Thankfully, secularism is on the rise and hopefully more and more people will think for themselves instead of blindly following a religious leader’s teachings and some outdated texts of our ancestors. I don’t mind religions that generally leave people alone, but unfortunately most religions want to control people and their actions. Granted, they usually want good things for everyone but they can definitely go too far in trying to make everyone conform to a limited definition of what constitutes a good life.
I’m part of Generation X and we’re 14% secular (atheist, agnostic, or non-religious). It is an increase from the 5% and 11% of the previous generations. Generation Y is coming on strong with 19%. This brings our total secularism up to 12% from the 8% of 20 years ago. I think as humanity in general grows smarter and wiser it becomes inevitable that more and more of each generation rejects the old superstitions and antiquated viewpoints of our distant ancestors. Just as the gods of Olympus have passed away into myth, maybe one day the religions of today may finally move back into the realm of fiction from where it came.
While “character issues” can overlap with other concerns when considering for whom to vote, conservative evangelicals are beginning to see them as less important than who can meet the multiple challenges faced by the nation. Put it this way: if you are about to have major surgery and your only choice was a church-going doctor with a high mortality rate, or an agnostic with a high success record, which would it be? I’d choose the agnostic.
I find it interesting when a moderate religious person actually brings up their preference for great unbelievers over not-so-great believers. I’ve used this same example to highlight that true identifiable help comes from the works of humans instead of the work of a god. If gods perform their good works through humans than a god is not actually needed in that equation for the good deed to be done. In the end it is just humans doing good things for each other.
Look at that example of the doctor above. The better person is not defined by their belief or lack of belief in a god. You would think that if belief were really that important than an unbeliever couldn’t be a good human being. The better person is just simply the better person based upon their abilities.
Here’s a 10 minute video showing a few of the repulsive parts of the Bible. As a complete book there are many ridiculous requirements for death punishments and other repulsive aspects of the book. This is just another example of how people are selective in their views and pick out only parts of this book that appeal to them. It is not a complete guide for life and cannot be taken any more seriously than any other book written by our ancestors. The answers of the Universe cannot be found in such an uneven and obviously human body of work.
An Agnostic, by the definition of not knowing the origin of the universe, is naturally atheistic towards the human-defined gods since those gods are claims of a known origin. However, Agnostics acknowledge the limits of their knowledge and cannot stake an absolute atheistic claim of a natural creation since we simply do not know. There is the possibility of a supernatural creation that we do not understand and cannot understand that may or may not have some sort of “intelligence” involved.
Here is a blog excerpt from Jim Benton that explains the parameters of the agnostic viewpoint very well. Using Huxley’s original definition I would consider him an Agnostic and not an Agnostic and an Atheist as he appears to label himself. Click on the link below the excerpt for the complete entry and an in-depth explanation for being atheistic towards the human-defined gods:
I am both an agnostic and an atheist. You see, I make a distinction between a ‘deistic God’ (i.e, a ‘Creator’) and a ‘theistic God’ (i.e., one which has in some way interacted with humanity, who has communicated with us.) As for a deistic God, there are three main possibilities:
The Universe is self-existent.
The Universe was created by someone who is himself self-existent.
The ‘demiurge’ hypothesis: the Universe was created by a non-self-existent being who was itself, directly or at some remove, created by a self-existent being.
Something has to be self-existent. That’s a logical necessity. Occam’s razor would argue for #1, but it is not an infallible guide. I would argue that it is neither — currently — possible to distinguish between these three possibilities, nor is there the slightest practical difference between them. Therefore, I have to be technically agnostic on the deistic Creator issue. (There are other minor possibilities, such as solipsism, which is not logically disprovable, or seeing Creation as a joint effort. I like the idea of Slartibartfast designing the fjords, I admit it. But they can usually be reduced to #2 or #3 above.) As for a theistic, interacting, communicating God, here I am an atheist. I have to deny the existence of such a one, at least of one who has already communicated with humanity.