The second reason (at least for me) for holding a public dialog on this topic is to attempt to change the negative stereotypes most believers hold about non-believers. This approach is necessary in order to improve the quality of life of a minority group of people in predominantly theistic society. I’m not looking for any special recognition for non-believers beyond the recognition of their worth as human beings. Many people see atheist as incapable of being moral due not deriving their morals from a supernatural being. Or worse, atheists are evil agents of Satan. In the most tolerant cases, we’re seen as unfortunate misguided souls that don’t see what’s right in front of them.
These perceptions are unfounded untruths perpetuated by ignorance and in some cases malicious lies. While there are some people who fit the extreme stereotypes, saying these people represent atheism is like saying Jerry Falwell represents all of Christianity or Osama bin Laden represents all of Islam. I would like to present myself as a typical non-believer, so here is me in a nutshell:
I am a husband and father whose whole life revolves around his family. I know what unconditional love is all about because I know that there is nothing that could ever stop me from loving my wife, kids, parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even if they were to commit a reprehensible act, while I might not be able to face them, I could not stop the feeling of love that continues to pour out of me. To a certain degree, I apply this attitude to the whole human race.
I am a patriot who with unswerving faith in the ideals that really define this country. Freedom, justice, and democracy, are more than catchy slogans for me. They are what give each individual the opportunity to express his or her true being and they allow a society to be more than the sum of its parts. While a may recognize that we as a nation sometimes miss the mark in while aiming for these worthy goals, I believe that our current system is among the best designed to facilitate them. I am willing to fight for these ideals, and I believe my 13 years and counting of military service stand witness to that fact.
I believe in the difference between right and wrong. This blog will eventually help me explore why and how I come to these beliefs, but I reject the notion that they can only come from a higher power. I think there is evidence to support this stance, but that will have to wait for future posts.