Journal Page

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Learn From Everyone. Follow no one.

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A perfect expression of how humanists tend to be. Learning from whatever we can (including religion) and taking what we need to formulate our beliefs and values. The independent nature of humanists summarized by an acquaintance, ‘Herding the religious is easy, they are like  sheep. But herding humanists is a bit like herding cats’, a very accurate analogy. As such a fitting meme for secular humanism.

Note: This is a bit ironic because humanists tend to go their own way so much that this generalization may be just very well be wrong in some cases.

A Different Direction: The Alternative to Religion.

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When this blog was started 6 years ago we had a goal of ridding the world of religion, superstition, the pseudosciences and all the harms they cause. It has been our great pleasure to see atheism and humanism grow so much in popularity worldwide. The internet has been at the forefront of the battle against dogma and superstition. The internet has opened the floodgates of information to the world and the result has been a new enlightenment. Unbeliever’s such as myself no longer feel alone in their beliefs (or lack thereof). Atheist and humanist organizations, and chat rooms have popped up in droves, and even atheist churches exist now. These are things were virtually unheard of as little as ten years ago. A cultural shift is occurring and the diminishing of religion is certainly a part of that.

Some careful reflection of this cultural shift has lead to us to make a change in the content of this blog. We are still against the evils of religion and superstitions but we have to ask ourselves ‘Now that religion is being heavily criticized and that shows no signs of changing,  what now?’ Until human nature changes and we evolve past needing what religion offers for people then we must provide alternatives. Fortunately these alternatives exist and this blog will be primarily focusing on these alternatives going forward: Science, The Arts and Social Conscience.

Science:

The physical sciences help us fight disease and aging, protect our environment, and make our lives easier in immeasurable ways: from safer cars to the stain resistant clothing you may be wearing right now. The social sciences provide us with the means to improve our mental health, culture, economics and politics. The sciences are truly the key to our survival and our happiness.

The Arts:

Music, literature, film, painting, sculpture and other forms of artistic expression and entertainment move us in profound ways and are already providing hope and meaning to millions worldwide.

Social Conscience:

There is a great deal of happiness and satisfaction in the service of others. This can be something as simple as helping someone carry something to vast undertakings of selfless giving such philanthropy and social activism. There is a great deal of research to show that this in a natural part of our evolution.

We are still secular humanists and so will still be including the atheism and humanism pages and content will include these subjects. However, as part of our efforts to rid the world of dangerous, archaic beliefs we will be focusing on alternatives to religion. These alternatives are secular, deeply powerful and focus on what’s best for family, community and humanity as whole instead of how to please a God or Gods or those that proclaim to speak for them. We can live without religion and this blog hopes to show how that is possible.

Catholic Church: Women Are To Blame For Pedophile Priests

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Cardinal Raymond Burke

I wish the title of this post was a joke. A high ranking Catholic Cardinal abandoned all reason and embraced some extreme misogyny by somehow linking feminism in the Catholic church to declining morals in priests. (source)

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the rampant crisis of pedophile priests was brought on by women who “feminized” the church and discouraged “manly” men from participating in clerical life.

Cardinal Burke somehow manages to verbalize more anti-women hate then I have seen in a single speech in a some time. Including:

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,”

“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,”

And then there’s the the logic that somehow links feminism to pedophilia:

“There was a period of time when men who were ‘feminized’ and confused about their own sexual identity had entered the priesthood; sadly some of these disordered men sexually abused minors; a terrible tragedy for which the Church mourns.”

I look forward to some frantic backtracking for this sexist, ignorant rant but I’m not optimistic. Shame on you Cardinal Burke. Simply incredible.

Muslim leader calls for a boycott of coffee giant Starbucks over its support for gay marriage

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The prominent leader of a 30 million-strong Muslim group has called for a boycott of global coffee brand Starbucks because of its support for gay marriage.

Anwar Abbas of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic group in Indonesia, says the brand’s pro-gay stance is ruining southeast Asia’s “religious and cultured” core.
“If Starbucks only does business, then fine. But don’t bring ideology here,” (Courtesy of news.com.au)

Indonesia is a very traditional Muslim country and so homophobia is a big problem and so this is not surprising.  However considering how much Muslims push for political change in the western world that last line was so hypocritical I just had to share.