Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Among atheist groups, a claim that comes up with some frequency is that teaching children that God exists, that Christianity is true (or any other theistic system), that there is a life after death with a heaven and hell, etc, etc. etc. is a form of child abuse. The claim, a la Dawkins, is that parents teaching their children the parents’ religious beliefs is immoral and wrong, with some going so far as to say it should be against the law.thanksgiving_prayer

My first response on hearing this claim is, why shouldn’t a child’s religious upbringing and beliefs be left up to the parent? After all,  who else should teach them? All other feasible alternatives that I can think of would result in vastly more and more severe problems. For example, leaving this up to the government brings up the specter of governments having the power to determine what a person’s beliefs are and to regulate what is allowed to be believed and what is not.

However, ignoring that problem, why shouldn’t the parents teach their religious beliefs and values to their children?   Further, whether atheist or theist, how possible is it to be “neutral” in matters of religion?  You can try to be neutral, but by your attitudes, by your questions and words, by your actions you are going to be teaching your child one way or another on this issue.

First off though, let’s clarify what we are talking about.  When you talk about religious faith you are talking about a great deal more than just a set of abstract dogma and beliefs – much more than a belief in God, in Jesus, in the virgin birth etc.   You are also talking about being part of a community.   A community that provides friendships, companionship, and, when needed, support during hard times. It is also a community which teaches values and ethics – values and ethics that are, in part, dependent on the particular religion and denomination and individual church.

Consider the lessons learned from Christ’s death for the sins of humanity.   Yes, there are a lot of logical problems with this story, however, overlook those for now and look at the moral message.  This is a story about a perfect man who was willing to give up everything, including his life, to help and save others.   That is a strong moral message.

Or the fact that God loved so much and cared so much for those who are his inferior in every way that he made himself human and suffered when he did not have to in order to save them. Again, regardless of the logic of the story, the moral message there is good, and this is part of what is passed on.

Or consider “let he who is without sin throw the first stone”.   Or the golden rule.  Or the Sermon on the Mount. Or any of a number of other passages and examples.

And then consider that this community is often involved in actions that help those less fortunate – food banks, providing job training, helping out at nursing homes, providing clothing and blankets to the poor, and on and on and on.   Some say they do this in order to proselytize – and some do.   Most do not though.  They do it because they feel that something needs to be done to help their brothers and sisters in need, because they feel that it is the right and moral thing to do.

Now, I am not saying that religion is the source or cause of morality.   It is not.  However, morality does not arise by itself, it is to a considerable extent formed and created by a society through its social institutions.  Religion and the church are one such institution.   Not the only one possible and not the only one there. But, keep in mind we are talking about parents who are religious – for them the church and its community is one of the primary ways of supporting and teaching morality.   To not teach their child about their faith, to not take them to church would be – in their eyes – an abandonment of their responsibility as parents to bring their children to become moral adults.

IMG_6585Atheists also teach their child morality.  However, since ours is divorced from the ideas of God and the examples of religion we do not include religion. That is our view.   For the religious though the opposite is true – and given this why should they not teach their religion to their child.  To ask them not to is to ask them to teach them to be atheists and agnostics.  And actually, when you get right down to it, isn’t that what this move by some atheists to label the passing on of a parents faith to their child as child abuse is; the promotion of atheism.

Consider, when you do not teach your child religion, when you avoid going to any church, what lessons are they learning?   One much closer to atheism than theism. And that is my next point – it is not possible to be neutral on this, it is not possible to provide an unbiased upbringing of a child so that they will have a free hand in deciding what religion to choose. We can teach about religions, however that is not he same as experiencing the religion. Plus, most will not teach about the religion in the same way a believer will – there will be that judgment, that criticism against it. We teach them even when trying to be neutral so that they can make up their own minds later.

I know that when we raised our daughters we let them go to church with their friends when they wished to, we taught them about religion, and let them freely choose what religion they wished to follow.  But given our example, the way we lived and discussed things around the home, our actions in not going to church, is it really any surprise that they became atheists?

For example, consider this example of child rearing from the Atheist Survival Guide.

A few days after the aforementioned playdate, my daughter asked me, “Did God invent the grass?”

“Some people think so,” I said.

My daughter persisted.  “But did he?”

“Your friend thinks so,” I said.  And then, cautiously, I added, “But I don’t think so.”

She considered this.  “Then who invented the grass?”

