Atheist Advent 2023 – ep.4

The Fox and the Grapes – from William Caxton’s edition of Aesop’s Fables

Christmas came and went, so let’s conclude our Atheist Advent 2023. Today we will talk about values and about the misguided argument that you can’t have strong values if you are an Atheist.

Humans tend to capture their core values in writing, and religious books are an example of this, which leads some to the conclusion I mentioned above; the thing is: religious texts are just one of many ways humans record their thoughts.

Both in the West and in the East, organised religions have assimilated philosophies and traditions that preceded them.

Two examples are the way that Greek philosopy served as the foundation for Christian Theology, and the Chinese theory of the Three Teachings, which considers Confucianist and Taoist philosophies, together with the Buddhist religion, as a harmonious aggregate.

My mother is a retired Classical Literature teacher, so growing up I got to hear many Greek tales before sleep, such as the Aesop fables, and, despite what Christian Epistles claim about pagan texts, they all have a very strong moral message.

Later on, as an adult, I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations which became one of my favourite books. It contains moral and philosophical thoughts that you can act upon to better yourself. This is not a text written by some self-professed self-help guru who is trying to sell you a course. Its main purpose was recording Marcus’ thoughts; that’s what makes it so powerful in my opinion.

But, it’s not perfect and it’s not the best book for everyone. That’s my main criticism of organised religion: the fact that it tries to impose shared values in a fragmented world, which inevitably leads to dogmatic thinking (especially monotheist religions are guilty of that) and half-hearted beliefs.

Your own guide values, are only going to be strong if they are rooted in your own life. Not in some book that someone else wrote. There are specific parts of my life that gave me wisdom, those will always resonate with me in a way no book ever will.

I just want to conclude this Atheist Advent with one more thought: I might disagree with your book, but I don’t hate anyone, never ever. I genuinely love to hear other people’s perspectives about life. I hope you can say the same about yourself!

Atheist Advent 2023 – ep.3

Monument to Giordano Bruno in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Rome.

At some point 70.000 years ago, the first humans arrived to Oceania.

There were no maps, no previous knowledge of these lands, they literally had to sail towards the unknown. They could have easily died during that journey. But they didn’t, and they discovered a new land.

As humans, we all have this natural curiosity, we want to explore the unknown. Ulysses wanted to go beyond. So did all the pioneers who went to previously unexplored lands. Or the scientists who look into the far universe. Or migrants like me, who one day decided they needed to restart their life somewhere else.

And what is the common trait that all these people? They threw away the playbook. They weren’t satisfied with common wisdom, because they were looking for something different.

Throwing away the playbook is a very important element of human evolution. If we only ever relied on what we already know, we would still be living in caves.

But most religions, on the other hand, give us a sacred text to follow. That’s the playbook. Following a religion, for this reason, often causes people to think in a dogmatic way.

We can say no to this. We can throw away the playbook, just like Giordano Bruno, with one important difference: many of us no longer have to fear that we will get burned alive for doing that. Giordano Bruno didn’t have that privilege.

Atheist Advent 2023 – ep.2

A Sumerian accounting tablet

Today, I would like to talk about the fact that the things that are really important in life, like the people you love for example, are completely free and not transactional. Think about those that you love the most: you don’t love them because you have some vested interest, or expecting something in return. You just love them unconditionally.

Atheism works in exactly the same way: you want to become a better person and do some good in the world, not because of something you will obtain in the afterlife, some type of Paradise or some sort of Nirvana. You are not a toddler or a domesticated animal, you don’t need someone giving you treats to learn something or reach an objective. You just want to better yourself for the simple fact that being a better human is ontologically superior to not being one.

See you in the next post!

Atheist Advent 2023 – ep.1

The Greek word αθεοι from Ephesians 2:12

I was raised as a catholic.

Growing up and until my early twenties, I was very active, as a volunteer, in an association of Catholic scouts and guides.

During high school, I became familiar with the topic of inter-religious dialogue so I started studying texts from other religions; I read the entirety of the Quran, the Tao Te Ching and the Dhammapada.

In my late twenties, I participated to Bible study sessions and camps organised by a Catholic prelature.

So, take it from someone who knows what they’re talking about: the best way to live life to the fullest, as an independent, strong and committed adult, is to be an Atheist.

I was feeling Christmasy earlier today, so I decided to start a new series of blog posts that I will call “Atheist Advent 2023”.

In each post, I will try to share with you a thought, something that hopefully will stimulate your curiosity.

See you in the next post!