Western secular atheism
When people identify themselves, or others as atheists, it usually refers to the nineteenth and twentieth century intellectual and philosophical atheism first enunciated by secular humanists in Europe and then in America.
Modern secular atheists strongly reject not only the idea of God, but of religion and all it represents. They also discard the concepts of spirit, afterlife, or anything not verifiable by rational or physical evidence and experimentation.
This form of atheism emerged in Europe in the late 18th century in response to the convergence of a number of cultural, intellectual, political, and social conditions which had come into place in the preceding centuries. Atheists took the Renaissance ideals as the central tenet of a natural and life-affirming humanitarian belief system and reacted strongly against the increasing violence and brutality being committed in the name of God and religion.
Atheists continually inform our shared humanity with an intense moral dimension, a value for all people, and the insistent preservation of the natural world.
The moral worth of a person is based not on whether that person adheres to any particular religious tradition, but simply because they are human. We are each equally valued because we are human beings. There is a fundamental ethical imperative for the same basic rights to be granted to every person.
The magnificent importance of the natural world is to be embraced and celebrated. We are each an integral part of the whole of life and have an inalienable responsibility to all of nature.
We are each accountable for forming a moral set of beliefs that values everyone solely because they also are human. We must each recognize our intrinsic connection to each other, our inheritance from and relationship to all living things, and our duty to care for and preserve the earth as our mother and our home. To be fully human we must acknowledge the intimate relationship with the long line of living creatures which form our genetic lineage.
Rational thought can be trusted as an impartial and unbiased arbiter of truth. Empirical evidence and scientific experimentation are consistent and authoritative means for ascertaining the truth in the many different areas of life. A defining aspect of the atheist world view is the careful and objective observation of life, to see what realities observation reveals.
Western secular atheists place immense moral value on living honestly and truthfully, rejecting beliefs he or she sees as mere wishful thinking or self deception. One must live bravely, doing the right thing, taking full responsibility for one’s life and choices. Our realities are self-created, for good or for ill.
Although secular atheists disbelieve in any form of divine beings or dimension, yet they hold dear, and passionately defend, many of the values, goals, and purposes often attributed to God: dedication to truth, valuing reason and logic, investment in the real. Though they disavow any dimension of spirit, yet they are deeply and profoundly committed to the defining values and focus that comprise spirituality: seeking truth, realizing reality, and defining the qualities of humanity. As such, they are and have always been, an integral part of the ongoing conversation of what it means to be human.