Today, one of my friends (who is Mormon, and attending BYU) texted me saying that she was writing a paper in her class about being Atheist. Being an Atheist myself, I was interested what the paper would be about. Then she told me that it was about how Atheists do not believe that Jesus existed.
Several feelings and thoughts started coursing through me. At first I was shocked that she would jump to such an extreme conclusion. Jesus doesn't exist? I had not heard that before, but then again, I didn't look it up. So I thought about it. Did atheists believe this? Was this a logical conclusion if you think that God does not exist? My first reaction was "No, We think he existed, we just don't believe he is a prophet or God." But then I thought that maybe there were Atheists who contested his existence. That was when I realized that the real answer is that there isn't one answer. Some might think that there is enough historical evidence to prove Jesus' existence. Others might not. I think a majority of us wouldn't care. And that made me dawn on me that "we" don't have a consensus, not just on this issue, but on almost all of the issues.
When I say "We" I mean Atheists as a collective group. This is a misleading term, as Atheists are not what members of what I call a "collective group." We don't have pamphlets, meeting places, memos, or any other means of coming to a consensus. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely Atheist groups out there. But Atheism in itself is not a group, similar to how it is not a religion. By asking me this question, my friend made me think about how we are misunderstood by religions and people with other beliefs. We are united in one thing: We do not believe in God. That's it. We don't necessarily agree on other issues. We don't have a Pope or some other person who is the uncontested decision-maker for us. We are not a church, we are the opposite. We do not have a church. If someone is called a Catholic, you can be reasonable sure what they believe on most issues. If someone is Atheist, it wouldn't be as clear, or at least it shouldn't be. Some of us might be pro-big government. Some of us might not. We might be fiscally conservative. Or not. We might be ok with the death penalty. Or not. People need to understand that "we" are not a political group. "We" don't have consensus. "We" do not believe in anything universally except for our disbelief in God.