January 4, 2008

Atheist Pride

I guess I've never been a fan of the phrase "atheist pride" because it reminds me at some level of white pride. I've preferred to talk of an "atheist movement" or "atheist revival." And yet, these phrases do not quite capture the self-affirming, pro-atheist sense of "atheist pride." At first glance, it may appear silly to feel pride in what is simply a lack of theistic belief, but as I look ahead to 2008, I think this is exactly what we need.

In defining atheism as a lack of theistic belief (i.e., the claim that some sort of god or gods exist), it may seem that one has little in which to take pride. However, I think that one's ability to either escape from religion should be a source of pride in itself. Those of you living in America know full well how pervasive a force Christianity can be, and to have de-converted or never to have accepted it in the first place is notable. We face tremendous pressure to go along with the Christian majority and are regularly demonized for our refusal to do so.

Even in realizing that atheism is the lack of theistic belief, most of us construct atheistic worldviews which end up being much broader. We talk about valuing reason, science, secular humanism, and the like. In fact, this is exactly what I have been trying to do in my periodically updated index of what I believe. Beginning with the recognition that "I am an atheist" provides no information about what I do believe, I started to articulate what I believe. I recognize that I have a ways to go with this project and look forward to continuing it in 2008, but I am fairly happy with what I have so far. Such atheistic worldviews give us plenty to be for rather than just against and provide ample opportunities for pride in who we are and what we do.

I feel good about how I escaped the clutches of religious delusion. I am living a more authentic life, free to experience the world for what it is and not simply how I want it to be. I take pride in how I manage to function in accordance with reality even while the majority of my neighbors are plagued with self-deception. To be sure, I experience compassion for them because I know that their path takes them away from truth and makes them dangerous. I seek to improve the present world for the benefit of all and do not concern myself with fantasies of afterlife because to do so would only detract from what I need to do now.

As we begin 2008, I hope you will join me in feeling good about who you are and what you do - for reason, for truth, to make the world a better place. Experience some atheist pride.

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