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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I believe...

I have been participating in a facebook discussion where I challenged the idea that atheists find more acceptence in the world than christians. Of course, with some good-natured ribbing, I got push back from believers who trotted out typical atheist stereotypes - you know the ones I'm talking about...

  • are angry
  • are smug
  • don't believe in anything
  • don't exist ie. someone said "I don't believe in atheists" (this one always makes me chuckle, as there is more evidence that atheists exist than that god exists)
Anyway, I've been neglecting this blog for far too long and writing about the things I do believe in seemed like an easy thing to post about.

The author of the blog, Releasing Religion, summarizes my feelings well...

"It is a common misconception that to be an atheist is to be a believer of nothing. On the contrary, to be an atheist can be an exquisite search for truth, just as passionate as any religious follower could be."
My atheism definitely started with a search for truth - and the journey was exquisite - sometimes exquisitely painful, exquisitely frustrating, and definitely exquisitely joyful. My journey started with dealing with the uncomfortable experience of facing the cognitive dissonance that was building between what seemed compassionate and real and what my church taught and I believed. Examining my cherished religious beliefs in light of obvious contradictions with my personal values and reality was probably once of the most intense periods of self-reflection of my life. Don't they say that the unexamined life isn't worth living?

My journey to atheism was not an overnight journey - it started with questioning the teachings of my church, broadening my view of what a just god would really be like, then searching for evidence of that god or a community that embraced that view. Finding none, I accepted that organized religion could got hold all that god probably is and slid towards agnostism. Finally I realized that proving god did or did not exist was pointless - the fact of the matter is that either way, it didn`t matter - I didn`t need to believe in god to lead a good life, be a good person, care for others, care for the world and its inhabitants, or to be grounded in values.

Everyone has values - no matter what supernatural powers people do or do not believe in. I`ve found that finding common values regardless of belief is how to build community and find meaning - doesn`t matter where you think those values come from. So without further ado - are are the things that I believe in - in no particular order.

I believe in compassion.

I believe in fairness.

I believe that human beings have the capacity for developing excellent solutions to complex problems.

I believe humans have a responsibility to care for others - because it makes our lives easier when there are people to care for us.

I believe that we need to leave the world a better place (or at least a habitable place) for future generations - because so far, it seems this is only place we humans really have to live.

I believe in working together to find solutions to the problems that face us in the here and now.

I believe in following your heart in a way that does not harm others.

I believe in standing up for people who cannot or will not stand up for themselves.

I believe in human rights and justice.

I believe that discrimination and prejudice should be identified and called out.

I believe that a secular public life built on shared humanist values protects everyone`s right to religion the best.

I believe that religious beliefs are best left to families and churches and that the state should not interfere in these beliefs unless those beliefs are acted upon in ways that infringe on others` human rights (ie. the belief that a husband has the right to beat his wife into submission, or that parents can deny their children medical care, honor killings, etc.)

I believe that men and women are equal.

I believe that children should not be abused and deserve the respect of their human dignity.

I believe that education is important and that the scientific method is really our best way of finding out about and understanding the world and the universe.

I believe in the golden rule - which has found its way into many philosophies and ancient religions and predates christianity.

I believe that there are many right ways to have a family - as long as there is love, support, commitment and fairness.

I do have a bias against religion, I`ll admit it, but I try to be respecful of people`s rights to believe. However, I do not think that religious ideas and ideals are off limits for criticism just because they are called religious. If an idea has merit, it should stand on it`s own, have support in the real world, and not be protected against discussion - as it is simply an idea that must stand on it`s own in the marketplace of values and ideas.

For someone who is an atheist and "doesn`t believe in anything", I find my heart and mind full - I could even say "my cup runneth over."



  1. Very well written, Deanna. I do enjoy reading your posts. While I do believe in God, I find that religion is the first thing that hinders my relationship with Him. Keep on writing!

    Jennifer Z.

  2. Thanks Jen - that really means a lot to me.


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