In response to the religious explosion on the last post, Brandon has written a guest post describing his hippie, communist, depressing, repressive, hate-filled, ape-loving evolutionary, atheist view of the world:
According to most opinion polls, I’m less trustworthy than any other group in
I’ve had well-meaning Mormons try to convert me. Old grandmothers tell me I’m going to hell in a back-handed manner by saying they were ready to be judged, and everyone else should be too (with a poignant stare at me). I’ve even had the Catholic priest in
“You’re an atheist!?” is the shocked response I most frequently get when someone asks me what religion I belong to as if they were expecting me to grow horns and cloven hooves at any moment and start eating their children. I generally just smile. Following incidents I encounter with various people, I’m often inspired to explain my atheistic worldview and what it all means to me.
From what I understand there are many types of atheists: active deniers, evangelical Atheists (see Richard Dawkins), non-believers, many Buddhists, and the apathetic. As for me, I’m more of a non-believer than anything else. I simply find the leap of faith to be something I can no longer make. I suppose there could be some sort of divinity, but the concept just doesn’t do anything for me. Many people respect my lack of belief, others pity me, and still others wonder what they are. I suppose I could be classed as a few things, but for simplicity I’ll say I’m something of a materialist and a humanist. The only things that matter to me are things which happen in this world because I neither know nor care whether there is a next. Human’s come into this world as relatively blank slates with a few instinctual and personality predispositions, but for the most part they’re impressionable and largely shaped by the reality in which they find themselves. It is this belief that tends to put me on the left.
Humans have a duty to one another to work to better the lot of their fellow man and all of humanity because if this is all we’ve got, we had better make it as nice as possible. The construct of the individual is irritating because it ignores the cooperative and essentially social nature of humans. The wondrous capitalistic principle that the greatest good will result from each pursuing his/her own self interest is a partial truth because one must always consider the impact one’s selfish behavior will have, it’s highly context-specific and ignoring context (generally the impact on others, etc) will result in a net loss.
We have a responsibility to all things living because we are no more special than any animal; our differences are of degree, not of kind. There is a duty to protect the environment because if there is no ever after then our immortality comes from the positive impact we have on this world and the legacies we leave to our children, so we had better make sure there is something to leave them. Furthermore, because we’re not all that nifty and blessed, we have a positive duty to minimize our negative impacts on the planet and its life.
Because there is no deity in my world-view, there’s also no such thing as an inherent right. We don’t have the right to do or have anything done to or for us. We create rights for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I like my rights, I’m just saying that I’m suspicious of eternal truths and broad brushstrokes. I suppose many would like to label me a relativist and that’s fine, but before criticizing it learn a little more about it. There is no objective, capital “T” Truth, but many interpretations of the same event. There are generally accepted views of certain things that are “right” or “wrong” but it is so context-specific that universalizing is problematic at best. The “right” or “wrong” of an action depends greatly on one’s personal experiences, cultural context, and timeframe. It’s like looking at the world through different types of glasses (or beer goggles) it looks a little different with each pair.
All that having been said, there is no church of atheism, so there’s no hard doctrine. I’m sure a lot of atheists would disagree with me on a lot of points and that’s fine, but my brand of atheism is one that most people who take the time to listen don’t find all that repulsive, of course others call me a dirty pinko and a commie. Oh well, just decided to lay out the basics because I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding and overall ignorance out there about this worldview.