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Don't believe there's a God?


 

"People do not choose to be atheists. They realize they are."

- Jerry DeWitt, Author, former Evangelical Pastor

 

[atheism]

- Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (The Oxford Dictonary)

 

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Don't believe there's a God?


 

"People do not choose to be atheists. They realize they are."

- Jerry DeWitt, Author, former Evangelical Pastor

 

[atheism]

- Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (The Oxford Dictonary)

 

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Non-belief - Atheism - is spreading rapidly in the US and throughout the world by people like you. The 2016 PRRI study Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back shows that a growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including those who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now account for 25% of the adult population in the US, up from 16% in 2007.

Growth of the Religiously Unaffiliated USA, 1972-2016. Percent of population:

Sources: General Social Survey, 1972-2012; PRRI Surveys, 2014-2016.

The 2015 global PEW study The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections projects that between 2010 and 2050 the group of unaffiliated and non-religious will have grown with +61 million people who are leaving their religion (primarily Christianty). What does this mean? It means that between 2010 and 2050 there's a an average of 4 178 individuals per day or 1.5 million individuals per year who decides that organized religion doesn't work for them anymore. Whether they call themselves atheists, non-believers, freethinkers, openly secular, humanists, agnostics, rationalists, or non-religious, many of them share a common ground of non-belief in any God (atheism). It is by far the largest projected movement from one group to another and is primarily happening in the developed secular part of the world where atheism rapidly are gaining more acceptance. In some of the European countries and a few in East Asia, particularly in China and Japan, the non-religious are already the majority.

"Arab atheists are becoming more visible, largely due to social media. There is also a perception that their numbers are growing. In 2012 a poll by WIN/Gallup International that looked at religion in 57 countries caused particular alarm in Saudi Arabia, which, as the birthplace of Islam, claims to be the holiest of the Arab countries. Of those interviewed there, 19 per cent said they were not religious and 5 per cent described themselves as convinced atheists."
- From the article "The rise of Arab atheism" by Brian Whitaker.

While religion in many of the underdeveloped countries are projected to grow in the near future due to high fertility rates and extreme intolerance /violence towards non-religious admission there is still hope: Improved life quality and heavily improved access to internet and education in these countries may have the potential to speed up the secular movement faster and beyond any expectations. Lets' hope so!

 
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Freedom From Religion


“Isn't atheism just another religion?' No, it isn't. Atheism has no creeds, rituals, holy book, absolute moral code, origin myth, sacred spaces or shrines. It has no sin, divine judgment, forbidden words, prayer, worship, prophecy, group privileges, or anointed 'holy' leaders. Atheists don't believe in a transcendent world or supernatural afterlife. Most important, there is no orthodoxy in atheism.”

- Dan Barker, former Christian preacher, current co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

 

Freedom From Religion


“Isn't atheism just another religion?' No, it isn't. Atheism has no creeds, rituals, holy book, absolute moral code, origin myth, sacred spaces or shrines. It has no sin, divine judgment, forbidden words, prayer, worship, prophecy, group privileges, or anointed 'holy' leaders. Atheists don't believe in a transcendent world or supernatural afterlife. Most important, there is no orthodoxy in atheism.”

- Dan Barker, former Christian preacher, current co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

 

 

ATHEISM EXPLAINED

  • Atheism is not a religion/belief system, it's the rejection of belief in a God/Deity. That's it. No hate involved.

  • People do not chose to be atheists. They realize they are. If coming from a religious background they simply stop believing in God, typically after having a personal struggle with doubt for some years.

Atheism is defined as a lack of belief in a Deity, a God. The "A" prefix means "without", so the word literally means "Without belief in God". Note that atheism in itself has no opinion about religion. It is simply a rejective standpoint on a belief: A non-belief in a God or Gods/higher power.

A non-belief does not require you to hold any kind of knowledge about a God of any kind which technically means that we all are born atheists (passive) and can only become theists after we get to know about religion, which usually happens when the knowledge is passed on from our parents. While the default position is atheism, later in life when you have the knowledge of religious Gods, you have to be either a theist or an atheist (active) because there is no middle ground between a belief and a non-belief.

