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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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In general here are the rules.

More directly Catecism says sex is only for procreation

Atheists, church people, gay, trangender and people of color have to stick together as long as they don't believe in xenophobia.

Unfortunately Churches have become Political Orginazations since Focus on the Family, and The Christian Coalition took over the Republican Party, or has the Republican Party Taken over the Religious Right. I think the Republicans took over the Xtian Right.


I don't think "nonbelievers" are second class citizens because there are more of us around than is imagined.

I joined the Elks lodge for example - one of the tennants was a requirement to belive in 'God."

When my sponsor asked if I believed in god I said "No."

The sposnor said I have to believe in god to belong to the Elks.

I said "OK"

During the indoctrination the "Priest," which is one of the officers pointed to me and said. "Why do you have to believe in god?--- to be a member of the Elks."

It was sort of a joke.

The Elks lodge were a great group of guys who as historians looked at the history of WWI.

I'm lucky that they welcomed me in as a junior officer.

"Secular humanist" suits me.  So does "freethinker," the descriptor I most often use because of its positive connotations.  In some situations, I'm happy to call myself an "atheist," but for many people and in some parts of the country the term is, as a linguist would say, skunked.  It always carries associations that are indelibly negative, and there isn't much we can do for that situation in general.  Case by case, we can enlighten those who believe atheists "believe in nothing," or "have no morals," and so on, but that's a tiresome responsibility.

I've always liked "freethinker" myself. Not constrained by dogma or anyone else's decrees without proof is a good way to live.

To be vague I tell my christian friends when asked if I'm an atheist, or another religion sometimes say I'm a Diest.

Our 1st 6 Presidents were all Deists.  Jefferson was within a whisker of being an atheist.   " It matters not if my neighbor believes in 20 gods or no gods.  It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg."  Thomas Jefferson

Indeed. Unfortunatly Christian Theology often rewrights the origin of the U.S. as a Christian State/country/

Athiests are often thought of as Nihsists -

I don't believe that.

Athiests care about others and the world around them.

I'm glad to see your prose again Don.

Good one Neal. Cheers.


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