An except from a book in progress… “Atheism - Being Happy Without Artificial Influences”
For the purpose of clarity and understanding one must provide a common ground on which to converse. This book is using the definition of atheism to mean; without theistic belief.
What exactly is a true atheist? I have seen this descriptor on other labels and always find it interesting. I get a lot of mail that I would qualify as hate mail from my writings and blogging. That is nothing new but when I point out that this mail comes from people who profess to be Christian I almost always get the same response. “Well, they are not a true Christian.”
Someone recently informed me that if I were a true atheist I would dismiss all religious teachings because they are based on a false premise. I believe this to be short sighted and even a bit close minded. I bring this up because this seems to be just another way to draw a line in the sand and say “we are special” or “we are right and they are wrong”.
I believe that Jesus, Buddha and even Mohammed had some great ideas. Promoting peace and love is always a great idea. When they or someone else throw in the nonsense about condemning others for their beliefs is where the whole thing gets side tracked. Well that and the fact that they teach a philosophy based on make believe characters or that you will be condemned for eternity after you die if you don’t follow their rules.
So what is a true atheist or a true Christian? Simply put it is a way by which we distinguish ourselves different from others who claim some common group, principle or idea. This allows one to still lay claim to some label yet discard the pieces we don’t agree with. Or put another way, it is an easy way to discount someone else for their particular belief or ideology.
From a psychological point of view, most of us like to think we are unique individuals with our own thoughts, ideas and personalities. While this may be true at some level I would argue that we are all the same in more ways than we are different. At a base level the majority of the human animal will want the same things. Food, shelter, good health, pursuit of happiness etc, etc… We all want to be happy. We all want to be loved and we all want to think we have some individual thought or idea that no one else has.
I certainly am not the first to claim the title of an atheist. I certainly am not the first person to think that religion and deities are based on myths. I am simply vocal about what I think. I recently have taken the position that if someone wishes to tack on the qualifier of “true” to any label they are unwilling to accept some particular view point of stance that is being provided and by using the adjective of “true” they have employed a short cut to discount whatever they do not agree with.
In our daily lives we are drawn to things we like and we veer away from things we find less than interesting or admirable or even with which we disagree. We find ourselves with so many different religions in the world that are based on a relative few or even single source of information because large groups of people wanted to separate themselves from some particular point of view or focus on one particular piece of teaching. The question that always seems to plague me when I look at this type behavior is’ why not take the parts that you disagree with out or the teaching or doctrine?
I am of a firm opinion that no single source of information has all of the best answers for any one particular situation. I would suggest and practice utilizing every source of information one can find to provide ideas and input into what should be the best possible answer to any number of questions or scenarios you encounter.
There is a lot of focus on the changes in our society regarding the homosexual lifestyles around the globe. This focus is caused by two primary groups, the Christian and the Muslim communities. Some might say that the focus is because the gay and lesbian agenda is pushing the boundaries of our socially accepted behavior, but I would point out that this is not the true because if it were not for the Christian and Muslim doctrine this would be a non-issue.
If you find yourself in one of these groups and you personally have no problem or issue with someone who is gay or the gay community wishing to have the same rights and opportunities as the heterosexual community, I would ask why not remove that from the teachings? Why would you continue to support a group or organization that you do not agree with or the doctrine, information, or bylaws that any one groups subscribes too?
Case and point, we have a local mega-church here in Houston that present a message of love, caring and devotion to a deity that they only use flattering descriptors to identify. Their leader/pastor always displays a positive and very well refined message that will focus on the positive aspects of their god and how those should be examples of how one should live their lives. They have even separated themselves from other Christian teachings by claiming the title of nondenominational.
Their pastor even publishes books on living a positive life and using the teachings of their loving god as a guide to do so. If information is positive and does not promote discrimination or violence in any way then I can support such a teaching. The fact of the matter is that this teaching is based on a single book that does not provide for a positive message as a whole. If you review this book in an objective light the less than positive information completely outweighs and positive conclusions one could glean from its pages.
So why keep this text as a basis for any philosophy? Why not edit the information to reflect the current culture and socially accepted norms and incorporate any additional philosophies the group might find as positive, supportive, or productive? Yes I am being a bit rhetorical. There is in fact a project underway by a Christian conservative group to do just that, edit the bible. Not being of a socially conservative nature I am not sure I will care for this version any more than the last but they are physically removing the information they do not agree with.
So what is atheism? If you do not subscribe to any theology or deity by definition you are an atheist. We may have differences of opinion on a whole range of ideas thoughts or teachings but if you and I lack a god, we are both atheist, no editing required.
More to come…
- Peace, Chad aka TK