My 6 Year Journey

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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.

 

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Human Potential

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I’ve often been asked ‘So what do you believe in then?’ It’s a reasonable question of someone who rejects religion, pseudosciences and the paranormal. My answer is always human potential. Not be mistaken for humanity itself. You only need to turn on the news to lose faith in humanity. Human potential however has proven itself to be real and powerful again and again:

This graphic is barely even a comprehensive list. Some experts believe it was a miracle civilization established itself to begin with.  Since the invention of farming early settlements were fighting not only each other but weather, starvation, disease and lack of resources.  We tapped our potential and soon along came better farming and hunting, better homes, better security, sanitation systems and all the vital tools and systems that allowed early civilization to thrive.

All you have to do is know where to look see the miracle of human potential:

A small sample of the amazing things people are accomplishing in the world everyday. These few links also help show that human potential works from a cultural right down to a personal level. Governments pass laws that help and protect their citizens, communities undertake vast projects to promote growth and development, and people fight great stresses and challenges with strength and perseverance that they never knew they had. Our friend over at beautybeyondbones tapped her potential to overcome a debilitating illness and is doing better than ever.

There are plenty of things that stand between us and what we are capable of but human potential is real and once it’s released the sky is the limit. Seeing this in ourselves, other people, cities, countries and humanity as a whole is where we can find our hope. Whatever your vision of the future is we can fight what is wrong with the human condition knowing that a powerful potential is there. We can help ourselves and each other unlock our potential and that vision can become a reality.

Image result for human potential quote edison astound ourselves

 

 

 

Not a Hope in Prayer

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Well all need hope, this is common sense. Hope can come from many things. For some, hope comes from prayer and it is easy to see why if we follow the logic of those who use prayer:

God exists and cares for his creation -> God can hear me if I pray-> Therefore, if I pray God may help me.

There are other reasons for praying such as gratitude and worship but the most hope comes from  the kind of prayer that believes God can and does help worshipers. Of course this logic makes a lot of assumptions:

  1. God exists: A pretty big assumption. This is a belief that defies logic.
  2. God cares: Even if God does exist given the suffering in the world it is hard to believe that God cares much for us.
  3. If I pray God may help me: A belief only supported by anecdotal evidence that both the teller and receiver accept at face value.

There is no evidence that prayer works at all. The scientific community has looked at the subject and all reached the same conclusion:

American Heart Journal: ‘Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.’
Harvard: Prayer Not Effective In Reducing Complications Following Heart Surgery
Mayo Clinic:  ‘As delivered in this study, intercessory prayer had no significant effect on medical outcomes after hospitalization in a coronary care unit.’

What these studies proved is not just that prayer is ineffective but should never be a replacement for professional medical care. Providing people with false hopes is always dangerous.

So where is the hope?

In you, that’s where. It sounds cliche but all the power of hope comes from within you. It comes from a fundamental belief that you can make it through whatever challenges may come your way (optimism) and if you don’t a little acceptance that you are only human goes a long way. There are many  worldly sources of hope that deserve appreciation such as:

Art: Painting, sculpture, music and culture. A visit to a natural/cultural museum always restores my faith in humanity. A faith, I might add, that was just reinforced with tangible evidence.

Friends and family: This is also common sense. Religious fundamentalist often say that unbelievers can’t have real family love. The truth is we often value it much more because of the simple realization that they are all we’ve got. Seriously, who can’t look at their child’s smile and not have all the hope they need?

Life Itself: Nature in all its glory is an amazing thing. A single leaf on a tree has thousands, possibly millions of cells (themselves sophisticated and incredible). It is capable of changing sunlight and water into energy for the tree it is attached to. there are hundreds and maybe thousands of these on a single tree. As long as we are alive we are able take deep breaths of clean air, enjoy great foods, great fun and great company. Life is is full of wonder, hope and amazement if you want it to be. For those that it is not we can take hope is trying to help them restore theirs.

Wherever your hope comes from it is just fundamentally more powerful and proactive to take it from within life itself. By doing this we begin to better appreciate and respect our life and the life of other people. Imagine if  fundamentalists worshiped life as much as they do God how much better off we all would be.