My atheism is no secret – nor, frankly is the very sad proliferation of betrayals of principle by legions of those who self-proclaim spirituality. No figurehead, nor call to live only peace and love has ever been strong enough to convince even their own passionate subset of followers to operate with pure integrity.
Thing is – my own philosophy completely agrees with the positive principles incorporated in the great religions. I just can’t abide harm to the innocent – and when people use any sort of spiritual cover to hide that harm, I find that ten times more offensive – because then they are not only hurting and lying, but also insulting strong ideas which were meant to be hopeful and helpful.
I do not judge anyone by my own philosophy – that common but childish posture has not ever been consonant with genuine mutuality and freedom. Instead, I try my best to understand, and then evaluate people’s moral success by the terms of THEIR OWN philosophy. Surely, one can be no fairer, nor is it right to offer any lesser standard, when we become deeply aware of the diversity of experience and interpretation.
All that being said – I am quite thoroughly sick of people on the left and the right blindly-accepting that their deity-differential is also a political separation.
We are either for the poor and kindness, fairness and justice – or else not.
There are greed-heads, selfish jerks, hypocrites, bullies, sadists and exploiters in every faction you can name. Kind people with good hearts also – these are the only real teams there are – kind and cruel, and every time someone tells you different, they’re really saying – don’t you dare weaken my personal power over you, by sharing purpose with all-humanity – which is itself among the grossest blasphemies.
Now here’s a trick my Atheist friends might sometimes miss – worth pointing out – there is a true and genuine dividend for faith, which we outside it’s embrace can easily cheat ourselves out of, if we’re not careful – abiding gratitude. It’s not about who has the biggest pile of stuff (never was) it’s about most basic opportunity – degrees of freedom and potential. It’s also about having a reason to get out of bed in the morning with a smile – at least some of the time.
Suspension of critical thought? Not in the slightest, I assure you.
System-universe is bigger than you, you came from it and will return. There is nothing you will ever be able to do, without it’s help – and indeed, no possibility that you will in any way alter it – only understand it better over time, and make better use of what it grants you. (Wu-wei really applies, here).
And yes – it actually is empirically beneficent. Whether you’re a traditional big-bang devotee or a multi-dimensional string-theory fan (kind of have to love the idea that at it’s most basic level – everything is actually music, right?), there is one important recognition that no theory of early cosmology has yet escaped.
Were the initial expansion of the universe completely smooth and even in all directions, with no lumpiness, irregularities or variation – we wouldn’t even have the separation of matter and energy which we enjoy very much (without really ever thinking to thank-it, since it was just a bit before our time).
You can try existence as a light-beam if you want, but as for me – I like cookies.
(Still more powerfully compelling empirical reasons for gratitude, now that I think about it.)