I started this blogging project to explore what it means to be an Atheist living positively without religion, exploring the values which many people share, irrespective of their religious affiliation. To find common ground to begin a conversation to move us beyond tolerance and towards a life and society of mutual respect.
Ambitious? No, this a personal journey that I felt would best be served by exposure and dialogue with as many as would join in.
But to truly understand what it means to be an Atheist living positively without religion, you have to dig into the gritty world and find those gems of truth. It also means being exposed to the growing “atheist gospel” being pushed into the public sphere. The very vocal proponents of Atheism have become what people think an atheist is – against religion.
I don’t want to be bundled with fanatics and fundamentalists. We know from experience and history that fundamentalism leads to more hate, anger and more fundamentalism – an Ouroboros that can never be destroyed in part, only by eliminating it’s whole : In this case all of humanity. I have no inclination to dismissing another persons beliefs, I have a personal issue with organised religion and its behaviour, but that’s a different topic.
In searching for a positive and more fulfilling place to express what it means to be an Atheist, I kept finding this anti-religion dialogue (or monologue depending on who, if anyone responds). It actually makes me angry! Dismissing the very real and challenging journey that many Atheists have to endure to come to terms with their personal non-belief and then coming out to their family and social circles they have grown up in. I feel as if I should be speaking out against other Atheists, which for me seems totally irrational and might create a detraction from what I’m actually trying to accomplish here and in my life.
I’ve just discovered the Humanist movement, and the values and objectives of Humanist groups resonate well with my own values and principles. Though they often seem to be more politically motivated, at the very core, this is driven by the desire to adhere and fulfill the Humanist values. From everything I’ve read and understand about being a Humanist, it is not a requirement to be an Atheist or agnostic, in fact it would be admirable either way for a believer or non-believer to adopt a humanist philosophy in their lives, and continue promoting and encouraging the betterment of all humanity without prejudice.
There seem to be those who are confused or rather unclear about how to be a Humanist and an Atheist. The promotion of a secular society and government is a core Humanist goal, but the dismissal and anti-religious commentary is apposed to the values of humanism :
(taken from the BHA values page)
- recognising the dignity of individuals and treating them with fairness and respect
- respecting and promoting freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law
Can one be a Humanist and an anti-theist? I doubt it! Humanism promotes tolerance and mutual respect for all people.
Do you as an Atheist, Agnostic or religious person find that fundamentalism is diminishing our ability to have an open dialogue on respecting each others beliefs, and distracting us from doing actual good for our society?