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The term “atheist” seem to still be quite taboo in our modern American society. Surveys show that more people are willing to vote for a homosexual or a Muslim than an atheist. It seems the majority of Americans still think that atheists are incapable of being good people and citizens because of their lack of belief in a god or a religion, which is of course ridiculous. We are your doctors, teachers, businessmen, accountants, scientists, economists, bus drivers, clergy (gasp), scholars, and pretty much any profession you can think of there is probably an atheist among them.
Many of the greatest minds in history were atheists or humanists. Atheists have contributed much to American and world culture, thought, science, and technology. The most obvious group that would have many atheists in it would be scientists. Watson and Crick, Albert Einstein, Freud, Stephen Jay Gould, Ivan Pavlov (and, I assume, his dog), Charles Darwin, and Carl Sagan just to name a few, were all atheists who lead lives of service to mankind.
It is also often said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Yet the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) has a rather large list of past and current military personal who identify themselves as atheists or freethinkers. A person who I believe would surprise most people as non-religious is former NFL player and slain Army Ranger Pat Tillman. Tillman himself said that he was not a religious person, and this sentiment is echoed by his brother. So the next time you think that all atheists are cowardly pacifists know that there are many brave men and women atheists and freethinkers defending your right to vilify them.
Some of our greatest authors in history have been atheists. I would have to say that my favorite is Mark Twain due to his ability to be humorous about being non-religious.
“Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company.”
He also sums up how most atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and humanists feel about faith:
“Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.”
Twain is just one of many famous godless authors. People like Ernest Hemingway, David Hume, George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, and Bertrand Russell just to name a few. Some of the greatest literary minds in history have been godless heathens.
One thing that bothers me quite a bit is the recent resurgence of the Christian Nation idea. While it is true that the majority of Americans identify with the Christian faith (though polls show the non-religious are the fastest growing demographic in America), the American government was established as a secular one. The founding fathers realized the dangers of establishing a theocracy because they had escaped one in Europe and were also children of the Enlightenment. They wanted Americans to have the freedom to practice whatever religion they wanted to as long as it did not hurt anyone else. Many of the founding fathers were deists, which means they believed in a god that did not interfere in reality, and freethinkers, and many of them were not big fans of religion:
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every
“This world would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in
“Religions are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.”
“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish,
appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave, and
monopolize power and profit.”
As president John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli to end the Barbary Wars in which Article 11 says:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded
upon the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the
laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims).”
–The Treaty of Tripoli, 1797
We are not a nation ruled by one religion, or any religions at all. This is the best way to maintain a stable state where everyone can be guaranteed equal freedoms and protection of the government because it does not have to hold to the ideals of any specific dogma. The founding fathers knew this, and I hope that America will realize the path we are currently going down will only lead to a theocracy if progressives do not do all they can to halt the process.
I also hope that America will move in a direction where atheists and secular humanists can gain more respect in our society. We are not terrible human beings who want nothing more than to rid the world of your religion, kill your babies, and make your children gay. We just want to maintain our secular government so that you can continue to practice your religion, whatever it may be, and that we remain free to practice our non-belief without fear of losing any of our rights and privileges.
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