Personal Log—Star Date 0802-2010: "Reflexions"
Now that I am free from religious incarceration, I sense a call to duty, specifically a call to honor our first duty as thinking beings—our duty to the truth.
What truth specifically am I referring to? Certainly not the "truth" of atheism, insofar as it is said to represent a school of thought possessing enlightenment beyond all others. The average atheist claims no such ultimately enlightened perspective. Rather he prefers, and affirms, the rational over the irrational, the reasonable over the unreasonable, and the real over the unreal.
As to the contention many atheists are merely substituting one dogmatic curriculum for another, this is a hollow and indefensible claim with all the functionality of a smoke screen. It bears repeating that atheism and rationalism are not dogmas but rather methods of reasoning, and as such stand in stark contrast to the stultifying regimen of religious indoctrination.
One hard truth is that religious thinking demands of its subjects they relinquish their natural desire to question everything and submit their intellects to the forces of slavery. Conformity and obedience are the pillars upon which the elaborate mythology of "god" is built. This blind submission represents the very antithesis to free thinking. Far from being intolerant, we atheists are merely being critical. It is intellectually dishonest to exempt any ideology from responsible criticism. Religion has enjoyed its privileged status far too long. It is merely one world view among many; and like all world views, it too, is wholly fallible.
I go to great lengths to avoid descending into disrespect when criticizing religious thinking and religious people. And if it is true some atheists are simply repeating the same crime of moral hubris and judgment so popular among believers, we can only hope ours is a better, more humane judgment, one deserving of its exercise.
For me the emotional battle of standing up to generations of religiosity, though never completely resolved, has given way to what is essentially an intellectual pursuit, one that is challenging and rewarding. Any hostility we atheists may sometimes project is best understood in the light of our experiences. It is we who have been aggrieved, forced into religious concentration camps and compelled to relent in the face of grotesque psychological abuse. It is here where one's uniqueness is neither cultivated nor given refuge; where love itself is denied those who hesitate to submit.
The truth we humanists strive to expose is the truth about ourselves—our aspirations, our flaws; our resourcefulness, our limitations. To better understand, and improve, the human condition is our goal. We are caught up in the discernible and the accessible, not the indiscernible, inaccessible or ethereal. When held up to the natural light of realism, the construct of religion appears nakedly misguided.
Do atheists believe in anything? Of course we do. We believe in man's ability to use what his senses can convey—and what his ability to reason can affirm—to give meaning and purpose to life.
2 years ago