Out of the Wilderness

July 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

This is my first entry to this blog so be gentle.

This blog is for freethinkers, humanist, and otherwise godless heathens however they got that way.  I’m trying to move beyond rabid atheism.  Aiming for the higher road is doing that for me.

What’s beyond atheist fundamentalism?  Maybe some acceptance of the other world.  The religious are everywhere–you knew that.  You also knew well the mode of tolerance.  After all, we live it.

I see this shift for me within the frame work of the movement.    We are in something of a civil rights-like movement.  The question is where?  Are we in the militant phase?  Do we need to get the larger community’s attention?  Or can we come off that a bit and expect and receive some respect, at least, enough to continue the dialogue that’s been started?  I think we can.

I’m coming out of a long and lonely winter in the Bible Belt.  Within the decade I listened to a preacher giving the invocation at my daughter’s high school graduation start by shouting at us that there is a god.

My wife stopped me from outing myself in protest with the question, did I want to ruin my daughter’s life?  Being outed would also have ruined my business in the community.  Those are the stakes in the rural midwestern communities.  I’m more interested in the community for us to participate in.

It’s only been a few hundred years since nonbelievers got to meet
each other when one of us was burned at the stake.  It was a short and unsatisfying relationship.  I’m hoping for a little more for us.

Share.  How did you get here?

I was ‘helped.’  Fundamentalist, here, are literalist about scripture and dogma.  They are also in a tough spot.  Their beliefs have to be literally true for them to be believers. Their forerunners were the folks who brought you the ‘science’ that the earth was the center of the universe.  That’s why creationists are still trying to re-write the science books, and with some success if you follow the Texans who are dictating the science textbooks for the nation.

I was blind-sided by that one.  I had a very well written biology text in high school in the 1960’s, meaning evolution, as the primary organizing principle at work in nature, was covered.   But it wasn’t ’til my second daughter, who graduated 5th in a class of 270, had completed advanced biology told me in conversation that she’d never heard that humans were primates.  I did have a little foam form in my mouth over that one.

Still, I think our (yours, mine, and anyone who’s interested) rational discussion is another way to start a dialogue that can enlarge to encompass believers who can learn not to behave badly toward us.

So, again, share.  How did you get where you are today?

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Enlightened is as enlightened does An Atheist Defends Religion

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hydriotaphia  |  August 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hello secular holy man. I found your blog quite by accident, read it and thought I might leave a comment.

    The erosion of civility is one of the foremost reasons for the divisiveness in the US. It is almost impossible to hear a discussion about politics/religion (I don’t think they can be separated any longer) between friends with opposing viewpoints without angry, loud words.

    What should be exposition is now harangue causing neither of the parties to hear and comprehend the other; making negotiation and compromise impossible.

    My story? Well I grew up in a large family with Catholic roots that stretched back to when Christ was a corporal. We were dragged to church on Sundays and every other Catholic holy day, which seemed to be most of the days of the year. One of my early memories is being flabbergasted and angered that New Years day was a holy day which required another mass, another few hours of boredom, another day off from school totally screwed up from the intrusion of church.

    I viewed the Catholic mass as a long, boring, predictable ritual that I did not understand. In my very early days, the mass was spoken in Latin, giving the entire process as much meaning as somebody mumbling at you from a hundred feet away. Imagine a young child not fidgeting while listening to that for over an hour.

    After Vatican II, 1965, the mass was said in the vulgar language of whatever country a church was in, but even understanding the language, the ritual held nothing for me. Even as a young child I wondered about things and what the mass did give me was over an hour of quiet time I could ponder stuff. Ponder stuff like: if god is all powerful why could he not defeat Satan; if god is perfect, why did he need humans to perform rituals and prostrate themselves to him and what was not eating meat on Fridays about (after Vatican II Catholics could eat meat on Fridays; does that mean I could go to hell if I ate meat on a Friday before 1965, but not if I munched a hot dog on a Friday after 1965?)????

    Questions were considered “insulting the church”. I found out questioning was not allowed and the faithful did not have a sense of humor about the church.

    I left the rural area I grew up in as soon as I finished High School, in fact sooner as I arranged to graduate and enter the military two months before my High School class was scheduled to graduate.

    I went to church the first week of basic training mostly to escape the make-work and constant shouting of my instructor. I realized I was an independent adult (at 17) accountable to myself (within the bounds of society) and no longer had to attend mass per my parents wishes.

    Since then I’ve moved from religious apathy to being a strong Atheist. My becoming a strong Atheist is not me following a fad, it came about through many years of reading, studying, thinking and conversations with knowledgeable people.

    That is my story in as few words as possible.

    Thank you for your time.

  • 2. douglasfalknor  |  August 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    You’ve reminded me of something Joseph Campbell said (Hero with a Thousand Faces & The Power of Myth, Bill Moyer’s interviews of Joseph Campbell on mythology).

    He said modern religion (and I’m paraphrasing in the loosest sense) is an inoculation against the divine. I think he meant rituals perfunctorily performed rather than a goal of capturing anything especially spiritual.

    And I think we’ve all been there… if we’ve migrated from somewhere in the faith community. I mean, I’m only an atheist because I was a church-goer. That’s who named us, for God sake.

    I don’t know if we can ever be free of the faith community, since we, most of us? have to say we were inspired to atheism by their religion.

    “They” seem to wonder at why we’ve decided to attack their beliefs–and I’m trying to quit (maybe they’ll invent a patch for that someday). It’s due to a number of things, I think.

    They state their dogma and think it’s truth–and tell us that’s why they believe.
    They use these “sacred truths” to rearrange our schools, governments, even the fabric and zeitgeist of our societies.
    The use the inerrancy of the Bible to rewrite science and now history, in the US at least. And that’s just the short list.

    But on to a higher plane, they ask, and perhaps rightly so because at length we may ask: You’ve stated this negative and that’s who you are, but don’t you have anything positive?

    I think we can if we choose to. How can we without God acheive great things? Every accomplishment of every human being has been achieved without God. Some thought about God or had such an idea that of God that inspried them, but I’m thinking that was in the absence of any real supernatural being.

    If you take a look at humanity from an evolutionary perspective, a few apes who had a little bit more spark than others took a few halting steps that put them on the path leading to us. If they could do that starting with only the will to survive, what’s the limit of humanity that we can push for? Those apes couldn’t have held a glimpse of our minds, our cultures as they are today.

    Where can we lead humanity? What can our greatest descendants achieve? Who, beyond the limits of our present vision, can we become?


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I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.

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