"I'm an atheist"

10000li's picture

Here is the full quote from Carol Tarvis, including the omitted last sentence:

One of the problems with the skeptical movement is that it attempts to take important beliefs away from people without replacing them. People believe that skeptics and scientists are forever telling them their ideas are wrong, stupid, and naive — “No, you can’t talk to Uncle Henry from beyond the grave; that medium is a fraud” or “No, crushed aardvark bones can’t cure your cancer.” One problem with the critical thinking movement, which came from philosophy, was that it missed the psychological and emotional reasons that people don’t think critically and don’t want to think critically. Until you understand the forces that make people want to believe something, you can’t just expect people to listen rationally to a set of arguments that will skewer their deepest, most cherished ideas.

source: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/11-02-09/#feature

Reading the rest of the interview, we see that Ms. Tarvis is talking about the fact that beliefs don't exist in a vacuum, and someone who wishes to change another's bad beliefs needs to take into consideration the good beliefs that are attached to it.

This morning, I saw another of those "I'm a Mormon" billboards showing normal, people doing normal things.

I was thinking that atheists are in need of such advertising
- directed AT atheists.

Huh? Well, I know quite a few atheists who think that being an atheist is being an Atheist, as if it were a job description or some kind of religion or something.

It's not.

It's just an answer to one philosophical question.

The question is, "Is there a god?"

The answer is, "No."

That's all it takes to be an atheist, and that's all there is to being an atheist.

We still have to figure out how to live moral lives, what kind of rituals we will create, inherit or abandon, what our political philosophies will be, and "What's the meaning of life?"

Atheism doesn't provide guidance on any of those issues. It cannot. People have to figure it out for themselves. Just like all people have had to do since the dawn of humanity.

But there is a large group of atheists who think atheism creates obligations. They think that just because someone is an atheist, they must believe in evolution, must be a liberal and must practice situational ethics.

Nope. Not required.

You can be an atheist and believe that aliens seeded the Earth.

You can be an atheist and always vote Republican.

You can be an atheist and believe in astrology, or fairies or that the moon is made of green cheese and the landings were faked.

In other words, you can be an atheist and just be a normal person.

I wish more atheists would realize this.