The Good Atheist
edited: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
By Ronald W. Hull
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Become a Fan
We often hear about someone being, a good Samaritan. But are there also good atheists?
While I have not researched the matter, I believe that aside from Jews and Christians, the story of the good Samaritan is the only example in the Bible of kindness between the various tribes and nationalities of biblical times. In fact, anyone who happens upon someone needing aid found doing good is usually called, “a good Samaritan,” regardless of their nationality. The term has become universal for someone doing good.
As far as I know, Samaritans no longer exist. They were probably wiped out by one of the biblical wars and assumed as part of another population. Atheists, do exist, and exist in great numbers. Largely because of communism and state socialism, atheists have been given a bad name. While atheism basically means not believing in any religion (or god), religious people give atheism all kinds of connotations of ungodliness, particularly of doom for anyone who is a nonbeliever (regardless of religion).
Being a good Samaritan is certainly a Christian way of behaving. Whether or not it is also a Muslim way or a Buddhist way, I don't know. Can an atheist, a nonbeliever, do good when they are condemned by god to eternal damnation for not believing? I don't know, so I will leave that up to the reader.
Recent surveys have shown that atheism is growing in the United States. Most of the people who are atheist by practice, do not admit it because of the backlash they get, primarily from Christians. Instead, atheists go through life not attending church or any religious activity, and pretend to pray whenever called for. Finally, when pressured, they will say, “I'm not a formal church goer, but I believe in a universal spirit.” Some will say that they are, “agnostic,” whatever that means.
Although I was brought up in the Protestant Christian tradition, my parents, especially my father, were not very religious. Although his mother, just before she acquired Alzheimer's, became very religious to the point of worrying her sons. There seems to be a tendency as some people age and begin to feel they're losing control of their lives, more vulnerable, they become more religious.
About the time that I was involved in civil rights as president of a ecumenical church group in college, I had read enough about religion and philosophy to decide that there was no real benefit to being religious. In fact, spending a lot of time and money in religious activity was very counterproductive to life. By throwing off the yoke of religion, I was free to think any way that I wanted without the continual judgment of those who were locked in dogma promulgated by the Bible. Of the other religions that I studied, I like Buddhism the best because it was basically very nonviolent, especially toward nature. But I saw no need to have any religion at all in order to do good in my life. For people who have followed my life, I think they will say that I have done good and had the good fortune to be a good atheist from time to time and help others.
There has been some effort for atheists to join together, perhaps for protection, but I see that effort as trying to make a church of atheism, leading us back into the problem that most organized religions, and other organized groups in particular, have with hierarchy, power struggles, greed, and other misuses of the group and the group's objectives. I think that atheists should insist, as I do, that they do not believe and leave it at that, freeing them up to do whatever else they would like to do with their lives on their own terms and not on someone else's––true freedom.
In conclusion, I believe there are many good atheists out there, far more than bad atheists. I would suggest that the good atheists come out of the closet and luxuriate in being free from religion and godliness, godless, forever.
Copyright 2013 © Ronald W. Hull
Web Site: Ron's Place
Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Benjamin Plybon
A good well written article. I am always interested in articles about atheism. Why does one become an atheist? I did not become a Christian until I was 45 years old but I was never an atheist. I was an agnostic. You seemed puzzled about what that means. I never claimed God does not exist. The true agnostic simply feels they don't know whether God does or not exist. I did not see evidence for or against the belief in God.
My wife has been a Christian since she was young. She is a beautiful person. A few years after I became a Christian she felt called to become a Methodist Minister. At the age of forty. She did, so over the next 30 years we served churches as pastor and spouse. She was very good. I was very disappointed in the people in our churches claiming to be Christians. The Biblical meaning of Christian is very special to me and becoming a Christian changed me very powerful ways. All good. I make no claims to be better than anyone else. Becoming a Christian and learning the truth preached by Peter and Paul has made me more aware of my failures.
I am not good, whatever that is supposed to mean. Jesus said there are none good other than God. He did not want to be called a good man. You can be good in the sense I believe you use the term without believing in God. I have known many atheists who were good people:kind, generous, charitable, etc. I believe you are probably such a person.
