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Positive Atheism

Life, The Universe, and EverythingFrequently, the writings of atheists tend to be critical of religion, theistic beliefs, and dogma rather than positive toward non-belief. It’s a necessary tack to take on a regular basis when confronting religious activism in politics, education, health care, and science. I do it myself. However, sometimes it seems that there isn’t enough written about the positive aspects of atheism… how non-belief is beneficial rather than how theistic beliefs are harmful. Sometimes we’re so busy defending against theistic politicking that we forget about extolling the virtues of atheism.

So here are what I find some of the benefits to be (with occasional criticisms thrown in for reference).

Leaving religion behind lets me actively seek out answers, digging into the world around me to uncover evidence showing how the world works, how it came to be, and where it’s headed. It removes the easy non-answer of “God did it” and opens up the door to a world filled with awe-inspiring explanations based on factual observations… observations untainted and uncheapened by the simple-minded tenants of unfounded faith.

Religion provides an easy way out to the difficult and complex questions about the workings of this world and our surrounding universe. As an atheist, I reject that excuse for intellectual laziness. Searching for real answers provides, for me and many other nonbelievers, far more wonder, awe, and appreciation for nature and our physical world, both visible and invisible, than does the feeble act of claiming supernatural causes.

By allowing me the freedom to discover knowledge about the smallest particles explained by physics, microscopic biological forms, the living, breathing nature around us, our solar system, our galaxy, and our universe, atheism frees me from the dogmatic shackles of religious intellectual bondage and provides me with extraordinary delight in our very existence. I have no need to reconcile observable evidence with ancient texts or untenable beliefs nor do I have a need to reject or explain away evidence if it contradicts the prescribed dogma of theistic organizations.

Leaving religion behind allows me to behave in a way that is truly moral, acting in a way that harms no one and benefits everyone… myself, those around me, and those inhabiting our planet… without being threatened and coerced by a fear of infinite torment. When mistakes are made, I can ask forgiveness from those harmed and then move on without being damned and without obsequious groveling to an invisible master.

Atheism allows me to follow a morality based on reasoning and logic instead of vague, outdated rules and proclamations that were made for a more primitive, unenlightened time. It gives me freedom to treat others with respect regardless of their race, religion, sex, or nationality… freedom, also, to unhypocritically speak out against those who do harm, who espouse bigotry and intolerance, and who promote hatred and violence either through words or deeds.

My mistakes are my own and cannot be dismissed or forgiven except by those whom I have wronged. Therefore, it is always in my best interest to treat others well and do what I can to bring out the best in them. Atheism removes the moral escape hatch provided by religion, making it exponentially more important for me to behave well… now and in the future. I cannot pray and be forgiven. I do not believe there is a benevolent, all-knowing creator who can absolve me of my sins. Only those who have been harmed by my actions can do that.

Since there is no eternal paradise after death, I have this one life to experience as much joy and happiness as I can. My joy and happiness depends, in large part, on my interactions with others. It also depends upon my understanding of the world around me. What makes someone happy varies from person to person, but for me, in addition to the people in my life, it includes a love of the outdoors, animals, science, astronomy, literature, music, food, dancing, writing, and a myriad of other things, none of which have any reliance upon the supernatural (science-fiction and fantasy novels notwithstanding).

Atheism is freedom. Not the freedom to do as I please, but the freedom to act in a way that is globally pleasing… the freedom to act morally… the freedom to see the world as it is… the freedom to wallow in the vastness of the universe… the freedom to be intellectually honest…

…the freedom to think.

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