Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any gods, and the fact that atheism in it of itself is a nonbelief has its advantages and disadvantages. Unlike religious people, atheists don’t automatically have any positive beliefs in common. This is an advantage in that good atheists cannot legitimately be linked to the bad actions of bad atheists (though there have been plenty of attempts to link them illegitimately). An atheist criminal must have at some point constructed a positive belief justifying his actions, and this belief is by necessity not atheism. On the other hand, religious criminals will often justify their actions through an interpretation of their religious teachings. Others who hold those teachings to be true must answer to the fact that, at the bare minimum, some number of their positive beliefs are shared by criminals.

But identifying with a group that shares only a negative belief has its disadvantages as well. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it is difficult to organize people around a shared lack of belief. Unfortunately, the reality of our world is that religion has created a situation in which those who do not conform to their brands of belief are disadvantaged in mainstream society. Secularism allows atheists and others to fight against this troubling progression.

Secularism is not a position on the existence of gods, but the more important issue of the relevance of gods. Secularism asserts that gods or supernatural forces have no meaningful role in our lives, as well as the positive idea that our lives should run on the basis of input from the natural world and our interactions with other people. Agnostics, those who are unsure of the existence of god, and deists, who believe in a god no longer active in our lives, have a place in secularism. Atheists can be secularists too.

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Blogical

I’m starting this blog as an outlet for my thoughts on religion, it successes, shortfalls, and how I get along without it. As an atheist and secularist, I often get accused of only believing in “cold logic”, to which I respond, “What’s so cold about it?" Just because I think critically where where religious people don’t doesn’t make me cold, immoral or unfeeling. I’m not anti-religious per se, though I feel some religious practices do get a free ride where they shouldn’t. The main reason I’m an atheist is that I think a life lived on secular priciples is a better way to live. In reading this, you’ll probably see plenty of ideas you’ve heard before, and hopefully a few you haven’t. With any luck, you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and we’ll both be better off.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism
(image: happy human)

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