[A reader reminded me of an old post that I had written back in 2008 on my old blog site and I thought I would reprint it except for very minor editing. So here it is.]
In the course of writing many posts on science and religion and atheism, it struck me that I was tangentially making many statements about what I, as an atheist, believe. I decided to summarize those scattered thoughts into one coherent statement. Of course, I am not presuming to claim that all atheists subscribe to this statement. The creed is purely a personal one.
An important point of clarification is necessary. When the word ‘believe’ is used in the creed, it is in the scientific sense of the word. Scientists realize that almost all knowledge is tentative and that one knows very few things for certain. But based on credible evidence and logical reasoning, one can arrive at firm conclusions about, and hence ‘believe’, some things such as that the universe is billions of years old or that an object released above the ground will fall down.
It is in this sense that the word ‘believe’ is used in the creed below, as an implicit acknowledgment of our lack of absolute certainty. This use is in stark contrast to the way that the word is used by religious people. They not only believe things for which there is not only little or no evidence or reason, but even in spite of evidence to the contrary, and defying reason.
Some religious apologists try to exploit the fact that the same word belief is used in both situations to suggest that atheism is as much an irrational act of faith as belief in god. This is sophistry and simply false.
An Atheist’s Creed:
I believe in a purely material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles.
I believe that the life we have is the only one we will have, that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain, that we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die, and that it is therefore incumbent on us to enable each person to live their one life to the fullest.
I believe in the power of science and reason and rationality to further deepen our understanding of everything around us and to eventually overcome superstition and erase the petty divisions sown by religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
I am in awe of the beauty, vastness, and complexity of nature and the universe, and the fact that all arose purely by the working of natural laws.
I believe in the power of ideals such as peace and justice and shared humanity to inspire us to create a free and just world.
I believe in kindness, love, and the human spirit and their ability to overcome challenges and adversity and to create a better world.
I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.
I refuse to bow, prostrate myself, or otherwise cower before the deities of any religion.
I am neither tempted by the fiction of heaven nor fearful of the fiction of hell.
I choose to live the dignified and exhilarating life of a freethinker, able to go wherever knowledge and curiosity takes me, without fear of contradicting any dogma.
About the Author:
I am a theoretical physicist and currently Director of UCITE (University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I am the author of three books: God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom (2009), The Achievement Gap in US Education: Canaries in the Mine (2005), and Quest for Truth: Scientific Progress and Religious Beliefs (2000).
You can email me at mano.singham”‘at”‘case.edu.