If you agree with one or more of the following statements you are an atheist:

• "I have no belief in a God." (The default mode. Plain and simple "Joe Schmoe" atheism)
• "I don't know if there is a God. I just don't know." (Agnosticism, which really is agnostic atheism)
• "I don't believe in God or any higher power but I consider myself "spiritual" and often feel awe by the beauty and grandness of love, humans, nature and the universe!" (You're-just-like-most-of-us atheism)
• "I really wish there was a God, but I can't believe in one as long as I can't find convincing evidence." (You'll-get-over-it-atheism)
• "I don't think there is any God and therefore, until evidence prove me wrong, I can't believe in one." (Reasonable/agnostic atheism*)

* Most atheists find it reasonable to claim with certainty that all the Gods (around 2500 - 3000 and counting) described in all known religions are man-made and does not exist, however many find it equally reasonable and logic that it is impossible to be 100% sure that there is no superior power or "God" of some sort. It is simply impossible to prove that there is no God in our universe the same way it is impossible to prove that there is no tea-pot orbiting the sun. But as long as there is no scientific evidence for God, heaven or hell, the reasonable position for an atheist is to not believe in those things. Most atheists also do not believe in anything supernatural or paranormal, however most of them feel awe by the grandness of love, humans, nature and the universe.

While there also are more narrow definitions of atheism as an identification, note that the word atheism does not claim "There is no God", atheism only claims "Without belief in a God". This is the default mode of atheism and, if you hold an atheistic view, this is the only claim people can know for sure about your belief. Atheism is by default not about hating Gods, religion or religious people. And It's not about worshiping the devil or eating babies.


CAN I BE GOOD WITHOUT A GOD?

Where do atheists get their morality from? To the contrary of common religious belief, human morality does not originate from any religion but has been present and developed for as long as modern humans have walked on earth (around 200 000 years). Studies show that morality can even be found among other primates and mammals which implies that basic moral principles goes even beyond our own species.

Fairness, reciprocity, empathy, cooperation - caring about the well-being of others have been and still are fundamental for the survival of mankind. It's true that religion, because of its dominance, has played a part in the moral landscape for the last 2000-3000 years but religion and morality are not synonymous. Morality does not depend upon religion. Think about it: The plain reason we made it this far is because we have looked out for each other long before religions came around. It is safe to say that religions rather was based on fundamental moral human behavior, like the Golden Rule, that worked well for building prosperous societies.

 "Morality is present in all societies in some form. There were moral people and moral codes long before the Hebrews came along and much earlier than Jesus. If morality comes from the teachings of god, who taught the ancient Chinese their morals? Who taught the Iroquois Indians, before Columbus? Muslims claim that their morality comes directly from god as written in the Koran. Mormons teach that their morality comes from god as written in the book of Mormon. The Hopi have a well-developed moral and ethical code, but it is not what you or I would recognize. While all of these groups claim that some god gave them their morality, the fact is that no society can live long without rules for successful interaction. No gods gave them these moral rules; tradition and the need to live peacefully within a larger group, brought these about."
- Darrel W Ray, Ed.D. is a former Christian fundamentalist, current atheist, humanist, and psychologist. Read more about his comments on religion, atheism and morality here.

THE EVOLUTION OF GOODNESS WITHOUT RELIGION

Humanism, which is based on an atheistic world view, derives from a Human-centered philosophy that rejected the supernatural and has its origin long before the current religions came about. This philosophy has evolved over time to define a modern platform for human morality, welfare and fulfillment:

  • We can gain knowledge through scientific research and looking at the natural world - what is real, what we can see and touch.
  • This one life is all we know we have.
  • Our morality (our sense of right and wrong) comes from our human nature and culture.
  • What is right is what promotes human welfare and fulfillment.
  • We can and should create meaning and purpose in life.

