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An essay donated by Susan Humphreys

Misperceptions about Atheists

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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 said:

"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.

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Initial posting: 2009-OCT-02
Latest update: 2017-MAR-12
Author: Susan Humphreys. E
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