Sent in by Jackie
A couple of days ago, in the middle of the thread about integrity of the Christian community, somebody posted an interesting question that I couldn't wait to jump all over. He asked "Atheists... do you have a purpose?"
I must have hit cancel instead of publish because my comment never went on the thread. So, I figured it would make a better discussion topic instead.
My response to this question goes something like this:
By purpose, if you mean divine, then of course not, because we don't believe in the divine. If you mean responsibility, then yes. We don't need motivation to do the right thing. We don't have to have a carrot dangling in front of us. (And by carrot, you could interpret that to be heaven, spiritual gifts, blah, blah...)
Sometimes I get quite an ego and like to think that I have more ethics and morals in my little atheist pinky finger than most Christians do.
I don't have an ulterior motive to be friends with someone. My relationships aren't fake. If I don't like someone, I don't get close to them. I can be friends with someone without planning a sales pitch and hoping for the day they change to being just like me. I respect diversity. I'm friends with people because I like them and enjoy having them around me.
I don't need a reason to help someone. No crown, no streets of gold, no mansion... just knowing that I might have made someone else's day a little better. I don't expect recognition from a choir of angels for making a good decision. I make good decisions because I have a brain. I do the right thing because I give a shit.
I care about the world around me. I am not awaiting the glorious day of Mithras' return... I mean Jesus.... oops. I believe in the one planet that I share with billions of other people on it and I take some responsibility to make it a better place.
I don't need a reason to help someone. No crown, no streets of gold, no mansion... just knowing that I might have made someone else's day a little better. I don't expect recognition from a choir of angels for making a good decision. I make good decisions because I have a brain. I do the right thing because I give a shit. Religion does nothing to make the world peaceful. Religious sects of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc., each thinking they are the only one that is right and every one else should be eradicated from the planet, doesn't sound like a very good peacekeeping strategy to me. There is one planet... we all share it... we are all ruining it. The rest of the world needs to buck up, admit that they may not have all the answers, and start recycling!
And finally, to think that one has a specific "purpose" which is divine is a very egotistical thing to believe. What about the starving children in Africa? What's their purpose? Be born with aids and starve to death? Nice... Maybe you could take that purpose of a "higher calling" and do something intelligent with it, like find a way to end hunger and cure cancer. Forget preaching your bible crap... starving people will do whatever they must for food. If they don't mean it in their hearts when they prayed that sinner's prayer, just doing it for food, are they still saved? The bible I read says no, or maybe that's just my interpretation.
I've been there, thinking I had a higher calling. I devoted two years to ministry training and nothing else. I kept believing that God would have me doing something amazing to turn the world to Him. But here I am, 10 years later... working a job I hate to pay the bills -- because I chose not to go to an actual college and get a real degree -- raising a beautiful son, happily professing my atheism and living a life happier and more fulfilled than ever (despite the job). If I wouldn't have decided to take my life in my own hands and waited for that proverbial door to open, I'd still be going to the college-age Sunday school, waiting for my soul mate and believing that I was an ambassador to the world, all the while never leaving comforts of my church.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)