It is time for me to dispel another fallacy that it seems is permeating of mainstream Atheistic culture. It is the idea that everyone is born, atheist.
If you type in the words “Born Atheist” in any search engine in the images category, the 4 memes above are just a tiny sample of what is out there. But in the same way that I believe that Atheists use faulty logic in discarding the stance of Agnosticism, I believe that the situation is the same in this case.
Again, for many, it boils down to the definition of Atheism.
If you go on strictly this, then yes, one can say that everyone is an “Atheist” at birth.
And yet, when applied to the real world at large, this does not stand up to scrutiny.
When it comes to the vast majority of people that call themselves Atheist, no matter how they eventually arrived at that conclusion, it was a due to a personal thought process. Many people started from a very religious/theistic standpoint, and eventually worked there way over into the Atheist category (many going though phases of either Agnosticism or Deism in the process). Some like me, started with a mildly religious upbringing (it was present in my life, but in the background more then anything), and found our way to Atheism from there (a bit faster, since religion was not all that prevalent in our lives to begin with). Some may be born into households that have little or no religious affiliations at all, and thus reached the conclusion even faster.
Or some children, could be indoctrinated into, Atheistic ideology. Come on, its entirely possible. And if this is the case, it is arguably JUST AS WRONG as doing it with a theistic point of view. Logical and reasonable or not, the child still has not reached the conclusion willfully.
But the thread that holds all of these scenarios together (with the exception of 1), is, Atheism is the conclusion of much personal thinking. The people put a lot of time into considering their beliefs, and they ended up as Atheists. Fine.
But someone who was just born, did not put any thought into their beliefs (obviously! they just slipped out of the vagina!). Someone who is a member of some society that is isolated from the rest of our civilization, will not have put any thought into their beliefs (well, the belief systems that are familiar to us anyway). An animal, upon birth, will not put any thought into its beliefs.
A baby, a secluded man, and an animal at any stage of life, will not even be familiar with the CONCEPT of god/deities (and by default, Atheism).
That is not to say that someone living in a secluded civilization will not have their own set of beliefs, that are normalized as per the majority of its people (in the same way that belief in our big religions is considered “normal” by many people within them ). And that is not to say that these people do not have their own variant of Atheism, that some people subscribe to.
But the important detail is, even if Atheism, Theism and every other related belief is familiar to US, it is not to them.
One may be inclined to label anyone with a disbelief in God as an “Atheist”. But if the person has no knowledge of our concept of “God” to begin with, how is that a correct usage of the term? If a baby has no knowledge of our concept of God(s), how can it be an Atheist?
Do I have a term that I would substitute, for these situations?
No I do not. If any readers have any ideas on a term, feel free to comment.
But either way, even if there is no alternate terminology that I can slap up, I will not use the old term. After all, not having a “proper” term to describe a situation, does not invalidate its authenticity.