“Well,” I said, “Science tells us that the grass evolved over a long, long time.  Things happened in nature to make it grow.”

Now, that is probably the same answer I would have given to my five year old daughter had a theistic friend told her God invented grass. However, note that God is played down and even dismissed (tactfully and politely). Nor is the possibility that while the process of evolution created grass that it was God who created the process of evolution. It is these sorts of daily interactions that will cause your child to hold similar if not the same religious beliefs as you do, even if you are trying to be neutral in matters of religion. Your values, your ideas, your beliefs will come through and will be taught to them.  It is an illusion to think otherwise.

01-iranian-familyTo further illustrate this, consider politics.  You may bring up your child with the intent to let them decide whether to be a Democrat or Republican.   Yet, you are teaching your child with every discussion and action you take on issues such as gun control, welfare, contraceptive issues and abortion.    When it comes time to say – “son, go ahead and make your own decision”, in the vast majority of times there are going to be few if any surprises.  By your actions, by your behavior you have taught them your values and beliefs. There may be some variances, and a few who totally reject, but most, by and large, will follow in the footsteps you create, even when trying to be neutral.

And finally, this talk of indoctrination of child abuse is, in the vast majority of cases, greatly overblown.  There is a difference between teaching and indoctrination.    There is a great deal of difference in passing on your values and beliefs and child abuse.   There are instances when it can edge into such, but those instances are rare and can happen with atheist beliefs too.

Again, I see no issue with parents teaching their children their religious beliefs.   It is part of their community and their values and moral system.   For them not to do so would be remiss.

There is also a corollary idea that these children are being taught with the idea that their beliefs cannot be questioned. Often this it true. However, there are many times when this is not true too, as I can attest through personal experience with my parents and my church when I was growing up, and with experience with many other Christians and religious people throughout my 57 years.   Further, even when taught as being beyond questioning, questions occur and are asked, either when at home or, most especially, once the home is left and they are on their own.

Now, do not get me wrong; I obviously think that religious parents are mistaken in much of what they teach their child, especially those of the more conservative and literal beliefs.  And I have no problem with pointing out the errors and mistakes. However, being wrong is not the same as being abusive. If it were, then every parent in history and pre-history has abused their children.

So, this idea that theists teaching their child their religious beliefs is a form of child abuse is bogus, an illusion that is unfortunately shared by too many atheists. One that should be given up instead of being used as a Trojan Horse attempt to promote atheism.   Our views will ultimately win out without resorting to such overblown rhetoric and arguments.

It Takes a Worried Dog

Wrinkles

While taking Wrinkles on his almost daily walk we came across a young family flying a kite. The kite would swoop up about 15 or 20 feet in the air, swirl and twirl around a bit, and then come crashing down with the daughter running to pick it up to start the whole cycle over again. Wrinkles gave the kite the hairy eyeball and made a large detour around the kite flying family. After passing them he would periodically look back at the kite.

In discussing this with him on the rest of our walk Wrinkles told me that he was not scared of the kite. Rather he was greatly concerned over the uses squirrels would make of it should they get their paws on this advanced technology. One of Wrinkles primary duties is to protect our house against squirrel attacks, something that would be made much more difficult if they, the squirrels, gained kite technology and became able to mount an aerial as well as ground attack.

In fact, Wrinkles believes that squirrels may already have gained access to this bit of technology since he keeps hearing of something called flying squirrels. Currently he is busy laying on the floor while his mind feverishly tries to come up with ideas on how to repel a kite flying squirrel attack. He has asked me to research the price of barrage balloons and dog adapted anti-aircraft guns.

ebf4_foe_entry__kite_squirrel_by_locust_swarm-d3gx912

 

One of the first items that crossed my mind on hearing of the stabbings at a Murrysville Pennsylvania high school was, thank goodness it was not a gun. Given that I am for strict gun control, my thoughts eventually did lead to the puzzling problems so many have with any sort of gun control; especially after I heard a conservative talk show host rhetorically asking if the gun control crowd was now going to outlaw knives. Given this, I thought it might be fun to blog about gun control and the various arguments given against it.

1)      Guns do not kill people, people do. 

That is true enough. However, humans are tool using animals, and the more effective and powerful the tool, the more effective and powerful the human using it. What this means is that a person with a gun can do a whole lot more killing and wounding than someone without a gun. Please note that no one in the Murrysville stabbings is going to die. In other words, they all survived. Had this teen had a gun or two, the odds greatly favor several people dying.

