How to be a good atheist

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I write for people into spiritual practices and those not into spiritual practices. But I have never written anything for atheists before. I respect them as co-inhabitants of the same planet and that they are entitled to their views as much as I am. As a monk, I encounter them all the time, and I don’t hate them – I just wish they were a bit more sensible and had some good reasoning behind their beliefs. Unfortunately I find most have chosen their path out of just sentiment. I wish their criteria was logic. So here are some of my thoughts on how they can make their belief stronger.

As the year 2016 sets in, we all are preparing for a successful and happy year full of achievements. I wish you well in your endeavours. I am too, and one of my resolutions this year is to write more about the realities of life; in a more direct way.

Atheism is becoming very prominent as the natural consequence of wars based on religious motives. However, I would like to emphasize that what actually causes war is envy, greed, and lust. Religion is just a stick that people use to hit each other – much like people fighting over women, money and fame. The reasons behind them are the same.

So to be a good atheist, you need to be strong in 4 areas:

  1. Logic from a neutral perspective
  2. Enough personal evidence to prove your point
  3. Have a solution for a better future and a peaceful & progressive community
  4. Have an exemplary lifestyle yourself

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Logic from a neutral perspective: I have seen atheists argue with religious people where one is quoting from their scripture and another from Darwin’s theories – and the entire discussion is just a waste of everyone’s time as neither accepts the others reference as authority. A common basis for discussion is logic, as everyone has some. Scriptures cannot be quoted to those who don’t accept them, and ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ and ‘Creation of life theory’ are theories too. There is no proof to either. That’s why they’re called theories. They’re both beliefs for a certain subscriber of thought. So equip yourself with some neutral logical arguments that don’t need Darwins or Hawkings. That will make your argument strong, my atheist friend.

Enough personal evidence to prove your point: It is not good enough to accept something someone else has proved. That’s called blind faith. That leaves no difference between the atheist and the person following some books. Some people say “But what the scientists have done can be replicated by anyone, anywhere!”. That’s true; but have you tried it yourself? It is one thing saying it can be proven and it is another thing proving it yourself.

A ground up process is that where you have validated something based on personal experience. Otherwise it’s just hollow philosophy.

Have a solution for a better future and a peaceful & progressive community: Hopes of going somewhere better after death doesn’t mean anything, but neither does setting up the United Nations and still have wars all year round. Science has achieved a rock from the moon after spending billions that could have been used wisely elsewhere, and just speaking about hopes from the scriptures is also impractical. They are similar blunders. The question is – do you have a solution? If you do, then your argument is pretty strong by now.

Have an exemplary lifestyle yourself: Most people, doesn’t matter which side of the field they’re on always brag about how ‘their beliefs will change the world’. But how much have you personally done to move this forward? How well are you following what you claim to be the solution? Is your character exemplary? Never mind helping others – that’s stage two. One needs to be a example for others to look up to first. Is that your lifestyle? Lead an exemplary lifestyle with moral values better than religious men, and that seals the deal. You stand victorious.

What are your thoughts? Are you an atheist, or do you follow a religion? Have you ever encountered someone from the opposite faith?

Radha Govinda has been living as a monk at Bhaktivedanta Manor for over 8 years now, and is a musician, motivational speaker and a writer. He likes sharing inspirational stories and wisdom from the ancient East and has a passion to encourage people to take up spritual practices. He holds a Master's degree in Mechatronics and worked in Control Systems engineering for Fluor before deciding to take up spiritual life full time as a monk in 2009. He now travels around the country sharing his experiences with people interested in yoga and spirituality.

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