Freedom Includes Being Free Not to Believe

Chris Clapp, a soon-to-be college student, wrote a guest column for the Winston-Salem Journal newspaper. It’s a great example of expressing the positive sides of atheism without denigrating religion.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

People ought to be free to seek God, forgiveness or unity with the universe in whatever way they see fit, or not at all. This freedom is exactly what the fabric of America’s democracy is based upon.

Two centuries ago, black men, women and children were used as farm equipment because they were seen as a lesser race. Less than a century ago, women were not allowed to have an equal share in the governing of this nation, yet they were called to adhere to all the laws made by their male counterparts. Many religious adherents used their holy book to justify these degradations. Still today, individuals who choose alternative lifestyles are made second-class citizens because their lifestyles do not fall in line with the faith of the moral majority. Science and reason proved misogynistic, racist laws to be absurd in the past. How long will millions more humans be degraded to satisfy the consciences of religious adherents?

Religion very well may have positive aspects, but we cannot excuse its evils in the name of a few good acts. We cannot allow bigotry simply because bigots may occasionally give alms to the poor.

I see no need to attempt to rob other individuals of their beliefs, so long as their beliefs do not rob me of my freedom.

And here’s a line regarding theists and non-theists that you just need to memorize because it’s so powerful:

We will likely never sing in one accord; but we can find a satisfying harmony.

Beautiful.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Chris Clapp, God, Christian, Winston-Salem Journal[/tags]

  • Siamang

    It’s good and positive, and the more positive role-models the better.

    But Chris’s logic only works if “freedom” is a shared higher ideal than “God’s Holy Law for Man.”

    As Father Carr says in the previous post, we’re not promoting atheism, we’re promoting the demonic.

    Don’t be confused. These people don’t usually think spiritual freedom is a good idea.

    After all, that’s what that whole eating the apple thing was about. The three major faiths in the western world begin with the first act of evil: The Tree of Knowlege.

  • Miko

    After all, that’s what that whole eating the apple thing was about. The three major faiths in the western world begin with the first act of evil: The Tree of Knowlege.

    The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to be precise. Which means that calling it an evil act doesn’t really make sense, since evil is typically associated with intentions and the dirt people didn’t even know what evil was at the time.

  • Darryl

    But Chris’s logic only works if “freedom” is a shared higher ideal than “God’s Holy Law for Man.”

    This is the crux of the problem with fundamentalist religion, and frankly, it is the point where we need to attack the hardest. The precondition for our liberal Democracy is the subjugation of religious interest to self interest (an enlightened self interest, we hope), and the pursuit of self interest through the promotion of the general welfare. Paradoxically, I can only help myself when I help others. I think some of our good Christian citizens need to be reminded of these facts. I don’t get the feeling very often that they have my welfare in mind, except perhaps that of my eternal soul. When the Constitution refers to a promotion of the general welfare by a government of the people, nowhere does it have in view my spiritual interests, only my material ones. I’ll see to my spiritual life, thank you very much. Our faithful may not like that truth, but they will certainly have to the live with it. A form of government founded upon any other principles than these is intolerable.

  • Maria

    We will likely never sing in one accord; but we can find a satisfying harmony.

    That really is a great line

  • Siamang

    Miko,

    Here’s where we fall down the rabbit hole. I have been told that the first sin was the act of rebellion against God when man decided to listen to eve and eat the apple.

    Now, how could Adam have know it was evil if he didn’t know the difference between Good and Evil?

    Now folks contend that there’s evil in the world because God gave us free will. But it seems to me that Adam created free will in the moment he decided to take a bite. And somehow that created evil…. synonymous with knowlege of the difference between good and evil, synonyomous with rebellion, synonymous with making choices contrary to God’s Law.

    any way you slice it, what Adam did was the very beginning of inquiry, doubt, self-determination, and that act is symbolic within the three great monotheisic faiths as the moment when evil entered the world and we became exiled from God.

  • Mriana

    Religion very well may have positive aspects, but we cannot excuse its evils in the name of a few good acts. We cannot allow bigotry simply because bigots may occasionally give alms to the poor.

    I have to agree with this one.

  • Miko

    Start of free inquiry, eh? It’s too bad Adam didn’t actually exist: if he did, we could celebrate that moment. :-)

  • Darryl

    The story of God and Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden is a great story with a terrible message. The short version is: God–good; man–bad; woman–worse.

    In particular, it explains

    why there is evil in the world and why people do bad things,
    why we feel shame and guilt when we break the rules,
    why we instinctively know right from wrong,
    why God is mean to those that disobey Him and is just to punish them for it,
    how God can be a nice guy (He made a paradise for us) and also kick our collective ass (we blew it all by disobeying His direct command),
    why Satan is a low-down, dirty snake,
    why snakes crawl on their belly rather than proceed upright,
    how angels do God’s dirty work,
    why men shouldn’t trust women (it’s only prudent–look what happened to the first man),
    why people are ashamed to be seen naked (why we wear clothes),
    why it’s okay to hate women (’cause they deserve it–they got us booted out of paradise),
    why women have great pain in childbirth (it’s punishment don’t you know),
    why men have to go off to work each day and why they sweat doing it,
    why some bushes grow thorns and thistles,
    why the world is not an idyllic paradise,
    and last but not least, why people die and their bodies turn to dust.

    I’m sure there are even more angles to this story that I have overlooked, but that’s just what I can recall (haven’t read that story in some time).

    Ah, what a message! It just keeps on giving right up to the present day. What kind of morality are we expected to derive from this story? Let’s see, there’s lust, fear, shame, guilt, blame, cowardice, trickery, crime and punishment. I see an All-Powerful, All-knowing Being flexing its muscles against two mere mortals who didn’t know right from wrong because they made the mistake of letting themselves be enticed by an attraction that the Almighty put right in the middle of their living space, with a little help from Satan. Makes sense.

  • Darryl

    Oops, almost forgot, we can add prevarication and deception to the list of moral failings perpetrated by our progenitors.

  • Ash

    just imagine how bad it would’ve been if it had been a pineapple instead of just plain apple – we’d probably be extinct like those naughty dinosaurs. maybe the creation museum could run with this thought?!

  • Mriana

    This is very true Darryl. It’s another way of imposing guilt too. Don’t forget, this God’s name is also Jealous.

  • Richard Wade

    just imagine how bad it would’ve been if it had been a pineapple instead of just plain apple – we’d probably be extinct like those naughty dinosaurs.

    Or even scarier, creepier, confusinger still, what if the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was actually a…………..BANANA!! (Hitchcock’s “Psycho” screech! screech! screech! screech!)

    So perfectly designed for mankind to use! The implications of God’s being a sneaky trickster are mind-boggling!

  • Siamang

    BANANA

    Yikes! Those things are an atheist’s nightmare!

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