“Organising atheists has been compared to herding cats, because they tend to think independently and will not conform to authority.”
I’m sure most of us are familiar with this quote from Richard Dawkins. I would like to explore what makes an atheist. Are we really a category of lonely hunters that doesn’t even share a common definition of atheism?atheist
I am investigating is if there’s anything atheists might have in common. Anything that would seem important in relation to being an atheist and that we might agree on.
I look at atheism as:
the rejection of belief in the existence of deities, the position that there are no deities or the absence of belief that any deities exist.
Any of these three will do. Whether you call yourself an atheist, new atheist, agnostic, strong atheist, punk atheist or anything else does not bother me at all. Please feel free to disagree with me on anything written here. I would be even happier if you come up with anything to add to this blogpost.
The first thing that came to my mind was that as an atheist,
I don’t consider anything to be sacred.
I use the word sacred to mean something considered worthy of respect or devotion, especially on the basis of its meaning in a religious context. There seem to be people demanding respect from all of us for certain books, prophets, sacraments (like marriage) and artefacts. Personally, I think respect can only be given freely and I don’t think people deserve to be protected from what they deem to be offensive, either from a religious perspective or otherwise.morals
I found an absolute gem in the “Criticism of atheism” article in Wikipedia:
“For many years in the United States, atheists were not allowed to testify in court because it was believed that an atheist would have no reason to tell the truth.”
This serves to illustrate that as atheists, we need to pick and choose our morals. I think it’s something we have in common and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s perfectly feasible that a person would choose to be an atheist and a fascist, so I don’t necessarily think atheists have better morals then religious people. It’s just that it might not be such a bad idea to not get them handed to us on a plate, or a stone tablet. I don’t mean to say that religious people don’t think about morals at all. I just like to see people thinking about morals from a perspective of complete freedom. Which brings me to my next point.
freedom to think
Some people grow up in an environment where atheism is not an obvious choice. Ayaan Hirsi Ali says she first encountered a non-religious moral system when she learnt about Sigmund Freud. That made her think. Later, she read “The Atheist Manifesto” by Dutch philosopher Herman Philipse and became an atheist herself. It’s important to be able to read about atheism, philosophy and different religions. Opportunities to freely discuss ideas would be very helpful, too.community
I’ve read Alain de Botton’s “Religion for atheists” and found it disappointing. The idea of painstakingly creating rituals to foster a sense of community sounds preposterous to me. David Brooks said in his New York Times-review that following De Bottons recommendations would be ‘like going on one of those self-improving vacations.’
“(…) we’d be a collection of autonomous individuals seeking a string of vaguely uplifting experiences that might perhaps leave a sediment of some sort of spiritual improvement.”
Atheist holiday, anyone? I must say it doesn’t sound very appealing. What do you think?