Dave Hitt www

I can’t speak for any atheist other than myself. I want to be left alone. I don’t want to have to care about other people’s beliefs.

If someone wants to believe something I consider ridiculous, or even stupid, I don’t care. I honestly don’t. But if they insist on teaching their religion in the science classes of public schools, I have to care. If they demand, and get, my tax dollars to fund their beliefs, I have to care. If their religious beliefs are driving laws and public policy, I have to care. If one of my daughters can’t get the morning after pill, or terminate an unwanted pregnancy because of laws crafted to please believers, I have to care. If someone believes that their god wants them to kill unbelievers like me, I really have to care.

It would also be nice if atheists were treated decently and not regarded as evil freaks by so many religious people. But I have no control over other people’s opinions, so I don’t worry about them. I do what I want/need to do, believe what I believe, and if someone doesn’t like me because of it, I shrug it off. It’s very rare that their opinion has any effect on my life. As long as they leave me alone.

I firmly believe that 90% of the problems in the world are caused by people minding other people’s business. And many of them are motivated to meddle by their religious beliefs.

I’m perfectly willing to let you believe whatever you like. Just don’t bother me with it. Leave me alone. Don’t make me have to care.

Posted: September 16th 2008

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flagellant www

There are so many types of atheist that there is no common list of our requirements. However, several things bind most of us: firstly, we want atheism to be regarded as an acceptable philosophical/social position. Secondly, we want religion deprived of its legal protection from criticism, valuable tax advantages, and government subsidies, e.g. in UK faith schools. Religion should be downgraded to being no more significant than support for a football team. Personally, I look forward to seeing religion recognised as an activity only for consenting adults in private.

Meanwhile, there are influential, problem-causing nasties like The Pope, with his chilling posse of Archbishops e.g. here and his callous attitude to sexuality, especially where it affects women. Then, there are the vicious extremists like bin Laden and the rapture-ready nutcases in the US who welcome the idea of catastrophic war. The problem is that too few so-called moderate religiosi criticise these extremist as they should.

Organising atheists is next to impossible; they are far too individualistic and we all have different goals. However, if by our agitation atheism becomes respectable, and religion is deprived of its many privileges, this would be a healthy start. Atheists have an open-minded, evidence-based, and naturalistic worldview and we hope to extend this understanding more widely.

Posted: October 15th 2007

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George Locke

As others have already stated, this is one of those cases where the question demands a generalization about atheists, a generalization I am happy to provide.

It seems to me that one main goal shared by atheists is that people and organizations should question their beliefs and behavior and allow the same to be questioned by others. Progress is impossible without rigorous and sustained inquiry.

Posted: October 14th 2007

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jonecc www

Because atheism means a disbelief in one thing, a God, there is no coherent political platform as such which all atheists could sign up to. There are for instance conservative, liberal and radical atheists.

There are certain positions which the majority of those atheists who are prepared to actively identify themselves with political organisations would support. For instance, most believe in the separation of religion and the state. In other words, religious belief should be treated as a private matter, and there should for instance be no religious involvement in state education. The state should not be atheist, in the sense of officially holding that there is no God, but it should be secular, in the sense that it takes no position on the existence or non-existence of God, and gives no government money to organisations which do.

Also, we tend to be impressed by the scientific world view. We don’t believe science explains everything in life, but we do believe it explains the things it claims to explain.

We want health care to be based on medical treatments which are backed by evidence. We think religion should be kept out of science classes. We support the scientific consensus that life evolved through natural selection. Increasingly, because the scientific evidence that global warming is a real problem is growing, we are throwing our weight behind campaigns to limit it. Some atheists dispute the evidence, but we all agree that the evidence is what the debate is about.

We generally agree that children have a civil right not to have the religious beliefs of their parents imposed on them. This doesn’t mean we want to put the children of religious parents in care, as has been alleged, but we do think children should be guaranteed exposure to other value systems.

Many of us are very keen that comparative religion should be taught in schools. This is because if you have been brought up being told that certain things are true beyond question, then to be made aware that across the world different thinkers at different times in history have asserted a huge range of things to be true on the basis of no evidence must surely have a bracing effect.

Probably our biggest concern is that people should have the right to express themselves without any religious group being able to prevent them simply by claiming offense. If people want to make a chocolate Jesus, or draw cartoons of Mohammed, or whatever they want, they have the right to. After all, if we were to criminalise religious hatred we would have to ban most of the world’s holy books, which are generally riddled with it.

Posted: October 14th 2007

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brian thomson www

I think it’s going to vary from person to person, and from country to country.

In the USA, for example, a common theme you’ll see is the fighting the drive to make the USA a “Christian state” (Theocracy), in violation of your Constitution, specifically the Bill Of Rights. You can see this happening at the local level in some states (anti-science school books), and the federal level (“faith-based initiatives”).

Meanwhile, here in Ireland, the Catholic Church is entrenched in some aspects of society, especially the schools, which have been training grounds for the next generation of Catholics. I don’t have children, but if I did we would probably have to move back to the UK, because without a baptism certificate they would not even get in to most primary schools here.

So I see “what atheists want” as an overlapping mixture of national (big) issues affecting all people, and local (small) issues affecting them directly. I don’t think we’re “organized” in the sense that we have signed up to any “creed” handed down to us by others – that would be anathema to the quest, for intellectual freedom and honesty, that compels us to speak out in support of Enlightenment ideals, against the theocratic machinations that threaten to send some countries back to the Dark Ages.

Posted: October 14th 2007

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