Because I am an atheist: Ashley Miller

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Ashley Miller, who writes at her eponymous blog.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve had a hard time writing this because for a long time I couldn’t think of anything that I could really attribute to my being an atheist.  I’m an atheist because I am a seeker of truth and I am an atheist activist because I am a humanist.

I came into the atheist movement sideways, from the LGBT rights movement.  After the Prop 8 trial in California had concluded, people like myself were put in a holding pattern, exhausted and waiting for news. Around this time, I heard that PZ Myers was going to be in town and you could pay 50 bucks to go have dinner with him.  I’d followed PZ for a long time, but wasn’t really aware of an atheist movement or blogosphere as such, I just knew I really liked his blog’s mix of science, anger at religion, and oktapodi.  At the time, I mostly blogged about filmmaking, women’s issues, and Prop 8, but not so much atheism.

I spent my $50 and I went to the OCFA conference alone to meet PZ, and in the process I discovered this whole subculture I hadn’t been aware of.  I got involved with atheism and skepticism, which I still conflate much to most skeptics’ chagrin, and discovered a movement that was involved in the social justice issues I cared about — protecting people from religion. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Miriam

Today’s contribution comes from Miriam, who blogs at Brute Reason, where this post originally appears.

Because I am an atheist…

…I get to develop my own moral code. Many people get their sense of morality from religion. That’s totally okay. But I relish the opportunity to create my own.

My morality is a sort of combination of utilitarianism and the Golden Rule. When I decide how to act, I weigh the pros and cons. Will this help someone else at very little cost to myself? If so, then I’ll do it. Will it help someone else at a great cost to myself? If so, I might do it if the cause is important enough to me. Is this act self-serving, with a potential for hurting the other person? If so, I probably won’t do it, unless I really, really need to.

That’s not to say that I always act ethically or that I never hurt anyone. At least, though, I get to own my actions whether they’re positive or negative. Regardless of the outcome, nobody made me do it. My holy book didn’t tell me to do it. My pastor/rabbi/what-have-you didn’t tell me to do it. I told myself to do it, and if it turned out badly, I can do better next time. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: budkuenzli

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by budkuenzli

Because I am an atheist…

…I have no fear of death. All the blasphemy, all the sodomy, all the bestiality, all the coveting, all of the murdering and all the making of craven images and worshipping of idols (I’m just making stuff up here because I lead a pretty boring, simple life but you get the point) I do is of no real concern. I don’t worry one whit about hell.

Because I’m an atheist I lead a moral life due to my own thoughtful consideration. I don’t bother with blasphemy, sodomy, bestiality, coveting (much :) ) or making craven images (is that really a christian worry? sounded right) because it’s either just not part of my personality or I have given thoughtful consideration to such acts and chosen to not engage in them. I’m not sure what all the other christian rules are but you get the idea; I don’t act good because of threats, I do it based on my own moral compass or simply due to my own personality.

Because of my atheism I don’t fret over my gay friends going to hell. Or my atheist friends going to hell. Or my muslim friends going to hell. Or -anyone- going to hell. To hell with that nonsense.

Because of my atheism I lead a more peaceful, truthful life.

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Because I am an Atheist: Northierthanthou

Today’s contribution comes from Daniel, who runs the site Northier Than Thou.

Because I am an atheist…

…I know that there is no justice but that made by humans. There is no karma, no Heaven, no Hell, nor any other means by which the universe will right the wrongs we commit, reward us for our good deeds, or even the score for those who’ve been short-changed. Because I am an atheist I will not accept religious excuses for mistreatment of other people. Because I am an atheist, I will not comfort myself when those I have failed anyone who passes away in suffering. They will receive no compensation on the other side, because there is no other side. If no-one here can help, then those in need will receive no help. This life is the only one any living thing will ever have, and if we don’t make it right, the cosmos will not make good on the difference.

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Because I am an Atheist: The Digital Cuttlefish

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg The Digital Cuttlefish.

Because I am an atheist…

Because I am an atheist
The world is mine to fix.
No god prevents the plunderers,
The hypocrites, the dicks.
No god rewards the good we do
Or punishes the bad;
No afterlife awaits us,
Just the single life we’ve had.

Because I am an atheist
It’s up to me to change.
The world is what we make it,
Not some god’s to rearrange—
To recognize a problem, means
To seek solutions, too;
Because I am an atheist
I’m watching out for you.

Because I am an atheist
I cannot simply pray.
I cannot wish a problem gone
And make it go away.
God’s promise of protection
Is just one of many lies;
Because I am an atheist
I cannot close my eyes.

Enough verse.  Because I am an atheist, I teach a course aimed at applying the best tools of my science toward making the world a better place.  Because I am an atheist, I donate blood instead of praying for sick friends or relatives.  Because I am an atheist (and an “out” atheist), I try to live as a counterexample to the “evil atheist” stereotype, and serve as a resource for others who are leaving a faith community and are unsure of what might lie ahead.

