Atheists have no true public voice, and yet some of the most brilliant people in history have been or came to be atheists. As Atheists, we currently have no meaningful sense of community and seem to be characterized by our individuality rather than by the important traits we share. That is one of our biggest problems.
There are in fact plenty of atheists around (click for more). But in the face of overwhelming numbers of people raised in religions or seduced by charismatic leaders and the promises of emotional comforts and the emotional "safety" provided by religion, it has been hard to gather and unite a sufficient atheist community with any sort of serious agenda. Fortunately, the advent of the web with its potential for connecting atheists means that we can finally form a community for exchanging ideas and promoting our goals, and some atheist websites are finally available (click here for a list).
What AB.net wants to provide is a web-based magazine for atheists which has an interesting diversity of views, information, facts, even poetry and eventually music for us which doesn't have scuzzy connotations like those in some really base rap lyrics, dear as they may be to some people. Consider for a moment what religion has going for it in just the music realm: Some beautiful hymns, religious soul music and a lot of gorgeous old Southern jazz and rhythm and blues songs, deeply feeling American "Negro" (not meant to offend or in a derogatory way but that is what they were known as) work songs and spirituals, and modernly some really yucky light modernistic songs being played on religious radio networks which seem quite popular among their young listeners. So from time to time we'll include some prose that perhaps a gifted atheist musician might like to write a melody for. We are also on the lookout for submitted poetry or prose which would serve the atheist agenda and might become playable with the addition of music. Let's also briefly note as an aside that religion doesn't have just music going for it, it has shaped entire nations and the lives of countless individuals for better or worse, we hope to find and suggest alternatives for those other aspects too, but that isn't the point here.
Why AtheistBible.net© ?
AtheistBible.net also has an agenda of its own, to find ethical and moral constants free of religion, and religion-free ways of comfort and guidance and support for people who are in conflict and emotional distress, and produce an "AtheistBible" for them. O.K., so itâ€™s ambitious, but it is worth a try and somebody has to start it. The idea is to encourage input from and collect the wisdom of a lot very smart and committed people past, present and future, with atheist viewpoints. For many deeply religious believers, being atheist is dismissed as relating to people who have chosen to opt out of societyâ€™s requirements to live in a moral and decent way, it is taken to mean we are undisciplined people without fear of retribution for living debased and antisocial lives. Obviously this is a problem, and one which AtheistBible.net is dedicated to changing. The decency of atheists, the internalized morality and desire to improve society, often goes entirely unrecognized. An AtheistBible of our own is an idea that might have traction or perhaps not, we can only give it our best try. Our power should come from having a code to live by which is clearly committed to living ethical, moral lives and advancing the lot of all people. Some atheists might not want to live by such a code, which would be a shame. For those who are lapsed from an existing religion, you probably still believe in most of the moral codes and the ethical standards promoted by your old faith which is something AtheistBible.net sincerely encourages, your input would be a good thing as Martha Stewart might say.
What Needs to be Changed??
The negative view of atheists is partly our own fault. We've let ourselves be marginalized as "ungodly" (which implies a multitude of character flaws) along the way, we've let our religious opponents define what that means. We've failed to vigorously challenge the negative connotations associated with that term, as if atheists are automatically evil persons, out to destroy all religions (that latter a laughable concept given the overwhelming religiosity of the world and its leaders). As if religious believers were the only ones who could be good and virtuous, as if religious believers were never outright evil! Worshipping the devil is still a religious concept, this has no place in atheism. Such a huge part of human history involves awful wars and evil and hatefulness from religion, although let it be said we also recognize religions have sometimes inspired goodness and kindness. But the same is true for atheists, and at least the atheist bad apples didn't usually do it while hiding behind a religion, nor the truly good for the purpose of securing a reward in some version of a mythical heaven. Somehow that seems purer to us. Atheists know they are personally responsible for the things they do, they have no priests to give absolution. Their salvation of their humanity depends upon righting their own wrongs or avoiding those wrongs in the first place.
Is there Spirituality Without a Belief in God?
