Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Billy Graham does not speak for Atheists

Billy Graham does not speak for me or any other Atheist, despite his efforts to do so. In Graham's May 15, 2011, column, the Christian evangelist makes several statements that show how little he understands Atheists or Atheism:

atheism has no satisfying answer to the basic questions of life — questions like “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How do I know what’s right and wrong? What happens when I die?” Atheism says we are here by chance, and life has no meaning or destiny. Taken to its conclusion, atheism ends in despair.

Atheism has a variety of satisfying answers to Graham's "basic questions of life" - satisfying to us Atheists, anyway. Speaking for myself: I know who I am, I know where I came from, I have created a variety of reasons to be here and to get up every morning and enjoy the world (thereby answering why myself, rather than believing some magical, invisible friend will answer such for me), I have very definite ideas about what's right and wrong (ethics is not the monopoly of the religious) and I know what happens to my body when I die. I very much believe life has meaning - if each of us takes on the responsibility to give our lives such meaning. And for me, Atheism didn't lead to despair - it's lead to joy, wonder, awe, excitement and constant learning (all the things I was missing when I was trying to believe in a magical, invisible friend)!

Not every Atheist is like me, but I don't know any that don't have some kind of answer to Graham's "basic questions of life"!

Down inside we sense that we aren’t here by chance, nor were we made for this world alone.

I don't sense this. I've never sensed this. Not down inside anywhere. Believe me, I've looked.

Many atheists, I find, reject God for one reason: They want to run their own lives.

I cannot reject God, because there is no God! Or Gods. And I have never met an Atheist who became an Atheist from thinking, "I think I'll reject God and run my own life!" He or she wouldn't be an Atheist in that case - just a really, really sinful religious person. No, instead, Atheists either realize, or have always known, there is no God of Abraham any more than there are all those many Hindu Gods, or whatever other widely-believed-in Gods have been, or are being, worshiped somewhere.

The Friendly Atheist blog brought this recent Graham nonsense to my attention, and I just had to respond on my own as well. I get so tired of Graham and others who believe Atheists are secretly miserable, that we're only pretending not to believe in a magical, invisible friend. Atheists know that joy, love, compassion, peace and all sorts of wonderful human emotions and states of being do NOT have to come from a belief in a magical, invisible friend. And some of us want to make sure other people know this as well, so Graham and other Christians will please please please stop speaking on our behalf!

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