Saturday, November 8, 2008

“We don’t have a god telling us what to do”

From In the name of no father by Rob Cullivan:

However, she and her atheist companions agree on one thing – morality doesn’t depend on theism.

“What keeps a society safe and running smoothly is what morality is all about,” Knox says. “I think what we have to answer to is our society and how much you want to be part of that society.”

Like Tuppman and Smythe, Knox questions relying on a higher power to make oneself a good person.

“When you do not have daddy in the sky telling you what to do and waiting for you to be responsible, you take responsibility for yourself,” she says.


To varying degrees, all three people enjoyed comedian Bill Maher’s film “Religulous,” still in theaters. Maher’s movie takes satirical aim at Western monotheistic religions as well as such beliefs as Scientology. On the other hand, they all took issue with Maher’s ridicule of believers.

“As a Unitarian, I think we would not ridicule somebody else for their beliefs,” Knox says. “We’re humanitarian. We believe in compassion.”

Which is one reason why Tuppman, for example, says she’s never liked the Christian story of a loving God sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, nor for that matter, the doctrine of original sin, the idea humans are conceived in a state lacking holiness resulting from Adam and Eve’s fall.

“I didn’t ask to be born, and I thought why should I have guilt on top of it,” Tuppman says.

Although all three believe humans suffer because of ignorant religious beliefs and have chafed under theocratic governments, they acknowledged that when militant atheists are in control – for example, in the former Soviet Union – humanity doesn’t always advance either.

Knox adds she opposes coercion in general, whether in the name of God or the name of no god.

“Separation of church and state is the best approach in the world,” she says.
There are so many right-wing religious fundamentalists who equate atheism with communism, yet it is obviously not true that they are the same thing. I believe that what Carol Knox says so well is true of most atheists, that we oppose “coercion in general, whether in the name of God or the name of no god.”

Blind obedience to communism (or any other political organization) or to God (or any form of deity) is not the answer.

I wish that we could all find common ground. I believe that we may agree on more things than we realize. I also believe that some of the things that atheists believe can be found in the Bible, and some of the things that right-wing religious fundamentalists believe can be found in socialism. To throw the baby out with the bath water is not very smart. Condemnation of the whole of something just because you disagree with a part of it does not seem very wise. Let’s take the good out of things wherever we can find it. Tolerance does not mean submission, and tolerance does not mean silence.

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