I am an atheist. Amid the barrage of Easter news and posts, I feel the need to reiterate the core principles of my concept of the universe:
1. I do not believe in any deities (a = not, theist = one who believes in a god) - there is a common misconception that atheists believe in 'satan' or malevolent deities due to a long tradition of vilification of the non-religious. I believe every human being is responsible for his/her own actions, and we as a society of conscious beings benefit by encouraging freedom of choice and responsibility for those freedoms.
2. I am highly moral, and believe that morality is an evolved behavioral code that preserves our species and can be taught without religion. Human beings are generally highly empathetic and that physically driven trait is the key to 'morality.'
3. I love life, humanity, nature, philosophy, art and science.
4. I believe that when you die, you simply cease to exist, and I am absolutely and completely fine with that.
5. I believe the unknown is a positive, not a negative thing. I realize that I possess only the smallest fraction of knowledge in the universe, but I am very happy about just continuing to learn and do not feel a need or desire to define the unknown with legend or mythology.
6. I am deeply empathetic with all conscious life. I support many humanitarian causes and am a vegan because I believe the use, abuse and killing of animals for our convenience and enjoyment is almost entirely unnecessary and detrimental to human psychology.
7. I see the critical human traits as intelligence, self-awareness, compassion/empathy and the drive to understand.
8. I see value in many religions as social constructs and teaching tools, although I generally don't see a 'need' for them. I believe the same values can be taught through knowledge, experience and the demonstrable benefits of a compassionate and empathetic life. I grew up Baptist/Christian, and I saw many wonderful core principles in the passages in the bible attributed to Jesus. Unfortunately, I think many other core elements of Christianity and other religions go against these passages by imposing judgement on others, embracing and utilizing violence in the name of the religion and justifying the 'authority' of religious leaders.
9. I see no need to impose my beliefs on anyone else, with the caveat that I believe humanity should not tolerate any religion or belief system that restricts the freedoms or life of those who do not believe it. That includes secular or religious beliefs. I feel it is important to share information to increase understanding, which is the motivation behind this post. However, I have no interest in convincing anyone else to be an atheist or adhere to the principles I hold for myself. Believe what you want as long as you do not impose your beliefs or their resulting rules on me.
10. I do not see human beings or human life as central or key to the universe. I believe we are simply animals with decently adaptive thinking, social skills and tool usage, and I believe it is important to have an objective perspective so we don't treat our world and other beings as expendable or tools for our convenience.
A lot of people posting their religious beliefs on my friend list and I think it is important to try and clarify an atheist self-concept to maybe help remove some of the negativity or ambiguity that is often associated with the term.