2)      People kill using different items all the time – knives for instance.

This is closely related to number 1 above. In addition to noting the differences in the number of deaths and wounded between a knife attack and a gun attack, let me also point out that a person with a knife is much easier to stop than a person with a gun. With a baseball bat, I like my odds against a person with a knife. Give that person a gun though and I am probably a dead man.

3)      We have a constitutional right to have guns.

And I am not advocating abolishing that right. However, all rights have limits and laws regulating them. With freedom of speech, there is the old standby of not being able to yell fire in a crowded theater. Also, you cannot just go anywhere and have your say – offices, schools, main street all have laws limiting a person’s absolute right to free speech. Then there are, of course, defamation, libel and slander laws.

Religion is also not an absolute right. Human sacrifice is prohibited. Most drugs are too. If you are a government employee you cannot proselytize while on the job. Churches have to follow zoning laws.

None of our rights are absolute. The reason for this is that we have many rights and because of this one person’s rights can conflict with another’s. In regards to gun control, people have a right to life and liberty too.

Yet those who argue against any sort of gun laws seem to believe that gun rights should be. Sorry guys, but our constitution does not work like that and I have yet to see a case made for why guns, out of all of our other rights, should be unlimited.

4)      We need guns for protection against crime.

Personally, I have never needed one. I used to investigate child abuse for the great state of Texas, and have been in the bad parts of town. My wife and I, in our poverty days, lived in those bad parts of towns. Yet I never needed a gun. Further, there are some studies indicating that owning a gun actually puts you at greater risk of being shot.

However, my personal comfort level is not the same as yours. If you feel you need one for protection then by all means buy one. Just register both yourself and your gun and enjoy the psychological benefit of owning a gun. Keep in mind that gun control is not the same as abolishing all guns. The only caveat here is that I see no reason to have military grade guns for protection – or for hunting. Nor cop killer ammunition. Nor large ammo clips. Protection and the joys of hunting can be had without these weapons, and their potential for extreme violence to others too great to allow them to be purchased by civilians. Again, one of those conflicts with others rights that I mentioned above.

5)      We need guns for protection against our government.

Sorry, if you think that owning guns, even military grade ones, is going to provide protection against a totally rogue government, then you have not kept up with the times. Or even with the times of our revolutionary war. Even with our forefathers all owning guns, we needed the professional army of France to win our freedom from Britain. It is a myth that a bunch of citizen soldiers on their own defeated the British. Without the professional help of the French in regards to arms, training and troops, we would still be British subjects today.  Today this is even more true.

To think that a disparate bunch of people armed with guns is going to be able to take on an organized and well trained military that can coordinate its various units and groups and which are equipped with advance communication equipment, advance weapons that include various types of missiles, cannons, aircraft, and other things that cause other things to go boom, have a strong logistics structure,  medical support and various and sundry other things that make for a modern, effective, and deadly military is delusional at best.

 

To summarize then – there is no reasonable and rational reason for being against gun control.  I would much rather face and deal with an epidemic of knife attacks from effective gun control laws than our current epidemic of attacks by guns.

Let me just say that this is not a complete discussion of this issue and was not meant to be. It was instead just dealing with some of the more popular arguments for exempting gun rights from any sort of controls, controls that all of our other rights, for good reasons,  have.

Most people think that if one side gathers enough facts, if they provide enough solid evidence in support, then that side wins. It is something we all do, this gathering of facts and evidence during debates and disagreements so as to lay it all out before our opponent and force them to acknowledge that our position is the correct cone.  However, very often when we do so, something frustratingly odd happens. Our opponents still obstinately disagree. What is worse, they point to the same facts, the same evidence as reasons for why they disagree and why you should be agreeing with them. The reason for this frustration is that there is more to determining who is correct and who is wrong than a mere accumulation of facts and evidence. For example, consider these pictures.

 

1780700_10152217371453444_463753757_noptical-illusionsMost are already familiar with these types of pictures, wherein you can see both an  old or a young woman.   And while most people can see both, they tend to see one more easily than the other.  Same picture, two different conclusions.  The same holds true with many different issues about which people disagree.  There are occasions when there is no clear right answer, and no amount of fact and evidence gathering will change that.

