Closed-minded theists love to define atheism for us atheists. It is often to make atheism equal to religion, for example by saying that atheism is also a religion and that it takes just as much faith to believe in it. Other times it is to push down atheism, for example by saying it offers no purpose in life so rape is okay and we should all kill ourselves. All of this is preposterous, of course, and here is why.
Atheism as a worldview?
The first thing to clear up is that atheism is not a worldview; it is not equal to religion and it is not a religion. Atheism is just the rejection of all theistic worldviews, but it says nothing about atheists' actual beliefs; the only thing atheists truly have in common with each other because of their atheism is disbelief in gods. Atheism is not something one practices; I don't need to follow any rules to be an atheist; all I need to do is disbelieve in gods.
Atheism is the opposite of theism, both of which are NOT worldviews or ideologies; they are one opinion regarding one question: Do you believe in God? Yes? Theism. No? Atheism. There can then be worldviews that are theistic and worldviews that are atheistic. However, theistic worldviews place the theism—God—in the center; the theism defines the belief, the religion. Atheistic worldviews, or rather secular ones, do not place atheism in the center; the atheism does not define them. This is an important difference, because atheists cannot, by definition, hold theistic worldviews, but theists can hold secular worldviews. One cannot be a Christian atheist, but one can be a Christian who is also a capitalist, socialist, communist, humanist, feminist, or any manner of isms. Atheism is the opposite of theism, but it is not comparable to religion.
To make another point, theists often claim atheism has caused millions of deaths, by the hands of atheist dictators. This is a nonsense argument, mainly because what atheists do has nothing to do with whether or not God is real. Also, the dictators who "killed because of atheism" didn't really kill anyone because of their atheism. Even if they slaughtered only theists, they did NOT do it because of their atheism, but either because of bigotry toward religious people or much more likely to strengthen their political standing, since churches hold much power within a religion and thus over religious people. A valid point to make here is that to have a totalitarian leader who is worshipped is a quality that may be considered religious; the Abrahamic religions have God as their totalitarian leader, communistic North Korea has Kim Jong-un.
Lastly, to say it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a theist is quite irrational to say. One does not believe in atheism; one disbelieves in theism and is thus an atheist. It is the letter "A" in atheism that should give you a clue as to the nature of atheism: it is not an ism, but rather an a-ism. Furthermore, this should be viewed from a scientific perspective: to blindly accept something as true without anything to substantiate it is irrational and unscientific; to disbelieve until there is evidence to substantiate the claim is rational and scientific. Skepticism is a virtue; blind faith is a bad quality.
Atheism is not the same as Satan worship. Atheism is disbelief in god claims, which would include God and Satan. Atheists are not atheists because they "hate God" or "want to sin" or any similar bullshit; atheists are atheists because they don't believe God exists, whether it be for moral or intellectual reasons. Atheism doesn't lead to tyranny, communism, or any specific ideology, because atheism has no doctrine that affects how people think; it is, indeed, an a-ism. Sweden is a very irreligious nation and very free and equal, for example. It also seems nations that are more religious tend to be more conservative and thus less progressed. In short, atheism has nothing to do with any ideology; it has no doctrine or dogma; it is only the disbelief in gods.
What is the purpose of purpose?
It is quite common to run into theists making statements similar to what Michael says in the image above. It's quite frustrating to still see countless theists, even those who are otherwise intelligent, state that atheism is bad because it offers no meaning or purpose. It is difficult to explain the intrinsic value of life and living to someone who has attached all meaning and worth to a deity. Theists are indoctrinated into believing meaning can only be found in the supreme leader and eternal life; they think they need God, because they don't know anything else.
But what is meaning, anyway? What is purpose? Theists say there is objective purpose to life, which is to worship God. This does not seem like a watertight claim to me. Why is worshipping a god an objective purpose when it's little more than obeying a totalitarian leader? Furthermore, I'd say the concepts of free will and objective purpose conflict; we are all free to choose the purpose we have in life, and it cannot be forced on us. And could any theist explain to me what God's purpose is, since one needs a higher being commanding one to do something for it to be purposeful and worth something?
A supreme creator—a god—is not needed to find purpose and meaning in life, because life has intrinsic value; life is worth living because living life is enjoyable, fun, exciting, and all manners of adjectives. Our lives have meaning in our experiences; we have purpose in how we affect the world and the people around us.
To think life has no meaning or rape is okay because we won't live forever is quite selfish and irrational. If anything, hurting others is more immoral in a worldview that says we won't live forever; if a nine-year-old child is murdered, their whole life is taken away, but a Christian believes they are now living it up in heaven. Thus, according to an atheistic worldview, to hurt others is immoral because you hurt others, whereas a theistic worldview only considers it immoral because a supreme leader said so. That's in theory, but I suspect theists consider murder and rape immoral for reasons other than the existence of a deity.
If there's no basis for morality without a supreme leader, why does the supreme leader have a stance on morality without an even more supreme leader? This is the same plot hole as the one that the universe is too complex not to have a creator, but the creator that must be more complex than its creation doesn't need a creator, for some reason. I cannot comprehend how theists are unable to see the beauty in evolution; it is simple, yet complex, and capable of creating amazing creatures without the need for deliberate, intelligent design.
