Help people 'come out of the closet' about their non-belief

For as long as I can remember I haven't heard a good reason to think that there was a supernatural aspect to our natural world. We live in a natural world where the machinery of nature is indifferent to humans and our narcissistic desires for special meaning and purpose. Don't like the way the universe works? Go find another one.

When I was very young I realised that religion was rather provincial. People aren't born believing but instead they get it from their surrounding community and family. Immigrants came with their own religion. I had friends who were religious and they would talk to me about their invisible friends. There were gods, faeries, spirits, ghosts, and so on. I was particularly curious how they chose their religion and what they thought of other competing religions. Were they decoys made by a devil, a simple human delusion, or did they perhaps have a new-age belief in a unified god beneath any and all religions?

My friends were generally quite honest about how they were born undecided but then later chose to believe in a particular supernatural idea because of being taught by grown-ups. They were all thankful to have been taught the correct religion. All said their religion made them feel good, and I didn't doubt their sincerity for a second. Most of them reconciled the variety of religions by saying that other people were delusional and ignorant while citing obvious examples of manufactured religions like Cargo Cults or Scientology. Surprisingly they very rarely invoked tricks from the devil as a reason. I thought that devil decoys would have been far more popular; a supernatural war with human souls as the currency was a rather spectacular and appealing idea.

According to my friends anyone who worshiped the wrong gods was delusional or ignorant of religious evidence, but what I wanted to know was how they were so sure they weren't delusional themselves. They answered by way of talking about their feelings and how they just felt a connection to something special and supernatural. So did the follower of every other religion. I'd ask them whether people can fool themselves into feeling false gods? They'd always agree, but they wouldn't apply it to themselves. They demanded a special place in the universe.

For a long time I was unconvinced by the supernatural and so I called myself an Agnostic, a fence-sitter. It took many years to realise that I was giving religion a privileged position by not also sitting on the fence when it came to the issue of unicorn existence, homeopathy, psychic powers, or whether water dowsing works. There is no good evidence for any of those supernatural phenomena but I wouldn't waste time by saying that I'm agnostic about unicorns.

Or, in other words...



The typical understanding of the term Atheist is that it's someone who says there is no god, but I don't make that claim. Being that sure about what I couldn't possibly know makes no sense, and no Atheist I know claims to have that kind of certainty. Instead Atheism is not a rejection but rather an absence of gods until it's proven otherwise. Fundamentalist it is not.

Unfortunately the term Atheist has a stigma about it in some parts of the population, and this means that non-believers worry about the reaction of making their views public. There is a feeling that atheists need to 'come out of the closet' (so to speak) and that's why I'm glad to see that the Humanist Society of NZ has launched their atheist bus campaign.


uk_bus_1

"There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life"

In the 1901 Census approximately 1 in 30 people did not give a religious affiliation. One hundred years later 4 out of 10 people did not specify a religious affiliation (source). These 40% subsidise churches through taxes and these churches often have large adverts proselytising their ideas, so rather than just proclaiming a world-view (as claimed by some) I see this bus campaign as speaking up for a part of society that is underrepresented.

So, please consider donating to the campaign to help atheists come out of the closet, because we're just like Christians who don't believe in Thor, Wotan, Banaitja, Xemu and Rangi and Papa. Atheists just go one god further.