I am sometimes told that the Atheist Foundation of Australia website is negative and just attacks religion without offering any alternatives. I disagree

Where our writers have exposed religion for what it is, by showing how they all work, may be interpreted as negative, but in fact are just statements of reality.

The AFA does not, and never will, resile from pointing out the harm of religion. Many people do not know how deep religious influence is within our society.

However, the question put to me is generally along the lines of; can atheism offer anything uplifting in place of religion! I say yes it can.

Atheism can demonstrate to people how the world actually is through the understanding of science and reasoned thinking. Unlike religion, we are not here to inform people what to think, but how to think.

No, you do not need to be a mathematician, physicist, biologist, or anything else for that matter. All that is required in an inquisitive and open mind mixed with a pinch of daring.

Try to learn about everything. Read all sorts of literature.

A simply wonderful factor about being an atheist is that every piece of knowledge is up for grabs. Nothing is censored. Religions prohibit the reading and viewing of some books and films whilst continually interfering with what is perceived as free thought – more often than not without even viewing or reading the said “offensive” material. Censoring knowledge is an anathema to atheism.

Importantly, find out why humans are the way we are. Do not just accept that we will always be religious, or racist or anything else. There are historical reasons for these behaviours that were necessary to our evolutionary development. Many of these characteristics do not need to be held onto today.

As much as possible understand other cultures and what has led them to believe and live the way they do. Do not forget to understand your own culture though and do not assume it to be always totally correct. Look for the positives but be not afraid to confront the negatives.

Atheism encourages freedom of thought without the feeling of shame or guilt. It encourages humans to live life to the full, knowing it is the only one available. It encourages respect for our planet and all that inhabits it, asserting that we are Earth’s caretakers and therefore we are obliged to tread lightly.

Fortunately, atheists do not need to talk to walls requesting favours. We talk to and answer ourselves if necessary! We do not waste our lives in pompous buildings mumbling and singing the same old stuff week after week, because of the fear that if we did not, smiting would be assured. We would rather go to a rock concert or an opera, a gallery or museum and enjoy the wondrous abilities of our fellow humans.

Living as an atheist is an all-encompassing experience. It is not just the disbelief in anything perceived as supernatural. Ones whole outlook and the way life is lived is accomplished with a freedom that can never be achieved when shackled to the imaginary constraints and wishes of a servant – master relationship.

To become an atheist is akin to when a child finally accepts that Santa is just pretend. The child lets go of a cherished belief and replaces it with a greater maturity in facing life as life is. If we failed to discard the Santa fantasy, our mental development would assuredly be impaired and a full and proper understanding of the wonder of the natural Universe and our place in it, lost forever.

Religion is our grown-up Santa. Think about it.

By Lee Holmes