The Responsibilities of an Atheist

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

Brainerd Dispatch/Letters
December 28, 2008

Patrick Carey, M.D.
Brainerd, Minnesota

I am an atheist, and I am responsible for many things.

As an atheist, I am responsible for promoting the pursuit of truth. I am neither bound by ideology nor held hostage by dogmata, but rather speak in the simple manner of a child. “Why?” A favorite phrase of 3-year-olds is the underlying question of Atheism. When the answer is, “Because I (or God, or Allah) said so . . .” the discussion ends.

Often forgotten are the elementary rules of logic:

1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

2. That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

As an atheist physician, I am responsible for your life. Once again, anyone who comes to me and is injured or ill owes a debt of gratitude to those before us who were not afraid to ask, “Why?” Your ability to survive a heart attack or a fall from your treestand are all much greater today due to the scientific methods of Medicine.

As an atheist American, I am responsible for protecting the Constitution. The United States of America was formed as a secular union. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. Our founding fathers could not have been more clear.

As an atheist father, I am responsible to love. My ability to do so is augmented by the fact that I am not encumbered with the guilt and shame inherent in the doctrine of religion. The practice of disowning one’s offspring seems to be a primarily religious exercise. How sad and patently ridiculous.

I will continue to urge my children to ask “Why?” What will you do?

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