Saturday, April 01, 2006

Atheism Doesn't Mean Amoral

I was stunned when I read the results of a survey that was recently conducted by the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology about atheism. It seems that Americans are distrusting of atheists although, from the study, it appears that they have little idea what it means. According to most of the 2000 Americans surveyed, we are self-centered, prone to criminal behavior, materialistic, untrustworthy, don’t have core values, don’t care about our fellow citizens let alone the rest of humanity and you shouldn’t let your sons and daughters marry us. Glad to know we’re so highly regarded by our fellow Americans.

Not to toot my own horn, but I care very deeply about the world around me, I follow the law, and I am generous with my friends, family, neighbors and community. I also try to consume as little as possible, I use public transportation, drive my car little and much prefer to spend time with people than acquiring things. I share many of the same core values as religious people, treat others as I would myself, do no harm, share, in fact I would say that I adhere to the words of Jesus much better than most Christians. I do it not because I believe they are the words of God, but because I believe deeply in the inherent dignity of living things. God doesn’t make us good, we choose that for ourselves and our behavior is how we are judged by society. Then why is there such a disconnect between what atheists believe, and what others believe of them?

This survey does give some insight into why science is under attack. Scientists are predominantly atheists with 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences either not believing or doubting the existence of God. This is not proof that they are bad human beings, but rather their experience tells them that what is not provable, is not something you want to have blind faith in. But if the majority of the country considers them suspect as people, why would they trust the science that they produce, whether about global warming, fine particulate contamination or stem cells? If science breeds atheism, then in a “Christian society” science must not be trusted. We seem to be going back further in time and at a much more rapid pace than we ever could have imagined.

There seems to be a sense that if you don’t believe in God, you must believe instead in the opposite of God. I guess this is a function of our polarized society and our vain attempts to order the world into black and white. I have no problem with others having faith in God, I have faith in things too. I just don’t kid myself that there are any absolutes. I have faith that the world will keep spinning, until it stops. I have faith that my husband will come home each night, until he doesn’t. I have faith that people are good and decent, until they show me otherwise. I have faith. I just can’t make that leap to having blind faith in anything, even God. But that doesn’t mean I reject everything in the Bible.

Rejecting God doesn’t mean rejecting the morality that Christians believe comes from Him, I follow the commandments regarding social behavior, honor thy mother and father, thou shall not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet thy neighbor’s house and wife, but I do so because they’re good ideas, not because God tells me to.

So where does this leave us? While 40% of people in the United Kingdom don’t believe in God, in the United States, that number is only 5% according to a Gallup Poll conducted in 2005 (although a BBC poll from 2004 has that number at 10%). The U.S. is still a pretty religious country and atheists, while fairly common in Western Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, make up a very small segment of the population in this country and clearly, we are a group not trusted by our fellow citizens. It seems to me that atheists are misunderstood and we have much work to do in educating our fellow Americans about our beliefs, but interestingly enough, it is Christians, not atheists, who are feeling persecuted, even though they are, by far, in the majority.

This week, Christians are gathering in Washington D.C. to formulate a strategy for fighting back in the “War on Christians”, but who is persecuting them? Atheists? Not likely, considering we are a disconnected and highly unorganized group. What are they so afraid of? If the word “God” is erased from our money, our courtrooms and our public places, does that really have any effect on their faith? Do they need non-believers to validate their belief in God? Having “God” on our money and in our public squares has not made me believe in His existence, so how could it possibly have the opposite effect?

The separation of Church and State is a protection for all of us. Government can’t mandate religion and it can’t infringe upon religious institutions either. Legislating morality is un-American and it doesn’t work, this is what atheists know and what Christians must learn. Atheism doesn’t mean amoral, it just means that external forces are not necessary for the formation of, and adherence to, a moral code. In most cases, we share a common vision of American society. It’s just how we get there where the difference is found.

43 Comments:

Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

IRONY!

"The individuals who conduct the polls are generally social scientists and statisticians.

