Why does society look down on atheists

atheism : A Nude Monkey Ethic

You can tell that Michael Schmidt-Salomon is serious: his voice is loud and determined, his eyes sparkle aggressively and he hammers his sentences into the air word for word as if they were intended for stone tablets and not for the ears of his listeners .

“That arrogance!” He says, “This arrogance of a naked monkey on a small planet on the edge of a galaxy in a huge universe. To believe that it was all made for us! ”“ This arrogance, ”he says again, and the shaking of his head, you take that away from him immediately.

Schmidt-Salomon is the board spokesman of the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which is critical of religion, and so far criticism of religion has also been the concern with which he has attracted the most attention. “New atheism” is the catchphrase and for a while it was on everyone's lips, adorned the covers of major magazines and newspapers, and busy talk shows. The “new” thing about the new atheism was the decisiveness with which he opposed religious attitudes, the renunciation of respect for religious convictions. "Humans must always be respected as human beings," thinks Schmidt-Salomon, but many human beliefs deserve no respect: "Religion can be nonsense, but it can also be called nonsense." With this attitude, anger was programmed.

At the end of 2007 there was a calculated scandal when Schmidt-Salomon's religion-critical children's book “Where, please, is it going to God? asked the little piglet “was published. Thousands of copies of the book went over the counter and finally became a media event when the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs applied for the book to be put on the list of media harmful to minors. The request was denied.

Nevertheless, Schmidt-Salomon declares the “New Atheism” to be “as good as dead”. At a joint meeting of the Giordano Bruno Foundation and the Humanist Academy Berlin in Berlin, he explained the swan song: The “new atheism” was merely the “harbinger of a fundamental process of change, the tip of an ideological iceberg critical of religion”. He and his colleagues are concerned with much more: a new ethic, a “new humanism”.

Schmidt-Salomon understands this to be something like a secular alternative to religion, a worldview without prophets and priests, a value system based on natural science. The whole thing should be more than gray theory. "If the new humanism is to be a real alternative to religion, it must not remain mere theory, it must become practical," said the doctorate teacher, speaking of day care centers and a new humanistic education. He also sees opportunities to apply the new humanism in business and in the penal system. For the time being, however, these remain vague ideas.

Around a third of Germans are non-denominational, said Schmidt-Salomon, and it was time they took on social responsibility: "We have to give ourselves our ethical values, in conversation with one another, that cannot be dictated from above." He did not shy away from following controversial results from brain research and considering the possibility that humans do not have free will. Schmidt-Salomon does not see in this the danger of a society in which nobody is responsible any longer. On the contrary: “A crime remains a crime whether someone has committed it of his own free will or not. But it can also be liberating for us to know that the other person did not act like this out of malice, ”he said, citing findings from trauma research. There it was shown that people who can understand why a perpetrator committed his act, could better deal with the consequences of a crime.

Schmidt-Salomon sees the opportunity for an “internally more tolerant attitude”. His new book, which he is currently writing, has the working title: “Farewell to good and bad. About the new lightness of being. "

Whether these ideas will be heard in our pluralistic society will also depend on whether the “secular scene” (Schmidt-Salomon) unites. At the moment it is split up into countless associations and foundations. The next few months will tell if they can unite into a single loud voice.

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