My atheism

For some reason upon learning I’m a non‐believer people routinely ask me why that is. I guess I’ll have to lay out some history as well…

The short story

Once, as a child, I too believed. While there’s no separation of Church and State here in Finland, and most people are baptised into the Lutheran chuch in their infancy, I wasn’t just a cultural Christian. I didn’t believe out of duty, but out of personal conviction. Not just out of duty to my parents—who have thankfully never pressed the issue—or the surrounding people, but on my own. I used to pray as well, and not just out of custom. I prayed out of true belief, sometimes to get my will, sometimes simply because it felt right. Or good. Praying does feel really good when you Believe. Today, I’m an irredeemable atheist. What happened?

Nothing spectacular, really. I grew up. I read. Over the years I just started to think of God as just another thing to be thought of, dissected, subjected to critique, and required to live up to the same standards of evidence as everything else.

Of course, religion doesn’t even pretend to comply. Hence, I dismissed God as a childhood fancy. He went the way Santa, the Toothfairy, and my own concoctions of having ESP did. There was no bitterness, tragedy or upheaval, here. Just the calm adult understanding that there’s a difference between exciting daydreams and the thing we call reality.

The point

Now, in Finland we have a secular society. The vast majority of people profess the Lutheran faith, but don’t make a fuss about it. Few of them actually devote much time to the idea, preferring rather to go about their business in the silent understanding that a moral life is more important than outright worship. Lutheran Christianity is to be lauded in that respect. In a typical Finnish town, an atheist will hardly be noticed unless he presses the issue. I never did.

The trouble is, I’ve seriously thought about moving stateside in the midterm future. That’s thanks to ideological reasons—elsewhere on this site you’ll learn I’m also an active, sworn libertarian, with a certain sympathy towards the US. This is an issue because, as I understand it, stateside atheism is considered tantamount to an offense against society. I deem this extremely tragic, and wish to do my part in bringing this particular idiocy under control. These pages are my attempt at clarifying what atheism is all about, why it’s not about immorality, why atheists can be useful, friendly, upstanding citizens, friends and family members, and why, contrary to common belief, atheism is a valid, affectionate, humane worldview.

The pages are also about atheist outreach and evangelism—I consider atheism solid, reasoned and beneficial to an individual, both in the common sense and the moral one. To an atheist it’s something as worthy to be proclaimed out loud as Christianity is to a Christian. Web is my chosen medium, and a one which doesn’t force anybody to read the message. Hence, I consider an online medium the best way for me to elucidate my views.


Lest someone think I’m against religion, I think that religion has a lot to give to the secular lifestyle. Even the atheistic one, if I may be so bold. I don’t attribute any preternatural significance to religious belief, of course, but I do think religions are an extant, powerful, proven‐to‐be‐useful thing. As a rule utilitarian, I cannot disrespect the vast positive influence religion has had on the development of rule bound morality. Most religions incorporate both theoretical and practical elements which do make living more satisfactory.

But there is a clear dividing line, here. Those reasonable people who’re affected by a literary religious perception dress this line up as a matter of scriptural interpretation. Those with a conviction which mostly does not rely on scripture, like Wiccans, tend to make it a decision of conscience or, perhaps, intuition. Atheists typically try to construct their morality from utilitarian or scientifically founded axiomatic premises.

Whatever the starting point, it’s clear that certain rules ought to be obeyed, regardless of one’s belief system and its more arcane teachings. Some obviously ought not to, again regardless of what one holds dear. Killing, hurting other people, stealing, breaking one’s word, those all seem to be universally prohibited, while mutually beneficial conduct appears more or less compatible with the vast majority of existing religions. Partisan interpretations try to nullify the fact, but are generally less than successful in their endeavors.

As a classical liberal, I think the central challenge to an atheist is to separate the social from the individual. The task is to strand the incoherency, group‐mindedness, sheer emotional appeal and irrationality, and go with the true, evolutionarily proven, societally useful and individually meaningful code of conduct. In that, religion can prove a valuable servant. At the same time one always has to remember it is a fearful master.

I say, let reason rule and religion simply take its proper role as a useful point of departure on the way to a full, humanistic understanding of interpersonal bonds.