Posts tagged ‘freethinking’
I’m not really a people person. Like a lot of atheists (supposedly), I’m quite an outsider, as much of a hermit as I can get away with, in fact. I have never liked going out in crowds or socializing with large numbers of people. But I help run my local atheist group and am coordinator of the Morgantown Coalition of Reason.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have realized something that I want to share with you. Even though I’m a curmudgeonly hermit-y atheist, I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people. And I look forward to it. The one or 2 Sundays where we don’t meet I miss it.
Even people like me benefit from social community and contact. The beauty of the atheist/freethinker community is that we are relatively like-minded. We have a foundation of common ground. But we are also quite different, of course, which is good because that makes things interesting. The added bonus of freethinkers, skeptics and atheists is that we seem relatively level-headed (overall – there are exceptions, of course) and we argue and discuss matters with interest and fairness. No drama llama is invited! So it’s actually fun and mentally stimulating.
I think we all need some type of community, which is one thing that religion has in its favor that being a lone atheist or nonbeliever does not.
But this is easily remedied. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get involved with a secular group of like-minded people. If none exist in your area, you can start one up…
While most atheists are faced with answering how they can be moral without a god, I have a list of 10 reasons that the irreligious are morally superior to religious fundamentalists.
In my experience, the bible goes on, especially in the old testament, about how to treat people who are different than you. It’s full of hate and cruelty, with some arbitrary rules thrown in. Only a few of those rules are sensible. The rest are about control. From the little I know of the quran, it’s even worse.
I’m not going to pick the bible (or the quran) apart. It’s not worth my time and aggravation. If you believe that the bible is the divinely inspired word of god, you’re only going to skim this article, find a few points to attack me while you brew up a cup of moral and righteous indignation, and then try to shove your fundamentalism down my throat because you’re scared of people who think for themselves and don’t have blind faith in fairy tales from the Fertile Crescent like you do. You don’t listen anyway, you just find ammunition then viciously attack. What great role models you are. How very christ-like.
On the other hand, if you are truly interested in breaking free of the iron fist of god ruling your life and keeping you in ignorant fear, you can go to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and look around for yourself.
The atheists who read this probably have already read that awful book, because as a general rule, we need to be more educated on religious matters than those militant religious folks that try to tell us how we should believe.
So, onto the 10 reasons atheists are morally superior, in no particular order, and my personal opinion about each one:…
One of the things I noticed not long after becoming an atheist was how much christianity and religion is soaked into the fabric of society.
Here are a few glaring examples:
- Taking Sundays off
- Blue States where they won’t sell alcohol on Sundays
- Saying “bless you” when someone sneezes
- Christmas, Easter, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, All Saints Day, etc., etc….
- Common expressions like oh my god, jesus!, jesus christ, damnit, damn, holy anything, etc., etc…
As an atheist, I wonder, is it necessary to remove and de-christianize ourselves as much as possible? My husband sneezed this morning and I said “bless you.” It’s a habit to say it. I apologized and said, “you’re so good looking” instead. (A Seinfeld episode reference.)
Saying “bless you” is a very old superstition. Is it really necessary to say it when we are trying to rid ourselves of this woo thinking?
For holidays, I find that it’s a time to get together with family. Since I’ve gone godless, I wish people happy holidays, not merry christmas, and so on. Most people don’t even notice. But for me, I find that it’s important to de-christianize my thoughts, actions and words…
I’ve enjoyed reading through the comments on Karen’s recent post “Are de-converts doomed to live in the pit of existentialist despair?” I do appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this topic.
Discovering the meaning of life was my biggest, baddest bugaboo upon de-conversion. Life seemed drained of color without God. It was more than just no longer having a sweeping trans-historical drama in which to play a part. It was, for me, that the universe no longer seemed like a home. It was no longer warm and friendly. Instead, it was harsh, alien, bare, and empty. Working through meaning was my biggest challenge.
Here’s how it went for me. Christianity teaches, in essence, that all the sorrows of life are destined to end. All the “existential givens” such as loneliness and isolation, the responsibility to create one’s own life, the thirst for larger meaning and purpose, even death itself — all these problems are solved, for the Christian. C.S. Lewis quite explicitly teaches that all you have ever desired is destined for ultimate satisfaction in heaven. You will not die. You will not be alone. Your responsibility is only to obey. Your meaning is given to you.
Losing God for me was like that moment in all of our lives when we realize, really realize, that our parents are not really larger than life…
Oftentimes, those of us who have left religion behind are asked to define what keeps us going, what motivates us, what rescues us from the pit of existentialist despair now that we no longer believe in god. Some of us do not seem to have much of a positive belief system, others have adopted skepticism or humanism, others excavate their own philosophies of life.
A new member of an ex-fundy support group I help moderate addressed this topic recently and his answer was so interesting that I asked him if I could re-post it to this group and he graciously consented.
I wanted to share an epiphany I’ve had after many years of wandering a post-fundamentalist wasteland. Maybe it will have meaning for some of you.
My Southern Baptist fundamentalist belief began disintegrating right around the time I went off to college. This was very painful for me (as I’m sure comes as no surprise to most of you). I fought it every step of the way as my faith slowly bled from me — my belief in Christ had formed the core of my self image, and my view of myself collapsed along with the elaborate theological construction that had undergirded it…
I think it is fair to say that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his own death, is the key historical event on which Christianity rests. I know many Christians who if in their heart of hearts came to the conclusion that Jesus had never turned water to wine or made blind men see, would still hold on to their faith as long as they were convinced of the resurrection. I also think that there are few people who truly believe the resurrection happened or that Jesus was the son of god yet do not consider themselves Christian. Conversely, people who don’t believe in the deity and resurrection of Jesus don’t really fall into the category or believer with which I am interested.
So what is the process from damnation to Christian salvation?
Discussions with believers tend to follow a consistent path. If I say that having read the gospels, I am unconvinced that they represent proof or even good evidence of the resurrection, they will argue sometimes very intelligently as to why the proof is good and why I am wrong to disbelieve. If I am honest with them and say that I remain unconvinced they say that I need to open my mind and let the spirit in… let Jesus do the work, he’s knocking at the door just let him in. Or something along those lines…
My former pastor had a favorite anecdote to share on why his flock should not look beyond the teachings of his faith camp in their studies. He relayed that the individuals who are responsible for discovering counterfeit money do not study the different counterfeits in order to learn about counterfeits. They ONLY focused on the real thing so when the counterfeit came along, they would immediately know it was not real. If they also studied counterfeits, they would be too confused as to what is real to be effective in their job. This admonishment was aimed at keeping the flock in subjection to his teachings and to discourage them from listening to those who were critical of the message of faith.
In response to the chaplain’s post Christian Education or Indoctrination?, Karen made this comment:
Education teaches people how to think; indoctrination teaches people what to think. All the religious instruction I went through as a child was distinctly of the latter variety. Even as an adult, I was warned not to educate myself about other religious beliefs. As I was questioning Christianity, I looked into Buddhism and Judaism and bought a couple of books on those topics. My husband objected that I was bringing evil spirits into our household and he did not want them physically “tainting” our home! The only way to learn about other religious beliefs “safely” was to take a course on world religions that a missionary group offered at our church. Of course, you can imagine how “objective” that course was – all other religions were presented as deceptions of Satan! There was absolutely no objective presentation of religious beliefs outside of Christianity…