ReligionSkepticism

The Atheist’s Way

Happy New Year everyone!

My friend, author Eric Maisel, has written a new book for atheists. Going beyond the previous books that argue against the existence of God and debate the value of religion, Eric’s book is meant to provide a way for atheists to make meaning and find purpose in their lives. Perhaps saying his book is about atheist spirituality is a stretch, but I think that’s a good way to describe it. Instead of focusing on the negatives and framing atheism with what we don’t believe, Eric has focused on the positive aspects of living without gods, and frames atheism with things that we can believe in. Here’s a description of The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods by Eric Maisel:

The Atheist’s Way answers the question, “How can a person make meaning in a universe that cares nothing about meaning?” It is at once an atheist lifestyle guide and a handbook on the practice of making and maintaining personal meaning.

In it, we hear from former believers who have made the journey from belief to atheism, survey thousands of years of atheist traditions, reestablish the primary role of personal responsibility in the realms of ethics and meaning, examine the rewards and challenges of atheism, and discover what is required of each of us if we are to live well without gods.

Eric’s new website to promote the book has just gone live. Please take a moment to check it out and learn more. I’ll be writing a review of the book and interviewing Eric next month as part of his blog book tour.

To keep in the spirit of the New Year celebration, Eric has declared 2009 The Year of Making Meaning. I hope that many of you will join him in his endeavor to bring a positive outlook and uplifting discourse to the atheist life.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

Related Articles

31 Comments

  1. I think Atheists usually replace their beliefs, their passions, their beliefs with either “Knowledge,” “Science Fiction” or the religion of being an “Atheist.”
    I mean, there are some that bury themselves in knowledge, and education, some being “sarcastic,” being the master of one-upsmanship for all to see. Trivia, and answers are there new religion for which they can find comfort in and almost healthily so amongst like-minded people. There are those that find comfort in losing themselves in Science Fiction, or alternate realities whether they be World of Warcraft or Second Life etc. Then we have the rather contentious labeling of the religion of “Atheism” as it may be called, and is so often by the Fundies. Being Agnostic myself, not Atheistic but lumped usually into the same category of non-believers you can’t help but sometimes notice the anger, the sport or Fundy baiting that is almost a lifestyle or religion, or call it what you will but it is a big part of their character and lifestyle, that being almost more evolved being “un-religious” if you will.

  2. I consider myself both an agnostic and an atheist. I don’t know that it’s possible to prove whether or not gods exist, so I am agnostic. I don’t see any credible evidence for the existence of gods and I live my life as though they don’t exist, so I am an atheist.

  3. “Agnosticism isn’t an alternative to atheism or theism. “

    You remove yourself from practicing or believing in a certain religion or religious faith you basically have three choices. 1)Choose another 2)Choose Agnosticism 3) Choose Atheism. I myself believe, that to be truly intellectually honest, one should be Agnostic, as there are many signs of “spirituality” abound, every culture in the world has created their own religion just as examples or “evidence” if you will of some type of its existence, whether man-made or not, it serves a purpose to the masses.

    “One is about knowledge and the other belief.”

    So which one is about knowledge exactly, and which one is about belief?

  4. Agnosticism/Gnosticism = About knowledge.
    Atheism/theism = About belief.

    “Properly considered, agnosticism is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to the presence of a belief in a god; agnosticism refers to the impossibility of knowledge with regard to a god or supernatural being.”
    – George H. Smith

    With respect to non anthropomorphic gods I don’t know that they don’t exist but I don’t actively believe in them hence I am both agnostic and atheist. With respect to the anthropomorphic ones (most of the gods people talk about) then I actively think they don’t exist.

    That said I can make up many concepts which I would be agnostic to. This however doesn’t take away from the fact that I made them up.

    Bottom line is if you don’t actively believe a god or gods exist then to me you are an atheist but you can call yourself whatever you want.

  5. @Dental_FlossTycoon

    Saying something is true because allot of people believe it is a logical fallacy.

    If you are intellectually honest and rational you will only believe in something as far as it is supported by the evidence.

  6. Of course all of this depends on a persons definitions. I personally think of myself as an Atheist because I don’t believe in gods. Not as a lifestyle. Atheism does not define who I am just how I see certain things.

    Personally I think there is too much trying to define ourselves by lifestyle, my interests are far too broad to make a choice like that.

  7. @spurge

    “If you are intellectually honest and rational you will only believe in something as far as it is supported by the evidence.”

