Atheism is not an ideology, it is not a belief system, but is simply the disbelief in a supernatural God. While theists often portray atheists as an immoral or amoral pact of people bent on evil doing, or as having no reason or seeing no value in life, it has been my experience that nothing could be further from the truth. Many rational thinking reasonable minded atheists value human life, human potential and human intellect. I and other rational thinking atheists look for answers to life within the structure of the natural world, and we trust that science can unlock the mysteries we have yet to understand. We appreciate the life we have now, because we know that this is all we have. We are interested in living well, care about the Earth and the other creatures who share it with us, and are interested in leaving the world a better place for those who will come after. We don’t rely on lucky charms, totems or magic tarot cards to guide the moral compass of our days, we rely instead, on our sense of ethics, honed by a well tuned sense of what is right and what is wrong, not because someone told us it was so, but because it is what we know.
Sometimes, on an especially dark or stormy night, I think about our pre-modern ancestors, a tribe of frightened kinship huddled around a community fire, built for warmth or to repel the enveloping darkness. I imagine their fear as sounds of predators emanate from the thick woods and rain pelts their skin with such force that it stings. I envision the terror in their eyes as bright bolts of lightening rip through the sky, leaving burnt patches of ground and the smell of ozone in its path. One can only imagine the kind of superstition such beings might evoke to explain or protect them from the fire in the sky, the flooding rain or the ravenous predators. The conjuring of superstition in such dark times, when the human intellect was so young and unformed is understandable, but it is hard to imagine the place for such pretense now, when human intellect and innovation have advanced so far. All this progress and still, we atheists are the ones who must explain our lack of faith in rabbit’s feet, horse shoes, and glass beads instead of the other way around. It reminds me of the story told to children about the Emperor and his new clothes, where all the adults congratulated the ruler on his new suit, and it took a child to point out that the ruler was, in fact, nude.
Atheists are the brave and independent free thinkers who are willing to think outside the bounds of restrictive superstition to see life in the light of rationality and reason. We are brave enough to tell the Emperor he is nude