Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.
I’m an atheist in that I don’t believe in God. The closest I can do is say I’m a deist. Some entity dropped a 900 bazillion ton marble of matter that blew up and made the stars and the planets. Then he went away to play with his other marbles. Or for that matter the Battlestar Galactica theory is right and we are 150K years down the line.
The other side of the coin is that, having grown up in the United States, I know that atheists are a small minority. There are the militant atheists that want total rejection of any religion anywhere in the public square. These are the ones who fight nativity scenes and similar items. But I, and probably the majority of atheists, just want to be left alone. I don’t mind the Roy B Costner’sof the world. (I used to be bothered by them much to my chagrin.) I’ve finally realized there is appropriate tilting at windmills.
The problem is the groups on the Right automatically assume atheism means hedonism. The reality is that most atheists are driven by rational thought, and at least a nominal moral code. They don’t support randomly killing people, spying on them for no reason, or slavery of any type. Some don’t support abortion, gay marriage, or out of wedlock sex. It isn’t because some ancient text says it’s wrong, they have there own reasons.
Then there are those of us that do support pro-choice and gay marriage.
Why am I pro-choice? Because I don’t think that killing even a large bunch of cells is murder. I do say that abortion should be limited to the first six months. If you can’t figure out whether you want to be a mother by six months the option is no longer in your hands because the fetus is nominally viable to live without you.
Why am I pro gay marriage? Because that is is a civil description as well as a religious description of a couple. The civil side affects taxes, inheritance, parenting, support of the partner in hospitals and other settings. There never be a demand for any church to recognize a civil marriage. And an individual church or sect can or cannot recognize a gay marriage as they see fit. If an individual state refuses to acknowledge it — that’s fine, but at the Federal level it is not equality.
Politically, I want a balanced budget and a small, limited, constitutional government. I’d also would like to be a part of the TEA Parties. But then you have someone on the religious right that insists there be a plank on gays or abortion. That is where the problem occurs. It’s not your business. It also isn’t an issue for the Federal government because it is not anywhere in it. (22)