A PERSONAL ATHEIST MANIFESTO
By Joseph Langston
(1.) I do not believe in “a god” of any sort; however, you will NEVER hear me say that I know for certain, because certainty in the domain of religion is the mark of a fool.
(2.) That there is/are not a god(s) cannot be proven, nor can it be disproven.
(3.) As a grand irony, the initial origin of my atheism was faith; my conclusion of “there is/are no god(s)” was reached purely through intuition and “natural” observation.
(4.) I consider it my responsibility, not just as an atheist, but as a striving human being, to oppose tyranny and oppression, censorship and closed-mindedness. All must be allowed to speak their minds and their piece, religious or secular.
(5.) I also consider it my responsibility to draw a distinction between an idea and the person who holds an idea. I attack ideas, not the people who hold them.
(6.) I am as moral as your average person, and I require no spiritual or religious basis (or a defense or recognition for a need thereof) for said morality, for being moral, or for doing “the right thing”.
(7.) I do not “evangelize” or “proselytize” atheism; I am perfectly content to have and to hold my atheism and let others have and hold whatever they like, so long as it harms no one. I don’t try to persuade others to it.
(8.) I do not consider myself to be “anti-religious”, though I am quite critical of it and enjoy being so (I do like to discuss theology). Even if given the power, I would not choose to eradicate religion’s existence or take anyone’s beliefs away. Everyone must be allowed to believe what they choose.
(9.) I am not a “materialist” (e.g. there is consciousness, we have emotions), nor do I deny “the spiritual” (e.g. music, poetry, all art in general).
(10.) Science and Reason are not my gods. They are, however, the closest things we have to being "godlike", along with all forms of art.
(11.) Being an atheist, to me, does not mean that I get to turn my head from all the counter-proofs and evidence that run contrary to what I believe; in fact, I believe that, as an atheist, I have a responsibility to read and contemplate this material for its validity and worth. I consider it my responsibility, as an atheist, to not be narrow- or close-minded with respect to religion and religious perspectives, but to consider them critically and carefully for not just scientific merit, but all possible worth. Dogma and dogmatic thinking are to be avoided.
(12.) I also believe that, as an atheist, I have a responsibility to discuss or debate religious issues with fairness, politeness, respect, and civility.
(13.) The same freedoms that I myself enjoy, I must be willing to extend to others. This involves expression of self through speech and symbolism.
(14.) Atheism is not a religion; it can be embraced, used, and projected like one, but I do not do this.
(15.) I believe that holy texts are cultural artifacts that capture human wisdom, insight, and lessons to live-by through a medium of stories and sayings, which reflect the times they are written in; I do not say that they are completely false, but that they contain neither 100% truth nor 100% falsehood.
(16.) I acknowledge that even if materialism is true, and that no such thing as supernaturalism actually exists, this does not strip religion or spiritual experience of meaningfulness.
(17.) I am not an atheist who believes in collective moral progress; or that history is the story of such a linear projection. I realize that our race isn't necessarily inherently and innately corrupt, but that we become that way; however, I choose to focus on what good we are, what good we do, as opposed to the bad.
(18.) Curiously enough, the idea of burning in hell for all eternity does not bother me.
(19.) I am atheist with respect to the gods of all organized religions; I am an agnostic with respect to deism. Whatever faith I have lies with man.
(20.) Meaning of life? Make yours.