The success of polling and survey research is in large part built on the foundation of mathematical probability theory. These principles demonstrate that the characteristics of a sample that is selected randomly from a larger population will generally represent the distribution of characteristics of that population within known margins of error."

http://www.creativeresistance.ca/awareness01/1999-nov30-the-science-of-polls-frank-newport.htm

No doubt not a few of those who gather in D.C, to formulate a strategy to fight a nonexistent 'war',
are believers in 'intelligent..carbon dating denying (atomic theory)...design'.


Many may begin their day with a microwaved (more atomic THEORY) muffin. They will travel by personal vehicle, cab or bus (LAWS of thermodynamics) to the airport. They will pass through still more atomic theory to board large metallic (metallurgy), winged tubes which will whisk their scientically illiterate asses, at around 520 mph (Newtonian Physics) at a height of 30,000' (Law of Freakin' GRAVITY!), to the seat of a National government founded on Enlightenment philosophy that in large part has been successful in keeping us from killing each other over religion...that annoying 'establishment clause' keeping prayer out of public schools!

And if you sat many them down to explain all that, they would cock their heads in puzzlement much like the dog in the old RCA
ads. Irony hell, it would be cognitive dissonance to a mentally disabling degree!

11:43 AM  
Blogger Bryon Rogers said...

Wow. Nicely done. I'm going to have to drop by your blog more often.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

OK, first, ROFLMFAO, dale!

Second, may I point out that god didn't put "In God We Trust"on our money in 1866, and god did not put "under God" in The Pledge in 1954, and god did not put the 10 commandments in any of our courthouses. Politicians bowing to fundementlist christians did all of these things.

No matter how many times or how loudly someone tells me that the forefathers intended for us to be a religious society, I can't fathom how anyone can come to this conclusion. We a very clearly supposed to have freedom of religion and seperation of church and state, which means that there is no room for religion or "faith-based" iniiatives in the government.

That means no favorable tax status for the church of whatever bogeyman my neighbor happens to want to worship.

And another thing, name a single war/crusade in human history that was begun by an organization of atheists for religious reasons. We are NOT the ones who bang the drums of war.

As far as marrying your daughter, that's your hangup, not mine. I don't require the bonds of matrimony to fuck your daughter, all I require is her consent. The only dfference between me and you is guilt/absolution.

Of course I say you, I am refering to any christian who feels morally superior to me.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Kvatch said...

I once had to define "atheism" for my in-laws, and then had to explain how I wasn't really one of "those" people. (The concept of an "agnostic" was even harder.)

Think I'll just stick with "heathen". Nice post.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

kvatch:

heathen is my favorite, too

12:51 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Dale--I love it!

Byron--Thanks and I hope to see more of you.

Yellow Dog--Excellent! We are not a Christian nation and I, too, am tired of people who've clearly not read our constitution trying to ram that ridiculous notion down my throat.

Kvach--I like heathen too. I sometimes wonder if the polls show such low numbers of atheists because there are so many ways to describe those of us who are non-religious; atheist, agnostic, rationalist, naturalist, heathen, pagan, skeptic, non-Christian, doubter, freethinker, etc.

1:11 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Yellow Dog--Oh, and thanks for sending me this article in the first place. As you can see, it got me a little riled up and I just couldn't let it slip by without comment.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

LG:

Guess this is my day for applying literary devices as feedback on your comments.

UNDERSTATEMENT: "It got me a little riled up..."

Brings to mind one of the best movie lines for describing an understatement.

From "Absence of Malice" and delivered by current TV medical suppy salesman Wilford Brimley:

"You had a leak? You call what's goin' on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat."

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

Yellow Dog:

My own head was cocked in puzzzlement until I Googled ROFLMFAO...Rolling On Floor Laughing My F***ing A** Off

2:35 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

LG:

Thanks for tackling this. I was thinking I'd like too, but I'm buried. You did it much more eloquently then I would hve.

Dale:

Hey, I did my good deed for the day. I learn alot here, bu the comic relief is nice, too. You guys friggin' kill me.

