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Austin Cline

Freethought Poster: It's OK Not to Believe

By October 16, 2006

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It's OK Not to Believe
Poster Design by Xiangtao
Used with permission

Perhaps one of the most fundamental and important messages which atheists need to communicate is that it's really OK not to believe in any gods. So many religious theists act like belief in some god and adherence to some religious belief system are the most important, fundamental, and necessary things that a person has to do in their lives. Irreligious atheists, however, can demonstrate through example that neither gods nor religions are necessary in any way.

We don't needs gods or religions to be moral, to be happy, to have purpose and meaning in our lives, to live well, to contribute to society, to be free, or anything else that makes life worthwhile and interesting. People's gods and religions may be important to them, but they aren't important to everyone and believers shouldn't expect them to be important to anyone else they encounter in their lives.

It really is OK not to believe. Not believing in any gods doesn't make a person less moral, less trustworthy, less interesting, less valuable, or less likely to do well in life. Only the prejudices, bigotry, and self-righteousness of religious believers creates problems for irreligious atheists, and this does far more to demonstrate the problems with religious theism than it does to reveal any drawbacks to irreligious atheism.

 

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Comments
October 17, 2006 at 1:54 pm
(1) Blogimi Dei says:

I have a good idea. A poster with graphics showing the orbit transit path and tilt of the earth. Then “The real reason for the seasons” stated clearly…

October 23, 2006 at 2:54 pm
(2) Patrick Keller says:

Dare to Doubt

Dare to Question

these could be on t-shirts or posters

October 23, 2006 at 4:33 pm
(3) Matt from Oklahoma City says:

Another caption might read, “Wonder and awe don’t require superstition,” or something to that effect.

Even more succinctly put is the classic “Support science, not superstition.”

October 24, 2006 at 9:46 am
(4) Darlene says:

I love the poster. It should be displayed in every elementary school in the US! I wish I had positive images like that to soothe my aching doubts at a young age. Instead at age 9, when I stopped beleiving, I was riddled with guilt that took me until I was in my 40′s to resolve!

October 24, 2006 at 2:40 pm
(5) John Hanks says:

I don’t like indoctrination, even if it expouses that it is OK not to believe.

How about a more open approach: “What don’t you believe in?”

October 26, 2006 at 6:32 pm
(6) xiangtao says:

I don’t see it as indoctrination at all, in fact quite the opposite. The intent of it is to show that it is acceptable to go against your indoctrination, whatever that may be.

November 22, 2006 at 3:15 pm
(7) Ghoststrider says:

For those that want to combine the school and church, you could have a poster with the slogan:

“Start teachin`, stop preachin`!”

December 5, 2006 at 2:48 pm
(8) Nadine says:

for those who want it hung in the schools, as long as you teach religion also. arent you people free thinkers, so shouldnt you give others to choose and think freely for themselves?

December 5, 2006 at 3:06 pm
(9) Austin Cline says:

for those who want it hung in the schools, as long as you teach religion also.

Why is it necessarily to “teach religion” in order to tell people there’s nothing wrong with not being a theist? What do you mean by “teach religion”?

arent you people free thinkers, so shouldnt you give others to choose and think freely for themselves?

How are people being denied the ability to choose and to think freely for themselves by being told that it’s OK not to be a theist?

December 30, 2006 at 9:54 pm
(10) Mikel says:

Sweet! When can we purchase this poster?

July 23, 2007 at 9:04 am
(11) ido says:

when you do not teach religion and to every child say, its okay to be atheÔst, thats wrong, because the children dont have a free choice, because you deny them to have a look in the opinions of religieus people. That’s why you give them religion, to give them a choice.

Evolution is not solution, because every time it stucks with the question “and where did that came from?” Like the big bang, where did that came from? It’s to easy letting other people do the job of thinking, because those people dont have an answer too.

Why is this guy saying he doesnt need God for a purpose in life?

July 23, 2007 at 9:17 am
(12) Austin Cline says:

when you do not teach religion and to every child say, its okay to be atheÔst, thats wrong, because the children dont have a free choice, because you deny them to have a look in the opinions of religieus people. That’s why you give them religion, to give them a choice.

How does it deny any child a choice if you tell them that it is OK to be an atheist? How does this deny them the ability to examine religious claims? How does indoctrinating children into a religion give them a “choice”?

Why is this guy saying he doesnt need God for a purpose in life?

Because he doesn’t. Neither do I. Neither do you. Gods are irrelevant to the question.

December 4, 2012 at 4:19 am
(13) David Joy says:

Excuse me. Teaching a child to that it’s okay not to believe is NOT steeping them in atheism, it’s telling them that it’s just as good as believing. This helps them to not feel like there is something wrong with themselves, their parents, or anyone else they are aware of who happens to not believe. What’s not okay is brainwashing children in any kind of belief system–not to be confused with values–theist or non-, which is actually a kind of abusive manipulation of the innocent. Teaching children to hate or fear or try to change atheists is just as misguided and evil as teaching them to hate or fear or try to change religious people. Books on the toxic effects of religion don’t belong in kindergarten, and neither do children’s bible stories.

August 3, 2007 at 3:39 pm
(14) Suicism says:

“Evolution is not solution, because every time it stucks with the question ďand where did that came from?Ē Like the big bang, where did that came from? Itís to easy letting other people do the job of thinking, because those people dont have an answer too.”

Your alternative, of course, is to abdicate every degree of progress in scientific understanding in favor of deluding yourself into believing you HAVE all the answers already; that, of course, is where religion comes in…

August 3, 2007 at 8:34 pm
(15) Idiom says:

Because he doesnít. Neither do I. Neither do you. Gods are irrelevant to the question.

