Saturday, September 8, 2012

Argument for Atheist+ and Secular Humanism


Here's another reason why I support Atheism Plus, a new movement within the Atheist movement that focuses on feminism and social justice, and well, humanism. I really like Bill and Melinda Gates. Why? Because they are not only atheists, but they are philanthropic. Again, why? Because they have money, and they use it to better the world. And they have a foundation to do that.
"Our belief that every life has equal value is at the core of our work at the foundation."
This is what sums up their foundation's purpose. And they do it with Optimism, Collaboration, Rigor and Innovation. They have an honest, proactive and infectious drive to their goals.
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.
Now, why would an atheist believe in helping people? Aren't atheists supposed to be amoral, selfish pigs? Well, some may be. Some who adhere to the principles of Ayn Rand, who said that an individuals
"exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself"
But most atheists I know or follow on blogs are secular humanists, believing that the universe is so amazing, so beautiful, the world so worth saving, that they can't help but try and make it a better place for us, and for future generations. When I lost my faith, and I say lost because I had reasoned and carefully thought through both sides of the argument until I realized I couldn't force myself to believe anymore, a beauty and love for life burst forth in my mind. Suddenly the desire to live a full and rich life shot up like a rocket, knowing that I have one life to life. One life to experience, to love, and to learn about.

This is the beauty of not believing that this life is a test and our real life will finally begin once we die. No, our life here is beautiful. Our life is what me make it, through our choices. We can choose to ride through, hating this supposedly sinful world, thinking we are horrible creatures that won't be happy till eternal bliss, and that this life is not the one we want and is not real. To me, and to many people I have heard expressing this same passion of living the life you have to the fullest, is the most beautiful thing in being human. With us, the universe is worth exploring.  Humanity is worth saving. I believe society and community is what makes us successful. I mean, we made it to the moon out of curiosity of exploring our universe! We have a kick-ass Mars rover called Curiosity that is exploring the red planet as speak.  How cool is that? Imagine what more we could do!

There is a theory called social evolution theory published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology argues that group cooperation has been biologically ingrained through natural selection to make us successful as a species. Altruism helps us survive, rather than living in a dog-eat-dog world of annihilation by individual competition. Our species developed altruism, and consciousness, and compassion for one another. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also gives an argument for biological altruism, listing altruism in other species as evidence for group survival.
So back to Bill and Melinda Gates. This is why I love them. They are philanthropic atheists, who act to lessen suffering to populations and survival of the human species across the world. And they have progress reports, success stories, and statistics to back up their progress. For example:
"In northern Ghana, for example, farmers harvested three tons of maize per hectare with ISFM compared to only half a ton per hectare without ISFM. In addition, soybeans grown in rotation with maize in these farms yielded three times more with than those without ISFM. And in the Kilombero region of Tanzania, farmers witnessed bumper rice harvests ranging from three to six metric tons per hectare using ISFM and irrigation. With two good crops per year, they are now producing 10 to 12 tons of rice per hectare, significantly improving food security and incomes."
Another thing the Gates Foundation is working on is in bettering women's lives by providing access to birth control in developing countries.  They created this video to explain in simple terms how a woman's right to plan her family increases not only a woman's happiness, but the economy of an entire society.
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You do the math.

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