Archive for November, 2011
Affirming the motto In God We Trust is the Religious Equivalent of Marking Territory
The next time someone asks why are atheists so strident–so militant? Just hold up the headline–Congress passes the nonbinding (unnecessary) resolution reaffirming “In God we Trust” as the national motto.
But why are atheists so angry? Because it’s RUDE. It’s Believers Behaving Badly.
In every other sphere we suppress our antisocial and baser instincts for the good of society, harmony. But religion gets a pass. NO, not really religion, just Christianity. The one that claims the Golden Rule even though similar sentiments were expressed before it came along.
How shall we observe the Golden Rule in your seeming violation of it? Do you want the same treatment in return? Is this the treatment you want from nonbelievers or the other religions?
On the face of it, they say the resolution before congress wasn’t divisible, but those who should know say it was. Boehner probably didn’t get my email. He governs me, but evidently doesn’t represent me. Why should I pay taxes to a religious organization–the U.S. government?
This action is an outstanding example of what’s wrong with modern day Christianity especially in politics. This is an act of religion. Worse, religion is so confusing to the victim’s mind, and yet it dopes them with neurochemicals to the effect that they feel confident in their action. Perhaps, they feel a tiny nano-rapture.
This is the kind of thing that goads us to make our rhetoric sound almost as programmed as theirs. This is what makes us crazy.
Are they crazy? A lot of us think so. Or maybe they’re just deluded? That’s closer. They are undeniably under the effect of religion and guilty of VUI–voting under the influence. Obviously, they need an intervention. A 396 member intervention. Let’s plan one for March. Peaceful though, only First Amendment solutions. None of that stuff that their sacred text recommends they do to us.
It’s sad that they can’t differentiate God from Country. Nor do they seem capable of admitting they have a problem. (See elsewhere my thesis of how radical God & Country really is in this brand of believer. And believe them when they invoke it, because the people come in a distant third.
If you go deep enough, though, in the soul of the believer, you’ll find at the final depth, that they’ll throw over Country in favor of God. It’s only at the last, though, when they must stand as Christian soldiers and reveal themselves as being for God over country or people. You may have heard Newt Gingrich describing how his leader of the freeworld couldn’t be trusted if he didn’t pray. That might take you nostalgic folk back to George H.W. Bush’s comment that he made while he was president that he didn’t think atheist were citizens of the U.S.
Because religion is so intertwined in our genes and there fore in our minds, a majority of people are unable to see these actions as the unAmerican activities that they are.
It is the invasion of the body snatchers and they are screaming God. If this was an alien presence invading our citizens we wouldn’t let them suffer. But the snatchees have control. How do they rationalize it–with the cry, Christian Nation! Yes, sadly Christianity has had its fist around the heart of the nation since the beginning. True patriots–those who didn’t think someone’s religion should come before our country–struggled to birth the nation in religious freedom.
If you’re not sure that they are talking only about the Christian God, ask them if you can display the name of every god below “our” motto as they will display it in public schools and public buildings. No, they’ll say, that would be tantamount to prayer in the schools. Oh right. But wait! What’s the difference between a religious affirmation on the school building and a prayer inside? Nothing if we do it right, they’ll whisper.
It promotes our one religion at the expense of everybody’s beliefs and for that matter, at everybody’s expense–and they buy it because they’ve never been able to break our grip on our government, it’s a tradition, you know, like slavery and has to continue.
A couple of months ago I discovered Point of Inquiry, the internet radio show/podcast of the Center for Inquiry. It’s an oasis in the desert of uplifting secular audio that’s (not) out there. Go find it–there’s a lot there for us–a true resource.
I’ve been working my way backward through the audio archives there. One program that caught my eye was the episode named “Spirituality: Friend or Foe? – Adam Frank and Tom Flynn.” Adam Frank takes a somewhat similar position to my own–that there can be secular spirituality, something that’s fulfilling to the human spirit. That’s great and gives us an avenue worth pursuing.
Unfortunately, I’m goaded into writing about Tom Flynn’s position. He says this dabbling with the ideas we call spiritual puts those of us who are asking these questions in a domain that can’t be called “hard atheism.”
This I have to wonder about. I’ve taken Jennifer Michael Hecht’s test (Doubt, a History…) and I am fully and 100% hard atheist according to her test. I didn’t have a single answer that wasn’t materialist and atheist. So is Jennifer’s test incomplete or somehow faulty? I don’t think that’s the case, but certainly I might not be objective since I’m one of the defendants in this case.
It’s not coming through here, but I was really downed by Tom Flynn’s words. I wish the talks could have been reversed so that the upside could have been the last thought, but it couldn’t be that way. Without the introduction of the idea of some sort of secular spirituality the topic wouldn’t have had a starting point.
Chris Mooney, host for that episode, argues in the general direction of Adam Frank and that there might be a secular way to accomodate a sort of scientific spirituality–awe in the presence of the universe and it’s wonders, for example.
Flynn says we confuse the issues when we say we are atheist and materialists and then say we are spiritual. (You might note that my thesis that we are “spiritual” because we evolved into religiosity [I’d call it a sort of spiritual drive or need] might be a special case that does overcome that problem and clears up the impasse that the language seems to hold).
Flynn says the average person thinks “spirit” means God and disembodied souls, and in the U.S., there is a spiritual order to the world. Further, that we (godless) defeat our goal for rational understanding of the world and misrepresent our world view when we use that language.
Flynn goes on to say the average person thinks they’ve just caught us in an inconsistency or being hyp0critical. And that we, too, need something trandscendent (acutally, Flynn calls it ectoplasm–a Ghost Buster reference?) to get us through the night.
Chris Mooney says the word spirituality may be undergoing change. Flynn says it hasn’t completed that change and that he’d like the language dropped altogether. If not, society will assume that we, too, need an “invisible” means of support.
Flynn says he thinks Sagan, Einstein, Asimov might all be called religious humanists. When he was trying to find his way, he examined their thoughts, but when they spoke of this awe in high blown terms he moved on looking for purer atheists.
Flynn says the “spiritual” language is unnecessary. It is rather loose language that we need to clean up and state more clearly. Flynn does offer that if we mean what we say by that language, then we certainly have a right to say it that way.
Mooney asks what is the appropriate way to address the explanation of meaning in our lives.
There is no big “M” Meaning because we don’t believe there is such meaning out there. That each of us finds our own way to determine the meaning of our lives. And that such an effort is far superior to an imposition of an external meaning upon our lives and world (I took quite a bit of license with the latter, but I think it is consistent with what Flynn said).
Flynn says there’s a lot of lore in religious circles to the effect that there are no true atheists because everyone needs something transcendent in their lives. Flynn says there really are atheists and it is us and we need to be recognized, that we do exist, and that we need to set an example to show that we can lead good lives.
I can see both side’s points.
What do you think?