Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Religious People Have Dead Wrong About Atheists

Religious people believe all good things -- joy, love, compassion -- come from a deity, or a group of deities. And so, religious people believe that Atheists such as myself cannot be good without "god." They believe that Atheists cannot experience true joy, love or compassion -- or at least not as much as a religious person -- because, according to the believers, Atheists deny the source of these.

Christians, Muslims and other religious people take this reasoning further and believe Atheists don't volunteer, don't care for their fellow man, and aren't bothered by human suffering. How can they? Atheists don't believe in a a deity, or a group of deities, and all of these values for helping other people come from a belief in a magical, invisible friend -- or group of such!

Religious people keep going with this thinking and say that Atheists cannot have values, since all codes of proper human conduct come from a deity, a group of deities. Atheists have no morality, since they have no magical invisible friend -- or group of friends -- feeding them these.

And then religious people take this even further, and say that Atheists have no sense of wonder and awe. They'll claim atheists can't look up into the starry sky and say, "Wow!" Instead, we say, "I see that several thousand massive, luminous balls of plasma held together by gravity are visible tonight." If a god or group of gods didn't make all that is seen and felt, then it cannot be seen as marvelous or astonishing, according to the believers.

Of course, Christians, Muslims and so many other religious people have it dead wrong about atheists regarding all of the above. True joy, love, and compassion is possible without religion -- I have certainly experienced all of these much more once I embraced my Atheism than when I was trying to believe in a magical, invisible friend.

I've dedicated a large part -- and maybe most -- of my life trying to make a positive difference in the world, trying to help others, trying to alleviate suffering and trying to help people have access to what they need to experience joyful, prosperous lives. I have morals that guide my life and my actions, and a philosophy that compels me to do certain things in order to have meaning and joy in my life. The source of my morals and philosophy is not a magical, invisible being (I'll blog in the future about where Atheist ethics come from, for those of you who don't know already).

And I most certainly look up into the starry sky and say "Wow." I don't attribute what I'm seeing to a deity or deities, but to the entirely natural forces of science -- and that, for me, has made the world no less wondrous than when I was trying to believe it was a god that did it all.

Unfortunately, we Atheists haven't written songs and chants about our reverence for rational, independent thought, the joys of intellectual exploration, the peace of studied comprehension, the rapture of scientific revelation, or the thrill of finding out there is still so much more to learn. We also don't have nearly enough pot lucks. We Atheists really need to celebrate who we are more!


  1. I heard this last night on Austin City Limits: ... and Emerson, Lake and Palmer gave us a hymn almost 40 years ago:

  2. nice blog and cogent thoughts, btw. Here's another little morsel: