For obvious reasons, believers in God have misconceptions about Atheism, more or less like biblical fundamentalists about Evolution, when they ridiculously ask: “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”. Unfortunately, some people who consider themselves atheists also do not know what Atheism is.
The two misconceptions about Atheism:
1. “Atheism is a religion too.” (Say religious people.)
2. “Atheism is the denial of the existence of God.” (Say religious people and some atheists.)
Religion is the belief in the supernatural: gods, angels, demons, spirits, Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, miracles, etc. About these things religions have doctrines, compiled in “holy” books, which, by the way, must not be doubted. The Bible and the Quran, for example, teach that people who doubt what is written in these books must be killed. In most countries, ridiculing religions results in incarceration. Moreover, religions dictate what is right and what is wrong, and demand the practice of rituals.
Atheism is the disbelief in the supernatural. Disbelief has no content, that is, doctrines. The belief, for example, in the Bogeyman has a content: how he is, where he lives, what he does, what he wants, etc. The disbelief in the Bogeyman has no content. Consequently, the disbelief in the Bogeyman teaches nothing. In the same way, the disbelief in God demands nothing and commands to do nothing, either good or bad. Therefore, Atheism is by no means a religion.
Atheism is not to say that “God does not exist”, but that “There is no evidence that God exists”. Just as it is not impossible that the Bogeyman exists, it is not impossible that God exists. However, for lack of evidence, there is no reason to believe in him. Since it is foolish to believe in things for which there is no evidence, in God too.
That is Atheism.
If, as Jews, Christians and Muslims say, it is necessary to have faith not to believe in God — reason why disbelieving God would be religion —, then it is necessary also to have faith not to believe, for example, in Zeus, which is obviously absurd. Jehovah, the god of the Bible, and Allah, the god of the Quran, are only two gods among the thousands of gods of the most varied religions. Just as Jews, Christians and Muslims do not see any reason to believe in the gods of other religions (something over which they, by the way, do not lose even a second of sleep), neither do atheists — with the only difference that atheists are intellectually honest: if there is no reason to believe in the gods of other religions, then neither in those of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Bible, for example, says that “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists” (Hebrews 11:6). Well, if in order to believe in God it is necessary to have faith, faith itself is evidence that God does not exist. If God existed, there would be no need to have faith, because no one would doubt his existence.
“Atheism is the natural result of intellectual honesty.”
— Paulo Bitencourt
(Author of the book Freed from Religion: The Inestimable Bliss of Being a Freethinker [in Portuguese])