A question was offered to me today from a Morman friend that I am working with. He asked what atheist groups do for society. This was a question that I am unsure of and thought that I would ask this group...any ideas???...not just on what Atheist groups do, but what could we do???
I don't think Atheist groups should do a thing for society - just as non-Republicans shouldn't be all getting together to do things for society. Now if you happen to be a Humanist, then you might have a foundation for social action. I happen to hold some core humanist values that have lead me to do a lot of volunteer work but I wouldn't suggest for a second that I did that volunteer work because I'm NOT a member of a religious organization.
For the most part I'm inclined to believe that atheists don't do things for the community as atheists; atheists do things for the community as individual conscientious human beings.
I don't attach my stance on religion to any charities, activism or community building that I support. If I am asked or it becomes relevant, I am honest, but it isn't "Kris the atheist" doing these deeds; it's "Kris the not totally spoiled and self-centred person" trying to give back to the world a little.
Sorry if that doesn't answer the question very well.
It's a silly question isn't it? Kind of like asking what do people who don't like broccoli do for the community?
Ah, the atheist soup kitchen...
I believe that In general, Atheists don't discriminate as much and therefore feel the need to create an exclusive group to do good things.
If you would like some things to tell your Morman friend, I donate 12+ hours per week to working with kids(as much as I can while juggling a 40 hour per week job and partial ownership in 2 companies). Also, 20% of my capital gains(I don't pay much in taxes on those anyway) get donated to the MDA and Make A Wish.
He asked what atheist groups do for society.
They allow atheists to group themselves together and associate with eachother, similar to how churches allow christians to associate. More to the point, what does it matter what atheists do for the community? If you're a super nice person, does it change the validity of your point of view? no.
what could we do???
The same as any other group. If you see a problem, take steps towards fixing it and providing assistance to the victims.
Right now I'm training as a Community Emergency Response Team member with my county. Our job is to mitigate the loss of property and life when disaster strikes, and to asses the situation before first responders arrive. I'll be trained in basic medical care and so on.
Well,I pay my taxes every year (unlike the church.) I donate to several secular organizations. I'm a member of the 'Freedom from Religion Foundation' and the 'American Humanist Assoc.', and I converse with interesting, like minded people such as yourselves here on TA on topics that affect the secular members of our society in general, all who strive (I trust) to maintain that wall of separation between church and state that protects our freedoms and helps to keep the illegal activity of most of the self serving religious somewhat at bay. I also watch for and report on infringements locally as well as in society in general and act on alerts to petition local congress for equal treatment for all of society, not just those who think they're special.
But on a personal level I'm not so sure 'Atheist' defines us as a group, an atheist is 'A person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.' Okay, that just means that you’re fully awake. As a positive definition of myself all I have to do is look at the amazing advances in science and technology and the medical “miracles” that we as a race have achieved, and would like to count myself in as a member of the most advanced race of beings in the Universe (well, so far as we know anyways,) being part of something so important towards future generations to come, I say Go Humans! As a secular-Humanist-Naturalist I feel like a member of those who work for the betterment of society and not that of those who actually look forward to the end of times as prophesized in their bible. We're part of the proverbial right brain of society and that gives some meaning to my life in this world of confusion. So what should we do? Be active, be a part of the betterment of society and support like minds, because, after all, we're all we've got.
The most important thing we do as atheists is question the validity of religion. This in turn prods the religious to hopefully re-examine their belief system and the foundation on which it was built. In short, we prompt others to think.
But like broccoli as atheists we have no specific civic sense of duty.
the conversation continues - "My point of the discussion is that organized religion is one of the best groups which create a “community” which can be very effective in helping others because of there caring and their numbers. The amount of good that religious based organizations do is immeasurable." -
I think it is largely measurable and measured. All charities need to be vetted these days to make sure that funds and resources are not being squandered. It holds especially true for religious charities due to the concern for proselytization through charity and community service.
There is a long-standing tradition of religion being associated with charity, which probably made cultural sense for a long time, but as religion recedes in many cultures I think that it becomes a less and less efficient avenue. I will give to a charity that has a religious affiliation if I feel it is a good cause and the charity appears to be above board, but ultimately, I just don't see the point in mixing the two things. If I want to fight, let's say, cancer, I'll rally support within any community regardless of religious affiliation. I don't want to be divisive.
It's true that church congregations themselves have been good places to rally community support, and I'll freely admit that there aren't many comparable replacements, but I still don't know how efficient these community groups are. How much money raised goes to church pockets and coffers? How much of the energy is focused on promoting church interests? How much direct and meaningful support do individual members receive from the broader congregation when in need? How efficient are the measures taken by various congregations, and do the contributions of churches outweigh the value of their tax breaks?
These days the larger group efforts I see actually come from workplaces in my community. Sure, sometimes it's about PR, but in most cases, work is just the most common community centre for many of us, so in the absence of doing religiously based activities, we channel our energy into our peers in our professional lives. I think that will be the growing trend.
We take the place of the 'Sacred fool'. We ask dumb questions to embarrase! Cause people to think that the weaker argument is the stronger! Assert that the number of gods is different! Wear funny buttons! Take the side of socially marginalized groups! Notice the waste and off-all of sacred cows! And offend authority as needed!
All in the desire to overcome absurdity....