I’m a pragmatist. I have the ability to step back and evaluate situations without being overly emotionally attached to it. I’m not a misanthrope in that I hate humanity, certainly that’s not the case, but I’m also not directly and actively attached to humanity either.
I don’t really care about people. I mean, I do, in a rational manner, but I don’t get directly emotionally involved in the life of every human on the planet. People die. I accept that people die. As such, I’m not destroyed emotionally whenever someone falls over dead. It happens. Welcome to reality.
I can step back so far that I can entirely disregard the human species entirely. It’s a fact that humanity is entirely irrelevant to the universe itself. We just don’t matter. If we went extinct tomorrow, assuming there is other intelligent life somewhere in the universe, we’d never be missed. Almost without a doubt, nobody would ever know we had ever existed. I really find it bizarre how many people act like the universe revolves around the human species.
This seems to be relatively foreign to most atheists I run into. Most of them seem to have a vested interest, not only humanity in general, but every single individual and I don’t really get that. Sure, I have attachments to many individual people who are directly known to me. I also have an interest in the overall welfare of the species, after all, I need them to go on living. But if Bangladesh gets hit by a meteor, it’s no direct skin off my ass. Will I feel sympathetic toward their plight? Absolutely. I might even try to help them, given a good measure of enlightened self-interest, but I do not take any of those deaths personally.
To be honest, I can compare this to some of the rabid animal lovers I see. Everything bugs them. If they see a cat run over on the side of the road, it ruins their whole day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the general philosophical ideas surrounding humanism are bad, just the extent that so many people seem to go to. There needs to be a balance, a middle ground, between putting mankind on a pedestal and ignoring mankind entirely. We need to understand that man is an animal. We’re not special, except to ourselves. Animals die. We die. We need to have a healthy emotional detachment and acceptance of that fact. A school bus full of strangers that goes off a bridge in China, while that’s a horrible thing to have happen, don’t expect me to lose any sleep over it, any more than I’d expect the Chinese to freak out if the same thing happened in Colorado.
Atheism does not imply humanism. Atheism doesn’t imply anything. I just wish that more people, be they atheist or religious, would be more rational and intellectual in their beliefs. I wish they’d be less overtly emotional. I wish they’d think about what they believe before they act on it. I wish they’d take more logical baby steps than irrational giant leaps.
And that goes for atheists too.