Well, the end of the year is upon us. It would probably not surprise anyone that 2008 can be surmised as positively ghastly. We are still stuck in Iraq. We are currently in the throes of an economic meltdown. People are experiencing layoffs while many of those left working get the additional burdens shifted on to them. The country seems to be a wreck. In addition, 2008 has been a horrible year for mixing politics with religion. The Friendly Atheist talks about that and includes a video from The Secular Coalition for America. One depressing moment mentioned was when the political candidates were led into airing their religious laundry for their campaigns. There was the religious movement to deny gay people their rights in California. We have Rick Warren selected to give the inaugural address. The Friendly Atheist also mentions the fact that 3 of the Republican candidates raised their hands against evolution. The fight to ignore reality continues on the Christian right.
What surfaced in 2008 were powerful bigoted attitudes against people who simply do not believe in a god. This was evidenced in the Dole campaign (fortunately Dole lost, a hopeful sign), Huckabee’s call to change the Constitution to “God’s standard” (see video referenced above), and the Washington sign ridiculousness.
What about 2009? It is up to us humanists and atheists to continue our quest to show people that there is a better way. To resolve to become more involved and to speak out. Even if you are a Christian, help us to keep our government secular. After all, you do not want the government imposing upon you different religious interpretations (or even a different religion) than your particular denomination teaches. Many atheists would also love for you to recognize that we atheists are moral beings just as yourself. Morality does not need to be considered as only springing from God but can be based upon rational discussion and analysis. Therein we may find common ground. But God based moral decisions that can not be justified from non-religious based rational discourse should not be imposed upon others. That would be enough in itself.
But, again addressing any Christian readers, I would also invite you to, if you feel up to the challenge, examine your beliefs in 2009. Why do you believe the way you do? Many of us atheists, myself included, charge that religious thinking dangerously undermines critical thinking. That indeed is one reason why I am opposed to religious ideas. If you think this is wrong, I challenge you to honestly apply critical thinking to your beliefs and see how they hold up. If the beliefs are true, it should be no problem, right?
Oh yes, and the economy will likely continue to suck through 2009. I’m not expecting any miracles, but then, I wouldn’t, would I? Yet I do remain hopeful that we will see incremental progress for the better.