Most Mormons I know, including myself when I was TBM (True Believing Mormon), do not understand what atheism is.
They have the misconception that atheists believe that they know there is no God. And agnostics are fence sitters, not knowing either way.
As a Mormon I held a superstitious fear-based belief about atheism, but not agnosticism.
Mormons have interesting perceptions about atheists. They see Atheists as being deceived by Satan, and have an objective to fight against God as anti-Christs.
They also ridicule rational thinking and objective evidence and elevate emotional thinking as the ultimate means of discovering truth, or feeling the Spirit of God.
Bizarrely, as a Mormon, I believed that atheists or anti-Christs were actually unhappy because of their disbelief. I believed they probably thought of themselves as happy, but actually they were miserable without a belief in Jesus Christ. And even worse, I believed that Satan had deceived them into this feeling of contentment so that they didn’t feel motivated to seek Christ in their lives. Mormons believe Satan wants all people to be miserable like unto himself, so they may think they are happy, but really it is just Satan’s deception and only temporary pleasure, rather than real joy.
It wasn’t until I left the Bubble of Mormon belief, in which fear is propagated by the General Authorities as a means of control, that I realised my fears were not just unfounded, but completely in error and the reality of Atheism is the opposite of what I believed as a Mormon.
Mormons see atheism as anti-theism. Anti-Christ even. Which in Mormonism is the worst kind of stance to hold, because it puts the atheist in complete opposition to God.
But in reality that’s like saying ‘Baldness is a Hair Style’.
Atheism is just a Lack of Belief or concept of God/gods. An absence of belief in God.
Let’s face it, everyone, including the religious, are atheistic towards at least one other god, usually all other gods apart from their own.
Most Mormons believe agnosticism is different from atheism. Yet actually they are referring to different things.
Most atheists are also agnostics. The terms are not mutually exclusive.
Gnostic/Agnostic refers to degree of certainty of knowledge regarding any subject.
I’m currently agnostic about lots of different things including god.
Theism/Atheism refers to belief in God/gods.
As an agnostic atheist I hold no belief or concept of God/gods. I just don’t know! And don’t feel the need to know.
And there is an ever growing number of non-believers, or rationalists as they sometimes prefer to be called. On the census questions non-believers are classed as ‘Nones’, and it is the fastest growing ‘religious’ category in the Western World.
The longer I experience life outside of religion in general, and Mormonism is particular, I realise that many atheists are very happy people, despite an absence of belief in some all-powerful deity or Heavenly Father watching over them.
I have made friends with some wonderfully caring atheists who are extremely compassionate about their fellow humans yet they have no extra agenda of being kind in order to please a God or to become righteous enough to go to heaven (Celestial Kingdom). They love and care for their families and communities.
You may find this a shock if you are an atheist, but I did not expect to find that people without religion, particularly Mormonism, could be as happy as I was in the Mormon Church. I was led to believe through the teachings of the Church from a very young age that “wickedness never was happiness”, and a person could only be truly happy by living all of God’s teachings, which are only found in Mormonism.
These are ordinary people who have never ever believed in a God or known any religion, and from the deepest feelings of their hearts they desire to ease the suffering of others, improve the living conditions of the poor and needy, and help make the world a better place for all the earth’s inhabitants. They don’t do it because they believe God asked them to, or because they were assigned to by a priesthood leader. They do these wonderful acts of service because they naturally have love in their hearts. They are innately good people. And they are happy. In fact some of the nicest, happiest people I know are atheists.
Their atheism does not motivate them to do good works. It just come naturally from within.
They have strong morals which are not dependent on any religious belief system, but rather out of a realisation that we all need to work and live together collaboratively for the good of both the individual & society, as well as the natural environment.
This seems to be the way human societies evolved anciently at the dawn of civilisation. With primitive humans working together for the greater good of the tribe etc. Evolutionary anthropologists and sociologists recognise that early human beings developed cultures and societies to protect themselves from the dangers of the raw natural world. These cultures gave an added dimension to an individual. Giving a weak solitary human the strength of the group. The culture bound the group together with a group identity. Helping to overcome the potential conflicts of interests which could develop between individuals whenever large groups of people live in close proximity.
Evidence shows that morals developed as a way for large groups of people to live harmoniously together.
It is believed by some that when religion developed as a means of trying to provide answers to questions about death and other unexplainable phenomenon, before scientific explanations were available, that those moral frameworks also got absorbed into those religious traditions.
Unfortunately, it seems corrupt men used those religions to control vulnerable people. And this still goes on today. Many religious leaders try to exert their influence by persuading their adherents that without religion there would be no morals in the world. Although this may be true in some specific individual cases, when applied to societies in general it doesn’t seem to hold sway, as evidenced by most of European Societies today where secular law is strong and the most irreligious societies actually have the least crime.
The more I experience life outside of Mormonism and spend time with other atheists and secular humanists I appreciate how much the best in human thriving is compromised and crippled by superstitious fear based religions.
The main problem I see with religion is that it subverts the innate moral codes of normal healthy individuals to serve the needs of the Church, which incudes promoting and protecting the religion.
This is done by inculcating subconscious phobias, biases & prejudices into the minds of it’s followers in order to create fear, guilt and shame.
The religion often becomes the most important thing in a person’s life, which has the potential to hijack the natural humanistic compassion I’ve been talking about.
Sam Harris in his book ‘End of Faith’ talks about these things.
It seems to make sense that morals came before religion as fairly organised societies existed before religion was established, and we know these societies flourished otherwise we wouldn’t be alive.
I regard myself as a Secular Humanist because it seems to be a model of promoting human rights that I agree with.
As a secular humanist I’m really keen to promote the best in human thriving.
I really don’t think religion does that.
Anything which compromises our innate capacities to live together in altruistic, tolerant, accepting and non-discriminating societies should be ditched in favour of promoting and fostering the best in human potential.
“We are not humans living on the Earth like some incongruous alien species.
“We are part of the Earth.
“Created by the Earth.
The Earth is our Mother.”
We are connected to the Earth. We should live with the Earth and all her other creations in harmony.
This short video about atheism is very inspiring.
I wrote my own surprising realisations about life as a Born Again atheist in another blog post:
LINKS TO INTERESTING SITES ABOUT HUMANISM AND LIVING SUSTAINABLY WITH OUR PLANET: