17 Things Atheists Get Wrong About Faith

Some atheists seem to think they’ve got things all figured out when it comes to religion, faith, and the ways they can poke holes in it. However, there are many things they misunderstand about the way religious folk see the world. This list reveals 17 things atheists get wrong about faith.

Misunderstanding Faith as Blind Belief

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Many atheists scoff at Christians for “blindly” believing in God or other religious figures. However, the Catholic Herald disputes the idea that faith is blind, arguing that it actually involves consenting to divine revelations, which are supported by evidence of those who have been close to God and witnessed His presence.

Equating Religion with Irrationality

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Similarly, a lot of atheists seem to think that all religious beliefs are completely irrational and baseless. But in reality, a large number of religious individuals see logic and reason as playing a significant role in their faith and believe that religion and science can coexist harmoniously.

Seeing Religion as Merely Superstitious

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It’s wrong of atheists to equate religiousness with superstition. A great deal of religious beliefs and rituals are rich in meaning and symbolism and often help people address important ethical and existential questions. Religious practices also provide followers with an important sense of continuity and community.

Believing That Religion Opposes Freedom

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Many atheists suggest that you cannot follow a religion and be free at the same time. But on the contrary, many religious individuals see free will as a cornerstone of their faith, allowing them to make moral choices of their own volition. Religious communities often also advocate for important social justice issues.

Claiming Religion Causes Most Wars

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Atheists often condemn religion based on the misconception that most wars are caused by religious conflicts and ideas. However, according to The Encyclopedia of Wars, just 6.87% of wars were primarily caused by religion. It’s also important to remember that most religions emphasize the importance of peace and nonviolence.

Thinking All Religious People Reject Science

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Another common misconception among atheists is that all religious people completely reject science. In reality, many religious individuals embrace science and scientific discoveries, seeing them as compatible with their faith. What’s more, a lot of religious scientists have made important contributions to different scientific fields.

Assuming Religion Oppresses Women

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Religion has been given a bad reputation for oppressing women and suppressing their rights. However, while some religious communities may do this, others go out of their way to ensure they support gender equality and give women just as many rights and responsibilities as their male counterparts.

Thinking Religion is Against LGBTQ+ Rights

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Similarly, a lot of atheists assume that all religions and religious communities are against LGBTQ+ rights. While it’s true that some aren’t as progressive as others, many communities of faith strive for inclusivity and acceptance of people from many walks of life.

Viewing All Believers as Literalists

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Some atheists mock Christians for believing that everything in the Bible really took place. However, in actuality, a large percentage of Christians don’t see things this way. In 2022, according to Gallup, only 20% of Americans polled said that the Bible is the literal word of God.

Believing Faith is Incompatible with Modernity

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Contrary to what some atheists believe, faith is far from incompatible with modernity. Many religious followers and communities find effective ways of harmonizing their beliefs, practices, and rituals with modern life and values such as science, cultural diversity, and democracy.

Assuming All Faith is Dogmatic

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Some atheists claim that religion is almost always staunchly dogmatic. However, a lot of faiths actually encourage their followers to question and explore their beliefs rather than unthinkingly accepting everything. Religious beliefs also commonly change and evolve over time.

Believing That Faith Discourages Personal Autonomy

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It’s not true that all forms of faith see personal autonomy as a bad thing. A lot of religious philosophies emphasize the importance of free will and making personal moral decisions in alignment with your values. Rather than seeing faith as a strict set of rules you must follow, you can see it as a useful framework that helps you through ethical dilemmas.

Assuming All Faith Communities Are Intolerant

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A lot of atheists unfairly suggest that all faith communities are intolerant of different perspectives and religions. However, a lot of these communities actively participate in interfaith conversations and advocate for tolerance, open-mindedness, and inclusivity.

Thinking All Religions Reject Other Belief Systems

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While it’s true that some religions aren’t compatible with other belief systems, others teach that all spiritual paths have inherent worth in various ways. The assumption that every religion is strictly exclusivist and completely rejects every other form of faith is simply false.

Claiming That All Religious People Fear Death

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Some atheists argue that a lot of religious people only cling to religious beliefs because they’re afraid of death. But in truth, many religious followers only see death as a transition rather than something to be afraid of. Moreover, different religions have different ideas about death and the afterlife, so it makes little sense to generalize them in this way.

Thinking Religion Has No Place in Public Life

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Some people think that religion should have no place in public life. However, a lot of religious principles can be used to inform public policies and discourse in useful ways. Furthermore, many faith-based institutions and organizations play an important role in social and humanitarian efforts.

Believing That Prayer is Meaningless

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A lot of atheists look down on the practice of prayer, believing it to be a meaningless waste of time. However, scientific studies show that it can have very real benefits. According to CNN, prayer has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, fear, and isolation. 

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