3:39 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

Prison surveys have shown that less than 1% of convicted murderers in the U.S. are atheists, yet the average person still thinks that the 5-10% of Americans who are atheist are more prone to crime. Sadly, statistics only confuse them.

5:30 PM  
Blogger glenda said...

Yeah, they hate atheists, them fundamentalists. And even though most America is not as conservative, they vote their convictions and they are hammering us because of it. They are the ones making policy that is affecting us all.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

holy crap ... fortunately there are quite a few rational theists some even quite accomplished scientists who believe in and actually understand evolution and molecular biology ... I know a few ... I myself am an atheist I guess ... an unbeliever in cheap and tawdry stories that don't match up to observation and study ... we're a lonely bunch in this godly nation I guess ... holy shit! I had thought it was something like 9 or 10 percent. holy moly! altruism got nothin' to do with god. altruism is a natural thing. it takes something unnatural, like religion, patriotism, or some other artificially, humanly constructed -- ism to undo it ... excellent post

7:36 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Dale--Are you an English teacher by chance?

Yellow Dog--I wanted to wait for you to post on it, but my fingers got too itchy.

TheHim--Thanks for those stats, can't say I'm surprised. I'm still laughing at the rest of your comment, your right, those damn facts, they do us no good.

Glenda--Ironic, isn't it?

Rory--I feel your outrage, it's a scary place we're livin' in these days.

8:13 PM  
Blogger GraemeAnfinson said...

I would give an ironic Amen to that. The argument that really gets me is, and my dad says this to me, that we really believe in God but we don't want to change our lifestyles. What an arrogant piece of shit argument.

Also the one about, if you don't believe in god, why not go around killing people. I want to kill someone when I hear that. Great post

10:22 PM  
Blogger a rose is a rose said...

i am an agnostic i guess. i am NOT an atheist for one reason and one alone - i was RAISED catholic and that is enough to scare the bejesus (sorry for that one) out of you for LIFE. of course i'm no longer catholic.

i'm hard to characterize. i tell people i'm streg(h)a and let THEM worry about finding out what it means.

do you know once at work someone asked me (they knew i wasn't a follower of traditional religions) if i celebrated thanksgiving? huh????? my response was i gave thanks daily and YES i celebrated on THAT day as well. as you point out i am SURE some think i worship the devil. since i don't believe a devil exists (outside of our own humanity) i don't know where in the HELL (sorry for that one too) they got that from.

thanks for posting on this subject. it's near and dear to my heart (and soul)

4:21 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

That's why I send this stuff to you, LG. I know you wil say exactly what I would have mean to say in a way that I wish I could have said it.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding your article 'Atheism doesn't mean amoral'

I believe that religion breeds disparagement. Religion teaches us that one people is better than another simply because their 'god' is stronger or that they have a god whilst others do not.

Religion as far as I am concerned is a primitive behavior used to explain things that we cannot rationally explain. In days past, eclipses were considered signs from god until we understood planetary motion. Earthquakes as well until we discovered plate tectonics. When I think of religion, the thought that immediately comes to mind is that of a prancing medicine man with a mask and a stick trying to make it rain or someone trying to explain a thunderstorm as a sign from god while cowering under a bearskin. Religion may have been beneficial in ancient times to give the huddled masses a common cause but I for one have outgrown it. If I see something that I cannot explain, I can admit that 'I do not know'. Others who are not willing to admit this fact go to great lengths to explain how and why god did it, however ludicrous the explanation sounds. this has been documented for thousands of years.
Even if there is a god, how dare these people tell others that they alone understand what god is thinking. If there is a god, then no mortal man should have the audacity to claim they know what god's thoughts are. Isn't that what seperates man from god?

Too many peoples have used religion to justify murder and unspeakable acts since the beginning of recorded history and who knows how long before that.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic, I obey the commandments not because I am religious but because they are common sense. Claims that Athiests have no values is simply ridiculous, who knows, maybe next we will be hearing that heathens should be executed, like they did a few hundred years ago. Break out the thumbscrews, it's time to party for god!

