The concept of atheist jihad may at first sound as a contradiction. Examining the definitions of its separate terms is hence in order:
atheist = One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being. (Webster 1913). The definition becomes even more general if we replace "supreme intelligent Being" with "supernatural powers".
jihad = an Arabic word meaning “struggle” in the broad sense. The word “jihad” does not in itself denote violence or war (even if the term is also used to connote the specific armed struggle in theistic holy wars).
The struggle of a nonbeliever
We can thus confidently conclude that atheist jihad is not a contradiction in terms, not if the terms “atheist” and “jihad” are understood in their primary sense. The primary meaning of atheist jihad would then be “a nonbeliever’s struggle” or “the struggle of a nonbeliever”.
Here we have a brand new, non-contradictory concept on our hands, connoting some sort of “struggle of a nonbeliever”. But so far it seems somewhat imprecise, needing more analysis and clarification. Struggles come in many types and varieties. What kind of struggle would an atheist be involved in?
No inner struggle, no struggle for proselytes
We have seen accounts of how the religiously faithful sometimes have to struggle with their disbeliefs and doubts. Such a struggle is obviously not applicable to the atheist, who already disbelieves by definition. So atheist jihad can not concern inner mental struggle or soul-searching.
Would that make atheist jihad a struggle against theist beliefs? No, because an atheist is merely a nonbeliever, not a converter who wants to turn believers into nonbelievers (that would require an antitheist).
Some would even argue that a hypothesized absence of supernatural powers is a belief in itself. Maybe so, but being accused of believing or disbelieving doesn’t disturb the atheist. Faced with incomplete information, we are all making use of probabilities, atheists like everybody else. As far as the atheist is concerned, it may be most reasonable to believe in the existence or nonexistence of whatever, and make acceptable hypotheses about such matters. What disturbs the atheist’s methodological mind, is the treating of hypotheses and beliefs like they were proven facts.
We can now begin to grasp the meaning of atheist jihad.
Atheist jihad thus turns out to mean the atheist struggle to eliminate or minimize the harmful effects of treating unsubstantiated hypotheses regarding supernatural powers in the same way as proven facts.
So atheist jihad manifests itself in an unrelenting struggle against basing decisions in the socio-political public sphere on superstitious/religious beliefs. However, atheist jihad only concerns public society and can not be declared against privately held superstitious/religious beliefs.
Atheist jihad is the struggle against
- infringement on human rights on religious grounds
- moral arguments in the public sphere, based on religious dogma
Atheist jihad is the struggle for
- strict separation of Organised Superstition / Religion and State
- democratically argued public morality instead of dogmatic, religion-based morality
(This node is a response to a recent chatterbox lamentation by spring that “atheist jihad” has not been noded)