As those who you have read my blog for very long know, I am a religious naturalist and religious humanist. I don't particularly care for the label "atheist." It is both too confining and too controversial for me to be comfortable wearing it. There is a sense in which I am an atheist, but I prefer if we are going to address the God question to be categorized (if that is even necessary) as a non-theist. That is, I do not positively believe in a personal God. I don't feel a need to go out of my way to deny that a personal God exists, but I do feel that it is not the best explanation for the human religious impulse.
Now mention God or religion and some humanists and atheists will get red faced and the veins in their necks and foreheads will pop out at you. About this I can only smile. Maybe it is because I come from a theistic, fundamentalist, very religious background. In a sense I still consider myself a religious or spiritually-minded person. I love science and I love logic. But I also love altruism and think human life is worthless without a heaping helping of it.
Most theists, I suppose, have this image of God as the perfect person. "That than which nothing greater can be conceived," as Anselm put it. This God is who we would be if we were perfect. I know the God of many - and, yes, here I am speaking of the religious fundamentalists of the world - is an image of God and justice that is inferior to anything a true humanist and humanitarian could abide by. But these fundamentalists lack that heaping helping of altruism of which I wrote.
Then, too, many of them are actually better than their religions and admit they don't understand why or how God could do or say some of the things their Scriptures say he did and said, but they must take them on faith, awaiting the day when God will further enlighten them about his ways. Fear of that God is usually a big factor in this line of thinking. And I think my parents fit into that category. They were better and more altruistic than their God by a long shot.
While I don't believe in perfection or a personal God, I do find such a concept handy. And inasmuch as so many, especially here in our own country, already have this type of God belief in place, I see no reason that I can't pull up a chair and join the conversation. When I speak of God I can imagine him or her as a symbol of the highest aspirations of compassionate humanism. And I do.
And if you think about it that way, you see how hollow and inferior the popular conservative worldview being expounded today in our nation really is, even as these folk repeatedly and loudly invoke God in defending their ideology.
For the reasons I explained above, I will stand back and say: God commands that we care about the poor and downtrodden, that those of us who are able should do our part to help those less able. I will pronounce their religion and their God false and harmful. It is they and not those of us who have liberal minds and hearts who are the true heretics.