Name: Nick Fawcett
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Member: National Atheist Party, Advocate of Atheist Worldview Philosopher
I can proudly say that I have been an atheist my whole life. I occasionally entertained the idea of god when I was younger, especially when I felt alone, and frail, and was scared of existence. I always understood my contemplation of a god as having been predicated on the fear and uncertainty inherent to childhood and adolescence. As I contemplated my own non-believing relationship with the notion of god in comparison with other people of belief it became apparent that the notion of god and Jesus appeals to our egocentric and solipsistic inclinations as human beings. Also, having learned about the psychological vulnerabilities of the adolescent mind I understand the belief in god and adherence to religion as an individual’s falling victim to these vulnerabilities.
Despite my mother dragging me to a few Unitarian church gatherings between the ages of ~5 and ~6, my life has been almost completely devoid of organized religion. I have very few memories of those experiences but remember them as rigid, boring, and uncomfortable. All I wanted to do was climb around on the pews and go play outside but I was always kept in my seat for the duration of the sermons and Sunday school. Because of my fervent disinterest in participating in church and my intuitive aversion to “the Holy Spirit” and whatever that meant, my mother decided not to force my father, sister, and me to go. We were allowed to stay home and enjoy our entire weekend, a welcomed freedom to me as a young boy. Out of appreciation, I once asked my mother why she stopped taking us to church and understand that it stemmed from an intuitive ethical sense that forcing religion on us was wrong. We obviously didn’t want it so she wasn’t going to make us go.
My mother continued to participate in church activities for a few years when I was young, but over time she stopped going as well and her belief in god withered away, albeit with some “spiritual” struggles. For many years now we all have considered ourselves to be strong atheists, believing with full conviction that there is/are no god(s) or any supernatural elements in existence. Both of my parents have nostalgic sentiments toward their religious experiences but understand that their subjective associations were predicated upon the delusions of religion. They also have come to realize that the positive feelings which they previously associated with religion had nothing to do with the religion itself so much as it had to do with the people they were sharing the experience with. My father felt a stronger aversion to religion as a young adult than my mother did, he was “a good boy” and didn’t appreciate being called “a sinner” in the slightest. Religion to them was about community and family, and insofar as it was about community and family, the theistic component and dogmatism corroded the essence of their family communion. Now, when other people celebrate religious holidays, we celebrate our family and enjoy one another’s company instead, with yummy foods of course.
I feel fortunate to be my parent’s child, not because I love them, but because both exhibited uncommon intellectually honesty and an intuitive aversion toward forcing tradition merely for the sake of tradition. I feel fortunate to be a child of my extended family as well for much the same reason. My extended family has made significant contributions to business, science, and technology for many generations. My grandfather on my father’s side was a field surgeon in WWII, pioneered electron microscopy, was a doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School and several other prestigious colleges, contributed to the field of spermatology, and prevented famine in eastern Africa (Kenya). My grandfather on my mother’s side was the head master of the wheeler school for girls. My great uncle assisted in the engineering of the ejection seat, bazooka, and grenade during WWII. My aunt is a biologist specializing in biomimicry. For generations, many of us have had naturalistic world views, agnosticism and atheism have characterized many of our ideologies, we are all strongly rational and well educated, and virtuousness has characterized a great many people in my family.
I have come to believe that who we are in thought and experience is so greatly influenced by our environment. Indoctrination is so fundamental to the building of character, reason, and understanding. Because I realize this, I understand that the religiosity of believers is not predicated so much on reason and education as it is on emotion and embodiment of the patterns that characterized their youth. I believe that I am an atheist because I was indoctrinated with rationality and education as priorities and was not forced into the delusion.
Why it is ok to be an atheist:
I tend to think of the merits of ideas by both their intrinsic rationality, how they fit into a synthesis of many rational disciplines, and by the people who hold them. Atheism seems to be the most coherent and rational, the most consistent with empirical investigation, and out of the most educated and admired individuals throughout history a significant proportion of them were atheists or agnostics. In our contemporary age it is thought that more than 95% of the “intellectual elite” are atheists. Some people, almost always those who are uneducated, attribute atheism to “intellectual brainwashing.” To the educated these conspiracy notions call to mind the idea of cognitive dissonance – the non-reasoned criticism of ideas because one does not understand them or because they conflict with previously held beliefs. Atheism is not a part of education, education tends to promote atheism because the information provided by education informs the mind about the nature of existence and the coherency of ideas.
