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Does Atheism Need to Be Rebranded?


Over at Fast Company, Alissa Walker looks at the work of Matt Luckhurst, a student in the The School of Visual Arts in New York. Luckhurst is, as she says, trying to "rebrand" atheism.

As Luckhurst says:
Atheism is quite often mistakenly seen as a cold and distant world, rather than the beautiful, important and engaging philosophy that it is. Viewing the world in a rational manner, as we understand it through science, in no way removes the significance of life or the lives humans live, rather it gives us understanding and appreciation.
His site, Illuminated Atheist, is a media outlet and community for the modern, friendly atheist. It features essays and artwork that explore the best aspects of non-belief; a news aggregator with stories about atheism; even a link to buy Daniel Dennett's book Breaking the Spell. It looks like there will be a store soon. And unlike a site like Edge, it all has a playful and inviting visual aesthetic.

But does atheism need to be rebranded? Yes, it probably does. There's the misconception that atheism robs the world of wonder. And while it's hard to argue about what's subjectively "wonderful," plenty of people love discovering the naturalistic explanations science provides. I think the logic of evolution and natural selection is a beautiful thing, and more inspiring, even, than an inflexible religious account that doesn't allow much room for further inquiry.

There's also the idea, espoused by Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, that if there is no God then all is permitted. The basic notion is that you can't have any moral rules if you're an atheist. But why? Of course you can. An atheist can just say, for example, that human happiness is good by definition and one should do what he or she can to maximize it (and to minimize suffering).

But even if faith does provides some special philosophical foundation for morality, what does that matter if that morality doesn't actually constrain the behavior of believers? The Catholic Church is ruining young lives left and right. They're all about God, and everything's still permitted.

People like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have tried to change people's minds about atheism but they do it with so little charity or compassion, it's no wonder they put people off. Luckhurst is on a much better track.
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via Jason S Campbell / Twitter

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