This I Believe

Michael - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on June 13, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: question
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I believe in unbelief, in the power and the necessity of individuals to live moral, ethical, and self-creative lives free of the dictates of popes, priests, rabbis, imams, mother superiors, or their political surrogates. In practical terms, this means a life-long inquiry into the kind of questions that believing people leave to others or to reliance on what they regard as divinely inspired dictates. Living a life without reference to a Supreme Being, rewards of heaven or punishments of hell requires individuals to educate themselves about the realities of their short existences on planet Earth – opening their minds and hearts to all fields of knowledge, unhampered, unfiltered and undiluted by pre-packaged doctrines, ideologies, and prejudices.

I believe that people can live socially constructive lives in the here-and-now without reference to reward or punishment in a mythical afterlife. In fact, it is possible that a non-believer’s way of living could be more moral and law-abiding than those of the average believers’ because the non-believer does not divide the world into “us” versus “them” view inherent in religious or ideological belief systems. Because of this, a non-believer would avoid enacting laws or imposing social strictures detrimental to the wellbeing of those who happen to exist outside a given belief system.

I believe that a life lived without reference to God, religion, scripture, church or heaven and hell can be “good”, “just” and “moral” if it is guided by objective abidance of the rule recognized throughout history even in non-religious philosophies (and to which organized religions have merely paid lip service): people should treat others as they themselves would wish to be treated.

I came to my non-belief in spite (or because) of the fact that I had 18 years of formal education in religious-affiliated institutions. There learning was creed-based, fostering an elitist view of our place the world, and promising a final reward that would be denied to everyone outside our privileged circle. Fortunately, starting when I was still a youngster, I was able to escape this circumscribed life through travel and books. I met people who fell into the “damned” category and yet were living observably admirable lives; I read the philosophies of “pagan” or “condemned” thinkers that were more humane than the writings of “saints”; and I experienced the opening up of a life that has been more satisfying and more rewarding for having encompassed multiplicity, diversity, and inclusion – rather than circumscription, discrimination and exclusion.