Let me first address this common misunderstanding of what it means to be an atheist and what it means to be agnostic. Too many people appear to confuse the two as being antithetical from one another. This just isn’t so whatsoever. In fact, the contrary is closer to truth. Let me explain.
Agnosticism is a knowledge question. Atheism is a belief question. In reality the two do not conflict with one another. The conflict is designed by the religious in order to divide the secular movement, despite the two bearing no actual disparity. When asked if whether or not you believe in God(s), the answer is either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. There is no ‘I don’t know’ in a belief system.
Instead, that particular response is more suitable for the question ‘Do you know if God exists or not?’ If your response is ‘Yes’, then you’re religious to the extent in which you rely on blind faith, rather than evidence, in claiming knowledge of such a deity. If your response is ‘No’ – which is equivalent to saying ‘I don’t know’ – then you’re considered an Agnostic. And yet, this doesn’t negate your DISBELIEF in a God. In fact, both correlate with one another very well and represents the core understanding of adhering to Secularism.
In other words, to be considered an Atheist, you essentially only need not believe in any God of any sort. To be considered an Agnostic, you’re essentially clarifying your lack of knowledge over whether or not God actually exists. Most Atheists, like myself, will tell you, ‘I don’t believe in God, not because I know s/he doesn’t exist, but because the likelihood of there being one is incredibly slim.’ Thus acknowledging yourself as an Agnostic Atheist.
Life and Death in the Eyes of the Non-Religious
Now let me address the questions of life and death many people tend to have almost immediately when brought to light that I, myself, am indeed an atheist.
As an atheist, I do not believe that God created me. I do not believe that Jesus died for me. And I do not believe that, when I die, my soul will then live forever in Heaven (or Hell). When I finally accepted reason and rationality, I was perfectly content with this. But then, as I continued my journey in this beautiful, yet complex, world, science had then guided me back to a similar story.
I realized that my creation, as is the story of creation for every other biological life on this planet, was the result of changing frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of the population – a natural, genetic adaption to my surrounding environment: natural selection. I realized that I was made up of stardust. Meaning, all the elements in which matter for evolution – oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, iron – couldn’t have arisen to create me without the explosion of stars. Stars died for me to live. And when I die, my body will decompose, and will then turn back into energy for the Earth – energy for the universe.
I don’t believe in God, Jesus, Angels, Heaven or Hell, not because I didn’t want to believe in such a story, but because there isn’t any evidence that I was ever created by any God(s) of any shape or form, or that Angels look after me, or that Jesus died for me, or that I’ll either go to Heaven or Hell depending on how satisfactory I was in God’s eyes. But thanks to science, the same story lives on, only far more poetically, and far more scientifically. I don’t need a God, or a savior, or a supernatural place outside the realm of our universe to forever live in. What I have now is more than enough: the galaxy and its laws, the stars, and the energy provided for me by the Earth in which I preside.
That is the magic of reality; the poetry of science. It is reason enough (more than enough) for me to wake up everyday and continue living on until my final breath. If that isn’t enough for you, then there’s nothing that ever will be. Live to love life. Love to live life.
P.S. Now that I’ve answered your questions on atheism, how about asking me why I’m a Transhumanist!? ^_^