How many so called religious leaders are pushing for more war? This sounds like medevalism all over again.
Like the song says, 'Onward Christian soldiers...'
If, as many religions believe their messiah is about to return, how many will proudly stand before him/her/it and say 'I have killed many for you. I have advocated the killing of many non believers, regardless if they were too young to make a decision on what to believe'

How long does religious war in a nuclear age last? How many innocents will perish? Is total eradication of non believers what God is looking for? If so, why doesn't God do it?

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just read your post about atheism on Smirking Chimp, and I want to congratulate you for perhaps the best articulation of the values shared by non-believers.

In fact I think one can say, with a fair degree of accuracy, an athiest ever took another life based on his or her atheism. I can't imagine that nineteen atheists would hijack planes and take thousands of innocent lives because of their atheism. So why are

11:24 AM  
Anonymous BP said...

The problem with these surveys, at least as far as I'm familiar with them, is that neither the questioner nor the respondent takes the time to define "God" when asking and answering the question, "Do you believe there is a God?" I've always thought that those who say they don't believe in "God" are actually saying they don't believe in the "God" defined and envisioned by Christian or Islamic fundamentalists (the old man with a long gray beard sitting on a cloud while wagging his finger at us and sending earthquakes, floods, and plagues when he gets really pissed off). If a questioner would define "God" in this manner, many mainstream Christians would respond that they are "atheists."

I think the reason most people seem to believe that atheists are amoral (or immoral) is that our society suffers from a severe case of arrested moral development. Jean Piaget's book, "The Moral Judgement of the Child," explains how children, ideally, progress from the notion that you do what's right because someone bigger than you will slap you around if you don't, to the notion that you do what's right because it's right.

Many people appear unwilling to believe that there are others who have grown to the level where they can do what's right simply because it's right. They seem to believe that everyone will engage in nothing but immoral behavior unless they are frightened into moral conduct by a belief that someone bigger and stronger (God) will slap them around if they don't behave. Thus, according to the logic of the masses, because atheists don't believe they'll get slapped around by God if they misbehave, they will, of course, do nothing but misbehave.

Just my two cents.

12:00 PM  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

When men squander their waking lives
God-jawing `bout peace intent on war

The world’s roads will soon be ruined
Burdened in mans self strewn ambush

And our cities will crouch like snipers
Shelling their own decayed manifestation

Humanity then becomes the blinded child
Searching recklessly for its original eyes

___________________________

Nice post LibGirl!

I am adding you to my favorites (Echoing Vocies)... Keep fighting the good fight! Wrestling with ignorance may not be a televised sport, but it can bring light to a darkened soul and put a pirouette in a heart of stone... :>)

12:16 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Graeme--You're hot with irony today.

ARIAR--That's a damn fine reason not to claim atheism. I think that labels suck for the most part and on this issue in particular because it's a spectrum, and the more I talk to people about religion, the more I realize that what I believe is not as rare as the numbers suggest. Perhaps it's a subject limited by language.

Yellow Dog—I’m happy to be your voice while you're busy.

Anonymous 1--The idea of God does seem like something we should have outgrown by now as a species.

Anonymous 2--Yes, religion makes people do things that non-believers can't even imagine doing.

BP--I like your two cents. My children do what I tell them out of fear of punishment, but they have already started to do what's right when I'm not around. I'm confident they will not subscribe to irrational notions of God when they grow up.

Thepoetryman--Thanks for the little bit of beauty to brighten up the gray.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous davie said...

Well said! (I would like to share your post with the 'devout' jesusfreak computer-fixer who just ripped me off for 80 bucks- but I am not prepared to waste any more of my time with him. And I sure as hell would not invite him into my home.) There are a lot of these people out there-beware!

