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The Four C’s of Atheism

The following is from an essay by August Berkshire, president of the Minnesota Atheists.

Like many of you reading this, I describe myself as a flaming liberal. Yet in one area I am a conservative. I am an atheist.

Yes, atheism is a conservative position. We make no leaps of faith. We accept statements only so far as there is reason and/or evidence to back them up. Anything else is speculation.

Atheism is also consistent. We apply our skepticism equally to all supernatural claims. We do not say, “All prophets, saviors, or gods are false – except ours.” We make no exceptions or special pleadings, which makes us consistent.

Another benefit of atheism is that it is contradiction-free. We don’t have to try to reconcile an all-loving, all-seeing, all-powerful god with the existence of evil. We don’t have to define love exactly the opposite of the way we normally define it in order to make it applicable to our god. We don’t have to claim a poor supernatural designer is intelligent.

An atheist also possesses clarity in his or her thinking processes. An atheist has the courage to follow the trail of reason and evidence wherever it may lead. If there should some day be a compelling reason or piece of evidence for a god, then we would acknowledge it and change our views. This is also known as intellectual honesty.

One of the arguments of Pascal’s Wager is that a person loses nothing by believing in a god. I beg to differ. Accepting Pascal’s Wager means saying that we are willing to abandon reason and evidence as our standards of living, and instead make a leap of faith to… where?

It’s true that by converting (or deconverting) from theism to atheism a person can lose his or her cosmic specialness and meaning in life and any hope of an afterlife. But you can’t lose what you never really had.

The reality of atheism far outweighs the dream of religion. There is an excitement and beauty to perceiving the world as it really is, and not as a wishful thought.

That last line echoes a great quote by Carl Sagan. “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

Amen to that.

One thought on “The Four C’s of Atheism

  1. I note with amusement that atheism can also be accurately described as a liberal (open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.) or progressive (favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are) position.

    Neither of those start with C, so I would probably have gone with “courageous”.

    (both definitions from dictionary.com)

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