You don’t lack religion, you lack empathy.

Standard

I have had a few people ask me  ‘without religion and god what’s stopping you from murdering and pillaging?’ My response is always ‘Are you saying that without your religion you would be out murdering and pillaging?’   This sums up the moral debate quite nicely. Once you have empathy then, no matter what your beliefs are, your moral framework has all the support it needs.

Advertisements

Journal Page

Standard

There will now be a journal page. A more personal page, it will occasionally contain entries on how I live happily free from religion and superstition. This first entry will be a brief history of my religious and philosophical journey.

Anglican Catholicism

I remember my Mom telling me our family was Anglican when I was a little boy and so, being just a kid, I identified with that. I even went to a Roman Catholic School. I didn’t like it one bit. Masses were boring and confusing. Looking back now I suppose was lucky religion already made no sense to me. I never really went to church but whenever someone asked I said Catholic.

Buddhism

After high school I started studying very traditional martial arts and since I was already disconnected from religion Buddhism naturally clicked with me. This was a belief system free of wrathful Gods and boring masses with creepy priests. The religion was mainly about using meditation to seek enlightenment. It was during these years I meditated a lot of became a fan of some of the new age beliefs. I really liked  Dan Millman. I was a believer in crystals and other new age mumbo jumbo too. I confess I was pretty content but I believe that was all the exercise and mediation I was doing at the time.

Atheism

Our college psychology teacher asked us to pick an emotion for a presentation and mine was optimism. The research I did would start a change in my thinking that would last the rest of my life. I came across Max More’s Dynamic Optimism in it he suggested that the truly optimistic reject religion’s attitude of mind-body dualism and defeatism. It inspired me to read more about why religion might be a bad thing. Many articles and books later I was firmly convinced that God does not exist.

Humanism

Atheism alone wasn’t enough though. All atheism is an unbelief in the existence of God. Fortunately most humanists also reject religion and God and so I came across authors like Paul Kurtz and Corliss Lamont and discovered humanism. After much reading I decided secular humanism was the belief system I most identify with.

As much as I don’t like labels I am still a secular humanist and that belief system definitely makes me happy and fulfilled.

 

The Humanist.com

Standard

I have decided to show out support for TheHumanist.com. Three or four times recently I have been researching and have come across exactly what I was looking for at their website. They support the same humanist values we do and also don’t have an aggressive anti-theism. TheHumanist instead focuses on humans helping humans.

With a distinguished cadre of writers covering everything from science and religion to media and technology to politics and popular culture, the Humanist continues to challenge readers with insightful ethical critique and commentary on the central issues of our time. Prominent writers have included Christopher Hitchens, Gloria Steinem, Ralph Nader, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Dawkins, and others.

We have included a link in the Humanist Resource Page as well, a good read indeed.

 

My 6 Year Journey

Standard

Hard to believe it’s the blog’s 6th anniversary today. When I started this blog I was so angry at religion. I felt such a strong need to speak my mind about it. The situation was made worse by feeling all alone in my beliefs. So the blog’s initial mission was anti-religion. I was pretty big on debunking the pseudosciences too. For five years and many breaks I was all about exposing religion’s poison. Not to say I didn’t have some posts I was proud of in the early days. Some of my favorites from early on include:

The Salvation Army post went viral and got the most views I have ever had to this blog.  Over the next few years I was on and off again mainly because I had started a family.I also wrote some really philosophical entries I am pretty proud of as well like:

I also have some atheism links that I need to add to the atheism page that I enjoyed writing. I also added the Humanism resource page, a work in progress. Overtime I grew to realize that what is wrong with religion was growing more widely known but alternatives to what religion provides just wasn’t out there. So a few months ago I changed the blog to trying to make information on alternatives to religion available. I also made the blog an effort to show that hope, joy and meaning are possible outside of a religious context.

