Monday, March 02, 2009

Atheism, Humanism, and Religion

I don't believe in a god in any sort of traditional sense, but I reject the label of Atheist. I think the word, besides having a negative connotation, does not convey what I really believe. I consider myself a Humanist in a broad and general sense, since I feel that the label more properly conveys what I believe, rather than what I don't believe. Atheism is only the belief in no god, and has no other intrinsic beliefs. Humanism, on the other hand, is the belief that people and humanity are the most important thing in human existence. Also, Atheism is the second most disliked "religion", behind only Scientology, probably because all that outspoken Atheists do is attack religion.

I think that people who don't believe in a god or other supernatural powers, or don't claim to know whether a god exists need to move away from labels that say what they are against (like "Atheist" and "Agnostic"), and begin using labels that state what are the most important principles of their beliefs (like "Humanist" or "Naturalist"). I think that the outspoken Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, need to focus more on the negative outcomes of fundamentalist religion, rather than the absurdity of the premises of religion. This will help reduce the marginalization of non-religious beliefs. I also think that non-religious people need to stop condemning religious moderates who are not imposing their views on others.

Finally, I think that non-religious people need to come together and form some sort of common culture. Specifically, I think that Humanists and others need to take a page from religion. Religion is based on supernatural threats and promises, like hell and heaven. Humanism should promise a fulfilling life based on rational thought, while stating the belief in metaphysical entities can lead to a wasted life and the misleading of others. Furthermore, there needs to be a community. All the Humanist forums and many of the blogs I have found online are dominated by religion-bashing, rather than good discourse about how people can live and be moral without a god or something similar. Instead of spending all our time saying what we are not, we should spend our time defining ourselves, and contrasting it to what we are not.

If anyone knows of a place where a progressive Humanist can talk with like minded people, you should let me know


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