Ever since the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibited Bible readings in public schools, atheists have won recognition and standing under U.S. law. But a new generation of young atheists wants human understanding, too. “We want you to know we’re your neighbors,” says Paul Fidalgo, “and we’re not scary.”
Christopher Hitchens once wrote that the certainty of atheists that we have just one life means that “Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more,” he said, “but I want nothing more.”
Jesse Galef of the Secular Student Alliance says more young atheists are forming service projects to help stock food banks and rebuild houses in hurricane zones — not to fulfill faith, but follow their hearts.
“We want people to know,” he says, “that you don’t have to believe in God to care about others.”