“Personally I would never want to be a member of any group; where you either have to wear a hat, or you can’t wear a hat.”
A note on philosophical beliefs:
To save some people some time, I cannot be converted. It is impossible. But if you want to try, prepare to be questioned. The Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped coming to my door a long time ago because they didn’t like dealing with that part of my conversion policy.
Some misconceptions about Atheism are that it means I must be anti-religion. This isn’t the case at all. For a start, Atheists are not unified. We don’t go to meetings and we don’t have a book. We just don’t believe in the supernatural. That’s it. We don’t believe in what is described in religious texts any more than we believe in the mythological creatures told in ancient Greek allegories or the magic and witchcraft described in Harry Potter. God is as real to an Atheist as a Minotaur (half man half bull supernatural creature) is to you. A human story dreamed up to teach a lesson or to entertain.
We don’t believe it for a number of reasons and this is down to individuals. Some Atheists just have an axe to grind with religion. I personally have read religious texts and couldn’t reconcile the misogyny, violence, racism and intolerance communicated with the ultimate message. Then there are the contradictions both with itself and with established facts. There are always explanations, but I’m trained to question a story until it either breaks down or checks out. For me, none of the texts stood up to scrutiny. There were too many excuses and too many gaps. You’d think a text sent from a perfect being would be perfect, and would be impossible to question.
So if I don’t believe it, how can I not be against it? Simple. Because I can appreciate what those who do believe it can gain from it. If the stories are teaching them lessons about morality, love, compassion and whatever else; then they’re doing the job they’re meant to do. It doesn’t matter to me how literally people take those stories. Hansel and Gretel teaches kids to be weary of strangers among other things, if they believe it literally they still learn the moral. Doesn’t matter to the parents. The same principle applies.
The other misconception is that Atheists are devoid of morals, are evil and are otherwise damned. Atheists don’t surrender responsibility for their lives to a supernatural entity. They assume that responsibility for themselves and I think that is an empowering and liberating way to live. I never needed a 2000 year old book to teach me about right and wrong, I have my own moral code to live by and my own social responsibility to respect. My morals are more highly developed than seems to be the case for a lot of theists. I’m tolerant of all races, genders and creeds. I’ve never judged, let alone hated anybody for their sexuality or otherwise how they choose to live their lives.
If I have a problem, I look inwards to solve it. I look to my friends and loved ones for support. I live by what I know is real and I receive real help for it. I always question and challenge what I know, to improve upon it and gain new perspective. If we don’t question, we don’t learn. As a result, I can look at everything I’ve accomplished in my life and be proud, that I achieved that on my own. I as a humble human being, achieved that. It wasn’t given to me or destined for me, I did it all on my own.
I can look at the adversity and challenges that I’ve had to overcome, and say that I beat that. I gain strength from that. I wasn’t “saved” by divine intervention, I fought my way through it and I defeated it on my own. I believe in the potential in humanity and I try to make myself a good example of it. We are capable of wondrous things, incredible acts of compassion - why would we want to give that up?
Equally, my failures are my own responsibility, not God or the devil. I know that if I have wronged someone, or if I’ve made a mistake; that I am responsible and I own up to that. That way I can learn from it and improve myself, or apologise to the people I hurt, or right the wrongs I’ve caused. Ultimately, Atheism is about taking responsibility for your own life.
It takes courage to be an Atheist because it is difficult for people to accept full responsibility for their lives. It can be easy to take everything on faith in the supernatural, to put it all on destiny or God; but it is never easy to take full responsibility yourself. I find that it builds and tests willpower, inner strength and resolve. It is also an enormous source of self-belief I would never want to relinquish.
I post on this site to help people as best I can. I also find it a source of intellectual stimulation on some other issues which I don’t get to satisfy in my physical life. I do a lot pro-bono work, I donate heavily to medical research and local social projects, and I’m involved in a big brother programme which is an important aspect of my life. I don’t do these things because God, or a priest, or a book told me to.
I do these things out of my own concern and compassion for other human beings. I do them because I know they are right, not because somebody told me to. If I’m destined to spend eternity in a lake of fire for that because I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to be born into the right faith or convert when I wasn’t, then the problem isn’t with me.
Well that is a summary of my philosophy. I decided to write it here because I often encounter misconceptions about who and what I am when it comes to religion. Not all Atheists are like me, as I said we aren’t organised and we don’t proselytise. But that is how I live and if you’re reading this, I hope you’ve taken something from my experiences.
Me and my oldest friend.
Where did you grow up?
Towers of steel and glass.
Where do you live now?
The edge of reason.
What is the highest level of education you have attained?
What subjects did/do you enjoy the most at school?
Law, Physics (Engineering), History, Literature.
What's your favorite sport or sports?
Football (Soccer), Rugby.
What kinds of jobs have you held? Industries too!
What hobbies are you into?
Surfing, Sailing, Saxophone (Alto), Piano, Jazz, classic rock n' roll.
If you claim a political party affliation, which is it?
Social Liberalism with no party affiliation.
Which religion (if any) do you follow?