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The Sunday Planet - So You're an Atheist - April 3, 2016

So you're an Atheist

Good news! You've decided not to be wasting oxygen whining to your invisible friend all day. The earth would shout hallelujah if it was able. You've decided that living your life according to myth has some very bad consequences and that you'd rather take a pro-human stance in living. Congratulations.

There are many non-believers whose daily thoughts never center on religion. In fact, I would bet that most atheists would never think about the subject if it wasn't for the minority that would like to control our lives based on their imaginary friend. Many of us now did not grow up with prayers and church. Many of us never bowed our heads to anyone or anything, except possibly for parents while they were correcting our bad behavior. We do not bow our heads to nothingness, we do not raise our hands to touch the glory of nothing. We live here and now and are proud to do so. 

Yet, is there some delight in standing for nothing? This conversation comes up every so often on this site and others. People get indignant about definitions and labels, but we are something as opposed to nothing. Atheism is just the acknowledgment that there are no gods, nothing more. It is not negative "belief" since using that term signifies that belief means something when it pertains to the unknowable, and at best, that is a slightly awkward stance to take.   

In everyday conversation, is it not difficult to only maintain what we are not, instead of what we are? If we only concentrated on what we are not, we would never make any inroads towards a society that fears the reality of life and death. Many of us decided we'd had enough of religion's encroachment into civil society, we attacked, and still do, the weak premise of the supernatural with logic, with critical thinking, with common sense. How that translates to a society that is seemingly becoming more uneducated every year is a mystery. If they do not share our desire to look at the world and see what it is, then what we say becomes increasingly important when it comes to society accepting non-believers.

Many dislike the term atheism. They believe that it stands for nothing, that it only says what we are not. We are not believers. It is true that people may not understand the nuances of the term. Saying we don't believe in myth also means we believe in this world and only this world, but people do not understand that. I think that by using the term atheist without longwinded explanations does not help us.

I've come to use the term secular humanist. It may not explain everything we really are, but when it comes to understanding it may help. Many believers - those who are not fundamentalists - can be and are humanists. They can understand the desire to be concerned about our fellow man, about the world we live in, about poverty and disease, about what makes us all the same. It is a term that is understood to stand for something. It is something that can be shared with our religious friends that they can grab onto, something that will resonate with their worldview.

We should be able to join hands with those who promote the same values that we hold, regardless of belief our lack of. To integrate into society, at least, American society, we need to make sure people know who we are, not what we are not. We should be an example of how humans can be full of grace, without needing a flawed deity to direct us. In fact, we should be better because we understand the harm that thoughtless belief and subjugation can, and does, bring to the world. 

Tell us, who are you?

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Why not follow me and my Blog  (blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com) and speak of atheists and non-atheists ?  This expresses the conviction that it is NORMAL to be an atheist, odd, to say the least, to be a non-atheist.  "Believers" and "Unbelievers" made us second-class thinkers who were lacking something. 

Trouble is "atheism" is already (and inherently) a negative response to the purportedly standard condition, which is theism.  That is, by definition atheist describes a person by virtue of what he does not have, which is belief in gods.  "Secular humanist" is probably the most reasonable term available to us, at least until that distant day when theists will be in the minority.

I do follow your Blog Frank and enjoy it very much. I'm OK with the term Atheist, its long past the time when we could have changed it.

In the UK its not negative to call yourself Atheist, on the contrary its become cool. Everybody and his dog is calling themselves Atheist.

I'm following Frank. Got another decade in you? =)

"<em>It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists, and if religion were not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.</em>"
-- Ernestine Rose --

Exactly. Which is why we hear the common refrain, abuse.

Having survived Catholic schools, I long ago decided that laying religion on children is child abuse.
However, America's legislators outlawed abuse of dogs and cats a century before they outlawed abuse of children.
For that reason alone, not to mention its empire building, I can agree with Obama's minister who once proclaimed, "Goddamn America!"

I agree that children shouldn't be exposed to religion until the age of consent, which is 13 y.o. in Catholic societies.

Many religions teach very young children about eternal damnation, and burning in hell. That is terrible child abuse.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in one of her books that leaving Islam and god was easier than leaving the fear of hell that was indroctinated in her at a young age.

Hi.  I attended a Catholic school, starting in 1931.  Will never forget 1st grade.  Q Who made the World ?  A.  God made the World.  They didn't wait until Confirmation at around 13 to begin the brain washing.  First ' Communion' was at 6 years.

I went to Sunday School at a young age and didn't believe the Noah's Arc story.

How can one boat carry every bird, lizzard, insect, and mamal on the planet?

Every culture has a flood story. Many of my Indigiousnous friends told me of flood stories. Along the Columbia River the Musula flood shaped many stories.

The washout was called the badlands

It's helpful and healthy to not give words such power.

In San Francisco in the 1980s, old gay men (beaten down by years of hateful abuse) rejected the word "fag" and young gay men (refusing to be beaten down) accepted it.

I'm 85 and proudly call myself an atheist. Anyone who wants my power will have to win it.

Ronald Reagan and many other Right Wingers (If's that not to politically incorrect) - even today want to prohibit condom use (in Africa).

Latan America seems to be controlled by the Vadican - hopefully it will get beter with the new pope. Traditionally the goal of the Catholic church seemed to be "PROCREATE."

Lorin,

You refered me to the Catholic doctrine about sex.  It was Fasist I lost the link, Please send it to me again and post it as a follow up to this post.

Thanks

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