An Atheist’s Creed

From Daylight Atheism:

Before launching into the weightier topics which this blog will cover, I thought it would be helpful to first establish who I am, what I believe and where I am coming from. This, then, is an atheist’s creed – not in the sense of a dogmatically imposed set of standards, but rather a set of general principles, refined from experience and reflection, that guide how I try to live my life. You are welcome to share them if you like.

These truths I hold to be self-evident:

  • We are human beings, intelligent and self-aware, possessing both reason and emotion, with the potential for immense good as well as terrible evil. Which of these two comes to be depends on our choices.
  • Every human being possesses inherent worth, and every human life is equally valuable. Our conscious existence is a thing worthwhile for its own sake, requiring no further justification.
  • By the exercise of our free will, we can select our own purpose and imbue our lives with meaning. Each person has the right and the responsibility to steer their own course through life.
  • Through the use of reason and conscience, we can perceive morality, defined as the principles of behavior which produce the greatest happiness and the least suffering both now and in the future. Morality is not dependent on personal opinion or societal prejudice, but is objective and universal and is accessible to every intelligent being. We should, to the best of our ability, obey these principles and be good to each other.
  • Human beings possess fundamental rights and freedoms upon which no one may infringe. Among these are freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to an education, the right to live in peace and safety, and the right to seek happiness.
  • There is a world that exists independently of us, which is not altered by will alone, but which we can learn about and come to understand and control.
  • Only through reason and the scientific method can we hope to learn how the world works. No other method of gaining knowledge is reliable and all claims to knowledge not gained through this method should be considered suspect.
  • The free human intelligence is a thing of awesome power, and has the right to travel and explore wherever it desires to go. No reason can ever justify the censorship or suppression of ideas.
  • The only ethical form of government is democracy. Every society has both the right and the obligation to revolt against and overthrow any other system.
  • The purpose of government is to establish justice, insure peace, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to all its citizens. Any government that does not speak for all its citizens equally or that ignores the needs of its most needy members deserves to be removed from power at once.
  • Wealth and power can only be a means to an end and never an end in themselves.
  • Throughout history, human beings have created a vast number of religious belief systems, all of which describe a supernatural world beyond our own. There is no good evidence in favor of any of these belief systems and no reason to consider any of them to be true. Supernaturalism and superstition have never done anything more than harm us, turn us against each other and hold us back. The effort and resources we pour into religion should instead be used for the benefit of all our fellow human beings.
  • And finally, I affirm that despite all our flaws and follies, despite all the darkness and madness in our past, and despite the forces of ignorance and hatred that beset us as never before, there is and will always be hope. We human beings have undreamed-of potential which we are only just beginning to touch on, and as long as people of courage and principle are willing to stand and defend what is right, we can create for ourselves and our descendants a future of bright light and clear air, a better world where we have at last achieved the good it was always in our power to bring about.

February 11, 2006, 1:53 pm •

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