You’ve read pro-Christian articles. You’ve read pro-Islam. The Forum has been relatively balanced in its coverage of the major religions. In my reading, though, I have yet to see an article that supports no religion at all. And although I myself believe in a deity, I can easily see the virtues in atheism.
First, life has meaning. You often hear this argument the other way around. Religion gives life meaning; however, if this is your only go around, each moment means a lot. There are only so many. You make sure to live each the best you can. The belief in an eternal after-life degrades the meaning of this one. If this mortal life is only a test for the soul, the real life is the afterlife. “Sacrificing in this life to build treasures in heaven” shows how much more meaningful the hereafter is to believers. Atheism proposes no afterlife, making this one all the more rare and precious.
This “once-around” theory almost always leads believers into thinking that an atheist just wants to be ungodly and immoral. They reject a god so they can reject rules. This is far from the truth.
Atheism does not equal hedonism. If you only had two hours left on earth, how would you want to spend them? Taking all the drugs that you haven’t tried yet or sitting with loved ones? Unlike religion, where actions in this life primarily have consequences after you’re dead, you have to live the rest of your only life with your decisions. If you want to get wasted every night, then you will have to live with a busted liver. There will be no new one in some heaven.
Religion in some cases actually makes hedonism an easier choice. Technically from a Christian perspective, you can be forgiven for your transgressions and roughly free to do them again. Sin, repent, repeat. Or there is the deathbed confession to wipe away the stains of a hedonistic life.
Atheism does not disregard human life. This is another false conclusion of believers. If life is meaningful, rare, and precious as stated above, then why rob someone else of it? Again, religion offers the answer. Why send thousands of young soldiers to war? They will be seen in heaven! It is perfectly all right for them to sacrifice this life, it is nothing compared to eternity.
Where do morals come from if not from some divine source, though? This is a solid question. But if atheists have no source of virtue, why aren’t all the atheists in the world raping and pillaging as we speak? Perhaps there is another source? We have decided as a society that we do not condone murder, slavery, rape, theft among other immoral actions. Previous societies had no qualms with some of these modern evils. Ancient Aztecs sacrificed humans, America once justified slavery, and daughters were considered property in the Old Testament. If morals are divine, how can they change with time? Perhaps it is humanity itself that governs what is humane.
Atheism doesn’t say it has all the answers. It doesn’t claim to know unproven cosmic facts. This humility of atheism is a benefit. Humans are flawed. We get things wrong sometimes. Atheism allows for a flexibility that religion finds difficult. Evidence shows Earth revolves around the sun? No problem for non-believers. The Catholic hurch had a much more difficult time trying to keep reality agreeing with scripture.
On the other hand, atheism does leave a lot of questions in its world view. It is a sticky, messy, chaotic world filled with a million shades of gray. Although simplistic – nothing supernatural – it is by no means a simple life view. It relies heavily on the churning, self-correcting gears of science to finally produce a concrete slab of truth. If you enjoy the safety of black and white, the debatable grays of materialism may not be enjoyable.
I will get off the atheist soapbox now. Some find solace in the ritual of Catholic mass, others in daily prayers and fasting, still others in the beauty of the cosmos.