Just like any religion, atheism is not a one pony show. There are lots of atheisms.

Some atheists are angry, centering on hating and/or disproving God. Some note that old doctrines and dogma do not make sense in today’s world. Many became disappointed with God and could not continue with their religion. Prominent ex-Muslim Arman Navabi recounted the disastrous outcome of following advice of a narrow-minded Muslim cleric. My own Waterloo was the Nazi holocaust.

Many people look for meaning outside religion. Some are indifferent to God, finding meaning in living their lives as best they can. Others believe that humanity itself will progress and bring about a better future. Some believe that science, if given enough time, will reveal all that is worth knowing.

And then there are the Buddhists, who do not believe in a God. Some Buddhists even say Buddhism is not a religion.

However, with few exceptions, what unites us all, the religious, the atheists, and the indifferent, is the belief that good is better than bad. Goodness exists.

This is an odd unifying concept. After all, what good is goodness? Almost everyone, when pinned against the wall, will admit to favoring goodness. Goodness is the ultimate rule of thumb for living together, doing what is right for others as well as for ourselves.

What about goodness in religion? Recent terrorism and sexual abuse scandals have increased debate about religion as a source of goodness. However, if we look to the great sacred writings, we will find guidance in how to treat others.

Judaism: The Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17
Christianity: The Beatitudes of Jesus Matthew 5: 3-10
Islam: Quran examples such as 17:37, 40:11, 99: 7 & 8
Hinduism: The Bhagavad Gita
Buddhism: the Eight Fold Path

Furthermore, there are two interesting things about goodness.

First, it exists and it seems innate. We often describe this affinity for goodness as conscience. At some level, no matter what are our religious or cultural constraints, and however much we may try to bury it, it feels good to do good. And it feels bad to be bad.

Second, in all the mystical traditions of all the great religions, the seeker must address selfish attachment to one’s desires, in their myriad forms, as the primary barrier to enlightenment. In all traditions, careful observation of thoughts and emotions is vital to letting them go and making room for the Divine. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

For the interested atheist or theist, there are paths of goodness to the direct experience of the Divine, by whatever name you choose: God, Spirit, Being, YHWH, Jesus, Allah, Brahman, or the Original Face, or others.

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