Atheists are a pretty misunderstood bunch. Many people think that all atheists deny the possibility of God’s existence and eat Baby Jesus for lunch. Or at least they feel that atheists would like to, because without God they must hate religion and have no moral foundation.
Certainly, some atheists argue that God cannot exist, hate religion and are pretty immoral. But there’s quite a range. There are varieties of unbelief, just as there are varieties of belief. I like to call myself a “weak atheist,” or “little ‘a’ atheist,” primarily because I acknowledge the possibility that God may exist, but partly because I value religion. Well, at least the good bits.
One note on atheist morality: most atheists I know are very ethical and compassionate–some of them more than most religious people I know. Theists assume that if you have no God, then life has no meaning. But sometimes the opposite is true–if there is no God and no afterlife, then life *is* your meaning. This is your one shot to make the world a better place. I’m an atheist, and I think have pretty high moral-ethical standards. I’m not saying that I do a good job of living up to them, but most Christians I know are good people with high standards who struggle to live what they believe as well.
Anyhow, I’m thinking of changing my self-label from “atheist” to “agnostic”–less to reflect any change in belief in deity and more to help me communicate to others. People can’t understand an atheist who prays, who wants to attend church and who seeks out the experience of the divine. Many they’ll accept an agnostic pursuing these things. I hate when people trip up on the label and are unable to get past it (I get this with the “Mormon” label sometimes). I’d like to move beyond it and to get to the dialogue that matters. Anyhow, thanks to my brother Joe, John from Pittsburgh, and others who have made me think about this subject.
Any experiences or advice on this whole religious-labeling business?