That’s what I do in meatspace.  Online, I write silly verses.  Because I am an atheist, they tend to be from a different perspective than, say, Hallmark.

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Because I am an atheist: Big Ugly Jim

Today’s contribution was submitted via e-mail by Big Ugly Jim, who blogs at Meddling Kids.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am burdened with a need to understand. I don’t have the luxury of simple answers to questions that the faithful possess. There is no “God did that” or “It’s a part of His plan” for me. Instead, when curiousity strikes me (as it often does), I have to seek out a valid answer.

But that’s a good thing. I grew up with the simple answers, but I found that they left me wanting. My desire to understand is what led me away from my faith. The more I learned about things, the more I wanted to learn about them, and the more I knew I could learn about them. Now, when I look at those who prefer the simple answers, I feel awful for them. Not because they are deluding themselves or because I’m so much smarter than they are (I’m not), but because they don’t allow themselves to see the amazing things I’ve seen.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing? Only because a little knowledge is a gateway drug to a whole lot of knowledge.

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Because I am an atheist: Kate Donovan

Today’s contribution comes from Kate Donovan, who blogs at The Heresy Club, where this post first appeared.

Because I am an atheist…

I have but this one short life. Though it would be nice to plan to live to a ripe and grouchy old age, it could end tomorrow. Or next Tuesday. Life has this terrible habit of behaving unpredictably, you know.

Though I am extraordinarily clumsy, I will likely, as do the vast majority of people, fade out of existence quietly. Five, ten, fifty years from then, I will have become nothing but curled pictures and retold retellings of stories.

These are facts, and they are cold. We atheists hear a lot about the chill of disbelief, about what we miss without a sense of the supernatural, the oceans of unseen, unmeasured universe we just have to have faith in. We are asked if it isn’t just a little bit lonely, to have nothing but ourselves and the neurons between our ears? With so little meaning to our lives, what motivation can we have?

Quite a bit, really…

Go read the rest at The Heresy Club

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Because I am an atheist: M

Today’s contribution comes via e-mail from M.

Because I am an atheist…

I was one of those kids who believed in ghosts, but only at night. During the day, they were an absurd idea. Invisible people? Yeah right. At night, though, I would cower under my duvet imagining I could see them.

At the age of four, at Christian daycare, I was sitting on a swing next to a classmate who said, “Do you believe in god?”

He asked it in the same tone older children used when they said, “Do you believe in Santa?”

Suddenly, the correct answer occurred to me.

“No,” I said. “Do you?”

“Sometimes,” he said.

I knew exactly what he meant. During the day, his god was an absurd concept, but at night, he cowered under his sheets not daring to move lest god should see him. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: PZ Myers

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg PZ Myers, who blogs at Pharyngula. By order of the blood-signed contract wherein I pledged my unwavering fealty to a biology professor from Minnesota (I am not a clever man), I am obligated to not only post this, but to tell you it’s the greatest thing ever and also the iron-clad proscriptive truth that must be followed without question.

Because I am an atheist…

Identifying the consequences of my atheism is a difficult thing for me, because I’ve really been an atheist all my life. Yes, there was a period in my childhood when I went to church every week, but I can’t say that I ever really believed, and my slow awakening as I grew up involved an increasing awareness that because my mind worked in a particular way, I was therefore an atheist. Because I liked science, I was led to material explanations of the world; because religious explanations were so shallow and useless, I turned away from them. I was an atheist long before I realized it, so the arrow of causality always pointed to and not from atheism. Atheism is a consequence not a cause for me.

And also, I have to be honest about this: many of my principles are not at all incompatible with theism. I am politically liberal and progressive, I support labor unions and the peace movement, I oppose inequity of all forms, I value education highly and want everyone to benefit from it, I feel my greatest accomplishment in life is to have built a strong family of good people I can love and trust without question. There is nothing in that that I can say is a necessary consequence of a disbelief in gods, since those values are shared with many Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus, and also I know far too many atheists who do not share them. There are deep, strong motivations driving my positions on these kinds of issues, and I simply can’t say that my intellectual stance on the existence of a deity is the wellspring. There isn’t much where I think, “Well, I’m an atheist, so I should adopt position X.”

But I discovered one thing. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Shaun

Today’s contribution is an alternative take on the question, submitted via e-mail by Shaun, who blogs at PolySkeptic

Because I am an atheist…

…I don’t think that there is anything that can be derived from being an atheist per se.  I do not believe that I do anything because I’m an atheist, but I am an atheist and polyamorous because I am a skeptic.

I am a skeptic primarily.  I have always been an atheist, but when I started trying to apply skepticism to as many aspects of my beliefs, actions, etc it changed what I did and how I think.  Being skeptical was the start to becoming a better person.

So, because I’m a skeptic (or at least because I try and apply skepticism to my life), I try to question my own assumptions and try to listen to others when my experience is insufficient.  I try to believe as may true things, and reject as many unsupported things, as I can.  I care about what is true, and find criticism to be a powerful and important tool. [Read more…]