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Monday, April 18, 2016

Why I'm not an atheist.

My belief system does not admit of supernatural entities and places. I have no gods nor causes nor places outside nature. When asked, I say I am not a religious believer. But that does not mean I am an atheist.

I understand why there are those who insist on being named atheists in order to distinguish themselves from "true believers," god-is-on-my-siders, religionists who argue from sacred scripture and divine authority for the evils of sexism, racism, white supremacy, national superiority, power by violence, and exclusion of others. Or they insist on being called atheists because they see the need for critical thinking, continuous inquiry, scientific skepticism, and openness to new ideas. Many reformers and rebels against the subjugation of the vulnerable were considered atheists. And many now accept that title and teach atheism as a belief system in solidarity with those reformers and rebels.

God, Paradise, Truth, Good, Freedom, Justice, and Beauty are concepts. Like all words, they are figures of speech, analogies, symbols. Images of our imagination. While these notions can be used to spread ignorance, to separate people, and to hold us back, they can also be used to help us grow and prosper as persons and as a people.

And that is why I will not call myself an atheist. For me to be a "real atheist" or a "true believer" is a failure of imagination. God, Paradise, Truth, Good, Freedom, Justice, and Beauty are images, but not without meaning. All are here in us as persons and as a people as we struggle together by accepting the world we have inherited with all its blemishes and acting now to leave the world for our children's children. So I can worship God, enter Paradise, find Truth, enjoy Justice, and discover Beauty best when I accept my desire to know in ignorance, express my hope for community in division, pursue my search for liberation in oppression, and my attempt to preserve our earth and embrace our universe.

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