The Mankato Freepress featured an article on September 3rd about the importance of Atheism to Atheists. In it, August Berkshire defines Atheism as a “a lack of belief in God, rather than a belief that God doesn’t exist,” and explains that the decision to identify yourself as an Atheist is not an instant thing for most people.
Mankato attorney Jim Manahan came to the conclusion one day that, "All religions, rather than being equally true, are equally untrue." Another point made by him is the reasoning that, “It makes no more sense to think that humans survive their own death than to believe that dogs, cows, germs, or leaves do so." He is open an honest about his Atheism, doesn't bring it up unless asked, but finds a relief in being able to tell his friends and family.
Berkshire equates coming out as an Atheist to someone coming out gay. When he told his family, "They felt as though they had done something wrong in raising me, until they realized I was still the same person.”
So what about good and evil? How to atheists decide what is moral and ethical? Berkshire looks at consequences. It's as simple as meaning well, doing good for others is good for yourself, and good for society as a whole. Manahan believes people's rights should be respected, and that there are many good people who believe in God, even if he thinks they are mistaken. It's this ability to be comfortable with your own way of thinking, and the ability to respectfully disagree where necessary which opens up helpful dialog about theology. Darrell Jodock, a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, believes the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more accepting you are of the differences of others.
Overall, this is a very positive article about Atheism. Given it's length, it dispels a few key myths. The decision to label yourself as Atheist isn't made hastily, and for many who have a strong religious upbringing, the process can take years to attempt to resolve your own doubts, becoming an amateur apologist for your own faith, to calm your own questioning, until you ultimately decide that Atheism makes the most sense to you.