In response to yesterday’s post, Ben asked whether I believe in God. His question reminded me of a service two years ago at church, during which three people with very different takes on the concept of God gave their personal answers to the question “What would you do if you were God?” I spoke, giving my atheist viewpoint; the other two speakers approached the subject differently, one as a more or less traditional theist, the other from a semi-pagan, God-as-creator-and-encompassing force belief structure. It was an extremely interesting morning. Following are my comments from that service. Continue reading
SilverTiger has a wonderful post today about the meaning of life. I’m particularly taken with his final sentence:
Gods and creeds, both spiritual and political, are so many dictatorships pressing their dead hand upon the human mind and are to be rejected.
I happened upon this powerful quote today. As far as I’m concerned, it sums things up beautifully:
Here is the real lesson of the story of Jesus, the main myth of our Christian culture: oppose us and we will kill you, speak to us of love and we will nail you to a cross. We will deify your image and ignore your words. Within the span of three generations, your precious people wil be killing each other in your name.
—Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words
Yesterday I wrote an entry that was meant to be a general commentary on the books I read and enjoy. It was fun to write, and I hoped that it might encourage some visitors to check out a few of my favorite authors and titles.
Instead, the entire (lengthy) response in the comment section has focused on one short item from the entry: the fact that I listed the Bible as a book I wish had never been written. This response was not my intention, and, whether or not I should have seen it coming, it’s taken me entirely by surprise.
Go here and here for information about a tremendously frightening documentary coming soon to a theater near you: Jesus Camp. It traces the camp experiences of children who are working to be “God’s army” as they pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and are indoctrinated as to why “science doesn’t prove anything.” Watching the trailer makes me fear for our country and our world.
The bright spot for me is that my childrens’ youth groups at our Unitarian Universalist church are overflowing with dozens of bright, liberal, humanist kids. We may be far fewer in number than the evangelical hordes, but I can only hope that young people like my daughter and son will grow into adults who can protect society from those who would make us all believe in their God and live by their code.
I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free; and I won’t forget the men [and women] who died to give that right to me. And I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, ’cause there
ain’t no isn’t any doubt I love this land. [My personal patriotic statement ends there; I see no need to call upon a deity to bless my country.]
When the National Anthem plays, I sing. When my family discusses current events and aspects of American politics or society that may be less than perfect, I’m quick to remind my children that, despite its imperfections, American is the greatest country in the world and we’re extremely lucky to live here. When I’m at a gathering that recites the Pledge of Allegiance, I put my hand over my heart, face the flag, and unhesitatingly state my commitment to America.
However, I leave out two words: “under God.”
My friend Tim wrote an excellent and thought-provoking entry today, titled “Questions of Faith.”
I may be an atheist, but to this I can only say AMEN. These are exactly the sorts of questions that I wonder about regularly, but directed at all religious bodies, not just Christians.
All of the world’s major faiths profess to be about peace and love, and yet very little of either is evidenced in their words and actions toward the rest of humanity. It seems as though the members of all faiths who believe themselves to be the most pure and the most devout display the highest degrees of insularity; fear of the new/different/unknown; resistance to rational thought; and willingness to behave in irrational, contradictory, and often violent ways.
I do my level best to maintain my open mind and tolerance regarding religion (despite the regular condemnation of atheists and humanists as being the source of all evil in the world — have those who condemn me looked in the mirror lately?), but it’s increasingly difficult as peoples of all faiths seem more and more desirous of molding the world to suit their particular brand of theism and of stamping out all skepticim and alternate beliefs.
So many wars, so much violence, all in the name of God, and all promulgated by people who claim to be devoted to the sanctity of life. So many children are being raised to hate, in the name of their God. And now, families I know personally are rejoicing in the Middle East war because they believe it brings the world a step closer to the Second Coming.
Surely the God in which billions of people place their blind faith would prefer that those billions serve him by taking care of each other and the world, rather than ransacking the planet to prove that their way is the only truth. But come to think of it, that would make them humanists — and apparently, to them, that’s the worst possiblity of all.