Atheism has been on my mind a bit lately due to a number of news stories and discussions that have popped up over the past few weeks. I’d call it a sign, but as I explained in 2009, I don’t believe in a higher power.
In reverse chronological order, I stumbled across a news story about the Mid Ohio Atheists of Mansfield, Ohio mistakenly receiving praise for a billboard reading “There is no God – don’t believe everything you read” that was actually put up by Mansfield-based McElroy Road Church of Christ; a news story about a Florida pastor who wants to establish an “atheist registry” for “informational purposes” — much in the same way you’d establish a sex offender registry, a comparison this “man of God” does in fact make; and I got into an extremely heated debate with a (now former) friend who chewed me out big-time because I spoke ill of a pending lawsuit against the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
For the record, my gripe was specifically against the group American Atheists, for filing a lawsuit on the basis that the inclusion of a piece of debris from the Twin Towers in the shape of a cross amounted to Christianity forcing itself upon people of non-faith. I disagree with that concept, but my problem was the idea of me being lumped in with the twits at the AA, much in the same way reasonable, thoughtful, not-at-all jerkass-ish Christians loathe being lumped in with narrow-minded buffoons like Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson.
Now, a common thread running through all of these stories is the rancor that emerges from both sides, which can be characterized thusly:
CHRISTIAN (forgetting that whole “judge not lest ye be judged” thing): God exists! You stupid atheists are going to Hell!
ATHEIST (forgetting his claim of being a reasonable, rational person): No I’m not, because God doesn’t exist, you superstitious moron!
Girls, girls! You’re both self-righteous tools!
The next time you, o reader, whether you’re a person of faith or a person of non-faith, feel inclined to verbally punk out your ideological opposite, kindly read this, which is from a US Supreme Court ruling on Abington School District v. Schempp/Murray v. Curlett, the 1963 case that removed organized Bible studies and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer from public schools:
Your petitioners are atheists and they define their beliefs as follows.
An atheist loves his fellow man instead of god.
An atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.
An atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it, and enjoy it.
An atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.
He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.
He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.
He believes that we are our brother’s keepers and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.
In other words, atheists are not primarily concerns with disproving the existence of God, or knocking anyone who believes. Christians and, especially, fellow atheists alike would do well to remember this.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.