, and none of them made the universe itself.

This means that all of the things I call Gods are just plain old anthropomorphic personifications and my religion has no Gods to it. Therefore, I am an "atheist."

So, to take a leaf from Prof. Dawkins's book, I believe that if the word "atheist" is not to become completely useless, it should be used to denote someone who disbelieves altogether in the supernatural.


  1. RationalWiki's atheism article
  2. First chapter of The God Delusion