Recently, a new trend has cropped up among the atheist population: wearing necklaces and other jewelry symbolizing their non-belief. Just as people of other religious faiths have done, atheists have now begun wearing physical items to announce to the world that they do not believe in God. Should atheists wear their non-belief?
For years, some Christians have adorned themselves with the cross to let others know their belief system, and also perhaps as a matter of personal fashion and reminder of their faith. Some atheists are convinced that there is no God, but traditionally they did not have a symbol to wear and some might have been frightened to do so because of the discrimination and oppression atheists have long faced in the U.S. and around the world. In some countries, atheists are routinely murdered for their non-belief.
In American society it is generally acceptable to question a person’s beliefs as long as a person’s religion is not disparaged. Many atheists feel that religion has “taken over” U.S. society and yet, they state, when an atheist proclaims there is no such thing as God, some who believe in God begin claiming that there is a “war on religion.” The donning of an atheist symbol by non-believers may result in an uptick in this sentiment, which is something a person should consider when pondering whether to wear his or her beliefs on his or her sleeve (or in this case, around the neck.)
Do today’s atheists have a duty to question the beliefs of those who follow scripture, or should atheists take the approach of “live and let live?” Wearing a necklace with an atheist symbol can and will start the conversation and perhaps even a debate about atheists beliefs, but is it necessary to do so? Should atheists wear their non-belief?
Some claim that the more outspoken an atheist is about his or her views, the less confrontational those views will feel and the more accepted they will become. Others say that by being outspoken and wearing such symbols, the atheist would be pushing his or her beliefs on other people in the same way that some in the religious community do.
There are several symbols available online that atheists have been trying to popularize in their community: the Flying Spaghetti Monster necklace, an A with a circle around it, the Darwin fish with legs and Richard Dawkins’ scarlet A. An atheist can find these and more in specialty shops or on the internet, and because some atheists are open-minded, there is not just one idea of what the symbol should be. The atheist of today is free to find the symbol that best fits him or her, be it the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.
That is because atheists do not have one resource from which to formulate their personal beliefs; they look at all science, learn from educated men and women and get their information from research. Most atheists understand that they do not know everything and that things they believe today could be disproved tomorrow.
Atheists have no book to which they are tied; rather, they get their code of behavior from the elegant idea of cohesive societies, which rely on morality to function properly. They generally treat people the way they would like to be treated because that is a good way to live, not because they will be punished if they do not act in a moral manner.
Should atheists wear their non-belief? As with any decision, it comes down to personal choice. Some feel that wearing an atheist symbol is an important step toward acceptance and tolerance while others feel it is no different than the prosletyzing they themselves abhor. There are others who feel that belief should be private across the board no matter to which religious faith a person belongs. An argument can be made on either side; it is up to each individual how far he or she wants to take their lack of belief and to what degree he or she feels it defines him or her as a person.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio