There are no atheists.
Or better said, there are no true atheists.
A-theos, without-god. By this definition, an atheist is a free being that is not ruled by things greater than himself because there are none. There are no Deities to worship or obey.
Are there none?
Don’t we worship beauty for millennials? Don’t we preach this ideal in our media? We don’t obey God, but we obey the State which is as fictive as The Old Man with a beard.
If you define religion and deities as stories man tells about himself and the universe then there are no atheists. Sure they do not believe in Mystical Primordial Force but they believe in BigBang and the prophet is no longer called Moses but Stephen Hawking.
There can’t be atheists because humans haven’t change the way they interact with reality, though tales. There are no atheists because they still use the functions of concepts that are higher than themselves. In ancient times beauty, love, peace, suffering etc were too abstract for masses to grasp, they still are, so more familiar representations emerged in the form of deities.
We no longer celebrate the mighty Odin but we all praise Capitalism and Liberalism, we no longer think suffering is necessaire for redemption but we advocate for hedonism and consumerism to live a fulfilling life. We change and trade beliefs according to history, economic and socio-cultural factors. Most of the time we pendulate between extremes but if we are in the one side of the spectrum that does not mean the other does not exist.
What’s my point? There are no true atheists because they still live within the scope of stories. They are no longer in the laic spectrum where narratives such as God, Church, Priest, Ancient Hero etc are true but where Money, Pleasure, Physics etc are sovereign and their new gods have names that start with: “Theory of…”. There are no atheists due to the simple fact that human beings can’t exist without believing in something.
Our modern world is a meta-narrative, and stories make order out of chaos. When we believe in the same myths we get along with each other as a consequence of us sharing the same values and modus operandi. When we don’t, we start fighting for who’s imaginary world is better. In fact, atheists and theist have a lot of tales in common but sometimes they have different favourite literary genres.
What I want to make clear is that this article was not about God or religion but about stories. Is there something popping in your mind when you read this article? Let me know in the comments.
When it comes to religion, I think arationality is the key term, read more about it here. If you want to read more about how stories shape our reality, check this one out. Also, theist or atheist, here is why I think we might still need the Old Man around.