More Than An Atheist
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in a compassionate, all powerful God with a grand plan that requires children to die of starvation, or leukaemia, or a million other causes. I do believe that chance plays a large part in our lives, and sometimes despite our best efforts, bad things happen to good people. When tragedy or misfortune strike us, I believe that compassion, love and support from the humans around us can make all the difference between a life that is unbearable and one that is worth living.
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in miracles. I don’t believe that prayers will reach the ears of a caring God who will act to grant our requests. I do believe that science is the best mechanism we have to understand ourselves and the universe. If we’re looking for a cure for cancer then our best hope is medicine developed by experimentation, examination of evidence and rational thought.
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. I don’t believe that God created Adam in his own image, and created Eve from Adam’s rib. I don’t believe that any all powerful designer would create humans subject to tooth decay, depression, bad backs, and multiple sclerosis. I do believe that natural selection is a powerful explanation of the intricate web of life we see around us, backed by incontrovertible evidence. I am humbled and awe-inspired by the natural beauty engendered by that simple mechanism.
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in angels. I don’t believe that invisible winged beings walk among us, protecting us, bringing us news, or excluding us from forbidden places. I do believe that if we recognise our common humanity, and treat others with respect even when we disagree, we can be our own better angels.
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in supporting religious institutions which have been known to look after their own interests far more effectively than they look after the interests of their congregations. But I recognise that in the past, religion has inspired much of the world’s greatest art, music and architecture. I do believe in preserving humanity’s great works of art and making them accessible to all. I believe that our creative geniuses deserve support from governments and communities so that they can continue to create masterpieces, regardless of the source of their inspiration.
I am an Atheist. I don’t believe that if we’re good we go to heaven, and continue our existence there in peace and happiness forever. I don’t believe that if we’re bad we go to hell, and are tortured for eternity. I do believe that our actions during our lifetime have an impact on our society and our environment that echo into the future long after we’re gone. If we fill our hearts with hate and act with maliciousness and violence we can create our own hell on earth. If we choose to live a life filled with love, and act in service of our community, we can make the world a better place for humans who come after us.
The things I don’t believe in make me an Atheist.
But the things I DO believe in make me a Humanist;
I am a Humanist.
Photo: Detail of Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona. MA Cosgrove.