Have you wondered how an Atheist sees the world? How someone can look around at the beauty of the Earth and say "There is No God!" It doesn't seem to make sense. It must be extremely sad and lonely to think in such a way.
I've had all of these same thoughts, and I regularly hear these ideas postulated in discussion between believers of various faiths. How could it be? Why would someone seemingly choose to be sad and alone?
I'm atheist (non-capitalized) -- I have been for nearly 20 years -- and I'd like to share my perspective with you, so that we won't be so confusing. I'm going to answer some of the most common questions that I see come up in conversations between believers. You may have had this conversation before without realizing there was an atheist within earshot. It happens, but the conversations often go in a direction that convinces us (me, at least) that it would be best to keep quiet. I hope you'll reflect on my account if you ever find yourself in a conversation like this.
How do you know that there is no God?
This is certainly the greatest misconception -- that atheists are making the claim that there is absolutely "No God." In practice, I've never met an atheist that feels this way. When we use the term "atheist" we are only indicating that we are "not-theist." That's what the word actually means: a- for "not" (or without) and -theist for "one that believes a god or gods exist."
But if you don't believe a God is responsible for certain things that you can't explain, what is your explanation?
Well, often-times I simply don't have one. And that's okay with me. I don't need to say that I have the answers for everything. My desire is to observe, and to actively refrain from adopting the belief that I know "the truth" about anything.
But don't you believe in the Big Bang Theory?
No, I don't. I consider that the Big Bang Theory is currently the best known explanation, by cosmologists, to explain the cosmos.
But we could find that part of the theory is incorrect, and I would be happy to consider new theories. Being wrong is how we grow.
It's the same way with the Theory of Gravity. I can consider its accuracy all day long, but I do not hold a dogmatic belief that it is true. In the same way, a God could exist -- I'm just not currently convinced that one does -- which makes me a-theist.
So why is the idea that atheists "believe there is no God" so prevalent?
I can't say for sure, but I have a strong feeling that the root of it is in the desire to build a "Straw Man" version of the atheist to attack.
Blind belief, belief that an idea is truth without verifiable evidence, is an irrational stance. If someone that wants to discredit atheists can convince an audience that atheists are also guilty of holding blind beliefs, then the audience will not give the atheist more credibility than they are giving the person talking about atheists.
Even if this were accurate, identifying someone else's fallacy does not bolster your own position. In any situation, blind belief is something to be avoided. Would you cross the road without looking if you believe God has a plan for you?
Well what can I actually know about atheists?
The only thing you can truly "know" about a person that identifies as atheist is that they are not theist.
Many atheists believe in reincarnation and are religious. (see Buddhism)
Atheists can be anti-abortion, believe in ghosts and karma, believe the Earth rests on a giant turtle, or go to a church on a regular occasion. The only position addressed by the atheist label is the users' relationship to theism.
I hope this is a decent start, and if more questions arise in the comments, I'd be happy to do a part 2. I certainly know I could fill another article by addressing the questions around morality!
Please reach out!