In the last few days (or in the next few) someone will have knocked on your door and handed you your copy of the 2011 Census. You need to fill this out on the 10th of April and many of you will have seen the campaigns being run by Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association asking you to think before you answer the question on religion and to answer honestly.
For Atheists and Free Thinkers this is easy to do, simple mark the “No Religion” box, but for many people this will be difficult. There are many people who have a belief in a god or the supernatural and who were raised Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland but aren’t sure how to describe themselves now.
Below is the current text of the Nicene Creed as used by the Catholic church (it’s due to be changed later this year) and I’d like to suggest that people who find themselves unsure if they are Catholic, Christian or just Theist should read it. If they really believe in everything it says then Catholic or Christian is probably the correct option for them. If not then I’d suggest that they consider marking the other religion box and writing Theist or even Deist.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son
he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the
resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
By way of contrast you might like to read this as well.
An Atheist’s Creed
I believe in a purely material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles.
I believe that the life we have is the only one we will have, that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain, that we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die, and that it is therefore incumbent on us to enable each person to live their one life to the fullest.
I believe in the power of science and reason and rationality to further deepen our understanding of everything around us and to eventually overcome superstition and erase the petty divisions sown by religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
I am in awe of the beauty, vastness, and complexity of nature and the universe, and the fact that all arose purely by the working of natural laws.
I believe in the power of ideals such as peace and justice and shared humanity to inspire us to create a free and just world.
I believe in kindness, love, and the human spirit and their ability to overcome challenges and adversity and to create a better world.
I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.
I refuse to bow, prostrate myself, or otherwise cower before the deities of any religion.
I am neither tempted by the fiction of heaven or any other form of eternal life nor fearful of the fiction of hell.
I choose to live the dignified and exhilarating life of a free-thinker, able to go wherever knowledge and curiosity takes me, without fear of contradicting any dogma.