Why I am an atheist (and why you don’t have to be one)

My use of the word “atheist” relates to the most common conceptions about “God”:

  • The thought of God as a living being with human feelings [any more than a star or galaxy is such a being].
  • The thinking that God had people write books for Him specifically telling human beings what to do and not do.
  • The thinking that God is a He.
  • The thinking that there is one God (as opposed to two, or 47, or 11 million of them).
  • The substitution of the word “God” for things we simply don’t know, or energies we don’t understand.

There are of course people who envision God in a very different way than this. However, usually when the word “God” is used, it connotes most or all of these things. I do not believe in any of them; thus I am an atheist.Now, there are those people on both sides of the debate who believe that their way is the way: i.e., that atheism is the correct belief, or belief in God is the correct belief. I even know an agnostic who says that agnosticism is the only rational belief to have.

This kind of thinking is harmful to peace and understanding. It is dogmatic and closed-minded; it shuts you off to listening. And I address this just as much to those atheists who savagely impugn religion and belief in higher deities as I do to those religious folk who go on proselytic tirades.

This is not an attack on any person in particular. Much of the time, that the amorphous nature of belief clouds things.

There are those who love and heal in the name of God, and there are those who love and heal without believing in a “God.”

There are those who kill in the name of God, and there are those who kill not believing in a God.

The central point is not what religion you do or don’t identify with, anymore than it matters whether you eat rice five times a week or not; it’s what you do, what your actions are, how you act toward your sisters and brothers. Do you listen? Do you promote positive energy? Do you refrain from imposing, trying as much as possible to further understanding? Are you kind? Are you open-minded to new things you may not have considered?

If so, it doesn’t matter much to me what you personally believe. You’re all right in my book. 🙂

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8 Responses to Why I am an atheist (and why you don’t have to be one)

  1. Pingback: Is there a god? « Positive Juice

  2. “There are those who kill in the name of God, and there are those who kill not believing in a God.”

    Killing in the NAME of something and killing because you wanted to murder someone are very different matters. I would hardly like to use them as a dichotomy.

    I think if you wanted to be more fair here you might say, “There are those who kill while believing in a god, and there are those who kill while not believing in a god.”

  3. MPositive says:

    Interesting point. I guess I wasn’t exactly dichotomizing so much as saying that people can do the same things in the name of God as they would without any divine context. I picked out the extremes rather than the opposites, because I think the contrast is more important than logical equilibrium in this context.

  4. Layla says:

    I think StarDustNotDirtDust is spot on – you may not have intended to dichotomize, but you did.

    It’s a very important distinction, and one of the reasons I think it’s important to be agnostic.

    If you know that you can’t know for sure, then it becomes a lot harder to rationalize killing other human beings in the name of a god who you know may not exist. The same can be said for going too far as an atheist.

    In general, I think that knowing that you might be wrong goes a long way towards tempering fanaticism.

  5. MPositive says:

    I think I am going to have to rename this blog “dichotomy juice.” 🙂

  6. me(anonymous(colin)) says:

    I like it… dichotomy juice has a good ring, also, good article.

  7. Pingback: Is there a god? « Positive Juice

  8. Joe Mugendi says:

    I just found this blog, and i love it!! Because your thinking mirrors mine on these issues. I am (was) a christian who has been slowly growing discontent by the level of illogical, seemingly contradicting beliefs in my faith. This post was like comforting gaze through a crystal ball. Fresh perspective. Thanks

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