Monday, August 31, 2009

Coming out heathen

In case you missed it, I am an atheist. That is not what I believe - merely what I lack a belief in...

Being an atheist  means I do not have a belief in a god or gods. By inference it means that I regard religion as a vestigial organ of human culture best understood as psychological metaphor. I think that human beings invented gods and god-appeasement rituals, partly in an attempt get protection and control over a dangerous natural world beyond their understanding. And partly in an attempt to get control over their own impulses for the good of the tribe. And often to get and keep control over each other....

As a member of the brights movement ** with a naturalistic world view - I am interested in living in this world, this universe, and in this present life. I believe that everything that is, both within us and without us, arises from the natural physical world. That what most folks refer to as the soul is merely the amazingly intricate human brain. (I suggest a book called "The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks which shows how our very core changes when the brain is injured...)

I think when we die, that we are gone forever - so cherish this one life you have. Never throw it away as few folks I know have done. Cherish it. You only get this one, so live it well.

For those of you who think an Atheist is an immoral angry monster - well, you are suffering from a stereotype - a prejudice - a form of bigotry. I am just a human being, with a catalog of merit and defect, just as all you religious folks are. Nothing more, but nothing less. A human being. As a secular humanist, I believe that each human being should endeavor to live a good and moral life using his or her individual talents for the good of society, life in general, and for the life of the planet. Living toward this ideal does not requires the assistance, inspiration, commandment or hellfire threats of various gods and religions.

** the brights movement is a loose internet-based alliance of people with a naturalistic view of the world, who see life in terms of the testable, beautiful physical world and who do not find it necessary to cobble imagined gods or goblins, spirits, ghosts, supernatural powers, fairies, what have you, onto a reality that is already complex and amazing.