Category Archives: humanism

life, liberty, and the pursuit of reality

https://i2.wp.com/www.choosereality.org/art/choose-reality-3-120x50.jpgThanks to my friend Jack, I have a new adjective for myself: realist. He introduced me to the website of the Church of Reality.

It sounds like another April Fool’s joke, but it’s a real church with missions that I absolutely agree with:

  1. We Believe in Reality – the Way It Really Is
  2. We Spread the Sacred Message – Reality
  3. We Choose the Sacred Direction – Forward
  4. We Honor the Tree of Knowledge
  5. We Ask the Sacred Moral Question – What Is Good?
  6. We Issue the Sacred Challenge – How do we know that what we believe is real?
  7. We Are Activists – We Make It Happen
  8. We Unite Religion and Reality

From the website:

Since no one knows all of reality, the Church of Reality is a religious commitment to the pursuit of reality the way it really is. We think about thinking. We wonder about wondering. We try to understand the understanding of understanding. We are Explorers, not followers. The phrase “What is Real?” is our Sacred Question and the word “Reality” is our Sacred Message. We talk about reality, think about reality, and aim to make reality more important in society.

The Church of Reality is a new breed of religion that is based on reality rather than mythology. We answer the great questions that other religions address, like what is right and wrong, how do people live together in a community, and what are our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. We address these concerns in the context of our evolutionary history, our present reality, and our future evolution.

https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/15677294v2_240x240_Front.jpg… Realists are not without values or morality. Our values are based on Humanism rather than a fictional holy book. As Realists, our values include Positive Evolution, Exploration, Honesty and Integrity, Freedom, Individualism, Peace, Courage, Environmentalism, Compassion, Justice, Inclusiveness, Scrutiny and Doubt, Humility, Reason, Wisdom, and Personal Responsibility. We believe in Original Virtue rather than Original Sin. We are a Doubt-Based rather than Faith-Based religion.

https://i1.wp.com/images.cafepress.com/product/170409123v6_240x240_Front_Color-BlackWhite.jpgVery cool — and exactly in line with my existing thought processes as a Unitarian Universalist, an atheist, and a humanist.

Consider me a member of the Church of Reality. My shirt and my bumper sticker are now on order. 🙂

 

Addendum: In an interesting coincidence, several hours after I posted the above, a smiling woman in her 50’s just knocked on my door carrying a Bible and a small pile of other literature. She began, “Hello, we’re out today talking with our neighbors about the Bible, and in particular about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, and…” Me (smiling): “Oh, no thank you.” Her: “You aren’t interested?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “You aren’t a Bible reader?” Me: “Not a bit.” Her: “OK, well, have a great day, and thank you for being so friendly about it!” I was glad she didn’t get pushy, and she was glad I wasn’t rude, so it was a fair trade.

This is the third religious visitor I’ve had in the last few months. Perhaps I need to keep a little pile of literature of my own by the door, to give them: cards with the URL of this blog, issues of Skeptic magazine, pamphlets from the American Humanist Association, a list of Biblical contradictions…

forbidden fruit

https://i1.wp.com/www.chgs.umn.edu/Visual___Artistic_Resources/Art_From_Lost_Boys_of_Sudan/Image_Gallery_Cont_1/AdamEve.jpgIf you’ve read my past couple of entries, then you know exactly how much I’m loving a bit of news I heard earlier today from my friend Mo, wife of Bruce.

The Creation Museum that opened recently in Kentucky features Adam and Eve in assorted dioramas and settings — including a 40-second film starring one Eric Linden as the world’s first guy. (You can visit his personal site here, complete with a picture of his Adamly self and soothing new age music.) At least, the museum did show the film, until they learned that Linden was the founder of a pornographic website. 🙂

Various sources have found Linden’s name on the Whois data for BedroomAcrobat.com. This from, of all places, FoxNews.com:

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat.

He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site’s sexually suggestive logo.

Linden describes the site as “from his past”:

“I’m a Web designer and I was trying to think to the future and capitalize on different domain names, just trying to be clever. I handed the domain name off to somebody, so I really don’t know what’s going on with it.”

