Sunday, January 6, 2008

Atheism: Religion Philosophy or What?

I've generally picked up on the feeling through a handful of blog posts and my own experience that one of the strongest disadvantages or negatives of atheism is that there is virtually no sense of community, especially in comparison to organized religion. This is most likely because atheism is a very modern conviction -something new- that has not had a significant time to develop, therefore very few large atheist groups exist. Indeed, the lack of companionship can be upsetting, for there is no platform to test one's feelings and ideas and experience solidarity as a community in , something vital to the existence of any particular ideology.

Now, if one truly considers atheism as a religion, not in the strictest of terms, but at least in the sense that it is a uniform ideology that holds a collection of adherents, the current absence of community is truly problematic. However, the thought of regarding atheism as a religion incites great apprehension in my heart, for many of my complaints with modern religions hold basis in the fact that they become spoiled when applied dogmatically and methodically. I am fearful that atheism would share many of the corrosive traits religions share today if standardized in such a way. Of course, this trepidation is perhaps overstated, for in my conception atheism is a humanist philosophy, and lacks central tenets or doctrine. More importantly, atheism does not claim to steward its' power from the divine or supernatural, a trait that is quickly abused in religions to the worst of consequence.

So I would pose the question- What is the future of atheism? Should it be considered a philosophy with particular beliefs and followers, or should any official classification be avoided? Could atheism possibly end up with many of the negative effects common in current religions as time passes?

In my opinion I would advocate that any unified system or institution intended to promote and officiate atheism should be delineated to the simplest of terms. If individuals should aspire to meet and discuss atheism then so be it: few things are more valuable than personal growth stemming from curiosity and conversation. However, when atheists attempt to adopt an agenda which undermines or intentionally subverts religion is when atheism becomes something no longer helpful and instead harmful to the general interest of society.

In today's world, religions, politicians, advertisers, and many others, speak much more of the imperfections and weaknesses of their adversaries rather than simply concerning themselves with whatever it is they profess to be true. It may be that individuals and groups gain their identity in many ways from how they are different from others, but in the case of personal belief solitary development should trump contention at any level. An athlete accomplishes nothing when pointing out the ways in which he or she is better than others, but only by competing and training in the sport that they compete in do they become truly better.

My point is that I think the potential of a world void of a God is vast and untapped, and that humanity would do well in discovering its full ability if it was to relentlessly pursue the depths of its scientific and experiential existence. The official form and structure of atheism should be given no thought, instead humans should focus their attention on what their world would look like without God, and what good they could do in such a world.