The existence of God is a debate that has raged throughout much of human history, and we are not likely to end the bickering anytime soon. in spite of this, there are certainly some misconceptions we can clear up to help move the discussion along. In particular, the idea of atheism being “closed-minded” is an idea that should be put to rest. While individuals can certainly be close-minded or misinformed, it does not apply to the stance. Hopefully, this article can shed some light on this issue.
At the root of this confusion is a massive misunderstanding of what atheism is. Many erroneously believe that atheism exists only as the claim “I know there is no God.” The atheist claim is, broadly speaking, “I lack belief in any gods.” This distinction may seem subtle, but it makes a world of ideological difference. Atheism is not necessarily a denial of the existence of any and all deities. It simply describes the absence of belief. It is the same lack of belief we are all born with, and this extends far beyond the realm of the supernatural. We believe in nothing until shown evidence of something. To be honest, Godzilla could be under the Pacific Ocean right now; however, there is absolutely no reason to believe that is a true statement. Because of that, we lack belief in Godzilla, but we are completely open if someone were to present evidence of the giant lizard to us. Likewise, there is no compelling argument for the existence of, literally, any deity. Because of that, atheists lack belief in those deities. This stance isn’t an effort to say “Ha! I’m right and you’re wrong, you idiot.” It’s simply refusing to make an affirmative claim before the evidence has presented itself.
On the other hand, theism only exists as the statement “God definitely exists.” It, inherently, assumes the nature the unknown. Regardless of the name attributed to any given deity, each theistic ideology asserts itself as true to the exclusion of any other claim. To refer back to our Godzilla example, a theistic claim would say that Godzilla, or at least some giant lizard, is under the ocean. Whether or not evidence supports this, the “Reptilian Theists” believe it to be true. In making this affirmative claim, theism is, in fact, the “close-minded” stance. Obviously, this does not mean that all theists are stubborn, close-minded mules that refuse to acknowledge their stances’ lack of support. It does mean, however, that their curiosity must remain at the door on this particular issue.
Cordiality and respectful discussion, in general, are good things. It is not recommended to demonize one side, and hopefully reason prevails in all manner of discourse. Of course, if the labels of “close-minded” and “open-minded” must be thrown around, they should be properly applied. Atheism is the stance that belief shouldn’t be established without supporting evidence. It is not the idea deities absolutely can not exist. Because of this, atheism is the “open-minded” stance.