8:35 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Davie--I know, the worst bosses I've ever had (they pay little, treat their employees like slaves and rip off everyone they can) have all been devoutly religious. Working for them would have turned me into an atheist if I hadn’t been before.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

I've spoken with or overheard a lot of people that had never (knowingly) met an atheist and when discussing the concept of atheism would state something along the lines of, "If I didn't believe in God I'd go out and murder everybody I could! Without a Hell, what does it matter?" which carries an implication they simply do not see unless they bother to stop and think about it, which of course would prevent the statement being made in the first place.

The implication is that the speaker is a homicidal sociopath, incapable of feeling empathy or compassion, and kept from acting out their murderous urges only by the carrot of Heaven and the stick of Hell. Not exactly the sort of person I would allow into an eternal paradise if it were up to me. I follow up with the question that if all morality flows from their god would rape, murder and all other heinous crimes become good if their god deems them to be so?

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Ms Lgnd - an intrinsic ethical default sytem is what all humans have - unless damaged (and there are lots of damaged Christians), the average child / person will be trusting & benevolent towards others unless taught not to be so. Ethics are independant of religion. Compassion is the next step up (and somewhat rare at the moment) and not unique to any religious faith (what you said). There are a lot of us out here!!
Thanks, keep up the good work,
Deb & Chris (Australia)

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The persecution complex comes from a couple of things, the biggest one being the belief that we are "in the End Times." Since one of the hallmarks of the End Times is that "Christians will be persecuted unto death," they look eagerly for ~anything~ that would validate that. Because they really ~do~ want it to be The End so that JayHEEsus will return and kick all those Humanistic Athiestic Gay-Loving asses down to the Fiery Pits of Hell. (And, coincidentally, finally validate all their beliefs that they've been holding onto for so long in defiance of all evidence to the contrary. The science thing, you know.)

Also, a hallmark of the NeoCon position, or any really true reactionary position, is that "Dissent=Opposition." They don't view other peoples different opinions as other people's opinions, they view it as active opposition. They think only in terms of strict black and white. Thus, if you are not with them, you are against them. Therefore, if you don't think or believe as they do, you are persecuting them.

Another way to view that last is that it's classic Freudian Displacement. They attribute to others their own actions. THEY want to remove all difference of thought and opinion, so they think the "other people" are trying to do it to THEM. Because it's what they would do (and, indeed, are ~trying~ to do) in their place.

Small minds don't allow for other points of view.

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Doubtom said...

I believe that the reason polls show such a small number of atheists is because of the many ways in which atheists think of themselves, i.e.,unbelievers, etc., If they broadened the question to include everything from heathen to infidel we'd see a marked increase in numbers.

Also there's a reluctance in so thoroughly religious a country as the United States, to take on the stigma of the irreligious. Societal ostracization is a powerful tool for conformity.
Another factor which influences the public mind regarding the immorality of atheism, is the example given by many of our leading citizens when caught in a crime, that is to claim they've finally found god, (as in a few celebrated cases currently in the news); the rather strong implication being that their criminal actions were motivated by the lack of god in their lives. (atheism)

6:21 AM  
Anonymous jimmy clarke said...

Thanks for this great take on Atheism. I have been thinking for quite some time that maybe what we need is a club or something for athiests. I think there may be far more of us than statistics show but as you mention our general lack of coehisivesness pretty much negates any effect we could have. That being said I'm not much of a joiner but I'll work on it.
Have fun and keep it up!

8:30 AM  
Blogger FKM said...

Thanks, LG; great post (found via Smirking Chimp).
I sometimes hesitate at the term 'atheist' only because it sometimes implies a vehemence that I usually associate with theisms.
I do like the term 'freethinker.'
Thanks again.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Captain Apathy said...

I rewrote this comment several times before I realized that all I wanted to say was, "Thank you for voicing so eloquently what I cannot."

12:14 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Ron--It is frightening to be sharing space with people who would kill were it not for God holding tightly to the leash around their necks.

Deb & Chris--Thanks, I'm hoping that our country will start trending the way yours has (well, not politically at the moment), away from religion and toward rational thought.

Anonymous--I know what you mean, those "Left Behind" books are scary but not as scary as how popular they are and how many people conveniently forget that they are fiction. My feeling on the Rapture is, bring it on, bon voyage!