Being good is not a qualification for church membership. Too many church going people are not good people in any sense of the word. Attending a church every Sunday, carrying a Bible, does not make one a Christian. The Pharisees did the equivalent of that and Jesus denounced then as hypocrites. Very religious men but not good people. You have met many modern religious Pharisees. Such people have missed the point of the Gospel. It's all about the peace and joy they comes from caring about others and sharing their burdens and troubles. Faith in God gives some of us the power to do that.
It is possible to be religious without being Christian. Many do that. It is also true one can be Christian without being religious. I have lived that way for forty years. Don't equate Christian with religious. The number of atheists in the USA is probably increasing while the number of church going people is decreasing. People are rejecting Christianity because of the image of religious people, most of whom are not actually Christians. Strange but true.
You might want to find a way to learn the truth about Jesus and his followers. You might try reading the book Mere Christianity, written by C.S. Lewis, an agnostic, possibly atheist, who learned the truth when fortyish and became a Christian. A brilliant man.
I think atheists and Christians can be friends. I read your articles and need to find a copy of one of your books. Do you have any recommendations about where to begin?
|Reviewed by Myrna Badgerow
|I am not an athiest but I also am not one to say that one must believe to be a good person and do good things... one has nothing to do with the other in my humble opinion.. well written Ron
|Reviewed by Keith Rowley
|I thank God I'm an atheist!|
|Reviewed by Jansen Estrup
|The Samaritan had empathy, Ron, the ability to put him/herself in another's situation. Empathy is difficult to learn/teach. But it is not so hard to teach children to be afraid, rigid, judging, apart and 'special'. Nor is it difficult to codify such 'law' ... religion is the easy way to go in life ... you just pay your money, obey and let someone else decide. Non-believers (not just religious)take a more difficult, more (ultimately) rewarding path. Well said.|
|Reviewed by Ruan Burke
|I believe I am a good Atheist. I live by the fact that I know right from wrong, believe kindness is the way forward, and an open mind will breed less animosity. To my way of thinking, there is nothing to be gained from bias or bigotry that cannot be better gained through understanding and compassion.
Admittedly I do, as you say "pretend to pray when called upon", but this is more out of respect for the other person's wishes than an attempt to hide my own.
Great article here, Ron. You are a man after my own heart.
|Reviewed by Drew Carpenter
|As an atheist, I have always felt that my life had to be exemplary, since so many people will automatically expect the worst of me. Of course, perfection in all things is impossible and I have made my share of mistakes. I do feel that I have led a good life and tried to help others along the way. Being a good person and doing good things is not dependent on believing in God.
I became a non-believer at the age of 14, and I never hid it. It is important to make your lack of faith known. It can also be difficult. Many people keep it hidden because it can affect their employment and their standing in the community. For me, I had to be true to myself and damn the consequences.
Thank you for a good article. I think you might enjoy my humorous novel, "About The Rapture." It will probably never sell many copies since it is self published and has a limited potential audience, but it is something that I felt compelled to write.
|Reviewed by Jane Noponen Perinacci
|It's good to look at things from all sides.
|Reviewed by Edward Phillips
|Well stated, thoughtful, intelligent. There are no significant differences between an atheist, an agnostic, and a deist. The atheist believes there is no god, the agnostic says he cannot know, while the deist says there is, but god does not acknowledge any religion, or priests or preachers, and it is pointless to pray for favors because gods plan for the universe is perfect, so why pretend like you know more about perfection than does a perfect god? Therefore they each go about their affairs without the constraints imposed by religions. All follow the same guides: The golden rule and their own moral compass. Ed|
|Reviewed by Lark Pogue
|AMEN! And Carla, the churches are full of hypocrites, and the churches tax exempt but dealing out politics. If you get a chance, read my poem "I Know The Devil" for an example of MY cousin. My brother, Drew, is an atheist and very kind hearted always. You can read him on Authors Den, and he has just released a new and excellent book called "About The Rapture." Ron, thanks for bringing the subject up, and I hope more people take your advice and come out of the closet. Good article!
|Reviewed by Carla Miller
|Well I know a so called Christian, a cousin by marriage who has been in the church her entire life. She is a back stabbing self righteous whining complaining shallow person. She is the type of christian who turns people away. Plus most would really question her Christianity, even Christians, because the bible states that you will know them by their fruits. And her fruits are rotten. My brother is an Atheist and is a much more civil caring compassionate person than she is. They would think my brother were a christian and her just the devil.|
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton
|I'm an atheist, but I'll be damned (some people think so) if I know I'm a good atheist or not, Ron.|