Through modern secular history we have been able to develop our morality with the help of philosophy, psychology and science, resulting in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that from a humanistic moral standpoint contains far more goodness, fairness, freedom and care for the individual than any religion can offer. While this freedom and care is seen by many religious people as the beginning of a moral collapse the reality shows the exact opposite: Sociologists have recently begun to pay more attention to the fact that some of the world's most secular countries, such as those in Scandinavia where non-believers are the majority, are among the least violent, least corrupt and most happy in the world.

There is evidently no moral collapse without religion. Religious faith and dogmas are evidently not needed to maintain a safe and highly functional moral society. On the contrary; we can only evolve and become better by learning more about the world around us and keep re-evaluating and improving our morality - rather than maintaining ancient religious morality like banning education for girls, homosexuality, gender equality and masturbation.

So keep up being nice and do good stuff, because it will make you feel good - and keep on masturbating if you enjoy it. It's a natural thing and just part of being a human.


FINDING MEANING WITHOUT GOD

- Text by Ben Atwood (Originally posted here.)

"It is often thought that atheists have no spirituality. That all atheists care about is making religious people feel stupid, and that there is no more to life than understanding complex interactions between matter. That feeling connected or involved in the universe is solely the privilege of the faithful. I disagree with this.

Though I dislike the word spirituality itself, mainly due to all its religious connotations, I understand the word’s significance. Spirituality is simply an adjective that is used to describe the search for one’s place in the universe."

"No one wants to feel alone in life, and even if you are alone, being spiritual makes you feel connected to the world and other people in it. Atheists get that, and it is important, maybe even essential, to our species’ psychological makeup to feel this way. There are ways to feel involved with the world that do not involve mystic mumbo-jumbo however:

Understanding Life

Science as a whole is a woefully-neglected subject in public schools, and it is a shame, because of all disciplines, it can be the most spiritual, especially the study of biology.

All species on earth were at one time connected, we all share certain common characteristics passed on through eons in our DNA strands, and we are just one link in a chain whose future is uncertain. Think of how mind boggling it is that for about 150,000 years human beings, no different than you and me, walked the Earth with other human-like species. Or how incredible it is that we share a common ancestor with both a dragonfly and a grapefruit.

To know evolution is to know the story of life on earth, and to know the scientific story of life is to feel connected to the world as you never have before.

Understanding the Stars

There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth. That is a stupefying number of stars. The size and scale of the universe are unfathomable, and the age is beyond comprehension. There are stars in the universe whose size is a million times bigger than our sun, which is the size of about a million earths. If the study of biology makes us feel connected to the world, the universe reminds us of our place in it, and our past in the stars.

Everything that exists was forged in the furnace of a star, which is the only place hot enough for atoms to merge and combine to form new elements. All the elements that make up your body came from a supernova, which means you, and everyone you love, and everything you see is connected not only with each other, but with the entire universe as well.

Death

Most people live their entire lives trying to deny that they will die. Some people don’t really live their entire lives trying to avoid their ultimate fate. Death is the great equalizer, and it will come to us all one day. There is no escaping it, and really, very little that can be done to postpone it.

When you die, your body decomposes back into various elements which are consumed and used and put back into the earth, which will be blown up eventually by the sun, and scattered across the universe. Embracing the idea that you will die also becomes liberating. Once someone accepts that their death is inevitable, they begin to lose tolerance for doing something they hate doing. (...)

Accepting that one day you will die is a key factor in deciding to really live. To grab your life, and decide, this is what I am going to do, is the key to happiness.

Embracing Freedom

Once one acknowledges that death is inevitable, there are only two choices. Live life as you want to, or just wait it out. I think the most spiritual way someone can spend their life is embracing all the challenges of pursuing your dreams, not kneeling in front of some altar. The freedom to use the brief time you have to exist is a freedom that no one can deny you.

Whether you want to be a chef, a doctor, or a pornographic film maker, the choices you make are entirely yours, and you have all the power to create make your life into a work of art, unique and totally yours.

Lack of Control

Paradoxically, the more control one gains over one’s life, the more one realizes the less control one has over events. True spirituality with the universe recognizes that randomness plays a large part in our day to day lives.

Being spiritual means not fighting these changes that cannot be fought, such as a relative dying in a freak accident, losing one’s job because of the economy, having your face ripped off by an angry chimp.

