There’s No ‘Community’ of Atheists

Many atheists like to describe those that identify as such a community. I disagree.

I’ve written about this before, and referenced the excellent piece by James Lindsay on this very subject. I don’t want to be as academic as he is though (please read the piece though, it’s superb!). All I think we need to do is come to a simple understanding of what the word community actually means.

Although I’m not a huge fan of Wikipedia, they have a great definition of what it means to be a community.

First, the definition states shared values. I don’t believe we could point to atheists in general having shared values as all being an atheist means is a non-belief in god(s).

I don’t consider that a value, just a realization, maybe since childhood, more likely as some of us matured, that trusting in some sort of supernatural being to resolve all of our problems whether those issues are health related or financial, or that our favorite sporting team wins their next match (Go Chelsea!) is just unreasonable.

We’ve all seen friends and relatives die, many of us have had financial problems at one time or another and yes, even Chelsea loses on occasion.

What are our shared values? Are all atheists necessarily humanists? Do they all work for Social Justice?

We all have different backgrounds and some of us (ahem!) have different political views. Those don’t define atheism, just our individual dedication to our personal causes. We may even belong to a local group (I do) that attempts to make small changes in out cities or towns.

Those people I interact with don’t always agree on everything. In other words, being pedantic here, we all don’t share the same values. We can however come together on those that we do share, even if they’re few. That doesn’t define us as a community. It’s some friends that happen to have a few interests in common. That’s all.

So stop referring to your fellow atheists as a community. We’re not. We’re just atheists. Anything else we are doesn’t come from our atheism. It comes from our sense of humanity.

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