Below are the frequently asked questions that we get.
The Atheist Community of San Jose (ACSJ) is an organization for atheists and like-minded non-believers, founded with the goals to develop and support the Atheist Community, and to provide opportunities for socializing, philanthropy, education, and friendship. We promote a positive public perception of Atheists and Secularists, and work with other organizations in pursuit of common goals.
The focus of the ACSJ is the community of atheists and non-believers, many of whom were at one time believers. That said, one need not be an atheist or non-believer to join.
One can join the ACSJ via the ACSJ Meetup group, through the ACSJ website, and also on the ACSJ Facebook page
[Greek; not, without> + theo [Greek; god> + -ist [Greek; one who does an action>. An atheist is a person who rejects the claim that any god (or gods) exist... and, therefore, believes that gods do not exist.
No one knows what a person who self-identifies as an "atheist" believes without engaging that person on the question. It should be noted that atheism is a statement of non-belief, not of belief. This is an important distinction because many people presume to know what atheists believe when, by definition, the term "atheist" only describes what one does not believe. Therefore, one cannot know what an atheist does believe without actually engaging that person.
[Greek; not, without> + gnosis [Greek; knowledge> + -ic [Latin; pertaining to>. An agnostic is one who believes the existence of a god (or gods) is unknown and cannot be known with sufficient certainty to claim theism.
The terms "theist" and "atheist" describe one's belief pertaining to the existence of a god (or gods). The terms "gnostic" and "agnostic" describe one's assertion of knowledge pertaining to the existence of a god (or gods). Hence, rather than being exclusive, the terms atheist and agnostic are complementary descriptions regarding the ontological claims ... one pertaining to belief and the other pertaining to knowledge.Therefore, if one believes that a god exists and also claims to have knowledge that a god exists, then one is a "gnostic-theist". If one believes that no gods exist, but does not claim to have knowledge that no gods exists, then one is an "agnostic-atheist". The following Karnaugh map provides clarity among the combinations of terms.
Atheists don't hate any god(s). One cannot hate something that one does not believe exists. Can one hate Santa Claus? No. To say that one loves or hates something that doesn't exist makes no sense. So it is that atheists do not hate any god(s).
There are numerous definitions of religion, e.g. dictionary.com, oxforddictionaries.com, merriam-webster.com, wikipedia.org, etc., that each vary in subtle ways.In its most common form, "religion" is an organized set of beliefs (a doctrine) that relates humanity to the supernatural, and is characterized by the requirement that its followers adhere to a set of beliefs and practices, including ceremonies, moral restrictions/obligations, rituals, etc. Atheism is clearly not a religion, since it rejects all supernatural claims and has no prescribed beliefs and practices. Rather, atheism is a statement about what one does not believe, not of what one does believe.
Why do atheists have to be such haters ... can't they just let those who wish to believe in a god do so and leave it at that?
Atheists are not "haters" by definition and, of course, the ACSJ supports everyone's freedom to believe what they want. However, people act on their beliefs. What a person believes informs and influences how they act. Consequently, what people believe affects others. Each person has a vested interest in what those of their family, friends, community, country, and world believe. Therefore, it best serves everyone that all people believe what is demonstrably true. If it cannot be demonstrated through experiment and/or reason that a belief is true, thereby counting it as knowledge, then it is to the benefit of all that such a belief be discarded.
Isn't it enough that my belief in the existence of god makes me happy? Does it really matter whether or not it can be demonstrated to be true?
Truth matters. It matters because people act in accordance with their beliefs. If one believes a thing to be true, then one's actions will proceed as if that thing is true. If that thing is false, then to proceed as if it is true may result in harm to oneself and/or others. If that thing cannot be demonstrated to be true, then one's actions should not proceed as if it is so.The state of something being true or not is not dependent on how one feels about it. Whether a belief makes one happy or sad or angry or whatever has no bearing on whether or not it is true. Hence, just because a belief makes one happy is no justification to believe and behave as if it is true.For example, one may be comforted by their belief that prayer can heal the sick, but that comfort is no justification for denying medical care to a sick child in favor of prayer (see Faith-Healing Parents Arrested for Death of Second Child)