AB.net wants to alter the notion that spirituality requires belief in god. Atheists are equally capable of that inner sense of connecting with the universe, and why not? Without elements forged in massive ancient stars that supernovaed, none of us would exist. We all have a connection with the universe. Spirituality and those good feelings that religious believers get from "surrendering their 'souls' " to god are just as attainable through totally legal practices that were often devised by persons trying to reach the "god" in themselves through calming exercises and quiet introspection. They work just as well without the "god" component. Some psychedelic drugs achieve similar results but may have temporary, or even permanent, harmful aftereffects; besides, they are generally illegal and AB.net would rather work within the law. AtheistBible.net tackles this issue and is producing a series of articles about spirituality for atheists. Parts 1 & 2 are in our first issue, Part 3 will follow shortly thereafter, Part 4 in the issue after that.
What about the Soul?
AB.net obviously does not believe that individuals have a "soul" in the religious sense. It sees no reason to want to live forever in heaven, although it would settle for good health and a little longer life span on Earth, hooray for modern science! It has no idea whether the discrete energy that animates our unique personalities as they grow over our lifetimes simply dissipates after death or manages to hang itself together in some way and continue. It would love to believe in the latter but expects it's the former which is more true. It thinks we live on through the people we have touched and affected in our lives, this does not die, we all have an effect, some larger, some smaller, some for the good and some for the bad. In publishing this web-based magazine it hopes to include interesting articles dealing with all sorts of topics with relevancy to atheists, including views about this subject. But it also aims for some humor along the way, and to channel atheist readers to useful resources, and also to provide some purely entertaining articles by guest writers.
Atheists Must go Mainstream to Develop into a Meaningful Community with any Relevance to the Modern World.
The advent of the Web is our opportunity to come together without (too much of) the strident "us vs. them" brand of atheism associated with individuals such as Madelyn Murray O'Hair (although we are lastingly grateful for her courage and the advances she brought about). We believe her abrasive personality was probably too alienating to foster an atheist community with longevity after her death, although without that personality she might never have succeeded as she did.
Atheists are relevant to the modern world in a number of ways, but ultimately it comes down to this: AtheistBible.net thinks that religions are a part of the childhood of humankind and that (if, and as) we progress and survive, we need better foundations than personality-driven, cult-like (Jesus, Mohammed, etc) religious guides to fall back on. And because so many of the major religions of the world appear to be unable to coexist peaceably, and will never manage to accept each other's beliefs as the true correct belief, atheists, as long as they have no agenda to convert the religious, may eventually find themselves the only ones equipped to function as synovial fluid between the joints of clashing religions that may never be able to resolve their differences. Having a "bible" of our own as a reference guide would be useful to explain atheist attitudes and views, we obviously can't speak for all atheists, only the ones who feel this is a good goal to aim for. Being atheist can't mean being without a set of codes because if that were true, then atheism is nothing, which is why religions have treated it as nothing for so long. It should mean being free of religions but understanding that, as a part of human society, there are still moral codes and ethics to live up to, atheist or not. And just as the religious are free to abide by their faith's rules and codes or not, so too will atheists be.
AtheistBible.net intends to have an absolute policy of not proselyting religious people to convert to atheism, they must make that decision for themselves. The need for religion seems to be necessary and almost addictive for some, it is their rock, their non-negotiable source of mental, emotional, and moral guidance, AtheistBible.net sees nothing wrong with that for the people who need it, except when extremists try to use the word of their religions as fact instead of as the guide to living a better life (which is how AtheistBible.net sees most religious books). It's therefore part of AtheistBible.net's credo that it has no interest in converting believers, none, zero, zip, nil, nada, as they say. They have to find their own way.
Oh, and for any believers reading this, we thank you for your interest and your good intent, but please don't bother sending us letters saying you will pray for us, etc. In fact, we urge you to pray for yourselves; WE don't need saving, not in THAT way. But perhaps YOU do.
© 2006 AtheistBible.net, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission from AtheistBible.net.
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