An atheist is a person who does not believe in God. Now, of course, it is not as simple. For starters, what is the definition of God? Again there are complications. To just show the diversities in atheists, I shall put forward a few defining characteristics of ‘atheists’.
Some say an atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God or a single/multiple Creator(s) or a Supreme, or a humanoid form of the Supreme, or an omni-qualified being, etc. Some among them also claim that they know it to be true that no such thing exist(s).
Some say ‘atheism’ is also a religion with a system of ethical views but only with the absence of ‘God’. Some even go to the extent of explaining ‘atheist’ as a synonym of ‘non-believer’ in general.
To whatever kind and extent it may be, if you are an atheist, I suppose you have come across certain types of people who have a reaction to your choice of belief. Read forward to find out if your experience tallies with mine.
• The orthodox:
There will be some orthodox religious people who will consider you a sinner because of being an atheist. They will also presuppose that you are never guided by any ethical values and in a place like India you can be seen as a drug addict or sex addict or even a fraud. But there is also an up-side about them – even if they criticize and warn people against you behind your back, they will probably avoid directly talking to you; because, you know, you can contaminate them with your ‘sins’.
• The naturalist:
This is a person who may or may not have been born into a particularly religious family but sees or tries to see ‘God’ in the ‘miracles of nature’. He is the person who will try to make you realize that everything is a miracle and we should appreciate ‘the gifts of mother nature’.
• The convincer:
I find this to be the most abundant in today’s list. He will basically have one question: “If there were no God, who do you think did this?” The briefest conversation may go as:
Convincer: Who created the universe?
You: No one. The combined forces of some physics and chemistry, probably.
Convincer: And what made them work the way they did?
You: Idk, but there is some Big Bang Theory. Go, read up.
Convincer: [smiles] They never found a true answer. That is why they call it a theory. It’s all God (with a rising and falling intonation).
• The agnostic:
An agnostic is a person who is unsure of the existence of ‘God’. He has a very ‘simple’ question – How can you make sure if anything like that exists or not. And a very complex thought “It is too complex for us to know if it is real or illusion; if there is an architect or an unconscious force.”
• The ‘secular’ questionnaire:
This is a very curious person. He takes interest in what you have got to say – how you see the world, how you explain the yet-unanswered, how you find peace, and what your take is on other religious views, etc etc. He is secular, or at least tries to be. You like talking to him for a brief period.
• The atheist:
And finally, you find your kind. Almost. Because, you know, there are different kinds of atheists. But you still make an effort to understand each other unless you start trying to prove that the other is actually not an atheist.