I was wandering around the Mahalo site looking for questions I could answer. As the site suggests I stay away from ones where I have no expertise. I noticed a user had posted a number of questions on atheists. Atheists meaning someone who does not believe in the idea of God. A Monotheist is someone who believes in one god, like an Islamic person. A Theist believes in God as more of a universal force. A Deist believes in the idea of a God who perhaps started the universe and then walked away â€“ doesn't intrude any longer in our day to day lives or answer personal requests. A Polytheist is like a Christian who believes in the Trinity, or a Hindu who believes in the many manifestations of God. Lastly we have the Agnostic which come in two flavors: some Agnostics are of the bent that the idea of God can neither be proved nor disproved so they refrain from weighing in. Other Agnostics believe that one day we may have proof, and have decided to remain undecided until more proof is provided.
So the first question I noticed was, "Can an Atheist love or is love a mystery to them?" I was kind of perplexed by this question because I don't see how being an atheist has anything what so ever to do with the ability to love. It would have made more sense to me had the querent asked can a socio-path love? And then I could have said from experience, "No, they appear to be too damaged to love in the conventional sense, although they are capable of strong desires."
It was only after I navigated away from the question when I remembered the famous bible verse from the New Testament: God is Love. Aha, I thought. If a person is equating God with Love, and Atheists don't believe in God, we have an apparent conundrum. The Atheist would essentially not believe in Love, right? What is wrong with this logic? The misapplication of the word "love." While it might be poetic and even the "Gospel" truth to say God is love, in English, the two are not synonymous. We don't pray to a higher Love. We don't God our spouses. So grammatically the logic falls apart. A better translation in the first place might have been "One Aspect of God is Divine Love and or Charity, where the God head is able to love the human with so much more force and intensity than humans can return." But that wouldn't have been iambic pentameter.
I was wondering what all the fuss was about atheists when I saw the next question, which had an unmistakable hostile edge to it. "What stops Atheists from raping and murdering people? " The questioner asked. Gee Whiz, the same thing that would stop anyone. I'm thinking these people ought to read my friend Bill Tomlinson's book "The Moral Atheist." More or less this odd thinking comes from the mistaken belief that RELIGION keeps people in line. I would suggest this is an absurd belief. If the only think keeping You from raping and murdering is a fear of hell, you are in a very, very small minority.
The main reason people refrain from raping and murdering is a distaste for treating others poorly. Ask seven strangers on the street, ask an abused child, and you will see, even people from very violent backgrounds for the most part don't want to hurt other people. People who do rape and murder usually aren't doing it because they are atheists. Some of them, psychotic though they may be, are doing for precisely the opposite reason: look at the Islamic suicide bombers. They think God WANTS them to murder and destroy. So that is a weak argument for religion.
Also even some people who very strongly believe in God and heaven and hell commit some very heinous acts. Look at all those Catholic priests who have been exposed as long term child molesters. In addition to them are the administrative people who didn't molest children themselves, and yet had a hand in the cover-up. No one familiar with the situation can possibly believe religion was capable of keeping people moral. And I don't want to pick on the Catholics just because they have been in the news recently. Fundamentalists are not exempt. Every couple of years a scandal breaks were we see some very popular televangelist brought low by revelations of misuse of funds, an immoral sexual acts. So clearly a belief in religion does not guarantee people will act morally. A lack of belief in religion does not guarantee people will act immorally. They two are just not causally related.
The next question was a little more subtle. Do you believe, the questioner asked fearfully, that an atheist in political office would be hostile to religions? This one is more subtle only because we all know that to proclaim oneself as atheist in a political setting would only be done if one has an agenda. Otherwise it just isn't politically expedient. So much easier to keep your mouth shut and occasionally attend a church service. Read the first hand writings of some of our founding fathers and you will see there is a lot of evidence to argue that Thomas Jefferson may have been an atheist. But IF he was, we'll never know, because he knew claiming it publically would be political suicide.
So are there politicians in office right now who are atheists? Probably. Studies show the more educated a person is the more the incidence of atheism is. Our elected leaders are for the most part Ivy league graduates. They know they are elite. They know that the average person would be horrified to learn an elected official is atheist, so they wouldn't say. However, if you see the voting record of an individual and realize they are not following the Fundamentalist agenda and instead vote consistently for freedom of speech, the chances are they may be more theist than you know.