Tuesday, November 16, 2010



Atheism’s Key Principles

The following four key Principles inform our policies and decisions.

God does not exist

  • Concepts of gods are myths created by humans.
  • There are not two separate realms (the natural and the supernatural), but one (the natural).

Humans have fabricated religion

  • Religious texts are flawed and as fallible as the humans who wrote them. They must be criticized, challenged and, where appropriate, satirized or denounced.
  • Religious organizations and communities must not receive privileges and immunities, such as tax benefits and protection from criticism or satire, which are denied to the non-religious population.
  • Religious beliefs do not exist in isolation but are propagated from one person to another.

Morality develops independently of religion

  • There is no divine moral authority.
  • Although atheism is not in itself a source of morality, it frees morality from corruption by religion.
  • The religious inculcation and indoctrination of children corrupts their morality. Children are not born with any religious beliefs or affiliations; these are imposed.

Religion inhibits rational thought

  • Religion is based upon irrationality, superstition and unsubstantiated beliefs.
  • Religion encourages and perpetuates prejudice, ignorance and intolerance.
  • Religion inhibits critical thinking, discourages scientific enquiry and restricts human progress.


Our position on faith is as follows:
Firstly, the term ‘faith’ needs some clarification as it is an everyday word that has several meanings depending on the context in which it is used. The following two main dictionary definitions are given as examples of common usage and understanding:
1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something: this restores one’s faith in politicians.
2. Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
The New Oxford Dictionary of English.
Atheism is solely concerned with religious faith as described in definition 2 above.
Faith is belief without evidence. Particularly in a religious context, it can be belief despite evidence to the contrary. An example of this is faith that God created all life on Earth no more than 6,ooo years ago (Creationism), despite the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution and natural selection.
Evidence can be scientifically investigated, supported or refuted. Faith through religious indoctrination or ‘spiritual apprehension’ does not, by its very nature, provide any credible evidence to investigate.
Religious apologists often use faith as evidence for their theistic claims (sometimes referred to as the ‘argument from faith’). This is meaningless. Faith, by its very nature, provides no evidence whatever and exists solely in the mind of the believer.
Atheism’s ultimate goal is the end of religious faith – the false and irrational belief that God exists – and of religion, the social manifestation of faith.

Where we fit in

A few people have asked, “Why is such an organization necessary?” or “What are you going to do that other organizations like the National Secular Society (NSS) or British Humanist Society (BHA) aren’t already doing?”  It is a fair question, and the main answer to this is that none of the groups mentioned actually promote atheism. They do not, as a matter of course, challenge religions directly, question the validity of the concept of faith, or criticize pronouncements made by the religious institutions. At Atheism, we will be challenging religious claims and the propagation of religious faith.
At the last NSS Annual General Meeting (November 2009), its President, Terry Sanderson, stated that it was not their job to promote atheism and at present there is not an organization that is doing so. He went on to explain that the current non-theistic movement is made up of three “arms”, and we at Atheism have modeled this into a simple Venn diagram as a graphical aid to differentiate where we fit in as an organization (please note this diagram is schematic and not to scale).
Each of the circles represent the following movements:
Secularism is the political movement to separate church and state, and to challenge and remove religious privilege.
Non-Theistic “Lifestances” are more positive “alternatives” to faith and religion, such as humanism, PEARLism, scientism and the like. They promote ethical systems, ways of thinking and ways of life.
Active atheism is the challenging of faith – the belief, in the absence of evidence, that God exists – as a bad thing per se. From this follows the challenging of religion, its doctrines, pronouncements and teachings. Until now there has been no distinctively atheist organization in the UK, which is why this organization has been formed.
At Atheism, we do, by definition, support and promote secularism, and we have common ground with non-theistic “lifestances” – hence the overlap. We will work with their promoting organizations where appropriate. However, we will be doing things that they do not (or will not) do and vice versa.
So join Atheism, the nation’s only democratic, membership led, grassroots campaigning organization advancing atheism.

Documents: Religious Education in State Schools |

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