The positive direction the blog is headed in makes me feel a lot better and it will honestly reach a lot more people in the long run than an aggressive anti-religion blog would. Going forward its my hope to add a ‘hope’ page and resources on finding that hope, joy and meaning if you don’t have a religious belief. It’s been a great six years and hopefully many more helping people let go of religion and find happiness on their own terms.

 

Religious? We Love You Anyway.

Standard

One day I came across this on a bumper sticker in Walmart parking lot: and loved it. I remember wanting to leave the person a note for getting what it means to accept a person regardless of their beliefs.  I started seeing it a lot so it really gave me a hope that I wasn’t alone in my thinking.  The message it purveys is nearly identical to humanism’s with the exception, of course, that religion is ok. The criticism’s of religion are still valid and we stand by the position that the world would be in much better shape if everywhere knew it’s dangers. However, we can accept the person and still reject the belief.

Why is religion so personal?

Without diving too deep into the psychology of religion here is a list of common reasons why someone might be religious:

  • Coping:  Coping with life and death.
  • Existential: Fulfilling spiritual needs.
  • Identity: Letting religious belief be part of who you are as a person.
  • Social: Belonging to a community that loves and supports it’s members.
  • Morality: Providing a morale framework by which to live.

A person’s entire life my rest on embracing a particular religion, it becomes a part of who they are. When religion spends so long comforting and alleviating fear there is no doubt as to why when a person’s religion is under attack they begin to erect psychological defence mechanisms. This is also why other religions can be so hard to understand. Once a person’s religion becomes a foundation of their psychological well being it can be difficult to see how another person’s religion, especially one a lot different, can be as good as your own. When one considers the human condition it easy to see why there is so much conflict between different beliefs. Even unbelievers who reject religion altogether run a very real danger of promoting conflict. The aggressive and negative attacking of religion that has been trendy in recent years has really helped open up discussion of the dangers of religion but this new kind of atheism, as Paul Kurtz pointed out, has some hidden dangers:

 The New Atheists, in my view, have made an important contribution to the contemporary cultural scene because they have opened religious claims to public examination…What I object to are the militant atheists who are narrow-minded about religious persons and will have nothing to do with agnostics, skeptics, or those who are indifferent to religion, dismissing them as cowardly.”

“While I certainly don’t believe that we ought to abandon our criticism of religious fanaticism or allow religious doctrine to dictate public policy, the future of the secular humanist and scientific rationalist movements depends upon appealing to a wider base of support”

Throw in the current state of civilization and violence seems inevitable. The coexist about page sums of the problem of people of different religions not understanding each other nicely:

Crisis of Understanding

Coexist was created to address the crisis of understanding that tears at the social fabric of societies around the world. Globalization has outpaced our understanding of one another, creating divisions that plague communities with prejudice, hate and violence.

These divides create instability that affects every facet of life, reducing global economic output, health, education, and progress in arts and science. In our interconnected world, a lack of social cohesion generates shock waves that damage not only the immediate region, but produce real consequences for the economy and job opportunities in communities on the other side of the world.

Understanding Changes Everything

Coexist is on a mission to advance social cohesion through education and innovation.

Coexist works at the faultlines of conflicting cultural identities to to strengthen the bond that holds a society together through a sustainable model of people working and learning together. This generates social cohesion that reduces prejudice, hate and violence and prevents conflict from emerging again. (source)

The situation with hatred, confusion and the resulting violence between beliefs can be fixed, in part, by separating the belief and the person. The belief doesn’t make that person who they are. There is growing research that we are born inherently good:

It goes without saying that some people are also born inherently bad and upbringing and circumstances can dramatically alter a person’s personality for better or for worse as well.  However, what all this research shows us is that religion doesn’t enter into whether or not a person is worthy of our love and caring. It becomes easy to separate the person from the belief once we know that their good nature is natural. Once we see their differing beliefs are a result of their personal circumstances we can understand that in the same circumstances we may have ended up with the same beliefs. Then we can and should accept a person regardless of their beliefs and we take a step towards making the world a better place.