This morning, a Front Page writer on this blog posted the following comment. I am not linking it nor providing the name of the commenter, if you want to know, go look it up.
If ive ever met any person who sees little value in universal ethics, its an atheist. Their utter contempt for humanity is never far from the surface, as they typically have no concept of what it means to be fully human.Nearly four years ago I published a Diary on the subject of my Atheism. I believe that I live my live, and raise my kids in an honest and moral manner, that they may become happy adults and useful members of society.
ive often thought it wouldnt be surprising if god were an atheist because theyre the only ones who actually lack the humanity to do the job.
The comment I block-quoted is so ugly, so lacking in insight and basic decency that I felt it time for a reminder that people really need to think more carefully before opening their mouths and jumping in with both feet.
I hold no personal animous towards the writer concerned, indeed he writes with both insight and passion on a variety of subjects, but he is a Front-Pager and like it or not, I hold him to a higher standard than this.
Jump the curiously non-religious orange thing for the text.
Diary is re-published verbatim. No edits, additions or omissions:
I was born to be an Atheist. I come from working class parents who were both, from an early age, involved in the labour movement and politics in the UK. My brother, sadly now gone, was named Karl, and that should tell you much. If you need another clue, my younger brother is called Keir and his name is up in orange so you may read about his namesake.--
My parents were Communists. At 16 I joined the Young Communist League in the UK, and served as the youngest ever member on the local Trades Union Council. My views have changed over the years, but mainly because the society I live in has changed, and I am older. The principles on which my views are based have never altered, not one iota. I still believe that the wealth creators should share the spoils, and I still believe that a just society should care for those less fortunate, the children, the sick and the elderly. Not to do so is below contempt and I therefore view many Republicans as beneath contempt.
In many respects my views are, arguably, Christian values, yet they would have me burn in Hell for my lack of belief, and my wholehearted support of minority groups in our society, esp. teh gay!
My parents have no God. We celebrated Christmas as a family tradition, free of the need to visit Church, or say Grace before breaking bread, or turkey. Christmas is family time, and we still enjoy it. Many of my family, non-believers most, married in Church; including me the first time. Second time was in a gazebo in Arkansas, but that's another story.
We do this not for the religious significance, but for the community, the family, the tradition. Folk are free to call it hypocritical if they want. Won't bother me because I knew that when I made my vows I meant the very sincere expression of love and commitment they conveyed. Plus the building was nice. Whatever, I am now a statistic. I am not alone in this as many Christians who marry in Church become statistics too.
So, from birth I was never going to be brought up in an environment where a belief in God, any God or Gods, or even Flying Spaghetti Monsters, would be part of my life. In addition, English schoolkids do not come under the same pressures at school or in their local communities to conform to one religion or another. They just don't.
Am I a moral guy? Yes, I think I am. Do I live right? Yes, I think I do, but many in my community would argue that I don't, and more than that, I am not bringing up my kids right! I have flaws, to err is to be human, but I have no more flaws than the next guy, and rather fewer than some regardless of their professed beliefs. I have no way out. If I mess up then I have only myself to blame, and no one to ask forgiveness of other than my wife and kids. I am okay with this as they are why I am here, and they, and only they, are who I owe my allegiance to.
Here is where I have a problem. I do not try to tell believers that they should not believe. Never, I have never done that and I see no good reason to start now. Oh if only I, my family, and my views were treated with the same respect. I have absolutely no problem with spirituality, it's not for me but hey! I have been wrong before (once, in 1984 and it still hurts!), but the Christians around here are on a permanent recruiting drive. In the schools, the clubs, even in the Malls and bars. They will not leave their views out of my life, my families lives, or the laws which govern the society I live in.
Listen up Christians, Jews, Muslims, Spaghetti Monsters .... You can build your Church, Mosque or Synagogue any damned place you like. Heck, give me the contract and I'll do a beautiful job of the woodwork and cabinetry for you. Want a modern depiction of a Cross for your alter ... I can design and build one that will make you proud to worship every Wednesday and Sunday, but please take your butts out of my kids biology class, you have no place there. While we are on the subject ... you are free to teach your kids that abstinence is a great contraceptive, but don't peddle that crap to mine, m'kay?
These are theological issues, and my world is secular. I also have the Constitution of the United States of America on my side, but y'all seem to have forgotten that bit. Your religious freedom will be fiercely protected by me, where do you stand on my freedom to live free from your religion? Yeah, thought so! I live in a school district where the Middle School Principal thinks it is okay to tell students that if you don't believe the Bible you are wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin. What bothers me the most is not that she holds those views, but that she feels safe enough around here to express them openly, and be confident of little or no backlash. That is neither Christian nor legal, but were I to tell the same students that I don't believe in God, or that gay people were just people, with the same rights and responsibilities, and moral values as any others, I would probably be run out of town. So forgive me for not warming to many Christians.
I am an atheist for a complex variety of reasons. My upbringing figures large, but so does my intellect such as it is. I am a simple guy. When it rains I can see and feel it, so I know it's raining. When I touch something hot it hurts, so I learn to get the wife to do it for me. Evidence plays an important part but sure, I can philosophize too ....
When man first began to grow crops he could see the tangibles. He cultivated the land, planted the seed and eventually, with the sun and rain, the harvest came and he could bake bread. Sometimes the rain didn't come, and he could see that the crop was reduced, or failed. It must have been a very short leap from hoping the rain would come, to praying that the rain would come.
We know now much more about the physical world around us. We know things that were completely unknowable way back when. It's not so much of a leap to now feel that things that remain unknown, will not remain so forever. That is the difference between us, and the guy who planted the first seeds, and became the man who first prayed.
So I do not feel the need to rely upon an intangible, a God, to explain my existence, or to explain the things I don't know. I don't need to know those things. Others will, and the discovery will be their journey.
Neither do I feel the need to remove, from anyone, a belief in something beyond, their God. It is theirs to worship however they choose, but they really do have to keep it to themselves, or they become part of the problem and no part of the solution.
I would never be so crass as to refer to their God as a "Sky Fairy". That was just rude. Worse than rude it was stupid. We are on the same side and I never found that pissing off one's friends was a good idea. On the other hand ... don't be so damned touchy. How does it affect your faith that someone ill versed in the social graces, disparages it? I thought faith was absolute.
So there we are. I am not an Atheist because I don't believe in God. I am an Atheist because I don't believe the assertion that there is a God. It's really simple. The best bit though is that my beliefs have absolutely no effect on you or your life, I simply ask that you treat me with the same amount of respect.