I posted some pictures from the American Atheists Conference on my Facebook page yesterday. A good friend posted the following comment:
“Can you help me understand why people convene to talk about what they don’t believe in?”
It is a question we atheists get a lot. Here is my response:
We talk about things that we believe in, like the freedom of, and from, religion, human rights, social justice, and equality for all people. We talk about our ethical and moral responsibility to those around us in this life, and the imperative to relieve human suffering where ever we see it. We are defined by these things we believe, not what we don’t believe. That would be like me defining you as a non-believer in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus.
Religious belief is so ingrained in our culture that people just assume that if we don’t believe in a supernatural power greater than ourselves that we are somehow missing something. We are not. We are embracing this life, which as far as we can tell is the only one we have, and we are doing everything we can to make the most of it for ourselves and others. We see suffering and we don’t claim that it is the will of some fickle god, but something that we must make every attempt to alleviate. We believe in many, many things, just like anyone else, but we are not, and will not, be defined by what we do not believe.