I was having a beer with a Greek Orthodox friend of mine during the week and the topic of religion came up. Now as much as i enjoy a discussion about religion i don't particularly enjoy discussing religion with this friend for two reasons. Firstly he doesn't understand his own position well enough to discuss it, let alone mine, and secondly his idea of "discussion" is you shut up while i talk, Then you agree.
On this occasion though he got me thinking about something which inspired this blog post, So i thank him for that.
After i had explained to him that my disbelief in god does not equate a hatred for god any more than his disbelief in unicorns equates a hatred for them and that if he understood why he didn't believe in Thor he would be on the way to understanding why i don't believe in Yahweh he said "well, If you don't believe in god, what do you believe in?".
This question is usually well answered by saying something along the lines of "I believe in science, reason and evidence". But before i had a chance i trot out that well rehearsed answer to a facile question i realized what he meant.
He wasn't asking me what i believe in, He was asking me what i had replaced god with.
I realized that the question "what do you believe in" - A question often asked - Actually meant "what have you used to fill the void left by your disbelief in god" as if i am somehow missing something, As if i have a gap to fill that god once filled and as if the belief in a supernatural-sky-daddy was the default state of humans.
While the answer of "science, reason and evidence" is a good one, it isn't anything to do with a disbelief in god. It's not something exclusively believed by atheists because, While we know it's true, I doubt you could find a religious person willing to admit that they don't believe in science, reason and evidence, Even though they by-pass it when the conclusion they want to draw isn't supported by science, reason and evidence.
I advise that if you are asked this question again by a theist you ask them what they mean by it. There is no point giving an answer they understand to a question they don't realize they have asked.