One of the reasons for this relates to values and worldviews. For example, if one is concerned about government control and for allowing maximum freedom for the individual, then the same set of facts may have a different meaning and conclusion than for the person who believes in a strong society in which the weakest are taken care of even if that involves more government. Resolving these issues is always much more difficult, because there are no clear-cut guidelines or standards for doing so. Values and worldviews determine how you put the facts and evidence together and how you evaluate them and prioritize them.

Now many might note a similarity between this and the creationist who does not dispute the facts used to support evolution but instead argue that it is the evolutionist world view that is causing the problem; that if looked at from a Christian (fundamentalist) point of view all of these facts actually better support a young earth creationist view.

This is true to an extent. However, in the case of the creationist there are facts that they ignore and others they twist so that while the argument is theoretically plausible it fails in reality.  However, as I said, the argument is theoretically plausible and in other situations and issues does hold true. How much help should governments provide for their people and abortion are two of the issues in which this applies. Many issues in regards to religion fall into this category. There are aspects of each that are amenable to being negated or supported by facts and evidence. However, there are also large parts of each in which facts and evidence become, not immaterial, but of secondary importance because each side will look at the same facts and see a different face. When that happens, the argument then becomes which face is the correct one – a much more difficult argument.

When this happens we need to start discussing values and priorities instead of facts and evidence. There may still be no agreement, and no good way to resolve the differences, but at the very least it will be the correct conversation and one that is much less likely to degenerate into name calling and accusations of willfully ignoring facts, with all the acrimony, problems, and frustration that entails.

monopoly-man

 

In a crowded room and noisy room, the person with the loudest voice is the one most likely to be heard and listened to. Today the Supreme Court handed down a ruling to allow those with loud voices to speak even louder, drowning out the voices of those who speak more softly even though they are by far the most numerous and, supposedly, having an equal right to be heard.

 

Day_28_Occupy_Wall_Street_Tom_Morello_2011_Shankbone_4

Most of the time it is fairly easy to see the difference in quality between creationist “evidence” and that of evolution.  For example, this link of creationist explanations for the Grand Canyon isCreationismTextbook not going to fool anyone who has any knowledge of science and of how science works.  However, recently some creationists have managed to create faux science journals and faux science conferences that take on the trappings of science, the language of science, and the appearance of science. But, despite appearances, its content is most assuredly not science.

A problem for the layman though is that these papers read like a genuine science paper.  Which means that for most people, myself included, it is a hard slog trying to understand it and almost impossible to criticize it.  But, when coming across such a paper there are some quickly discovered clues that can alert you that this paper should be read with great care and skepticism if you do not have the time to do the research needed to find the flaws in the science.

Initially in reviewing creationist literature on the age of the Grand Canyon (chosen because of how impressed I was with Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories, and Mystery by Wayne Ranney)   I came across article after article of shallow and easily demolished creationist explanations of the Grand Canyon.   Other than using a few scientific words, they made no pretense of being a serious scientific study.   In many of these papers it only took creationists three hours of examining the rocks and strata of Grand Canyon to be able to clearly see that creationism was correct!   No serious testing, no serious analysis or experimentation, nothing.  However, I then, eventually , came across what gave every appearance of being an actual science paper.  Even then, though, there was a problem in that, at first, I could not find any in which the authors of the papers did any actual field work themselves – something very prominent among geologists in Ranney’s book  – merely criticism of published research.  Looked nice, but why not go out and find the conclusive evidence?

But then I came across a couple of papers that actually not only looked scientificy , but also discussed actually going out in the field.  I will be using a creationist paper that is a fine representative of this genre of creationist literature, the faux science report; “Discordant Potassium – Argon Model and Isochron ‘ages’ for Cardenas Basalt (Middle Proterozoic) and Associated Diabase of Eastern Grand Canyon, Arizona” by Steven A. Austin PhD and Andrew A. Snelling PhD.

The first thing to note about this paper is that it has the appearance of a scientific paper.  It has a nice long title that provides specifics on what the article is about; a nice abstract, nice technical jargon writing filled with numbers and graphs and charts; and has a nice references section at the end.  It wears its scientific clothing well. But, is the clothing just a covering for a particular religious belief or does it fit upon a true exercise of science?

Now, in reading this paper I found  its content above my head; I am not a geologist and have no Fox-in-the-Henshouse-500x397geological background. I think, though, that even without fully understanding the content, there are things that you can quickly look at that would allow you to assign a rough probability on whether the paper is going to be real science or faux science.

Without even looking at its content, a bit of quick research turned up information that set off a three alarm warning on this paper: the authors are affiliated with a religious organization, it was presented at a religious conference, and it was not submitted to a peer review scientific journal.