To criticize atheism because it doesn't offer meaning, purpose, value, or "objective morality" is quite ignorant, for many reasons. First, what people consider meaningful, purposeful, valuable, or moral is often subjective. We are a product of evolution and are programmed to want to live, regardless of belief in gods; this survival instinct and our instinct to reproduce may be objective purposes, in a sense. But what we love in life is definitely subjective, and this love is what gives each individual meaning, purpose, value, and joy. Second, what's real is not determined by personal preferences and a wish for an objective purpose. What's real is real even if it is unpleasant.
In addition, atheism cannot be criticized; one can argue for theism, but one cannot argue against atheism. That's because, as I stated prior in this blog post, atheism is NOT a worldview, but rather the rejection of theistic worldviews. This is the rational and logical way to look at this. Atheism doesn't need to offer any kind of meaning, purpose, value, or morality, because it is not a worldview and makes no claims. The argument that is about to follow may be overused, but that's because theists still don't get it: Does my disbelief in unicorns say anything about me or my life? No, it doesn't. Does my disbelief in unicorns mean life has no purpose? Of course not! If you do not live just for the sake of enjoying your life and helping others, then I pity you.
As for morality, I believe there is an objective basis for it, which is the harm that can be measured. If I murder or rape someone, I have hurt them, physically and/or psychologically. Consequences and also intent are the foundation for my morality. But they are, indeed, only the foundation of a tall building, so specifics and context are also important in order to decide whether something is morally black, white, or gray. One gray area could be torture, for example. Clearly, it hurts someone; that's the point of it. But one might do it in order to save countless innocent lives. Is it then moral? What if the person who is tortured does not actually know anything or is entirely innocent? Is it moral to even take that risk, to torture someone who may be innocent? I want to say no, but if it resulted in thousands of deaths, I'm not sure I could stand by that decision.
The theist Michael commented that atheists "extract or steal from Judeo-Christianity to give life meaning, value or purpose in the empty space of atheism." This is an illogical claim for a variety of reasons, once again. To suggest that people steal from Judeo-Christianity as if those religions own morality and happiness and haven't stolen anything themselves, from the cultures in which they were created and paganism, is to have quite the ignorant hubris. I'd also like to know what it is atheists steal from Christianity, exactly.
It is a severe misunderstanding of what atheism even is to make a broad statement about atheists and what meaning they find in life. Atheists are a much more varied "group" than Christians or Muslims, for example; atheists do not necessarily have anything in common at all, except disbelief in gods. That's because religions are worldviews that make claims about life, while atheism is simply a rejection of those worldviews, not an alternative or a worldview at all.
A common myth amongst Christians is that atheism is an "empty space" that is nihilistic, meaningless, and... well, empty, as Michael writes in his comment. This myth is completely false; atheists are not more depressed or nihilistic than religionists. I've been an atheist my entire life, and I've yet to struggle with the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life; as an atheist, I make my own meaning, as all people do. Even theists make their own meaning, their own purpose, but think they need God in addition to what they love in life.
Why does a supreme leader give meaning or purpose, anyway? It rather seems to take it away. The only difference between a North Korean dictator and a god is that one is empirically real and the other is a metaphysical myth whose reign is enforced through indoctrination and unwitting pawns. Can anyone honestly say blindly serving "the leader" gives purpose to life? Of course not. So why would serving a god give purpose? And what is that god's higher purpose, since there must always be a higher purpose? And why must there be a higher purpose? Purpose is not a prerequisite for reality.
I doubt the very nature of objective purpose. I don't think there could be such a thing as objective purpose for free, sentient, living beings, even if a god did exist. Obviously a radio is made for playing music, but if we were to create an intelligent radio with thoughts and feelings, it would be immoral to force said radio to serve us. Only through severe indoctrination would the radio agree to serve us pointlessly and without any independence. And if God made us and intended for us to worship him as our purpose, why did God create us? What is the objective purpose for creating humans? There is none; it's just an experiment or for fun, just like we created the radio. I know Muslims say Allah created us to worship him, but what is the objective reason why he did this? Why does God need to be worshipped?
God isn't our creator, though, and he doesn't exist. We were created through the process of evolution, and this actually provides us with more of an objective purpose than being God's experiment. Because we have an expiration date, our "objective" purpose is to survive and reproduce, same as any animal. However, we do not define ourselves and the meaning of our lives by survival and reproduction: we don't live to survive; we survive to live. Objective purpose bestowed upon you from someone higher than you is not needed to enjoy life or for life to have meaning; I'd rather think that a human being is invaluable because they are living beings with thoughts and feelings than believe they have value only because the supreme creator wants cheap labor.
Like many theists, Michael writes that if atheism were true, life would just be a journey to the grave. I find this rather ironic, for two reasons. First of all, theists consider life a test with which they will finally be finished when they die, so they can go to heaven. Second, for constantly saying atheists are nihilists who think anything goes (even rape and murder), it is theists who seem the most nihilistic, when they try to imagine a godless world. I haven't met many atheists who consider life to be a meaningless journey to the grave; only theists think life would be meaningless without God, because that's what they have been taught. That a godless existence is meaningless is atheism according to closed-minded theists. And it is ridiculous.