“Atheist Faith”, an Oxymoron?

How can an Atheist have Faith? That doesn’t make sense.

To be clear: I AM NOT implying that Atheism is a Religion. Not.At.All. Some may think that is true. For some, this may be true. Not for me. Religion, I believe, is so much more than belief in a deity (or not, in the case of atheism). Religion is a culture, a way of life, a guide to living life, and a community. I make no claim that Atheism, on it’s own, offers any of these things. (it would be nice, though, if it did; one of the reasons for this blog).

So, what, then, is an Atheist Faith? Here is what I mean: While I am an Atheist, faith still plays a major role in my life. The distinction is where I place that faith; not in a deity but in MYSELF and PEOPLE in my life.

Faith, as I view it, is believing in something you cannot prove to be true. I believe it is impossible to operate without faith in your life. I simply choose to place my faith IN THIS LIFE.

For example:

  • I don’t believe God will give me the strength to overcome obstacles; I have faith that I can find the necessary strength within myself
  • I don’t believe God will be there to offer me support; I have faith that my friends will be there to prop me up when life knocks me down.
  • I don’t believe bad things are part of God’s plan; I have faith that my family and I will pull together to survive the inevitable misfortunes thrown our way.
  • And so on… you get the idea…

So, great, I still have faith; just a version re-worked to exclude ‘God’. Wonderful. Except…

Here’s the scary part: This kind of faith… faith in people… can, nay will, be proven wrong, misplaced, and unwarranted at times. That doesn’t happen with faith in ‘God’. Everything ‘bad’ and everything ‘good’ is just part of God’s plan, right? Faith in people, though, that’s a messy business.

It is also wonderful and surprising. People will be there for you when you least expect it; without any warning. It is beautiful, and inspiring, when people prove themselves worthy of your faith.

This is the type of faith I aspire to and what I mean by ‘Atheist Faith’. It is hard won, but oh so worth it.