The Fourth International Conference on Creationism, where this paper was presented, tries to put on a scientific gloss, but it is only a gloss and a thinly applied one too.   For example, in a the Conference Report there is a criticism of one of the speakers, Steve Robinson, a member of  “a small but vocal group of British creationists” who have “for several years abandoned traditional flood geology, apparently for what they see as insurmountable geologic difficulties.”:

“It seems clear they are not working from the Bible, but instead are reaching conclusions about the evidence and then interpreting the Bible within the constraints imposed by their conclusions. This is a backwards and, as history shows, doctrinally dangerous approach. “

I do not know of any science conferences or journals criticizing a paper for basing their conclusions upon evidence..  Having your primary ground being a belief in a religious book instead of evidence is indeed “backwards” from science and thus not science at all.  It is like calling up down and black white.

However, to be fair, of the  authors of this paper  have actual PhD’s in geology from reputable universities.

Steven A. Austin is a co-author on both papers and received a PhD in geology from Pennsylvania State University in 1979, an actual accredited university.  So, by his educational background he is a geologist.

But we need to look further than just his degree. For example,  I see no geological papers of his published in peer reviewed science journals, just plenty of papers in religious publications and presented at religious conferences.  That is not to say he has none, but I would be willing to wager that those he does have published in peer reviewed scientific journals are not about young earth or creationism, but instead are about actual science.  And that such papers are not nearly as numerous as those to creationist non-peer reviewed journals.

Also note that Austin is Professor of Geology and Chair of the Department of Geology , Institute for Creation Research (USA).   A quick look at the Institute of Creation Research (USA) finds this:

“After more than four decades of ministry, the Institute for Creation Research remains a leader in scientific research within the context of biblical creation. “

Note the word ministry.  Note that any “scientific research’ is done within the straightjacket of “biblical creation”.  In other words, religion first, actual science a very very very distant second.

If more were needed to convince someone that this is religious institution and not a scientific one, a quick read of their tenets should finish their convining.

A listing of results already predetermined and a process in which any research that conflicts with these beliefs is discarded and automatically rejected. This organization is well fitted to that of the Fourth International Conference on Creationism.

images11-jpg

 

 

 

Andrew A. Snelling is another real geologist by education, having been awarded his PhD in geology from the University of Sydney in Australia in 1982.  What I found interesting is that in his biography he states that at the end of 1983  he “commenced in full-time creation ministry” and became a member of the Creation Science Foundation of Australia before moving to the US and eventually becoming Director of Research of Answers in Genesis.

Again, the word ministry.  And again another religious, not scientific, organization.  Here is a bit From Answers in Genesis’ Mission Statement that I found very informative:

“We relate the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world today with creativity.”

Creativity in this case means ignoring evidence, twisting evidence, and outright lying about evidence.  Their version of science is indeed more a work of creative fiction than of actual science.

Here is another telling statement from their Statement of Faith (whose very name shouts religion):

“The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.”

In other words, if the evidence conflicts with their understanding of the Bible, then get creative.  I should also mention that Snelling’s publication list is even thinner than Austin’s.

So, we have scientists by education associated with  primarily religious groups and their view of science, delivering papers to a religious conference about scientific subjects, and which criticizes those who dare let their views be shaped by the evidence instead of by doctrine and the Bible.   In other words, they already know the conclusion they want, don’t confuse matters by trying to objectively looking at the evidence;  it might lead to having to change their doctrine.

That alone should start ringing humongous alarm bells that these papers may not be science at all, no matter how scientific they look, and are, instead, religion in scientific clothing. An attempt to set a faux science loose in the henhouse, rending and destroying science and our efforts to understand both ourselves and the universe around us, with the result that we, both personally and as a society, become the poorer.

Now, while allof the above does not mean that the paper is wrong and that it is nothing more than dressed up trash, it does mean that  you should be extremely skeptical about its results and before you ever begin to accept its findings and results do some serious research first.  For example, on this paper there is already a good post showing the many scientific flaws in it titled “Inventing the isochron: Steve Austin, Andrew Snelling, and the Cardenas Basalts of the Grand Canyon”.  In it you find such interesting tidbits as :

“To Austin and Snellings’ (1998) own admission, most of the rock samples are highly altered. Moreover, several of the samples (especially those high in potassium) contain abundant glass. When volcanic glass is altered, its ability to retain argon (an assumption of the K-Ar method) is significantly lowered. Faure and Mensing (2005, p. 121) put it this way:

“Samples that have been altered or that contain devitrified glass…and xenoliths or xenocrysts should be avoided…the Ar retentivity of devitrified or hydrated glass is questionable.”

From the outset, there is no reason to expect that the whole-rock samples of Austin and Snelling (1998) met the conditions assumed by the K-Ar method. If anything, they should be analyzing mineral isochrons, where some quality control is practical. Instead, we must expect that altered volcanic glass sufficiently retained the argon over time. If it did not, however, we might expect to see significant scatter in the isochron plots. In fact, that is exactly what we find.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Even apart from the model above, there is good geological and statistical foundation on which to reject the isochron from Austin and Snelling (1998) as an indicator of the rocks’ age (crystallization or metamorphism). Coincident magmatic events are recorded on the North American continent, and date near 1100 Ma using several methods (Rb-Sr, U-Pb, and K-Ar).

Furthermore, several good 40Ar/39Ar dates (with undisturbed age spectra) are available for the dikes/sills, and agree with the Rb-Sr isochron age of 1103 Ma (Weil et al., 2003; Timmons et al., 2005). For the argument of Austin and Snelling (1998) to have any relevance, they must be able to account for this data. Instead, they propose the unrealistic “model” of accelerated nuclear decay (i.e. change in decay rates) to account for the apparent discordance, despite the fact that it would contradict regional K-Ar and Rb-Sr data already available to them (e.g. Larson et al., 1994). Despite their in-depth, technical discussion of the isotope geochemistry and petrology of Grand Canyon samples, the conclusions of Austin and Snelling (1998) are the result of bad scientific practice and a propagandist effort to dissuade uninformed readers from lending any credibility to geochronology.”

 

Let me end this with a link to an article in Earth: the Science Behind the Headlines titled “Creationism Creeps Into Mainstream Geology” for a bit more about how creationism wearing scientific clothing and putting out faux science in trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.

almost-half-of-americans-believe-in-creationism

In a world dependent on science, this deception is dangerous.

On the Limits of Atheism

In my last blog I wrote about why I was an atheist. However, that is not really telling you much about me. In fact, it tells you very little about me; and the little it does reveal is among the least important aspects of me.  The reason for this is that atheism is a negative belief, it only tells you what I do not believe.

It does not say anything about my belief in both humanity’s and each person’s potential, about my belief that the world is actually getting better over time. The negative of atheism says nothing about my strong belief that democracy is the best form of government, one that allows people the most freedoms, the best chance of happiness and fulfillment, while providing a needed structure for decisions, living and dealing with conflicts.

Atheism does not speak to my belief that all people should be treated with respect first until shown that they do not deserve such treatment. Atheism says nothing about my conviction that all human life is sacred, even that of the most horrid and evil of humans. Atheism does not express the value that I place on love, on helping those in need, on treating people fairly   Atheism provides no reason for me to do any of this, to believe any of this.

I believe in the proven power of logic and reason in addressing many of the problems that face us today, both as a group and as individuals. I also, though, recognize the limitations of reason and logic. By themselves they cannot give us solutions and answers to all our troubles and problems. By their use alone we cannot find happiness, fulfillment, and joy. In fact, there are times and issues in which reason and logic are of only secondary importance. My atheism does not reveal any of this.

My atheism is not the reason why I love animals, enjoy walks in the woods, am an avid reader of everything from pure junk to literature to non-fiction.   My atheism says nothing about the fact that I hate ties and refuse to wear them (with one possible future exception), and that I enjoy watching movies and TV more than my wife, who is also an atheists, does.

Finally, I believe in mystery. Without it our lives would be poorer.

Atheism deals in none of this – no values, no ethics, no likes, no desires, and no hatreds can be extrapolated from the negative belief of atheism.   It is a comment on only one question, does God exist.  It is a comment; not a worldview, not a system of thought, not an ethical and philosphical system.

There are many religious organizations, and even more religious people, who hold similar beliefs and values as mine. However, where they and I differ is that I also believe that this world is all there is, that there is nothing beyond the natural. I consider our differences much more minor than our agreements. In fact, I  have at times found much more in common with these religious people and groups than I do with other atheists and some atheists groups.

All of this is also why I tend to identify myself as a Humanist instead of an atheist.  It tells more about me than a comment on one idea does.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers