Atheists believe neither God nor gods exist. Religious people do. Although opposite, they are equally beliefs.
Heyyyy, someone finally said something in this thread I'm mildly offended by!! Yaay!!
Actually, I wouldn't bother replying, but this is a thread about writing, so I think there's something important here that writers should consider.
Not believing in something is not quite the same as believing in it -- and this is something that many, many, MANY people get wrong when it comes to atheism. Replace God/gods with pink invisible unicorns.
Atheists believe that invisible pink unicorns don't exist, and pinkunicornists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could also say that atheists believe that small teacups orbiting Jupiter don't exist, but orbitting-teacupists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could say that atheists believe that gigantic 6-foot-long spiders don't exists, but giantspiderists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
I mean, yeeeessssssss, technically speaking, they are equally beliefs. So you didn't technically
say anything wrong. Why am I objecting? Because there is a context and meaning in that statement (something writers should be aware of), and it's not something that can be innocently hand-waved by saying, "all I said what that they are beliefs." The problem is that you could pretty much take anything
, any arbitrary thing, and make a statement of belief or disbelief about it. "Soandso believes that there is not an invisible tiny dragon in their garage." But if you were asked to describe Soandso's character or even list their beliefs, you would not say, "They believe there is not an invisible dragon in their garage." Their list of "beliefs" could become infinitely long, even just from locations they believe there is no invisible dragon is. Then you have to list their beliefs about where there are no invisible unicorns, undetectable teacups, spiders too large for the laws of physics, and so forth. Yet, these are
all technically beliefs of Soandso. And none of these can be "disproven" in a rigorous sense. There could actually be an invisible tiny dragon in their garage who doesn't bother anything. There could be. Therefore... it is a belief?
Don't get me wrong; I am not trying to make a statement that belief in God is the same as belief in unicorns (clearly, belief in God has profound implications and belief in unicorns does not). I am using these examples to illustrate how arbitrary it is to consider something like "doesn't believe in God" as a "belief" in the same sense. I can see why it seems that way, and I've seen it countless times... but to anyone who is a writer, if you happen to write about atheists there will definitely
be people who appreciate it if you can get it right!
While I'm here, I will also point out something about science. Yes, it has politics, it has fanatics, it is the center of some people's lives, and it has people for who it invokes spiritual feelings. But there is an important difference. Religion is centered around beliefs and rituals and cultural things that are valued even if they don't change over centuries. It is inherent in science to change in light of new evidence. That is at the core of it, and there is a long, profound history of change and revisions in science. In fact, science will often get criticized because "scientists are always changing their mind." But when there is new evidence, that is the ideal of the scientific method. That's why we're able to have reliable computers, cars, airplanes, and so forth based on it. The fundamental purpose of religion is quite distinct from science. There are people who treat wine "as a religion," too, complete with going to wine tastings every week and producing converts from Merlot to Malbec, but that doesn't mean wine is much like a religion.
Again, I can totally see why there are people who say "science is a religion," but I totally love
cases when this is handled properly in writing, even if the conclusion is that God smites all the non-believers or something.
Quite a lot of self-identifying atheists I've come across actually focus their interactions specifically on the challenging/disproving the existence of God.
Well, God can't be "disproven," so I think "challenge" is the more accurate word to use for this... but despite all the stuff I wrote above, not all atheists get it right, either.