At the moment, the “all new site” is under construction.

https://i0.wp.com/sfxinternational.com/images/ericl2.jpgSo, what is the enterprising erstwhile Adam up to these days? Why, he’s selling clothing for SFX International. A recent comment on his web site suggests that people concerned about the ruckus should visit the company’s site “and see that it is a nice, hip and fresh clothing line! Not nearly as bad as they are making it out to be.” Sounds like something run by Doris Day, right? Think again. Head on over to SFX, and you’ll notice that the logo on the clothes has a clever little line added that makes the company name look like SEX (as you can see at right). And then, of course, there’s the minor point that SFX stands for Sir Fuxalot. You’ll see it in the title bar at the top of your browser — and, for that matter, on their About Us page. And I wonder if the folks at the Creation Museum have seen the photos of himself that Linden has chosen to post on the SFX site (including the one shown here)?

–> Insert your own “forbidden fruit” joke here….

Adam and Eve artwork by Yohannes, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan

where I’ll be tomorrow

https://i1.wp.com/www.rallyforreason.com/Rally_4_Reason_files/R4Rlogo.JPGTomorrow I’m planning to spend much of the day in northern Kentucky at the Rally for Reason, peacefully expressing my opinion about the opening of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, a multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art facility devoted to teaching creationism as fact and illustrating “scientifically” that the Earth is less than 5,000 years old.

Hundreds or perhaps thousands of similarly minded people will be there, listening to speakers, displaying signs, handing out literature, and making it plain to muscum visitors that not everyone believes as they do — and, in particular, that not everyone believes it’s appropriate to teach a nonscientific view of the Earth’s origin to our children.

If you agree, and you’re within driving distance, I urge you to come. If you’re too far away, please visit the resources at the rally’s website and express your support.

There are those who feel that by rallying, we only give more attention to this sadly misinformed take on history and evolution. I suggest that you read this, written by the rally’s organizer. Some excerpts:

“Answers in Genesis” has managed to get world wide press for their fantasy presentations. The “Creation Museum” is being endorsed by official convention and tourist outlets for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Governor of Kentucky has expressed support for teaching Bible stories in public schools, and Boone County, Kentucky is giving breaks on laws and taxation, denied others, to the vendors of religious dogma. The temporary President of the United States has even opined that the jury is still out on evolution.

Foolish ideas can come dressed up, just as there can be dressed up fools. And the presentations of the “Answers in Genesis” (www.AnswersInGenesis.org) outfit are well dressed indeed—yes, this is a compliment to their marketing. But such well dressed ideas can deceive many to their great cost. Just ask some Germans and Italians whether they would rather their country had not been treated to, much less accepted, the dressed up ideas of Hitler and Il Duce.

If, given all of the publicity that has been generated, nothing supporting science and evidence is offered, the impression will be given to the public, the press, and lawmakers that no one objects, and that if fancy, growling, expensive, mechanized displays of dinosaurs and humans living at the same time, and sharing “Noah’s Ark,” are presented as true, with no word to the contrary, then it must be so.

… The attitude that it is best not to give nonsense credit by opposing it can be quite dangerous. School boards and legislators might well conclude, without further information, that if scientists, teachers, and the public are not opposed to the well publicized idea of teaching Bronze Age myths as fact, then such misinformation is okay.

… And, if you think being outdoors in response to a threat to the foundations of knowledge is too much trouble, do not worry. Those who would establish a theocracy over us have promised to attack only when it is convenient for you, when it is not raining, when you can be warm, dry, safe, well fed, and have had plenty of time to engage in Liberal Angst over just what to do. Meanwhile, others will fight the American Religious Civil War and protect your freedoms for you.

my God! an atheist in Congress

https://i2.wp.com/www.house.gov/stark/webarchives/Stark%20Web%20Page/images/PETE2.GIFI am delighted by the news that, finally, we have a member of Congress — Rep. Pete Stark of California — who admits to being an atheist. Not only that, he’s a Unitarian Universalist! It’s like having found a long-lost relative who unexpectedly shares many of my views and is in a position of power to boot.

It’s tough being an American who doesn’t believe in a higher power. I’ve encountered many situations in which I haven’t been comfortable sharing my lack of belief, due to the overwhelming prejudices and stereotypes regarding atheists. Keep in mind that we have openly gay members of Congress, but no one until now has been willing to come out of the atheism closet. I hope this is just a first step toward greater tolerance of all beliefs and lack of beliefs.