Change is the only constant in life, and it is embedded in the laws of physics. To be a part of change is to be a part of the world, being changed is existing. Struggling against change is struggling against the will of the universe."

 


WHY IDENTIFY AS AN ATHEIST?

It's true that we normally never identify ourselves with things we don't do. You never hear about people saying their favorite sport activity is "not-playing-golf". So why this fuss about atheism? Well, as long as religious ideas and dogmas interfere and put pressure on individuals, governments, legal systems and educational institutions around the world we need to become a united atheist voice of non-belief in order to be a stronger and more visual opponent promoting Humanism; science, logic and reason against the worldwide ignorance, injustice, prejudice, discrimination, misogyny and bigotry caused and maintained by dogmatic religious belief systems.

While there are various atheist "labels" to subscribe to that defines a more complete philosophical world-view, like secular humanist or freethinker it is time to focus and remove the stigma around the word atheism because it slows down and undermines the progress to a united humanistic secular world. The idea that atheism is an offensive word can only fade away if we start using it and explain to people what it really means to be an atheist. By owning the word and honor atheism for what it actually literally means instead of avoiding it, we can speed up the process and move on with a better outlook on the future for all non-believers in the world.

"It is absolutely OK to not subscribe to any religion or faith and it does not make me a bad person. I am still ME. It's totally cool to be an atheist and it's actually - for me - not so much about who I am but where I stand: Free, without belief in a God or religious doctrines, responsible for my own actions and thoughtful about their effects on others, while doing my best to be a good human and living my one and only life to the fullest."
- Theo S. Amin is a father, architect and member of the Humanist Association.

WHAT IS ATHEIST ACTIVISM?

The transfer to atheism is for most people very liberating and rewarding on a personal level. Even if you don't share it with people around you, it frees you up and gives you more time and focus to indulge life without the fear of a God or nagging worries about an uncertain afterlife. - And it's of course your own right to keep your non-belief and opinions on religion to yourself, sometimes even necessary. 

However, if you can be open about it, remember that voicing your atheism also becomes an act of solidarity and inspiration for those who cannot talk freely about their non-belief.

Atheist activism is for many atheists first and foremost about raising the profile of atheism and de-stigmatize atheism in the public discourse until it is as equally acceptable as theism or other religions, making the entire world a safe place for all atheists to be open about it.

Just admitting that you are an atheist when someone asks about your beliefs is really helpful and is actually as simple atheist activism can be. It will hopefully also give you the opportunity to explain what it means and take away most of the drama that the word atheism usually evokes among religious people.

If you feel safe and comfortable about being more active about your atheism, peacefully and firmly speak up against discriminating and ignorant religious ideas, rules and arguments whenever you feel it's appropriate. Join your local atheist or humanist secular organization, participate in secular conferences, rallies and join the conversations on social media and subscribe to atheist channels on YouTube, or maybe even start your own channel. By doing so you become a more active part in one of the most important and positive movements in human history: A transformation into a true humanistic secular world, where religion becomes a private matter and is completely separated from politics, legislation, education and child healthcare and where the Human Rights - always and everywhere - triumphs religious culture, norms and values.

Honoring the Human Rights. - Well, that's basically how "bad-ass" you'll need to be as an atheist if you think secular humanism sounds like something worth fighting for. Naturally, atheist activists comes in all flavors and have various ideas on what the goals are for the atheist activist movement and how to get there. Safe to say, there's no one right answer to this and you will have to navigate and act as you see fit - but remember: If you really want to have an honest chance to get through to another person holding a different position on religion than you, always focus on criticizing the ideas and be respectful to the individual. Be constructive. Know your stuff.


INTERESTING READS!

No matter what position you currently hold on religion, it can be a very interesting personal experience to dig a little deeper to better understand the secular world view and arguments for a non-religious life. There's a bunch of great books out there that deals with the big questions and the science that explains the universe, tells personal life-changing stories about leaving faith - and how to find meaning in life without religion. Here's a selection of interesting reads that many people find both mind-opening and very helpful when struggling with their faith: