Archive for October, 2011

Poetry as atheist spirituality, maybe any spirituality

Trapse through freethoughtblogscom.  The blogs in the right margin of the site will become an ezine of sorts for you.

My previous post touched on a couple of blog posts there.  From the most recent Republican debate, Newt Gingrich’s position, which I too heard him say, is troubling.  (See previous post).

I was nspired by another freethoughtblog on poetry (relax, I wasn’t inspired to write poetry) that refers to poet Stephen Fry’s urging the poet to arise in all of us, Fry is quoted, “I believe poetry is a primal impulse within us all…”

(This touches on one of my pet inspirations, we all share by inheritance, I think, and from a truly organic source, the evolution that made us human, our our urge to be spiritual.  Don’t overlook the fact that this is from a very secular source–200,000 years of evolution AFTER we became anatomically modern humans.  The upshot:  believer or non, our spiritual need/longing/quest comes from the same secular source–our long, tribal past–200,000 years without science or knowledge–only belief.  In the absence of knowledge, humans did what it was that they could control–they believed.)

I think Fry’s primal source of poetry is that urge from within for spiritual achievement.  To obtain… To reach…  Even to become…  We’ve let religions fill in the blank. To become what ______?

Though we must deal with the institutions of religion to take our spirituality back, it is worth it. Why? Our psychological well being is at stake. We could take an example from the New Agers. They found the existing religions to fall short.  To be inadequate or no longer relevant.  And they did something about it.

Well, we are doing something about it, too. The rising chorus of our millions of voices.  Our new activism, our new visibility. Our dialogue with each other and society and those religions.

That all points toward our goals and it can have some hidden “spiritual” goals, too. In this empowerment, this self-actualization our spritual goals are embedded. We achieve some fulfillment as we gather for community like at the AAA/Texas Freethought Convention, like the upcoming Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Conference in New Orleans.

It is so easy to become negative. We negate religious belief. We can fall into the habit of negating society and everything else. After all, a number of believers perpetually negate us. Just as belief had previously done, we jump to conclusions. We fall into the trap of our primate brains, our believing machines as Michael Shirmer terms them.

Don’t forget the positives. Be open to life affirming things as well. Look at all our new liberator–the internet– has done for us. It’s truly revolutionary.  Celebrate! Reach out. Blog.

October 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

a row of posts RE: freethoughtblogs.com

If you like the flow of different ideas steadily washing over your mind, there’s freethoughtblogs.com.  Several blog posts of interest were That Allegedly Liberal Media on a Pew study of positive vs. negative media reports on presidential candidates.

The Newt Gingrich article was of special interest as I saw him in the last Republican debate make some rather inane observations.  “Does faith matter?  Absolutely.” Gingrich said.  “How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” As this article points out, and I was so stunned to hear, Gingrich said that Americans should value religion first, above morality and knowledge.

This ties into related posts I’ve made about that radical connection from deep within our evolutionary (which is now deep within or gene) of GODANDCOUNTRY.    I’ll leave those arguments for the other posts.  I’ll let Herb Silverman (Secular Coalition for America) have the last word on this topic, “We may be the last minority against whom intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but also sometimes promoted by politicians.”

October 22, 2011 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

A god to die for

I commented on the Freethought Blog.

The general question by their reader  was this:

“Hey Martin, I have a dilemma and was hoping for some quick advice on how to handle a situation. I am a part of a theology group here on FB and during one of these exchanges a Christian (fairly fundy) said he would die for his god and asked what I would die for.

My response was that it sounded like jihad. Was this a good approach I guess is my question? I’m pretty sure (with the fundy part) he’s just not going to get where the similarities are between jihad and fundamental christianity but I can try right? lol

Any advice is appreciated.”

MY RESPONSE:

[To set this up: I first default to understanding.  Maybe it’s not as straight forward as just dealing with the issue, but understanding can be a lot and I’ve often found myself left with nothing here in the Bible Belt and it took years to gain the only thing possible: understanding.]

I think Richard Dawkins disputes the thesis that religion was an evolutionary adaptation, but it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I’ve been scratching my head for many years as to how religion could have such a universal grip on humanity when it seems so counter-intuitive given religion as we know it.

Whenever I hear a question about an aspect of religion, I’m taken back about a hundred thousand years to consider the underlying source.

Dying for their religion? Sounds like a strange concept to us.
Take that back 100,000 years in human evolution, though, and it was a pact, a pledge, to the tribe. It was a brotherhood, with serious initiation rites, blood rites, and it was solemn and binding. A binding stronger than kin and marriage.

This is one reason why the “God & country” linkages seems to continually resurface. It was reflective of an underlying super-reality, a reality that hunter-gather clans could (or tried desperately to) relate to. It was the realm of the supernatural. The natural world was beyond their understanding.

The projected a power or great father behind the world and worked hard on their identity as his subjects.

Would they die for God & clan and the culture they created around this identity? Oh, yeah. And the clans that did have members who’d make that sacrifice produced more offspring–and here we are.

October 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Houston AAA/Freethought Convention

It was good to be there.   I enjoyed seeing Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  Sad to see Christopher looking frail, but very glad he made it out.  He hasn’t made a personal appearance in a while due to his pancreatic cancer.

The banquet was packed and the crowd was attuned to the night’s business:   Richard Dawkin’s presentation, on behalf of his foundation, of the Humanist of the Year award to Hitch.   There were at least a half dozen standing ovations in recognition of Hitchens’ contributions and his effort to persevere in the cause as well as his shear pluck to go on.

The presenters were all top notch.  I would highly recommend the convention, though I can’t imagine how they could top this year’s event.  I was torn more than once as to which lecture to attend when there was more than one.

It’s surprising at first that these lectures and presentations are directed at issues we all have.   Here in the wilderness, we’re accustomed to there being nothing that’s on topic, no consideration of our issues or wishes, no acknowledgement that we exist.  (Granted that’s better than being pointed out and dragged off to be burnt at the stake.)   So a whole lecture, germain & to the point, it’s heaven if you don’t push the analogy too far.

The presenters had multiple purposes for being there.  Most have published books, the newest being on display in the convention’s bookstore (The bookstore graciously afforded me equal display space to start advanced publicity for Post Script to a Christian Nation.).  Though we all had issues in common, some led the way for their special issue.  For instance, Barbara Taylor is battling creationism in the public schools in her state, Louisiana.

I connected with the convention’s book store for half a dozen items, books, DVDs.   We are a community by our issues; we have similar, but different interests.  Some of the ones I like to pursue I’ve mentioned in this blog. I’m interested in the philosophical implications of all sciences for humankind.  I’m especially interested in paleo-anthropology, evolutionary psychology and the study of how we evolved religion.  Beyond that starting point, is that somewhat difficult to define “spirituality” that we all seem to have is not only a nurturable aspect of the human spirit, but is better for each and everyone of us to nurture it with our highest aspirations.

I reserve a special place, also, on this blog, for any who want to share how they came to freethought, humanism or atheism.    So, again, you are welcome to share, to bear witness to your journey, the journey of the Doubtful Sojourner.

October 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Atheist Alliance of America/Texas Freethought Convention

Oct. 7, 2011
Good Morning Houston!
I’m here pouring over the schedule to cram everthing I can into the day. The book store is one of my favorite spots. So much intellectual prowess; it’s fun to swim around all these great titles.

After the intros by Nick Lee and “Brother” Richard Haynes, PZ Myers started us off with an explanation of why gene mutation isn’t always bad–as creationists characterize it–showing that some beneficial genetic changes can improve the indivisual/species.

I’m off to see what’s next. Come on.

October 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment


Hello

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.