As an atheist, I found the Feb. 8 David Brooks column “ Building better secularists” both condescending and offensive. Based on the writings of one secular person and, perhaps, his own preconceived biases, Brooks presents secularists as a morally adrift, homogenous group who have to generate all the rules for living in a society from scratch. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Being secular says nothing about one’s moral or social sensibilities. It says only that, wherever these sensibilities come from, they don’t come from a belief in a supernatural deity.
Atheists range across the entire political and social spectrum. Just like religious people, we get the foundation of our morals from the ever-evolving culture that surrounds us. As I suspect most religious people do, we get our motivations to be good or not from our genetics and our environment.
As far as ritual and congregational communities go, some love them and some don’t. Those who do can find them in a number of venues (such as Unitarian Universalist congregations). Those who don’t live happily without them.
Like our religious neighbors, we have rich emotional lives. We differ from the religious only by having no gods.