That everyone should be an atheist
is one of the beliefs ascribed, in fact
fallaciously, to atheism. Backed
by habit we connect a faith with this
assurance of its universal good,
this certainty that every fool should think
as we do. Or it feels safe to link
the truth with self-improvement, and it would
seem generous to share that betterment
with others. Atheism isn’t though
essentially evangelistic. No,
the thought needs nothing as accelerant:
there are no gods. That’s all. The point is brief.
It’s light on what to do with that belief.



Additions that make sense to atheism
as a tenet are non-belief in similar
irreal constructs from beyond the singular,
embodied world: there is no wraith or lissom
soul transcending death; the narratives
and strange cosmologies religions of
the world dispense are myths, their fictions have
accreted into place; and then there are declaratives
of good and sin, the seeing of innate
contours, morality above desire,
harm, approval, care—and all the fire
of competing interests these create—
they too are common human error, phantoms,
the good of truth the lightest of the bantams.



Rebuttals will arise from humanists
at this, of throwing baby with its water
from the bath—truth’s good with Christian thought—a
view I share. That I illumine this
progression using logic indicates
I value truth. But this is me, my flaw,
and not of truth itself, truth’s goodness or
the charm an infant mannequin creates
for truth. My values can’t escape the snail’s
slick of childhood psychology—
delusions of both fixed biology
and those transmitted virus-like on veils
of phrase and glance that countermand the brain.
No, heave the old bathwater in the drain.



Nick Ascroft’s new and selected poems Dandy Bogan (Boatwhistle UK) is out now. He lives in Wellington with his wife, son, cat and midlife crisis.