Given that believers have rejected the reality of the universe in preference of their deity delusions, it isn’t really a surprise that they really have no idea what atheism is either.
It’s much easier to discount something when you characterize it in understandable and undesirable terms. So the myths and objections are believed and argued over because the myths about atheists allow believers to feel better about themselves – kind of like watching daytime TV exploitation talk shows – and makes sure that their beliefs aren’t challenged.
Myth 1 – Atheism is a religion. Atheism is legally deemed to be a religion in order for people’s right to not be discriminated against because of their beliefs, atheism is a lack of beliefs, so this legal fiction was created to prevent believers from discriminating against atheists; because their religion is an insufficient moral guide on how to work and play well with others.
To be a religion, there needs to be actual beliefs involved, there’s stories, traditions, rituals, special days of observance, special clothes or food, a hierarchy of authority, a degree of supernatural explanations for the universe, and more often than not, at least one deity. Atheism has none of these criteria.
Myth 2 – Atheists are immoral. Depends on which system of morality and what’s considered moral. If morality is determined by the quality of worshipping deities and authority, purity and groupthink, sure, atheists are proudly immoral under that system. Atheists are at least just as moral in any meaningful measure of the word as any other person. Knowing that this is the only life that we have for sure, atheists are less likely to be willing to take someone else’s life away from them or interfere in said person’s ability to live their life as they see fit. So, in some respect, more moral than others. Certainly, atheists are underrepresented in prison, insofar as prison demographics are meaningful measures of society.
Myth 3 – Atheists believe that there’s no god. Some people may assert that there is no god, however, that’s beyond the scope of atheism, which is merely a rejection of claims for any god(s), owing to the lack of evidence. The balance of probability suggests there’s such a small likelihood of there being a god as to approach zero.
Myth 4 – Atheists believe x, y, z. Atheism is not anything other than the rejection of claims for god(s) owing to the lack of evidence. It is not a worldview, belief structure or moral code. Anything a person who is an atheist believes is their individual concern and does not apply to all atheists. Atheism is really a specially area of skepticism, which is a worldview and evidence based framework for understanding the world, and while all skeptics are atheists, not all atheists are necessarily skeptics. It is very possible for an atheist to reject religion, but believe in ghosts, UFO abductions, homeopathy, telepathy or some other non-evidence based belief.
If believers could understand what atheism means and is, then they’d have to start to deal with their cognitive dissonance about their own religion and they’d be atheists or on the path to becoming one. It’s not a lack of knowledge or exposure to any given religion that makes us not believers in them, but rather it’s the knowledge and exposure to religion that has resulted in our not being believers, because no religion is evidence based and in the natural universe, there are natural explanations for everything – even if we don’t have the knowledge or technology to know right now.
Knowledge is a process of gathering, of discovery, it’s not having answers – especially easy and, well, lazy, answers that don’t really answer anything – and religion does not hold their gods accountable to provide any answers.
So, what good is a good that allows evil and who cannot demonstratively respond to prayers – because a no is the same as no answer at all – then what good is this god? The time and money spent in worship, the rivalries between the various god-gangs that exacerbate violence and hatred, worse the interference with education and stopping inquiry and the development of a body of knowledge – what good is an absentee god when that looks the same as a non-existent one?
The real concern isn’t why atheists don’t believe, but why believers do.
The afterlife ultimatum, just doesn’t cut it – if being a good person is what matters, then, when you die and there is a god, you can stand head proud and say, I was the best person I could be. King me.