A magazine I read not so long ago contained a letter to the editor in which there appeared a list of different religions, or perhaps I should say belief systems because atheism was one of them.
What struck me was that all religions were printed with a capital letter, except atheism. Isn’t that a give-away! Whoever wrote that article obviously did not think much of atheism. You may think a Freudian slip if ever there was one. But it is not really, because the Oxford dictionary also does not have an opinion of atheism high enough to award it with a capital letter.
So the person who wrote that letter was merely well educated.
Still it must be quite devastating for atheists to be so lowly thought of.
In America, several polls have indicated that the term “atheism” has acquired such an extraordinary stigma that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (as a black, Muslim or homosexual you have a better chance). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an atheist for the president no matter how well qualified.
A remarkable 87% of the population claims “never to doubt” the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.
Although 87% of the American general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not..
Obviously the way scientists think is not compatible with religious thinking.
So what really is an atheist? According to the internet:
Atheist are a technical death metal band from Florida, USA, founded in 1984, whose music combined brutal riffs with subtle Latin music arrangements and elements of jazz.
This article is not about them
Very simply: Someone who denies the existence of god.
There are many famous people that are atheist, although not all of them admitted that fact publicly, but here is just a short list of some you may not have expected:
Abraham Lincoln. Helen Keller, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock.
Another question frequently asked is can an atheist live a moral life?
The moral standards of an atheist are prescribed in Humanism. And if you are not familiar with the Humanist philosophy, go to Wikipedia and look up Humanism, you’ll find it a list of pretty good standards to live by.
And it may be worthwhile to point out that the motivation for living a good life for an atheist is not a fear of eternal damnation, nor a reward in an afterlife.
An atheist does not believe in heaven and hell.
When you die, that’s the end. Why would one want it otherwise? Neither place appeals. What a lovely concept to think of death as going to sleep and not wake up. I cannot think of anything more appealing, tranquil and restful.
Not at this very moment of course, but later, when the time is ripe.
There is absolutely nothing to fear.
No afterlife: Make the best of now, this is all we are going to get.
The concepts of no God, no heaven and no hell, already must seem to most to be so liberating that atheism becomes a very attractive choice.
However, it is not at all my intention to convert anyone to a different belief system. I respect all beliefs.
In fact, changing, or leaving your religion is a traumatic process.
It is a process I have gone through and caused many years of guilt and uncertainty.
In the end, however, there is a feeling of great freedom and peace.
The most often asked question is: Considering the beauty, the complexity and the mystery of creation, or nature or the universe, how can one not believe in a creator?
It is a valid question. First of all, without a belief in a creator, it is still possible to experience an almost mystical feeling of awe and wonder thinking about the grandeur of the universe.
However is it really necessary for humans to invent a creator to explain the mystery of it all?
Why not simply admit that we do not know how it all came about?
Ignorance of nature’s laws has been with us for thousands of years, we are becoming more enlightened, what were miracles hundreds of years ago can now be explained in often simple terms.
Lightning and thunder, disastrous floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, no longer are blamed on the Gods.
The theory of evolution has answered a great number of what were thought to be unanswerable questions, and as the years pass by, we will learn more about the mysteries of our universe.
I doubt whether we will ever be able to find a satisfactory answer to everything, but the willingness and ability to keep on searching, without referring to the supernatural, is, in my opinion, a credit to the human spirit.
I said in my opinion:
In reality, we do not form our opinions in our early years. We inherit our habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the way we are dressed, depending on where we were born. We are formed and fashioned by our surroundings.
But as we mature we can change our opinion, if we want to.
We can also stay with what we have grown up with and what we are comfortable with.
However, no belief system should have any preference over any other, and likewise, a lack of a supernatural belief, which is atheism, should deserve as much respect as any other existing belief.
And that is, in essence, the message of this short article: That society accepts atheists as normal, self-respecting and generally good citizens.
It is heartening to know that in this day and age burning on the stake, beheadings and other ingenious ways of killing infidels, are out of fashion.
All that is required now is a little change in attitude.
Love thy neighbor as thyself, even if your neighbor is an atheist.