Now now Austin, while WE may not need gods, some people, this person in particular need them so he wont be out there raping, thieving and murdering.

Who or what else is going to think for those who cannot think for themselves?

Who or what else is going to control those who cannot control themselves?

All meant in fun Austin =)

August 3, 2007 at 8:36 pm
(16) Idiom says:

It seems my first attempt at italic html went very wrong, sorry.

August 4, 2007 at 2:36 am
(17) Absinthe says:

Evolution is not solution

Not a solution to what? What does this have to do with the topic at hand? I really hope you aren’t equating atheism or its promotion with the promotion of the theory of evolution.

February 26, 2008 at 5:55 am
(18) Don Spartan says:

Why do you lump gnostics,agnostics, and athiests in the same category?

Their beliefs are not similar enough. Athiests are the only ones who “don’t believe”. Gnosticism shifts the focus from theological base to spiritual base, but doesn’t believe or not believe in a God.

Agnostics do not say a God doesn’t exist, but that the existence, or nonexistence of one can’t be proven.

Again atheism is the only one of the three schools of thought that says there is no God.. and cannot be one.

And furthermore, if you teach children that it’s ok not to believe, it’s the same as teaching them what they must believe. That’s not teaching them to question.. that’s not even teaching them to be true heretics. Atheism does not question both sides.. it only tries to rationalize disbelief.

Note that heresy isn’t wrong to me.. because if the popular belief turns out wrong, then it was right not to buy in.
Heretics are those who don’t believe what they’re told because they’re told it. They seek and learn the truth.. and THAT’S what children aught to be taught to do.

The reason I am somewhere within gnosticism myself is that gnostics and agnostics recognize that the truth is not known, and the idea is to try to connect with the whole truth.. rather than relying on books, and heresay as theistic religions do, and rather than simply saying “Well God isn’t real. he can’t exist”. Because that’s another something that is yet to be confirmed and we don’t have the wisdom, the logical magnitude, nor the knowledge to validate as necessarily correct.

If you’re going to teach children something about belief and faith and God.. teach them to seek the truth.. for their own beliefs.. not to chose between pre-existing partisan sides of an argument neither side is able to very rightness about.

As a people, that’s really the ONLY way any human will ever learn what really is fact. We have to stop being partisan, and raising our families as partisan, and standing against each other, standing as against the majority as partisan believers.

That will never get anyone closer to the truth than believing or not believing has.

February 26, 2008 at 6:25 am
(19) Austin Cline says:

Why do you lump gnostics,agnostics, and athiests in the same category?

I don’t.

Again atheism is the only one of the three schools of thought that says there is no God.. and cannot be one.

You misunderstand or simply misrepesresent what atheism is.

Gnosticism shifts the focus from theological base to spiritual base, but doesnít believe or not believe in a God.

You misunderstand or simply misrepresent gnosticism as well. The gnostic position is one that claims to know for sure that a god does or does not exists.

And furthermore, if you teach children that itís ok not to believe, itís the same as teaching them what they must believe.

No, it’s not – especially not in a society where belief is the assumed standard.

Thatís not teaching them to question..

You can’t teach children to question if you tell them that only one answer (belief) is acceptable.

Atheism does not question both sides.. it only tries to rationalize disbelief.

No, atheism is simply disbelief in gods.

I recommend that you try to learn about atheism before presume to lecture atheists about it.

March 26, 2008 at 10:01 pm
(20) xiangtao says:

Hadn’t checked in on this one in a while. Austin, thanks for sticking up for the poster in my absence. Its good to know I left it in good hands. For those who argue that these sentiments are just another type of indoctrination, you completely missed the intent of them. Since I myself came to the conclusion that there was no reason to believe in a god, and talked with other people about the reasons they do believe, it has become pretty clear that many people only believe because society tells them that they have to. Once they see that it is ok to question, they see how ridiculous those beliefs actually are. I simply wanted something that could express to them that it really is acceptable to not believe in fairy tales.

April 3, 2008 at 10:45 am
(21) Justin Belew says:

To be moral, one must live by the law. Only God’s law never changes. You can’t be moral and live by your own law or the laws of man because they always change. For example: If you were a “moral” citizen of the United States in the mid 1800s, then you upheld slavery and believed women shouldn’t vote. If you lived in parts of Thailand, then it is “moral” to sew your daughters genitals together so that she can’t have sex. To be moral, you must live under the law. Whose law are you under?

April 3, 2008 at 11:16 am
(22) Austin Cline says:

To be moral, one must live by the law.

Why?

Only God’s law never changes.

OK, should slavery be legal or not?

You can’t be moral and live by your own law or the laws of man because they always change. For example: If you were a “moral” citizen of the United States in the mid 1800s, then you upheld slavery and believed women shouldn’t vote.

So, all those Christians were wrong about God’s law?

April 8, 2008 at 1:24 pm
(23) Todd says:

The setup – You canít be moral and live by your own law or the laws of man because they always change. For example: If you were a ďmoralĒ citizen of the United States in the mid 1800s, then you upheld slavery and believed women shouldnít vote.

The knock down – So, all those Christians were wrong about Godís law?

Golf clap for Austin! Well done!

April 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm
(24) George says:

‘Only Godís law never changes.’

It sure changed a lot after the “flood.” All those living before that drowning event, men, women, children, babies, fetuses, animals and plants, were wiped out simply for being alive. After that ‘God’ changed his mind, or so the myth goes.

January 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm
(25) Manoah Dangremond says:

There stands on the poster that not believing is okay..
And that you’ve got the freedom to not believ.

Than you’ve got also the freedom to don’t believ,

but that’s not that simple,,
because you need not only freedom but also strainght and power.

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