Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Future for Atheism

Right. Bit of background before I throw myself into this subject because it would be unfair to put forth my position without first explaining my own religious views.

I was brought up as a Catholic because my mother is something stupid like 50th generation Irish-Catholic, tracing roots back to St. Grellan. Anyway I proceeded through the rituals of that: communion, confirmation etc. but last year decided as part of my new-found objectivist philosophical outlook to abandon this in favour of a fairly strong atheist belief.

I'd never really thought about this much as something that should be promoted amongst society in a similar way to an actual religion. However, a couple of news stories about 'Camp Quest', an atheist summer camp, got me thinking about whether I should take my atheism more seriously and be a more active non-believer.

Firstly, I would say that the attitude of 'Answers in Genesis', who argue Camp Quest drums a "hopeless" world view into young minds, only serves to show the intolerance shown by religion to many minorities. I support the Camp Quest, not because it drills secularism into young children but because, instead, it asks the campers to objectively weigh up the evidence and come to their own decision. If a child comes to the conclusion that there is a God then they most certainly will not be castigated for their view.

This sort of tolerance is vitally important to me as a liberal. I have the right as a free citizen to launch a verbal polemic against 'Answers in Genesis' but if I had the power to I certainly wouldn't shut it down because they preach a different view to me and, in my mind, indoctrinates young impressionable minds.

However, it is also for this reason that I would not 'come out of the atheist closet' for want of a better phrase. I would hate to feel that I am forcing my view onto anyone else. Naturally if my position was challenged I would defend atheism to the hilt but if someone came to me for religious advice I would tell them to weigh up the evidence and make their own decision.