    And 600,00 religions in the world, a faith with every culture on the planet, however many billions of temples and churches and bastions of prayer all over the world, yet people can flippantly say, “no evidence?”

    Is that evidence “not good enough” that the possibility of something, whatever it is, may exist? Or even better than that, that religion exists because of mankind’s social need to create it? It still exists then if one would agree to that. Religion doesn’t have to be supernatural does it?

  8. The thing is that many people can consider the same evidence and come to different conclusions. This is true in religion, politics, and many other areas.

    But just because billions of people believe in something does not mean it is true or that there is compelling evidence. Many people believe in religions simply because they were raised to. I would go so far as to say that most religious people have not examined the evidence but just go along with the family & society in which they were born.

  9. @skinman: Yeah, I get what you are saying. Some people have this “existential angst” and others don’t. I am one that does have this, which is probably what attracted me to religion in the first place. I think the people who don’t have this angst are the lucky ones. Mr. Writerdd is much more carefree and in some ways happier than I am, because he doesn’t worry about these things. He is free to live life and enjoy it without always looking for some purpose to what he’s doing. Sometimes I wish I could do that.

    However, those of us who are concerned about meaning and purpose don’t have to turn to religion to find what we’re looking for. There are ways to live a meaningful life without belief in gods or the supernatural or even without belief that the universe has any intrinsic meaning.

  10. @marilove: Not all religion is about gods. Some form of buddhism, for example, do not require belief in a deity. Also, there are many atheist and humanist Jews who practice their religion for different reasons but who do not believe in the existence of God.

  11. I am not really sure what religion has to do with atheism and agnosticism anyway.

    I am not agnostic about the existence of religion.

    This all seems a bit off topic and I have already done the atheist Vs agnostic argument before and it gets boring fast.

    First I need to decide if I want to read the book.

    I guess I should start by reading Eric’s web site.

  12. @Dental_FlossTycoon: And 600,00 religions in the world, a faith with every culture on the planet, however many billions of temples and churches and bastions of prayer all over the world, yet people can flippantly say, “no evidence?”

    ————–

    I’m not sure what your point is. What are the churches, prayers, etc. supposed to be evidence of?

  13. @Skinman

    I agree. I don’t wake up everyday and think “What gives life meaning?” I just get up and live my life.

    @Spurge who said “This all seems a bit off topic and I have already done the atheist Vs agnostic argument before and it gets boring fast.”

    Yes it does. Usually boils down to semantics.

  14. Sethmanapio: I guess it goes back to that old Easy Rider scene where they’re in a Brothel in New Orleans and reading the wall and it says, “If God didn’t exist, would it be necessary for man to invent him?”

    With all of those religious “monuments” that mankind worships and pays homage to, religion exists all around. Supernatural believing or not, mankind has literally created religion all around us. Evidence of “religion” yes, whether it’s the right one, real or whatever…. well that’s up for interpretation.

    “Spirituality” is another thing that seems to take hold of people, whether you think as I do that it’s blind-ignorance/ blind-faith or whatever you may call it, it’s a powerful thing to some folks. It seems to shapes their entire outlook on life, hell, probably shaped many cultures and continents too.

    So to say, “where is the evidence?” In my opinion that’s good enough for me at least to say “something” is out there, whether it be artificial or supernatural or in our DNA that could be construed as religious.

  15. @setmanpio – “I’m not sure what your point is. What are the churches, prayers, etc. supposed to be evidence of?”

    He doesn’t have a point. Dental is talking in circles and trying to get everyone else to follow him.

  16. I seems to me that the word ‘belief’ contains so many connotations and permutations its hard to use the word when defining what philosophical or religious position you don’t have.

    How about we call god and/or religion a theory. Given the total lack of evidence to support the theory it can be reasonably discarded as invalid and implausible. I don’t feel a need for any discussion beyond that.

  17. @Dental_FlossTycoon: So to say, “where is the evidence?” In my opinion that’s good enough for me at least to say “something” is out there, whether it be artificial or supernatural or in our DNA that could be construed as religious.

    ———————–

    Okayyyyyy…. so, you know people who deny that there is evidence for the existence of religion?

  18. @phlebas:
    so are there a lot of atheists struggling to find “meaning”?

    —————-

    I don’t know about struggling, exactly. But I know that I’ve spent time pondering the meaning of life… and obviously, other people must have, or the HGTTG wouldn’t be nearly as funny.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close