What is atheism?
If you ask an atheist this question most often they will carefully explain to you that atheism is ‘a lack of belief in God’.
They’re very sensitive about this.
A lack of belief is not the same thing as non-belief. To claim God ‘does not exist’ is an absolute statement, and one which is virtually impossible to prove deductively.
So the atheist will simply say they ‘lack belief’ and will say this is mostly because of a ‘lack of sufficient evidence’ (agnosticism).
Some atheists are happy to flat-out deny the existence of God and explicitly deny He exists, but most do not.
In practise however, virtually all atheists live life as if God does not exist and harbour a characteristic antagonism towards religious belief.
“I do not believe in God. I am an atheist. I consider myself a Critical thinker, and it fascinates me in the 21st Century people still believe in, as George Carlin puts it, ‘the invisible man living in the sky’.” – Seth MacFarlane
In fact many of the most recognisable atheists, like Richard Dawkins, appear to have made a name for themselves primarily thanks to their condescending, albeit charismatic, public personas.
If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest. – Bill Maher
Belief in any kind of god is, in the mind of many atheists, the antithesis of intelligent, human reasonableness.
Supposedly atheism captures a spectrum of beliefs, from outright rejection of any supernatural phenomena at all, to more of an openness to some more spiritualised forms of religion which do not necessarily believe in a ‘god’ per se (like buddhism, or even weird stuff like Satanism and nature worship).
But for the most part atheism rejects any reference to the supernatural, including ghosts and the paranormal, inter-dimensional spirituality, the human soul or any kind of afterlife (including reincarnation).
What you see is what you get.
Given that atheism rejects the supernatural atheists are, unsurprisingly, huge fans of science.
To many atheists, science has all the tools to explain virtually all of our existence, because science is the study of the natural world, and the natural world is all there is.
How does the atheist explain our world?
Atheism is a worldview really, just like Christianity is a worldview.
Atheism may try to limit itself to ‘a lack of belief in gods’, but lacking a belief in gods requires one to hold at least minimal beliefs about other things without reference to any god.
If God does not exist, then what caused the universe to exist?
How is it that the universe seems to be so perfectly fine tuned for life?
What is morality and where did it come from?
Atheism should be able to offer some alternative explanations for these things. Most importantly, as Ravi Zacharias explains here:
“A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny [purpose].”
In other words, a belief that God doesn’t exist (or is not the most likely explanation), needs to be able to explain (or at least have some idea) how to answer questions like what mechanisms gave rise to the universe, biological life, human consciousness or the laws of nature and logic? Do our lives have meaning? Is there such a thing as good and evil?
Realistically it should be able to offer up a more compelling response than that given by any alternative.
In fact if atheism is the correct worldview, and it is true God does not exist, then you would expect atheism to have better, more likely explanations for everything we see.
Except it doesn’t.
In fact atheism fails to explain the majority of big picture questions it should be able to explain.