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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Inner Struggles

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When dealing with any kind of angry or obnoxious person this is psychology is a nutshell and sound advice.  Once you understand a person’s behavior towards you is most often a reflection of their inner battles (unresolved issues, trauma, mental illness…etc.) and has nothing to do with your value as a person then confrontation and/or awkward social interactions becomes less stressful. Even if it doesn’t involve you it is easier to observe and react with a calm mind knowing it’s them, not you, that has a problem. This only applies to person’s emotional state or inappropriate responses and doesn’t alleviate us of responsibility if we acted (or failed to act) in such a way as to make them angry, annoyed or whatever. It also doesn’t mean we should tolerate abusive or overly-aggressive behavior either. However it’s still the right advice when another person is on the attack against us or being inappropriate in some way, we can remain calm knowing they are probably be dealing with a lot more than we know.

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

 

 

 

Religious? We Love You Anyway.

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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.