Pessimism and or Atheism? (spoiler alert! - yes, Atheists are actually optimists usually)
I don’t believe in “isms” – as words they’re useful but otherwise they’re just buckets of terminology that our lazy minds like to shove things into.
So yeah, a lot of Atheists are colored in a negative light, for obvious reasons by the religious, but I’m only interested in discussing the less obvious right now: the association of the atheist with negativity. Atheists might use the word “no” when asked about their belief in God, they might negate or belittle pathetic evidence supporting the existence of a god, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all Atheists are negative nannys full of active hatred for the religious and religious things. Many Atheists don’t even call themselves “Atheist” because it has a pejorative flavor to it, and they don’t wish to evoke that reaction in the people around them.
Most Atheists live out their lives the same way the religious do except they avoid the time sucking waste of going to services in church or other religious time sucking nonsense. Some of these Atheists don’t even think to use the word Atheist to describe themselves – but even those who do won’t necessarily do anything a religious person needs to be afraid of, like violence or criminal acts. Atheists won’t come a knocking on your door to try to push their ideas down your throat. If they gather in large groups, they’ll probably be very civil about it and only engage religious who engage them first in some manner, such as making ridiculous claims about hell or some such other BS.
There are no Atheist brain washing boot camps for troubled teenagers, but there are for religion. There are no cults of Atheists. (No Cult of Dusty https://www.youtube.com/user/CultOfDustydoesn’t count, sorry! get the definition of a cult here: Defining traits of Cults ) As of yet, I’ve not heard of any Atheists picketing churches or synagogues, or any other places of worship in the name of Atheism, Reason, or Logic, – but maybe we should. There may be some Atheists or secularists protesting in government office buildings or other public places but we don’t seek to defile your supposedly sacred spaces.* There are no Atheist churches, or a pope of Atheism, and though there are famous Atheists, none of them has the conceit to dictate how other Atheists live, love or vote. Atheists don’t tell women how to treat or display their bodies, nor do they disdain the use of family planning options like birth control. Atheism has non-profits certainly, but there is no belief that a tithe is required to earn anything. If an Atheist donates to a cause, it is out of a real desire to help, not to build up points with a “God” or a religious social circle.
In all our negations, in all our “no’s” we live lives of positivity, optimism even. We’re embracing our doubts instead of hugging the sad deflated life preserver of “truthiness” to our chests, or worse the full body condom of faith. We seek to clarify and refine our thinking by removing fallacies and wishful rationalizations. We’re like cotton picked clean of annoying seeds or a fillet of fish plucked free of bones, we each live our lives, our No seeds, No bones lives, in the best state that we are able to have in that moment, and always with an eye to improving it even more if we can. What could be more positive than seeking to make ourselves and our world a better place?
Most Atheists confine their activism to promoting separation of church and state – for so many reasons we do this, but when we do this we aren’t trying to eliminate religion, just keep any one religion from turning our government into a despotic theocracy. No Atheist wants to live in a tyranny, and history, something more religious need to read up on, has shown us that if you want freedom you must be vigilant in your protection of secular authorities and separation of civil and religious powers.
There are of course some Atheists who actively try to refute and weaken religion’s hold on our culture through education or other seemingly more aggressive means. This is our active display of Humanist Hope, it is out of a sincere hope that Humanity is worth saving from itself.
A hope that an apocalyptic end to our species doesn’t
really have to be our story. What could be more optimistic than the
belief in the value of humanity itself as a whole? Rather than
damning us all, rather than infecting us all with feelings of
insecurity derived from the idea of “sin” - Atheists want to save
us from ourselves. We want to show you what beauty and value
humanity does possess and that we do deserve to go on and enjoy life.
Each and every one of us deserves to have moments of happiness, joy,
contentment, a sense of achievement, and the knowledge we have all
participated in the betterment of our world just by being who we are.
* We don’t because it’s rude and intrusive; intrusive like showing up at someone’s door to sell nonsense. Besides, most Atheists know they don’t have to because there are plenty of religious pontiffs who find ways to violate those places all by themselves.