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Friday, 22 February 2019 02:04 am

I’m an atheist and I’m OK

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PICTURE: Atheist Christmas message

I AM an atheist.

That means I do not believe in god or angels or fairies at the bottom of the garden.

It means I accept I am all alone in the universe.

Well, except for you lot with whom I share this magnificent planet.

It means that I acknowledge – terrifying though it may be – when I die that’s the end of it.  Game over.  Thank you for playing.  Goodbye…not aufwiedersein.

Being a godless atheist, I embrace the fact that no one and nothing can help me get what I want out of life except me.

I am the alpha and omega and so are you, which is totally excellent because I answer to no one except myself.

Well, maybe I answer to my mum, but then she is fierce and pretty much everyone answers to her if she decides it is so.  She’s scary that way.

But I digress.

I’m an atheist and I’m ok.  This is the message the New Zealand Atheist Bus Campaign is bringing to the country: “There’s probably no god.  So stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

It is the first atheism awareness campaign in the history of New Zealand.  It is aimed at letting people know there is another option, many other options, besides religion and worship.

Option one is choosing not to worry about it.  Easy peasy.

It’s hard to talk about atheism without criticising the things that it is not.

Anyone who has heard or read Richard Dawkins knows the public face of atheism tends to appear utterly intolerant, dismissive and occasionally derisive towards religion and people of faith.

But it doesn’t have to be so.

I want to share something with you that I have discovered:  Option two – It is possible to be an atheist and love Jesus.

People who do are called Christian Humanists. Some prefer Christian Atheists, but whatever the label the intention is the same.

We love Jesus’ style, but we don’t really care where he came from, who his dad was, whether or not his mum was a virgin or if he came back to life after he was crucified.

I mean, Jesus was pretty cool.  His general message was: “Quit being rubbish to each other, treat people how you liked to be treated, don’t be so judgmental, think about your heart more than your stuff and you’ll be all right.”

Who doesn’t want to get behind that?

What I don’t need to do is worship him for it, assign his message some kind of divine importance or enforce his suggestions not only on myself but on others, too.

There is no good reason to.  His being divine doesn’t make his message any more or less powerful.

What does make it powerful is making a choice to follow Jesus’s general guidelines because, you know, I worked out that it feels better when I do.

Also, it was awesome when he walked on water and got everyone loaded at that party that time.  Pretty simple really.

In all seriousness though, the belief in Jesus’s god-head makes no more sense than spending the rest of your life expecting your mum to clean up after you, or sort stuff out when it doesn’t go your way, or punish you when you do stuff she doesn’t like.

In the youth of our species we probably really did need the idea that something, somewhere, had an eye out for our well being – we didn’t really know anything and it was all really blimmin’ scary.

But then Galileo discovered the true centre of the solar system, and that apple fell on that bloke Isaac’s head and the Enlightenment happened.

In that moment we as a species entered adulthood.  We packed our bags, cut the spiritual apron strings and moved out of the family home.

We realised the origins of the universe were way more awesome, complex and beautiful than could ever be contained within the confines of one relatively short book.

We realised that we could do anything we wanted and the buck stopped right here, on our very own doorsteps.

Well, some of us did.

Some of us did not.

I don’t mean that to be a value judgment.

It is what it is: I believe knowledge and truth are best uncovered by reason and logic and observation, and not by supernatural jiggery-pokery.  Some people believe some other stuff.  Point is, you get to choose.

So when you see the atheist buses, take a moment to think about what you really believe and why.

Make a choice instead of just going a long with your mum, or the Pope or whoever had the best idea last.  It’s your god-given right, after all.

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is is a former Whitireia Journalism student.
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