A recent census (Department of Statistics’ General Household Survey 2015, released in March 2015) puts the number of atheists (or rather, people who do not identify with a particular religion) in Singapore at 18.5%. There is a rise, albeit 1%, but we are still a minority in this society (Source: Straits Times article, “Youth in Singapore Shunning Religions“).
Having grown up in a typical pseudo-Buddhist family (like most Chinese families in Singapore), I know it doesn’t matter if I no longer identify with the religion I’m supposed to be born in, because Buddhism, pseudo or not, does not require one to stay in Buddhism, or require believers to convert a non-believer. This principle applies to Taoism and many non-Abrahamic religions.
Being an atheist, however, is disastrous for one following one of the Abrahamic religions.
To them, we need to be saved. To them, we are preventing them from being salvaged.
So the main brunt of criticism arising from me announcing my atheism of course comes from people in these groups. And I believe many people living in a diverse society like that of Singapore will face the same problems everyday, being treated like an evil entity.
Therefore, my purpose of this post is to remind those who are new to being an atheist, that there is nothing wrong in not believing in a particular religion (some go as far as positing that the fault lies in them, but I won’t go that far).
The thing is, atheists work on a few principles, the rational, the logical and the conscience.
I help elderly cross the road or find their way because I think it is right.
I help my colleagues or people around me to succeed because I believe in collaborative success (helping others succeed will result in them helping me to succeed).
Instead of spending my money to buy things to be burnt, I spend them on altruistic purposes, or selfish ones, depending on my priorities at that instant.
I spend resources to develop myself because I know my time in this world is limited and I want to make every second of it worthwhile, either to myself or to someone else.
I take responsibility for every fault I make, and I seek solutions for every barrier that comes my way.
I’d offer ladies more clothing because I don’t want them to catch a cold, not because some book told me to cover them up.
I offered to be my friend’s wedding emcee because I loved her as a friend, without squirming at the thought of institutionalising marriage in a place of worship.
I thank doctors who treated me with their expertise.
Those are some of the everyday, snippets of my life; they make me feel I have control over my life and allow me to adjust different aspects of it according to needs.
I appreciate the effort of every other individual, instead of attributing it to God, luck or some voodoo. In fact, all atheists recognise that there is no need for God to tell us what we do is right or wrong, much less how to treat others with respect.
Humans are alive in my world view.
This is what it means to live a life of an atheist.