An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
Misperceptions about Atheists
Misperceptions About Atheists:
One of the common misperceptions of
Christians is that: without God, the
Atheist has nothing -- no hope, no purpose,
no ethics, no morality. That perception couldn?t be
further from the truth. Knowledge about our world and our selves, frees us from
fear, superstition and "hate" of the other that ignorance can spawn. The
Atheist, like the person who follows a religion, can have everything if they are
willing to work for it.
A friend in his despair wrote me a letter one day claiming that his only purpose
was to glorify God. I thought how sad. So I wrote him back and said that a
perfect God wouldn?t need anyone to glorify him or her. Narcissism, extreme self
love, is an imperfection. A perfect God would not be a jealous God. Jealousy is
another sign of imperfection. When you study Science you discover that -- like
all living things -- our purpose is to become the best possible person that we
can be. That is what the concept of survival of the
fittest is about. The best survive and those that aren?t don?t. This means
that we must study Science, History, Psychology, and Religion. That we must
explore and develop our own unique talents whether they be musical, artistic,
dance, writing, sports, science, languages?.. By learning all that we can learn
about our world and our selves we find our purpose and our hope. And yes there
is still plenty of mystery and awe and wonder about the reality and great
immensity of this Universe.
It doesn?t take a rocket scientist to realize that Christians
can be just as immoral and unethical as anyone else. But you do have to be
willing to admit it. Nobel Prize-winning American Physicist Steven Weinberg
"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it,
you?d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion."
That quote is taken from "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.
If it angers you, I hope so. That is its intent. While figuring out a way to
skewer me, take a moment to give the quote serious thought.
Christians often cite the Golden Rule as proof of
their moral superiority. I like to point out that the concept first appeared in
the Analects of Confucius and was quoted by Rabbi
Hillel long before Jesus made an appearance upon this earth. Similar concepts
are found in all of the worlds great religions. The Ten
Commandments are Judaic, not Christian. They were written for a specific
group of people at a specific point in their tribal history. The Commandments
are nothing more than a set of rules aimed at helping a diverse group of people
live in some sort of harmony for the benefit of all. Again all the worlds
religions have such rules. For the non-religious the rules are the rules of
"civility", each society and ethnic group has such, unwritten, uncodified rules
of "polite" behavior. Such things as opening doors for folks (whatever their
age), returning your shopping cart to the cart corral, not using your cell phone
in a crowded restaurant or while driving, etc.
Morality and ethics stem from an understanding of our common humanity--that we
are all in this together. Also from the recognition that I can?t get off this
planet and neither can you and that we had all better learn how to care for and
nurture it. Quite honestly this understanding is difficult to find if the only
book you ever read is the Bible.
Initial posting: 2009-OCT-02
Latest update: 2009-OCT-02
Author: Susan Humphreys. Email: