Monday, September 22, 2008

When I Say I'm Atheist, What Does That Really Mean?

To be honest, I don't really like the term "atheist" because it suggests a state of godlessness. It suggests that the atheist himself or herself is a godless heathen who has no morals, no honor, and no regard for others. Further, at least to Christians, it implies that since I am not on the side of their god, then I must be with Satan.

I don't really care for the term "agnostic" either. Agnostic referrs to a person who believes in some kind of a higher power or being, but just isn't sure what that is. I do not believe in a higher power, or a being that is all knowing and all loving. I do believe that the universe is under some type of direction. That force or power is what causes gravity to work, or causes atoms to combine in certain ways. What it is, I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that it does not have a sense of self. The best way I can describe it is using the Starwars idea of the force. The force puts things in motion and binds the universe. But it is not alive. It does not have consciousness. It is simply the entity that gives life to the universe.

An atheist is a person who doesn't believe in god. Which god? I'm not sure; the Christian god for sure. Many people believe that a belief in god is what gives us our sense of moral direction; therefore, an atheist must have no morals. A misconception.

So that is how I can safely say that I definitely do not believe in the god of the Bible and yet I do see and concur with the evidence pointing to intelligent design. Some people argue that intelligent design proves there is a god. Maybe so. But there are other possibilities to consider. Some are more far fetched than others, but can't be ruled out as a possibility... I'm not going to discuss them now because that is not the subject of this post.

So what am I? I am atheist in terms of any type of supernatural being who is self aware. Everything we know about life and death tells us that such a being could not possibly exist. I am agnostic in that I do believe in a higher power, but can't define exactly what it is. Whatever it is, it gave me life and self awareness.

I am theist in terms of being kind to others and living the golden rule. Do not cause intentional, unnecessary harm to any living thing. Be honest in my dealings. Be respectful of the feelings and opinions of others. I do not believe in god and yet I believe in all these things. You don't have to believe me... my record here shows that very few people do anyway.

Perhaps once having been a believer has contributed to these attributes, I have no doubt. But I would argue that god is not the source of morality. Almost every religion teaches the same principles of honesty, kindness, etc.

While there are no rules to atheism, does not make atheists ruleless. In fact, an atheist is a deep thinker. We have walked away from god because we realized that we are intelligent beings capable of designing and living our own system of rules and self control. Sure, every group has it's extremists, but they are the exception, not the rule. Unfortunately, too often the exceptions are the ones by which everyone else judges us.

An atheist has no rules, but needs no rules. I am an intelligent being who instinctively knows right from wrong. I don't need a god or a church to dictate it for me. I have a brain and I can figure it out myself.

Now let's just say that I'm totally wrong. God does exist and he wrote the Bible. Is it really a characteristic of god to cast me into hell forever, just because I did not believe in him? I was a good person; I served my fellow man; I gave to the beggar; I visited the sick; I lived the golden rule; etc. Would a wise and all-knowing god seriously cast me into hell? Not if he has the attributes that they say he does. He's loving, fair, all knowing, just, and merciful. I think the more likely person to go to hell would be the person who cries low here and low there, but secretly cheats on his wife and is an overall immoral person. That supposed "believer" is more in danger of hell than I am, simply because he is a hypocrite, which Jesus clearly despised. Jesus sat and ate with sinners, but he DESPISED hypocrites.

If god is fair, just, loving, and merciful, then I am not afraid of death. I have nothing to be afraid of. I have a clear conscience and if god truly is omnipotent, then he will recognize that.

Christians, I recognize and respect your belief in god. If it works for you, then great. Please understand that I too am happy with where I stand. Please respect it as well. Don't pray for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I am happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't have stated it better myself. Well said.