Not all Atheists are created equal…

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When it comes to living an openly secular lifestyle I am often confronted with questions that start out with “Does an Atheist…” or “Do Atheists…”. Of course I have no problem answering any questions that are thrown out to me, but whenever they are prefaced with this type of generalization I make sure that one thing is clear… I cannot speak for all Atheists, I can only speak for myself.  Somehow this is frequently met with a bit of confusion, as more and more people are lumping Atheism with religion. People assume that, just like religions have rules that you (are supposed to) live by that Atheists do as well but this is not so. The only thing that all Atheists have in common is a concrete stance that their is no deity directing their life. After that it is up to the individual to decide what type of life they want to live.

I know a lot of times people believe that being an Atheist automatically makes you an Anti-theist, this is incorrect. Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to abolish religion. I do not want to take away the rights of anyone to be able to practice as they wish and I am not trying to create a completely secular world. My non-belief is not strengthened just because I can force it onto others and so I am not in favor of doing so. Simply keep it out of my public policy and this Atheist will gladly let you go on your way.

Another one that I encounter on a regular basis is that all Atheists are Humanists… again, this is incorrect. I would never pretend that all non-believers are living with humanistic values in place. I am in fact a Humanist, our household is run with a Secular-Humanist system of reasoning and respect. The “golden rule” approach in respect for how to treat others is encouraged by both Rich and myself, but this is not something all Atheists believe in. Ideally everyone, believer or non, would use mutual respect and personal dignity as a foundation … but the rules that come with religion do not allow for it, and the lack of rules that come with being an Atheist do not require it… so we are left with a wide range of right and wrong in our world.

The insinuation that only believers can hold seemingly irrational beliefs is possibly the most ridiculous of all. Dismissing the existence of God does not mean that you will not fall victim to the paranormal. I know many Atheists who claim to be “Agnostic” towards ghosts… and I also know some who absolutely believe in aliens. Sometimes if this topic comes up in a discussion group Atheists will start to turn on each other, stating that you cannot believe in the things just as ridiculous as God and still call yourself an Atheist… they are wrong. In fact , as long as God is not a factor you can believe the world is flat and still be a perfectly fine Atheist.

So when confronted with questions about what an Atheist does or does not do, try to make it clear that the better question would be, “since you don’t follow a religious belief system, what do you use to guide yourself through life?”. There are no commandments that Atheists abide by and so each one of us must speak for ourselves. At the end of the day there is no right or wrong way to live your life as an Atheist. The only thing that you need is a lack of belief in God, everything else is optional.

 

 

A Uterus from Nothing (part 5)

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Well, it is official, we are having a little girl. Arabella Lorelei is still due July 22, 2014 and she is developing perfectly. The anatomy scan was amazing.The baby is only half a pound and yet we can observe the kidney function, watch the blood flowing through the umbilical cord and see baby open and close her mouth all while doing little flips and twists right there in my tummy. I understand that ultrasounds have been around for quite sometime, but the advances in technology have been vast and the certainty with which health care providers can give out information is astounding.

Arabella will be the first child in a long line of family births to not be baptized simply out of tradition. The topic hasn’t caused a stir as of now, though to be fair, we have yet to discuss it with those who will care. However, I am sure that once baby arrives the backlash will begin. No matter what we encounter from either side of the family, I assure you that the Couple of Atheists will not back down. I know that some people will say that we should not sacrifice the baby’s “soul” simply because we choose not to believe… or that because of our atheism the ceremony is meaningless and should be viewed as drops of water and words… with a chance at redemption of her soul should me and Rich turn out to be wrong. Well, that is fine for some, but I take a different view.

I believe that participating in this, or any inherently religious ceremony, is disrespectful to those who do believe. Unlike many relationships, there is no internal conflict between Rich and myself and therefore no reason to compromise our ethics simply to appease others. I also do not view this as keeping Arabella away from God, but more not forcing God onto her. If at any point she finds that a life of faith is right for her, that will be fine, but I will not pressure her into something that I do not find beneficial to  life. Despite having one openly Atheist parent,  I was baptized, confirmed and made my confirmation within the Catholic church… and though this did not instill a belief in Christ, it forced onto me the stigma of being Catholic… and I won’t do that to my child.

As I watch the development of the baby progress, I begin to think more of her future. I know that we are going to encounter many situations along the way where the faith of others will attempt to overstep and cross the bounds of our rights as parents. There will be compromise at times, but not to the point that our family forgets what we believe in. And if you really find fault in a secular, humanist household, well I encourage you to keep reading and prepare to change your mind.