Doubtdom--I suspect that you're right about polls on this subject. It's much easier to just claim a belief in God than to defend not believing, especially in this country. Maybe that will change at some point.

Jimmy--I'm not much of a joiner myself, thus the freethinker aspect of most of us atheists. It might just be as simple as confronting it more when the subject comes up. I don't want to convert anyone, I just don't want to be vilified.

FKM--I like freethinker too. I use atheist, not because I'm vehement about it, but because it best describes my lack of doubt. I decided years ago to own it, but it's not for everyone and there's nothing wrong with not knowing.

Captain Apathy--You're welcome.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in my 20's and working in New Hampshire, I remember many of my younger co-workers treating me with kid gloves. They did not swear around me and were polite in my presence. Then they found out my parents smoked cigarettes.

All the tea in China -- what does smoking have to do with anything?

You see, they thought I was a Mormon -- or extremely religious in their eyes. Once they found out I was an atheist, they did not strain to be as polite in my presence and their swearing was now allowed within earshot of my hearing.

I was never a Mormon, but I was strict in my mannerisms (no smoking, drinking, swearing, or crass behavior).

To this day, they are probably still puzzled about this "Mormon" atheist.

And yes, they were Christians.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her successful Supreme Court case that removed prayer from the schools?

She was roundly vilified for her efforts, and the religious right has been fighting to overturn her efforts ever since.

It isn't surprising to me that public atheism would go underground. Saying you believe saves your windows.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...

Anonymous:

If I really thought being a
'believer' could keep my
MS operating system from crashing....I'd be in church tomorrow! Rim shot here!

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I call myself a Humanist (which, from your post, it sounds as though you also are) rather than an Atheist. The connotations are much less negative.

2:55 PM  
Blogger B.L. Sabob said...

They want a war? I say we give them a freakin war. I for one am sick do death of turning the other cheek, or trying to explain myself to these lunatics. They hate us. They think we're going to Hell. They think we are coming for their children with our Media and our Video Games. They think we are trying to subvert their quaint little fantasy lives.

Fine. Why disappoint them? Lock n Load!!

3:02 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

B.L. Sabob--I like your style man. I'll be standing right behind you (out of the line of fire of course).

5:38 PM  
Anonymous joefish said...

Wow! Lovely post. I am a college student that gave up on god when I was nine. I couldn't understand why a just and loving god would take away my grandpa when I wasn't ready to let him go. Explanations that god doesn't give us more than we can handle or that god has a plan seemed like a crock of sh*#(because they are). So I started reading books that explored religion as a senior in high school and in my free time as an undergrad. "Has Science Found God?" by Victor Stenger is one of my favorites. It gave me strength in the arguments that I had developed that belief in a deity wasn't rational. Enough of my "story." Posts like this get me a little riled up. It bothers me that the public face of "atheism" doesn't match up with what I consider to be the reality. With the recent advent of networking tools like Facebook, there are a lot more ways for people that have similar beliefs to connect. It was on Facebook that I found a group for those who are Agnostic, Atheist, Non-believers, Freethinkers, Humanists, etc (if I had to choose a label, it would be one of the last two). Well, somebody posted there that he was interested in starting a student group on campus here at UW. It hasn't gotten off the ground yet, but I think that groups like this are a wonderful way to not feel alone in the rational world and to demonstrate through service to our communities that "atheism" and immorality are not equivalent terms. Cheers to y'all. Thank you, Liberal Girl Next Door for posting in the General's absence.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Stevo said...

As I sat in church last fall watching my wife’s niece receive the “blessed” sacrament of baptism I couldn’t help myself in thinking at how symbolic it was when the priest started to pour the water over the babies head. Hence - let the brainwashing begin.

