Atheism/Christianity vs Atheism
I would simply like to ask you a couple questions for a paper I am putting together. If you can just take a moment to answers that would be extremely helpful.
1) What do atheists believe that our purpose on the Earth is?
2) Why do many atheists insist that having a faith is so bad?
Thank you for your time
These are questions that could take several whole books to answer, but let me try to do it succinctly.
First, let's realize there is no such thing as a standard atheist - not all atheists think or feel the same way. This may be more true about atheists than it is about tradional religous believers because, while many atheists have arrived at their belief system (or lack thereof) through a process of individual critical analysis of the conventional beliefs their society offered them, many conventional believers have simply accepted truths handed down to them by conventional religious authorities. Therefore it is not so unreasonable to say "Christians believe..." But it is far less reasonable to say "Atheists believe..."
Now, I am going to address your second question first. I would say that atheists in general (at least those who have gone through the critical reasoning process to figure out independently what they believe) hold very great trust in the powers of human reason, and in the findings of science. They find the things churches say to be unscientific and insulting to human reason. e.g. If there werwe a God up there (a literal being who governs the world, and is supposed to be all good)why would "he" set things up so that only some of his creatures would be saved, while others are destined to burn in hell? What kind of mean and vindictive God would it take to have punished all of mankind for all time because one woman ate an apple she wasn't supposed to? Rational level atheists (see: http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com/The-Rational.html
) see faith as being bad because the way people at this rational level understand "faith" (and the way most churches present it)it is dishonest and dupes good people seeking answers into believing things that seem childish and silly to a Rational level atheist.
Your first question: Rational level atheists (I keep making this distinction because there are also Lawless atheists (see: http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com/The-Lawless.html
) to whom none of this response applies) are certain of only one thing - their present here and now life in THIS world. The purpose of life (to generalize tremendously) is it make the best use of the tremendous gift of THIS life, THIS world, this minute, this place. Granted some will use their current life for selfish purposes, but many will use their life to make a positive difference in this world. Because they have no reason to think there is an afterlife, they need not waste energy concerning themselves with their own "salvation" in the next world. I guess they figure if by any chance that "sky God" of the religions did exist, "he" could not possibly be disappointed with the use they made of the wonderful gift of everyday life on this planet.
What all of this discussion misses however is the broader perspective that the individual religions fail to transmit to their congregations and the atheists don't even realize: That is the perspective that all humans share a very basic need to connect with something greater than themselves. That is why every culture in every part of the world since the beginning of time has developed some way to connect spiritually - to that something greater than themselves. The conventionally religious get this connection from a "prepackaged box" delivered by their religious authority - their preacher, the Bible, etc. The Rational level atheists get it from their individual connections to this world - their family, their work, community service, etc. The Mystic level sees a bigger picture.
If you are in school at any level, you are probably a bit young to understand the Mystic level (I, at 64 am still trying) (http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com/The-Mystic.html
) But in general, the Mystic can recognize all religous truths as metaphorical expressions of man's need to connect to something greater. Thus, all the individual relgions contain some truth (when considered METAPHORICALLY) and the differences among them merely represent local, cultural interpretations of universal truth and goodness (something the Mystic may use the word God to describe. In this case, though but NOT a BEING but a universal concept that applies equally to all people whether they hold religious beliefs or not, and no matter which religion they belong to.) The Mystic feels connection to all people, all things - animals, nature, etc. and he gets that feeling from something deeper inside - deeper than the outer authority followed by the Faithful level, deeper than the human reasoning process in which the Rational level places their trust. The Mystic derives his truth from a Spirit authority he finds within his own being, and which he recognizes as being part of everyone and everything in the Universe.
This is the sort of thing that takes a few minutes to explain and a lifetime to understand. Wishing you peace, joy and satisfaction in your journey.