Here are some excerpts from the ABC News report:

The American Humanist Association applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging he does not believe in a supreme being. The declaration, it said, makes him the highest-ranking elected official and first congressman to proclaim to be an atheist. The organization took out an ad in Tuesday’s Washington Post, congratulating the California Democrat for his stance.

“With Stark’s courageous public announcement of his nontheism, it is our hope that he will become an inspiration for others who have hidden their conclusions for far too long,” executive director Roy Speckhardt said in a statement.

Stark’s beliefs garnered attention after the Secular Coalition for America offered a $1,000 prize to the person who could identify the “highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States.”

… Stark, whose district is in the San Francisco Bay-area town of Fremont, confirmed his belief in a statement to The Associated Press late Monday. He said he was “a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being.”…

Unitarian Universalism describes itself as creedless, allowing members to shape their beliefs based on personal experience rather than an authoritative statement of religious belief. Some members believe in God, but not all do.

…Therefore, God exists.

https://i1.wp.com/growabrain.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/jesus_is_coming.jpgMany, many thanks to Ben in cold and snowy Chicago, who has been keeping himself warm by investigating the possibility of the divine. (As opposed to the possibility of the Divine, who died, tragically, in 1988.) This post describes a site offering Hundreds of Proofs of God’s Existence.

A few of my personal favorites for your edification:

TYLER’S ARGUMENT FROM JESSICA ALBA
(1) Jessica Alba is a friggin’ goddess!
(2) Therefore, goddesses exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM JOHN LENNON
(1) John Lennon once said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
(2) I didn’t like that.
(3) Somebody killed him for saying that.
(4) Obviously, God didn’t like him saying that, either.
(5) Therefore, God exists.

7th ANGEL’S ARGUMENT (CONDENSED)
(1) Is are five when lemon fell purple left thinks acrophobe sticks.
(2) For sharp king jigsaw white roll quick double; quality bunny done press highly.
(3) Therefore, God exists, and it all makes sense.

ARGUMENT FROM FLUFFY CATS IN SUNLIGHT
(1) A cat basking in sunlight smells good.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM PULP FICTION
(1) God CAME down from heaven, and stopped those motha-fuckin’ bullets.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM SPOUSE
(1) If you are still on that damned computer, God help you!
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM AMERICA, a.k.a. GEORGE W. BUSH’S ARGUMENT
(1) God bless America.
(2) You’re either with us or against us, remember.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM FORCE
(1) [argument from Atheist]
(2) [Theist shoots Atheist.]
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM META-SMUGNESS
(1) Fuck you.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

stranger in a strange land

I have just returned from an unknown place where I took part in a series of experiences that I didn’t understand. The place was West Virginia; the experiences were an open-casket visitation and a funeral.

I have not understood, do not understand, and will never understand what has been called “the American way of death” (I’m planning to order the book by that name, to get some insight into the funeral industry). It has to do with being the only child of an only child, and attending no open-casket visitations and darn few funerals when I was growing up. My mother’s parents and my dad were cremated; after they died, we held memorial services at times that were convenient for family travelling from far away, and we celebrated their lives with music, stories, and songs. These were not “funerals”; they were deeply personal memorials to people we loved.

Continue reading

if you want…

https://i0.wp.com/www.happynews.com/living/crafts/christmas-crafts-kids.jpgLast evening, the theme of my church’s Christmas Eve Vespers service was “The Birth of the Holy.” Now, if you’ve read this blog at all, then you know I’m an atheist. So why was I 1) at a Christmas Eve service, especially one that talked about 2) “the Holy”?

Because 1) I love Christmas, for reasons relating to joy and love and music and color and lights and giving and sharing and family and bringing the world to life in the midst of winter cold. I listen to the Christmas story with the same mindset as I do any other story, and I appreciate the careful consideration that led the early church to mesh their commemoration of Jesus’s birth with an existing Pagan holiday, thus helping popularize their central figure and bringing tremendous happiness to the world each December.

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if I were God

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

the Bible and me

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.

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what’s the world coming to?

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.