When I was atheist/agnostic I grew tired of people telling me “I can’t believe you don’t believe in anything. You’d have a much more fulfilling life if you did.” Atheists and agnostics believe in a lot of things. They have a tendency not to believe in supernaturalism- that hardly rules out “anything.”
They can believe society can function without religion. They can believe that death is a finality which makes life all the more wonderful. They can believe the sky is one of the most beautiful things in existence. They can believe our interactions with other people make life worth living. They can believe the color indigo is just a funny way of saying blue. They can believe wint-o-green blows the pants off peppermint.
Atheists have just as much belief invested in things as anyone else, they just don’t have a belief that has been indoctrinated into philosophy.
Am I an atheist? Technically, yes, but I’m fortunate to have found a system of core beliefs that align with what I find moral. I say “fortunate” not because absence of that is a bad thing, but because I got pretty sick of getting dirty looks when I said I was an atheist. At least when I say “humanist” people don’t know why they hate me yet.
Humanism is an unyielding faith in the human race that borders on arrogance, but, hell, we deserve it. I think our massive accomplishments have been dulled by the perceived drollness of it all. Shit, we started in caves. Just think about that. Now we have chunks of steel that carry us through the air, we have walked on the moon. Intelligence is the most amazing, incredible, extraordinary thing in the universe. We’ve done things we never would have conceived of doing at our conception. It is because we have come so far that I have ceased to believe we have limitations. I believe in the human race.
I was attracted to humanism because I found kindred philosophy, and I have been surprised to discover its very existence has modified my values.
“I hate people.” One of my common sayings, especially in my earlier days. Most of my jobs have been customer service jobs. I have dealt with some of the rudest, meanest, most awful people decent society has to offer (I say “decent society” as I have been spared serial killers, child molesters, and rapists). There have been so many times where I have been overcome with the urge to knock some bastard’s teeth out and say goodbye to this whole stinkin’ race.
Humanism keeps me from falling into despair. I know that beyond these petty differences and instances of rude behavior we have the capability to come together and build an empire. On the whole we’re all the same. Does it sound hopelessly idealistic? That honestly isn’t like me. I’m sure if I were the one reading this I would be rolling my eyes. I am no optimist, I assure you. When I think of how I feel and what keeps me from being pushed over edge these are simply the words that come out. I apologize for their flowery nature. I know too many people are too plain awful and stupid and cloud the sunny picture I paint for humankind (you know), but I try to remember that deep down they are people just like us and they want what is best for mankind as a whole- even if they have a skewed perception sometimes, as I’m sure I do from time to time.
So I love humanism because it makes me happier with the way of the world. Perhaps you find that hypocritical, as one of my complaints with religion is that people depend on it too much. The difference here is that humanism is only a philosophy, an ideal. I expect nothing from it, and it expects nothing from me. There is no fact or discovery that will disprove my belief in the capability of humankind. I have no reason to defend it or feel threatened if someone argues with it. I can continue to be humanist as long as I have a functioning mind, so I promise you, there’s plenty I believe in.