On this site we sometimes review phrases which people have typed into search engines and turn them into articles. This article is one such case. Until one hears this title, it doesn’t necessarily seem obvious.
It would be correct to say, that there are certainly some people in the world who fear atheism. The important point is, are these people devout theists who will never be swayed from their views, and induce fear of atheism in others through their own hatred of it? Or are these people actually in agreement with atheism, but fear it because of its superficial aggression, or fear it because they have been told to? And how many people are there who fear atheism?
There is, of course, nothing to fear from atheism. It is a single statement: that there is no good reasoning to think that any number of gods exist. Certainly, many atheist persons will take it upon themselves to prowl the internet and intellectually hunt the religious, but this is not a requirement of atheism. In fact, one of the most beneficial side-effects of the term “new atheism” is that it separates those who wish to campaign and challenge from those who do not. The fear of atheism cannot arise from atheism itself. It must arise, as many would suspect, from the strongly religious.
What forms of this fear could exist? There appear to be two obvious ones. There is a fear from association, where someone has been mentally indoctrinated to believe that atheism is the purest evil, though would not think this if they had assessed it for themselves. And there is a fear from the threat that it poses.
To the first of these, the fault is of the religious leaders. There is certainly some “us and them” mentality at work here. By labelling atheist persons as a group, and nominalising the adjective “atheist”, they utilise the primitive human instinct that is the “us and them” mentality; either you’re with us, or against us. This combined with the other propaganda, which is usually untrue, forms a potent mix for instilling fear into an audience.
To the second form of fear of atheism, a fear that atheism is not only right, but is in the same mental domain as science, mathematics, and philosophy, all of which have been successful. This fear is justified. Atheism is the antidote to theism.
There is only one solution to a fear of atheism, and we have known it for a long time: understanding. An unbiased understanding of atheism will reveal it to be timid and harmless. It can be considered in any manner, for it is a simple, single statement, and it is because of this that it is so successful.