Monday, October 23, 2006

What kind of Atheist am I?

There's an article on Wired News today by Gary Wolf on the Battle of the New Atheism. I find it interesting because I titled my blog "New Atheist" not just because I am new to Atheism, but because I feel I am part of a new generation of Atheism.

It has made me think a bit more on how I stand on religion. Unlike the New Atheists described in his article, I don't think I'd ever challenge someone else's believe in a god, I have perfect respect for spirituality. I feel that the idea of god & practice of religion don't have to be intertwined (But this is probably because, if I had to choose, I quite prefer Pantheism to any other concept of a diety). I'd just like to challenge blind adherence to religious dogma.

While I do agree that religion can be evil, just as government can be evil, I can't say "religion is evil" because I still think there is a lot of good that comes from religion; a lot of good lessons to be learned from it. It's the sense of entitlement, the idea that one set of beliefs is better for everyone than another set of beliefs, and the belief system that fights against change that I find repulsive & evil.

Frankly, I think religion keeps a lot of people in line. I see religion as tailor made for the sheeple, people who can't keep themselves in line, and need a reason above themselves to be good & see the good in their lives. But this blind faith has been taken advantage of and so we have wars, suicide bombers, funeral petitioners, and begging donations in return for prayers, all sighting religion & god as their motivation for causing pain & suffering to others. Religion gives people a belief in an after-life that they so long to join, they often loose concern about how their actions affect the living.

I do think I am still a step back from hard-core-Atheism, not because I am afraid of saying "The very thing you hinge your life on, I totally dismiss," but because I don't want to totally deny a sense of spirituality in myself or others. I want to walk into the forest and have that sense of something bigger than myself, even if I know that "something bigger" is just the unimaginable physical universe beyond.

So I find I need to continue to ask myself, as an atheist, where do I stand? What do I expect of believers? How should I act in order to uphold my lack of belief & yet not be that "asshole atheist" at the table who just wants to start a fight?

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