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letters | a notion of God for atheists?

Call it humanism, without claptrap of organized religion

RE “EARNEST atheists look for God” (Op-ed, Sept. 16): I take issue with James Carroll’s suggestion that atheists “see religious expression in public life as presumptuous.” I do not see it as presumptuous at all. I will defend to the death anyone’s and everyone’s right to believe whatever they choose to believe, but I draw the line when those beliefs are used to make and enforce public policy.

What Ronald Dworkin, whose book Carroll cites, describes as religion — “a deep, distinct, and comprehensive worldview [that] holds that inherent, objective value permeates everything [and] that human life has purpose and the universe order” — I call humanism, with none of the attendant claptrap of organized religion.

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My fellow atheists and I can be good without a god, motivated by the respect due all of nature and its inhabitants, and not by the fear of punishment or the promise of reward in the afterlife.

Jeffrey Beauchamp


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