I saw a similar document a while ago, and I thought it made sense for me to create one for me. Much of my list is similar to the one I saw, and as such, I do not claim ownership to the content, but I agree with its sentiment and offer this modified list as a record of my beliefs.
I often hear atheists and skeptics get asked, “What do you believe in?” The question really asks “Since you don’t believe in God and religion, what values do you believe in or hold to?” My answer follows.
I believe in the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained within the Canadian Constitution, including and especially freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression (including freedom of the press and other media of communication); freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association. In short, everyone has the right and the freedom to think, believe, and act as they choose, as long as those thoughts, beliefs and actions don’t infringe on other people’s equal rights and freedoms.
I believe in the inviolability of private property, the rule of law, and equal treatment under the law.
I believe in free will, free choice and moral and personal accountability.
I believe in truth seeking and truth telling.
I believe in trust and credibility.
I believe in the idea that you get what you give.
I believe in love, marriage and fidelity, and that they must not be subject to gender-based restrictions.
I believe in honour, loyalty, and commitment to family, friends and community.
I believe in forgiveness when it’s deserved or offered.
I believe in kindness, generosity, charity and service, especially voluntary aid to those in need.
I believe in the almost limitless capacity of human creativity and ingenuity for our species to flourish into the future on this planet and others.
I believe in science as the best method ever devised for understanding how the world works.
I believe in reason and logic and rationality as ways to answer questions and solve problems.
When a believer asks what I believe in, I’ll offer this list and then ask them “Why, what do you believe in?”
Keeping in mind that as an atheist, I don’t consider the Bible any kind of source of truth, but since most Christians do, I thought I’d point out something they might not have taken much time to think about.
The Israelites never saw or heard the first set of “commandments” God gave to Moses.
According to Exodus, the first book of the Pentateuch:
After leaving Egypt and drowning Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea (something else I doubt, but that’s for another time), the Israelites wandered around the desert for two or three months (The KJV says “in the third month;” see Exodus 19:1), they stopped in the wilderness of Sinai.
Having been called to come up the mountain, Moses went up to meet with God.
God told Moses:
You’ve seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I brought you to me on the wings of eagles. If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my possession among all the people; for all the earth is mine, and to me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is what you should tell the Israelites. (Exodus 19:4-6)
Moses told everyone what God told him, and they said, in essence, “If he said it, we’ll do it.”
Moses went back to God and told him that he had a deal. God told Moses to consecrate the Israelites for the next two days and that they should wash their clothes because God would come down from the mountain on the third day. Nobody was to approach the mountain, and everyone was to abstain from sex (Exodus 19:10-15).
On the morning of the third day, the base of the mountain was covered in thick smoke from the fire of the presence of God. Moses called to God, and God answered Moses in thunder (Exodus 19:19), telling him to consecrate the mountain, to come up alone, and that the priests were to consecrate themselves and to keep everyone else away from the mountain.
God also told Moses to go back down and to return with his brother Aaron. When Moses returned, God gave them 613 laws, the first ten of which we commonly call ‘The Ten Commandments:’
- I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me;
- You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;
- Honour your father and mother;
- You shall not kill;
- You shall not commit adultery;
- You shall not steal;
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour;
- You shall not covet anything that is your neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:2-17)
When Moses returned, he was carrying two stone tablets; the laws he’d been given (we can assume all 613, because he’d been up on the mountain for forty days and nights) were written on the tablets.
During Moses’ absence, the Israelites had started worshipping golden idols of calves. Moses pleaded to God to not punish the Israelites and to remember he had promised that he would give the Israelites their new land after all they’d put up with under the Egyptians (Exodus 32:11-14).
Moses then turned to the Israelites and smashed the tablets he’d been carrying. He called out for those who still sided with God to kill those who had turned away from God while he had been on the mountain. Some three thousand men died that day at the hands of the sons of Levi (Exodus 32:26-29), who moved to Moses’ side.
Moses asked to be ‘blotted out of God’s book’ for his failings; that’s why Moses didn’t get to cross the Jordan River. However, God replaced the stone tablets Moses had destroyed.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The new tablets contained a different set of ‘commandments’ than the old tablets:
- You shall worship no other gods, for the Lord your God is a jealous God;
- You shall make for yourself no molten gods;
- The feast of unleavened bread (Passover) you shall keep;
- All that opens the womb is mine;
- Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest;
- You shall observe the feast of weeks (to commemorate the giving of the Torah);
- Three times in the year shall your males appear before the Lord God;
- You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven;
- The first fruits of each year belong to the Lord your God;
- You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 34:14-26)
In Exodus 34:28, these are called the ‘ten commandments.’
The ‘original’ commandments are contained in Deuteronomy 5:6-21, but they are not referred to as commandments.
Easter is honoured by nearly all of contemporary Christianity to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The holiday often involves a church service at sunrise, a feast which includes an “Easter Ham,” decorated eggs and stories about rabbits. Where did all of these customs, which have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus, come from?
