Arguments for Atheism - Living without religion, with a clear conscience


Atheism is a convenient and accessible route to personal and societal freedom. The dogma of religion, on the other hand, is rigid and restrictive, and deliberately designed to act as a check on personal and group freedoms.
When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.
- Anas Nin (c. 1947)

Many atheists abandon their old religions complaining of a lack of freedom to make individual choices. Independence and the power to control ones own destiny and make ones own choices are important elements in a happy and fulfilling life. Religious dogma and ideology severely curtails such freedom and independence, requiring unthinking obedience to rules and conventions written (in some cases literally) in stone.

The dogma of religion can provide an easy way out of some of the difficult and complex questions about the workings of the world and the universe. Atheism rejects such intellectual laziness and embraces the freedom to discover knowledge and to actively seek out answers to the questions all around us.

Interestingly, a common refrain of American Christians argues the U.S. constitution guarantees freedom of religion but not freedom from religion, and that the constitution was specifically established on a Christian basis. In actual fact, many (if not most) of the Founding Fathers were not Christians - some were deists; some bordered on atheists; all were committed secularists, passionate about the separation of Church and State - and had many harsh things to say about Christianity and established religion.

Throughout history, organized religion has presided over some of the most flagrant abuses of individual rights and freedoms, including (but not limited to) freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom of assembly. Adherence to a fixed set of dogmas appears to carry with it a built-in system of intolerance. Historically, where religious dogmas have become wed to government (such as in the Dark Ages of Europe or the Muslim/Arab world after its medieval apex), individual liberty, including religious liberty, tends to suffer. In fact, the secularization of Western culture - the separation of church and state - has been identified as one of the strongest reasons for its prosperity and its progress in science, technology and culture.

Atheism also embraces other freedoms denied by religious customs and observances. For example, to be able pursue sexual practices (such as sex before marriage, birth control, etc) and sexual orientation unfettered by the religious dogma and conventions is an important consideration for many people. The typical atheist is much more tolerant of the sexual and social practices of others than those constrained to toeing the religious line. This is not to say that atheism actively prescribes such practices, merely that everyone should have the freedom to follow them if they so decide.

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