I daresay that the word ‘humanist’ is one of the most abused words on earth. For one thing, many people label themselves humanists just because it sounds elegant and has become fashionable (like the word cultured). For another, many people tend to use the word as equivalent to other terms, one of which is…‘atheist’! Sounds strange? Not at all. For some reason, some atheists –specially scientists- tend to think of themselves as the coessential humanists that sympathize with –and revolt against- a specific human condition: the condition of intellectual slavery under the myth of religion, or as Richard Dawkins put it, under the ‘God Delusion’. Dawkins himself, an atheist evolution biologist whose religion is Darwinism, is the Vice President of the British Humanist Association, which represents “people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.” Again, atheists lurking behind the term ‘humanists.’
There is absolutely no contradiction between the two terms. They are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Dawkins –and many other atheist intellectuals- think they have a monopoly of the title ‘humanist.’ These are not my words, but rather quotes from Dawkins’s bestseller titled ‘The God Delusion’ that ended in my hands a few days ago. In this very interesting book, Dawkins says: “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of (…), for atheism almost always indicates a healthy independence of the mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.”
Why is disbelief a sign of a good mind? Some may be tempted to think that an atheist is someone who worked his mind, reflected, refused to accept ideas lacking empirical evidence, and ended up rejecting the notion of God. However, one can also be tempted to think that an atheist is someone who took the easy way out, rejected the presence of God and freed himself from the duties and limits set by religion, including the central concept of a ‘last judgment.’ At this point, it would be necessary to stress that I am only toying with the idea and with both sides (and there are more sides) of the argument without necessarily adopting any.
But I would like to share with you more quotes from ‘The God Delusion’ because, even though it is intensely provocative, it remains to be highly entertaining. That will be another message.