The only dark spot on an otherwise fantastic childhood was my catholic upbringing. Based on fear, guilt and actual physical punishment I knew from early on that god was not good and god was not great. Its really a sad thing that most people never really have a choice in the matter. Their heads are so filled with shit at such an early age that unless a certain set of circumstances takes place in their lives, they can never really deprogram themselves from all those ingrained beliefs. For me it was the death of my Father that set things in motion. The more I delved into religion the more I realized it held no relevance in my life. There were no answers to be found in these mystical magical fairy tale beliefs. I began wonder what need for this omnipotent being I had in the first place. I mean the eternal thing is really not something I’m interested in. Eternal is much, too much, too long... The funny thing is...is those great parents that sent me to that catholic school because they thought it was the right thing to do...Never once had a religious conversation with me. What’s even funnier is that sometimes I wish all the mumbo-jumbo was true...cause I’d sure like to see them again.


“And then man created god in his own image.”

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Fade said...

to me, being an Atheist means that I am driven to a much more moral life because I don't believe my sins are forgiven in the end with a simple act of fealty to the "almighty".

I realize that the end results of my actions is accountable mainly to myself and my fellow humankind.

I have to be a better person first and foremost because it makes the world a better place, not because I am in fear that I will be punished.

My good morals and actions stem from my own true desire to do good works- not because I am seeking to impress some invisible entity.

My will is my own. My failures are my own - they are not temptations by the Devil. My mistakes and my sins against mankind cannot be chalked up to shadowy evil spirits. I have to live with the fact that Everything I do is a result of my own actions, thoughts, deeds, and emotions.

So I have to choose each day to be good or bad- its not something I can control. My morals are something deeper and more personal than a primitive obeisance to the skies.

So as you can see, the morality of an Atheist is something much greater than the morality of the dutiful children of god.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous American Realist said...

I prefer to call myself a "Realist". Atheist sounds so prehistoric and demeaning, and you can say it in front of anybody without getting that reaction, you know the one, ("Oh your one of THOSE people")

The reaction I usually get is: "There's no such thing". I just shine it on. :)

As for morality, I've never been in trouble with the law, Never gotten a girl pregnant, Don't abuse drugs or alcohol, pay my bills on time, help anybody I can that needs it (Usually car related stuff) and accept my fellow man no matter how they are built.

My paradise is what I make it here on earth, and when I'm gone, plan on leaving little or no trace of my existence.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Liberal Christian said...

I wanted to applaud this post, since the University of Minnesota study is appalling and atheism does indeed get a bad rap in this country. But sadly, I can't, mostly because of this part:

"[I]n fact I would say that I adhere to the words of Jesus much better than most Christians."

There are a few reasons why this sticks in my craw:
(1) To say this, you have to be pretty selective about what you're calling "the words of Jesus." In reading the New Testament (or, I'd say, even deuterocanonical and gnostic texts), it would require an enormous leap of logic to conclude that Jesus was somehow not a theist, or preaching about a way to live that does not involve God. Jesus was preaching about God, about the kingdom of God, about how to live a life that followed God. He was NOT just talking about how great it would be to be nice to people for a change. The man was religious, and was teaching about how to be religious. To claim otherwise is patently ridiculous.

(2) My impression, from this post and from the comments you and others have left, is that you've made the assumption that all Christians are highly conservative, which is NOT the case. Right-wing Christianity certainly gets the most press, and honestly I think that's the way the right-wing Christian movement likes it. This way they get to pretend that they're the ONLY Christians--or at least the only "real" Christians--and they get to marginalize any Christian or Christian group that doesn't agree with them. (There are many such dissenting groups, but what kind of press do they get? Not much. Virulent hatemongers make for better TV.) By agreeing with their insistence that all Christians are conservative, you're playing into their spin, and into the assumption that Christianity is a monolithic entity where everyone believes the exact same things and votes the exact same way. This is complete B.S.

(3) It makes me wonder: how many Christians do you really know, and how are you sure that you're better at living those "words of Jesus"? When you say you're better than "most Christians," what stereotype of "American Christian" are you using to make that judgment? And when you use that stereotype to morally judge other people, how different are you from a Christian who uses a stereotype of atheists to decide that he or she is morally superior to you?

12:20 PM  

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