Religions don’t make people moral, morality has nothing to do with belief in a god or adherence to a particular religious organization. It is highly likely that religion stagnates moral development by limiting the progression of moral thinking beyond the dogmatic religious teachings. To understand the limits of religious morality learn about religious extremism. The more extremely religious you become, it appears, the more likely you are to start killing people, be prejudiced, and stagnate the progression of human civilization.
It is ok because it defines you as courageous. Atheism takes courage in a world where it is not broadly held or accepted. In many “2nd world” and “3rd world” countries people are subject to imprisonment and/or death by denying the existence of god. Even in the countries who’s laws tolerate atheistic belief systems, many of the laws are based on religious ideologies and many “peaceful” believers have murderous hostility toward atheists and all atheistic belief systems. Recent studies suggest that atheists are the least trusted group, and the least likely to be elected.
Atheism is ok because it is about reality, it is about prioritizing the understanding of what actually exists, a denial of the imaginative faculties with regards to the description of the world around us.
Atheism makes the world so much more beautiful. When you learn about how it all came to be by the material, biological, and memic evolution of phenomena it seems so much more amazing because the order of existence arises from such an amazing sequence of simple processes. I wrote a theory about this, if interested look up Ontological Harmonescence, or facebook The Order of Harmony.
Atheism frees your humanity from the confines of tradition. We are born into the world. We question our existence. We seek to understand the world around us and our place in it. Atheism lets that genuine curiosity about the cosmos soar. Religion ties it to the ground, puts a cage around it, and tells it – it is wrong to question unless the answers are the ones we give you.
It is ok to be an atheist because it liberates you from suppression and repression. Sex is not a sin, you can love whoever you want however you want (so long as it is consensual). There is no original sin, there is no karma, we are free to be virtuous and good for the only reason one should be virtuous and good, merely for the sake of virtuousness and goodness.
It is ok to be an atheist because paradise is now, it is not a dream that is only attainable in death. And because paradise is now the meaning of this life is so much more. It is so much more because this is the only one you get. To paraphrase a movie ‘god envies us, our life is brief and harsh but our love and passion so deep, the infinite immortal life is perfect banality and stagnation’.
In short, It is ok to be an atheist because:
It is more ideal, more virtuous, more rational,, more coherent, based on verifiability, more moral, not delusional, less repressive, and more genuine.
Two types of Atheism:
Gnostic Atheism – to believe there is no god and to assert that the non-existence of god is able to be proven.
Agnostic Atheism – to believe there is no god and assert that the non-existence of god is not able to be proven.
Gnostic atheism is the strongest position one can take. However, although I technically consider myself to be an agnostic atheist because I know that it is not possible to prove the non existence of something (especially outside the realm of provability [the objective reality to which science is applied]), I am very strongly an atheist. Intellectually my atheism stems from the interpretation of reality from multiple perspectives, the perspectives of rational and empirical discourse (the sciences). Each science, soft and hard alike, have a perspective of existence. Each perspective is about a specific aspect of the universe and the structures that compose it. intellectual honesty and sufficient education will reveal the fundamentals and many specifics of these perspectives. Insofar as being a strong atheist, I think of each scientific perspective as an arrow of suggestion. Biology came to point toward evolution and abiogenesis as the origins of life, this arrow points away from all religions. Sociology and Anthropology point to the origin of belief systems as tied to social dynamics, technological development, and predicated on the intelligibility of geographic context, this arrow points away from religion. Each discipline points toward something other than religion, a more objective truth. This objective truth is atheism and naturalism.
What I Believe in:
I am an atheist but I also feel that for a full account of what it is to be human we need more than empirically supported disbelief and rationality, lest we run the risk of becoming scientisticly inclined positivist. Atheists gravitate to epistemological accounts of existence to understand their place in the universe. This may be sufficient for many, however, I believe we need a philosophy of existence that accounts for the subjective condition and motivates the existential curiosity. These two points are insufficiently accounted for from a purely epistemological perspective, and that this is why theistic and supernatural religions have maintained their appeal to so many.
I feel that a single principle can do this. This principle is the focus of my efforts as a philosophy and atheist and I call it Ontological Harmonescence. Simply put, ontological harmonescence means that the existence is such that there is a tendency for the formation and preservation of order in the universe. By order I mean planets, stars, molecules, life, systems of belief, etc… Ontological Harmonescence is the phenomenological principle that ties cosmic (material) evolution, biological evolution, and mimic evolution but also suggest a directedness toward optimization which motivates and defines subjective existence without an appeal to the supernatural. I would go into it more, but it would be easier to look it up on Facebook – The Order of Harmony.