Here’s one theory, courtesy of Wikipedia and http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org.
Early professing Christians were not the only ones who celebrated a festival called Easter. Ishtar, pronounced “Easter,” was the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex. Ishtar was also a day to commemorate the resurrection of one of their gods they called Tammuz.
Some explanation: Noah’s grandson Cush married a woman named Semiramis. They had a son they named Nimrod. After Cush died, Nimrod married Semiramis and became a god-man to the people, and Semiramis became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon. Nimrod was eventually killed by an enemy, and his body was cut in pieces and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Semiramis had all of the parts gathered, but his penis could not be found. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod could not come back to life without it, and told the people of Babylon that Nimrod had ascended to the sun and was now to be called Baal, the sun god. Queen Semiramis also proclaimed that Baal would be present on earth in the form of a flame, whether candle or lamp, when used in worship.
It’s said that with the help of Satan, Semiramis set herself up as a goddess, claiming that she was immaculately conceived. She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28-day cycle and ovulated when full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the EuphratesRiver. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. Semiramis became known as Ishtar which is pronounced “Easter,” and her moon egg became known as “Ishtar’s egg.” Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive. Her son Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in Ishtar’s religion, because Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal.
Tammuz, like Nimrod, loved to hunt but was killed by a wild pig while hunting. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Spirit. Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the “Mother of God and Queen of Heaven,” continued to build her mystery religion by telling the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz. Hence we have the Christmas tree?
She also proclaimed a forty-day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the “T” in front of their hearts as they worshipped. They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a “T” or cross on the top.
Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. It was Ishtar’s Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday. By now, readers should have deduced that paganism infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church and that Easter has nothing whatsoever to do with the resurrection of Jesus. The forty days of Lent, eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham originate in the ancient pagan mystery religion of Babylon. These customs of Easter honour Baal, who is still worshipped as the “Rising Sun” and his house is the “House of the Rising Sun.” How many churches have “sunrise services” on Ishtar’s day and face the rising sun in the East? How many will use coloured eggs and rabbit stories, as they did in ancient Babylon?
- There are no gods. Religion was created as a way to try to explain mysteries and to control primitive people. Modern civilization has science to take care of the mysteries, and primitive civilizations continue to exist either of their own volition or of their own ignorance. Instead of observing gods, we should give our attention to love for our families and friends, artistic creativity as well as intelligence and the knowledge and technological innovation it continues to provide us. Those things sustain us.
- Just as there are no gods, there is no heaven, nor is there a hell. Heaven and hell were created by the same notions that created gods. If there were gods to be in charge of us, then there had to be rules we had to follow. If we followed the rules, we deserved a reward; if we did not follow the rules, we deserved a punishment. Since there is no proof that gods exist, there is no proof that heaven and hell exist.
- Each of us is responsible for our own actions. Don’t blame someone else because things didn’t go the way you wanted them to. Since there are no gods, there is no divine plan to predetermine our lives. Speak honestly and live with purpose.
- The universe was not created in six days so that the seventh could be observed as a day of rest during which we should worship god(s). One day is no different — or more special — than any other. Any day is as good as the others to put aside time for thinking, meditation and rest.
- Nobody deserves respect unless they’ve demonstrated they deserve it. If you want to be respected, show respect.
- Life is not sacred; it’s a cosmologic fluke. We should consider ourselves lucky to be alive. It’s up to us to make the most — physically and emotionally — of the time we have.
- When you make a promise to someone, keep it.
- If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
- Tell the truth so people will know you’re not full of shit.
- Dreams and aspirations are fine, but in the end, dwelling on them will take you away from the fact that you have bills to pay. Focus on reality.
Someone I used to know decided today that if I happen to state my views as an atheist on an atheist Facebook page that she can tell me that I’m forcing my religion down her throat. People might say that I could have directed the comment to be read by friends only or by acquaintances only; I always try to make sure that I direct any of my comments to those who I know will not be offended or feel as if I’m forcing things upon them. This woman (who I know is a Christian) told me that I was “forcing my religion down her throat.”
If I remember right, I was giving my opinion about the new Pope. I don’t recall forcing her to read what I wrote, or telling her to read it, or telling anyone else to tell her to read it. She knows that I’m an atheist, and that a great many things I write on FB have something to do with atheism or skepticism or freethought or agnosticism or science. But I put up comments about music, classic television, sports, weather, my family members, my friends, teaching, the education system, epilepsy, vertigo, cats, my students, other people’s children, my wife, my opinion of the medical profession, and anything else that crosses my mind.
She’s as welcome as anyone else to read or to ignore anything I post on FB. I do the same for about 1/4 of what gets put on my wall; I’m not always interested in everything people have to say, and some of it, frankly, just makes me want to grab people and shake them. I don’t think I’m smarter than anyone else, because how smart you appear has a lot to do with your surroundings. I’d be an idiot in front of a sewing machine or in a mechanic’s shop, but when it comes to trivia, I’m genius-like. But I do know that I know enough about being an atheist to be able to tell when someone doesn’t know the first thing and is trying to force their beliefs on me.
