This I Believe

Alex - Orland Park, Illinois
Entered on April 16, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: atheism
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A Defense and Declaration of Atheism

I just read a note someone posted on Facebook. The content of the note was a short essay written by Ben Stein. The note spoke about God and religion in our society and a specific example was given, explaining that we do not have a good and peaceful society because we do not appreciate God. Here is the excerpt, which will explain itself better than any re-wording I could conjure up:

Billy Graham’s (the preacher) daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her “How could God let something like this Happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina)

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.

And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

That last line, “How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”, stood out before me. It stood out so much because it specifically says that the world and the world’s people are in a state of agony and suffering because of the absence of an appreciation for God. I do not see how this can be the case.

This essay, written by Stein, and this quote, hypothesize that if you are an atheist, you are an immoral person and responsible for all the bad things in the world.

I am an atheist. And I must ask: why does the term ‘atheist’ have such a negative connotation? Is it not possible to learn morals and social decency from a source other than God? Stein asks “Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.” This is saying that without the existence of God in our lives we are nothing but animals! An animal would not be able to say as I do, that the massacre in Virginia was beyond tragic and painful. I do not engage in this sort of behavior and I am an atheist. And since these are examples of extreme cases, I will further my argument that I am a moral person by saying this: I do not drink. I find no entertainment or comfort in society by altering my behavior with alcohol. I do not use drugs. I do not try to or engage in casual sex. I do not engage in deviant behavior, not because God is in my life, but because I believe in respect and kindness to my fellow human beings! It’s this sort of respect and compassion for one another that is needed to prevent tragedies such as the Virginia Polytech Massacre. When we point fingers and openly hate one another, it only encourages more hate and more tragedy.

Society labels the atheist as an animal, a savage beast with no sense of decency. But it is not God which grants all decency. A parent should not blame a child’s aggressive behavior because that child played a violent video game instead of going to church; that parent should instead reevaluate their ability to raise a decent human being. A college student should not yell at an atheist between praying at bible study and downing ten drinks at a frat party; that college student should instead reevaluate their morals.

Anne Graham asks how we can expect blessing and protection from God, considering how we behave towards each other and towards God. I am an atheist because I believe that we cannot rely on God to protect us. Scientifically he will not be there to protect us, but I will not expand on that, because this is a defense of atheism, not an attack on religion. But I do believe that it is not wise to fall back on God for protection.

What we need to save ourselves is not the love of God. We need love for the Earth and all of its beautiful creatures; this means love for one other. We need love for one another. I may not believe in God, but I believe in decency. You might say that I cannot be decent without God, because I have no purpose as a human being. But without God, I am free to make a purpose for myself. And I want my purpose to be to spread decency, love, and peace.

Writing this is my declaration that I am an atheist. I am proud of that. But I am not a deviant. I am an atheist, but I do not worship faulty idols, celebrities fancied as images of perfection. I am an atheist, but I do not kill my fellow human beings. If one atheist is this way, why would there not be more? I believe we are good people. Please do not immediately point your fingers and lash your tongues when you see the terrible state of the world. It’s that behavior which makes the world ugly.

I can now say I am an atheist. We do not wish for an ugly world. I believe atheism can bring decency, love, and peace.