Why I Am Not An Atheist, by Jim Baxter

To call someone an atheist is to suggest a definite attitude, even if that attitude is a negative one. To me it suggests a reaction against something, a rejection of a philosophy. And that certainly seems to be how many atheists present themselves. I don’t reject religion. Not really. Not f I’m being totally honest with you. It’s simply not something that means anything to me. Religion is something that I seldom notice. Sometimes of course the religious will tell me that I’ll notice all right when it is too late. That used to annoy me. Not now.

I know religion only as something other people have in their thoughts. I recognise that it is important to them and that it is for many something that is at the very centre of what they do and how they view the world and everything in it. But I have no reaction to it. It seldom even occurs to me that it's there. I am therefore not something that can be defined in terms of the absence of something that others have in their thinking. Nor am I interested, not any more anyway, in arguing about it.

Oh, I used to argue, and not that long ago either, sometimes just for the sake of continuing an argument that would change nobody’s views. I understand why some people who are happy to call themselves atheists get so worked up about those who refuse to see their ‘sense’. I understand them because I used to be one of them. And not that long ago either. Eventually even I had to recognise that I was no different from some religious people, by no means all, who become incensed when they are the ones to be disagreed with. These attitudes are not unique either to atheists or to religious people. They merely mark out intolerant people.

So, if I am an atheist it is only in the sense of fitting a dictionary definition of the word. Even then I would say that if I am an atheist of any kind then I am a ‘recovering atheist’. That doesn’t mean that I have moved any closer to having religious beliefs myself. I haven’t and I never will. Trust me on this. I’d say rather that my sympathies are now with the forgiving in all matters of faith, the meek in that regard. We shall inherit the Earth.

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