Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Practical" Atheism, Part 2

So if living as if there is no God doesn't mean living immorally, what does it mean? 

  • Without threat of eternal damnation, it means that we must take seriously the consequences of negative behaviors during our time on earth.
  • Without threat of eternal rewards, it means we must live life to the fullest, appreciating the beauty, love, and kindness that we experience now, and share it with others.
  • Without a God to make the rules, it means we must pay attention to our rules, create our own moral codes as individuals and a society and justify our behaviors as moral to the larger community. 
  • With this as the only world we will know, it means that we must take care of it, and make ensure that our planet is livable for generations to come.
  • Without a God's love and support, it means we must love and support one another.
  • Without a God to blame for negative things happening, it means we must work to make a world where people are cared for in the best way possible.
  • Without a God to thank for our rewards, it means we must acknowledge a randomness to life.  Some people get things easier than others.  And when we do, it's our moral responsibility to help those less fortunate.
  • A truly "Practical Atheist" would be someone who believes in caring for the planet, living justly, caring for fellow humans and for animals.  
So I ask my Christian colleagues, when you hear the term "Practical Atheist" bandied about as synonymous for immoral behavior, challenge that term.  Atheists gave us the Eight-Fold Path.  Atheists gave us the Humanist Manifesto.  Atheists give us statements like this one from the American Ethical Union: "Dedicated to cultivating moral development in personal life and moral reform in society, Ethical Culture seeks to nurture relationships in which we act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in ourselves, to provide inspiration and guidance for moral living, and to transform the way humanity views the meaning of life."

What does it mean to live as if there is no God?  It means to be responsible for one's own morality; it does not mean to live immorally.  So let's make a deal, Christians.  If people don't live up to your idea of Christianity and you don't call them "Practical Atheists," then when people don't live up to my idea of Atheism I won't call them "Practical Christians."  A better term for Christians who act immorally would be Hypocritical Christians rather than Practical Atheists.  If a Christians are not living up to your understanding of your faith, Christians, call them out on it, but don't call them Atheists.  We don't claim them; they're all yours.

2 comments:

Jill said...

I really like this post.

I'm involved in a secular-humanistic Jewish community in which many folks identify as atheists. May I share this post with them?

Cynthia Landrum said...

Of course! Thank you!