Happy Atheism

I was reading over at Memoirs of an Ex-Christian this post. Kevin was reading a blog post by Jon Voisey and prominent atheist who has come up with a number of characteristics that make him happy to have an atheistic mindset. Today I will post the list for your reading I would love to hear you thoughts on the list. Tomorrow I will post my own thoughts regarding each point. It is worth noting that at the bottom Kevin does provide a glimpse into his own insights on the topic.

From Memoirs of and Ex-Christian:

  1. The big answers about life require struggle:
    With atheism, you don’t get any prepackaged answers. Science has become the default explanation, but unlike theists, those answers had to be worked for, instead of just having them handed down from on high.
  2. We are intricately part of the natural world
    Voisey quotes Chuck Lunney:

    Rather than being created apart and unique from the rest of the living biosphere, accepting the fact that humans are part of and intimately connected to the universe makes me care intensely about every little thing that exists.
  3. A love for critical thought and skepticism:
    Another advantage [of the atheist] mindset is that it avoids hasty and irrational decisions. Every time I’ve heard about people being taken in by the silly Nigerian Email scam, it’s always someone taking a “something for nothing” offer on blind faith. . . This is not to say that atheists are immune to such scams, but having a mindset that requires actually holding answers up to some sort of scrutiny greatly decreases the chances of getting taken in by frauds.
  4. Optimism:
    Another one of the things I’m quite happy about is that I have a general optimistic view of humanity. Unlike religion, which tells us that humans are all awful sinners and deserve eternal damnation unless they accept the particular deity of choice, atheism carries no such inherent emotional baggage. We’re free to actually make informed decisions on one another.
  5. Claiming ownership of one’s own life:
    Lastly, I’m glad for my time. Not just that I get to sleep in on Sunday mornings, but that I get to actually live my life without absurd notions about what I have to do or not do to to (sic) ensure eternal life. It’s freeing to know that my time is my own and that, when I do give it, it’s because I do so knowing I care about friends and humanity, and not because I’m trying to earn karma points for the afterlife.

These are positive values, and I subscribe to these, but I think some atheists mistakenly believe that these values are unique to atheism. I know they are not, as I personally know theists who subscribe to many of these as well. However, I wonder if intellectual atheism at least encourages these values.


~ by curtismchale on January 3, 2008.

4 Responses to “Happy Atheism”

  1. These would all be well and good as a critique of Christianity if they were all based on a solid understanding of the Christian faith. They are not. For correction to these assertions, I would recommend a read of N.T. Wright’s “Simply Christian”. What seems most unfortunate is that many Christians have given good cause for this kind of misinterpretation of the faith.

  2. Good point at the end.

    1. I think that “prepackaged” is the assumption that many have about religion in general – that a religion is a determinism in which one who is raised in this or that religion cannot free themselves. This plays into so many atheist arguments that assume that since one is make a faith claim it somehow must therefore escape critique. Apparently the saying “Faith seeking understanding” gets missed in these arguments as well as in many traditions that forbid critical engagement.

    2. One of the most profound arguments that Torrance makes is that we are indeed connected to the fabric of this world. the book of nature in natural theology certainly made claims along these lines as well.

    3. I don’t think that by virtue of not believing in God that an atheist avoids irrationality. We are all suspect to ignorance and this is not something limited to the religious. Remember that the liberal arts in higher education was founded on two principles – critical engagement of the world and religion as well.

    4. Liberation theologians clearly have a different picture of this. Also, Christ did not preach damnation of the non-believers. Probably one of the greatest symptoms of evangelical Calvinism is this view of reality.

    5. As do I. If a Christian is that preoccupied with their status in the next life, it’s time to wake up and start loving your neighbor as Jesus said.

  3. First of all I want to thank you for your comment on my post about Christianity, I agree. Secondly I want to add my “two cents” as it were to this topic.
    1. Most definitely the big answers in life require struggle, I don’t think it really matters whether you come from an aethistic point of view of theistic point of view. I also agree with Drew’s answer. The idea of prepackaged answers is (or at least should be) a myth.
    2. I can see where one might think this is a strictly atheistic point-of-view since Christianity “teaches” that we are the master’s of our surroundings but I don’t think the intent was ever to disregard or discard our surroundings. In fact as Christians aren’t we taught that we should be taking care of the world?
    3. Sure go read any C.S. Lewis book and then tell me Christian’s don’t love (and sometimes encourage) critical thought.
    4. Again I have to agree with Drew’s comment, Christ most certainly did not preach damnation of non-believers.
    5. Actually as Christians we are allowed this freedom too. There isn’t anything left that we have to do, other than accept Christ, to ensure eternal life.
    Anyway, there are my thoughts on this, random and strange though they may be…one more little thing in my experience with church and the Christian mindset it is possible that other schools of thought (i.e. atheism) do tend to encourage these values more.

  4. […] to: Happy Atheism Yesterday I reposted a post from Kevin Parry over at Memoirs of an Ex-Christian. Today I will answer the […]

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