I refuse to compromise my thought process to satisfy the bronze-age thinking of someone who doesn’t know that atheism is not a religion, nor is it even a belief system. Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of gods. An atheist is a person who does not believe that gods exist, plain and simple. There are more complicated concepts within that idea, but for the beginner, that’s the essence.
It has no connections to politics, it has no great philosophical beliefs, and it implies no beliefs about society, science, or religion (Buddhism, for example, is an atheistic religion). Each atheist has their own beliefs and attitudes. If you know that a person is an atheist, all you know about them is that they do not believe in gods.
I am an atheist. I do not believe gods exist.
Drunk Driver Pleads Guilty to Charges of Four Counts of Dangerous Driving Causing Death and Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily HarmPosted: February 26, 2013
The man, facing a number of charges stemming from a fatal crash that rocked Grande Prairie in October, 2011, pleaded guilty to five charges laid against him Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Brandon Holubowich, 23, pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The charges were laid following a fatal crash on Highway 668, near Highway 40 in the early hours of October 22, 2011.
Four teenaged boys were killed in the crash – 16-year-olds Matthew Deller and Vincent Stover, along with 15-year-olds Walter Borden-Wilkins and Tanner Hildebrand.
A fifth teen, Zach Judd, was seriously injured in the collision, but has since recovered.
In court Tuesday, the defence and Crown Prosecutor submitted a joint recommendation for Holubowich’s sentence.
It was recommended Holubowich serve three years in jail, with a three-year driving prohibition.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Holubowich had been drinking with friends before the collision – but the Crown and defence asked the judge to take into account that speed played a major role in the crash.
Court documents state Holubowich had been driving at 151 kilometres an hour when the collision happened – the car carrying the teenagers had been making a U-turn when it was hit.
Later Tuesday, court will hear victim impact statements.
This is RIDICULOUS!
A comment on Facebook:
“He is NOT being convicted of drinking and driving causing death…..He has plead guilty to dangerous driving causing death…..the same charge that could be laid if you are texting and kill someone……Our judicial system is designed such that you are innocent until proven guilty. Well boys and girls he is NOT guilty of drinking and driving or impaired causing death”
…led me to respond with the following:
“Pleading guilty to avoid a conviction of a more serious crime doesn’t make his crime any less wrong. By the way, the court NEVER finds anyone to be INNOCENT of a crime, even after “proof” has been provided. The term is “NOT GUILTY.” Even if you were acquitted, you were found to be “not guilty” because the evidence didn’t prove your guilt. Acquittal does not equal innocence, and pleading guilty is admitting gullt. Stop feeling sorry for him. Instead, feel sorry for the families and friends of the four young men who died because of someone else’s stupidity.”
I like dealing with people who are proactive rather than reactive; people who guide their world rather than get pushed around; people who are a force for change rather than sitting back and watching.
What matters to me is that people should think and not simply believe. Belief requires faith, which disregards evidence. Without evidence, there is no proof, and without proof, there is no fact. I separate fact from truth quite simply: people once believed that the earth is flat, and held that as truth. Once sufficient evidence began accumulating to provide proof that earth is round (actually, it’s an oblate sphere), people had no reason to believe it was flat. Fact doesn’t require belief; it is self-evident.
That search for fact leads to my next point: people must possess and promote a desire for lifelong learning. A day has been wasted if spent without acquiring a new idea, a new piece of information or a new skill. There is too much we haven’t discovered for us to be satisfied with what we already know. If mankind hadn’t sought to learn (consciously or unconsciously) , we’d still be “hunter-gathering” our way through life, living in groups of 20-30 individuals, dying young of mysterious causesx and existing as potential victims of predators and whatever weather system blew over us.
Following naturally from that is knowing your family’s history. In a world that is increasingly capable of greater and more impressive technology, I still think it’s important to know about your family and your origins. As has been famously said, how can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
That’s not to say you should spend all of your time with your family. Some of my most productive and satisfying moments have come from times when I’ve been doing things which I enjoy for myself. From time to time, I immerse myself in obscure sports statistics and histories; my wife doesn’t always understand it, but she doesn’t have to, and I don’t understand some of the things she likes to do for herself. None of it is harmful or breaks any laws, nor do we have to explain any of it to anyone. As long as we don’t offend anyone, what we do for ourselves relieves stress and lets us get on with our productive, industrious lives.
Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t care about nor do things for other people. To the contrary; time spent doing things for others is the noblest and least selfish way to live. It doesn’t take much, either; five percent of your time works out to about an hour and a quarter each day during which you can volunteer at a seniors’ home, do yardwork for a neighbour, join a service club, coach a junior sports team; the possibilities are almost endless.
If you want to have a life worth living, get involved and do things that matter. Do things without expectation of reward or compensation. Do things because they should be done. Then be satisfied with taking care of people who needed your time and attention — including yourself and your family.