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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Normally I do just one blog during a week. But this week there will be two, my normal Wednesday blog, and this one.

 

 

It seems that we have reached a critical mass, a critical mass that has been set ablaze by the Me Too movement. It seems that women, and some men, everywhere are speaking up about harassment from the rich and powerful.  Harvey Weinstein, of course.  Then also, after Harvey, Ed Westwick, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, former President George H. W. Bush, Louis C. K. and many others.  And the list is growing – and I hope continues to grow.

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Doubtless some of those or those of others to come, will turn out to be honest mistakes in communication or memory. Others will turn out to be lies or half truths done out of maliciousness or even to score political points. However, I am not going to make the mistake of so many on the right who question whether hate crimes and hate speech are increasing at all and who point to a few hoaxes as reason to question the experiences and reality of thousands of people.  Most, in fact, the great majority, of these women’s claims will turn out to be true. Just as is true for those who have experienced hate crimes and speech.

 

I should note that although I mentioned the rich and powerful, as well as listed the names of such, this is by no means confined only to the rich and powerful.  Would that it were. But this issue crosses all areas of society, the rich and the poor.  The rich and powerful though can often get away with such behavior on a scale that those poor can only dream about, whether that dream be bliss or nightmare. And, that the rich and powerful are much more visible than the average person.

 

Also, before going further, let me state this is not a political issue. It is not a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican issue. Most of those coming out now are from the entertainment industry and heavily liberal.  However, a brief look at recent history shows that this is not only liberals and Democrats.  Need I remind people of Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Herman Cain, Dennis Hastert, Donald Trump and many others.

 

As I said, this is not a political issue, although it does have political ramifications.

 

Instead, this is a human and American societal issue and concerns all of us. Look at the names I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. They range from one end of the political spectrum to the other. However, I am realistic enough to know that for many, and possibly most, they will see this as a problem mostly for liberals or mostly for conservatives. Of course, this could wind up working if the conservatives would take aim and take down the liberal sexual harassers and the liberals do the same for the conservative ones. But, again, my ability to see reality knows that this will not happen. It is too easy and too facile and the issue spread too widely and deeply for this ironic simplistic vignette to happen.

 

Let me start by briefly going over what I think are some of the causes of our societal addiction to sexual harassment. I think this is important because without understanding the root causes of a problem, not understanding how it came about and what supports it, all attempts to deal with it will work only by chance, with many being ineffective efforts and others actually creating greater harm. This is going to happen anyway, but knowledge and understanding will reduce the mistakes and increase the effectiveness of our actions moving forwards.

 

I do not intend to go into this in any sort of depth. For one, I am already going to bust my self imposed limit of keeping these to 1000 words or so. But, also, to do any sort of proper analysis would take much more knowledge and much more time than I have, and would take many thousands of words. I am, instead, just presenting some ideas of my own for consideration.

 

The first of these is that one of the main roots of sexual harassment lies in the idea of power coupled with the ideas of the proper roles of men and women in society.

 

Libby Ann, in her excellent blog “Child Brides, Teenage Sluts, and Roy Moore”, hits at some of this in discussing the views and attitudes of some conservative evangelical Christians.  Simplistically put (read her blog for a fuller discussion on this) the roots lie in this groups’ ideas of the proper role for men and women.

 

Men are meant to support and protect women. Women are meant to be submissive and obey men. To be supportive and able to protect their family, men need to be older and well established financially.  Women though need to know how to cook and clean house, bear and raise children, and be submissive; something a woman can do as a girl of 13.

 

What is interesting here is that this idea of the proper roles of men and women was at one time the dominant one in our society.  It has only been in recent times that a new ideal has taken hold and become the dominant view of most of society – that of a woman being the equal of a man, due the same rights, respect, and opportunities as a man.  Something that, even when disagreeing on particular situations, is usually given at least lip service by all sides.

 

However, it is important to note that first, this change of ideals is not uniform, and the understanding of how this new ideal works in specific situations varies considerably.

 

Second, although ideals may have changed, attitudes have lagged.  As is usual.

 

And third, that all progress also generates a push to not only stop but to go back to the way things were before, or at least as they were perceived as being.  Currently we have started living through such a dark period.

 

Which makes the light being shone by these women willing to speak up during our time of moral eclipse even more amazing.  During this time when, for whatever reason – ignorance, fear, denial, greed – we as a society are no longer concerned and working towards creating a more just society these women are speaking up, often at personal risk.

 

I only hope that even though mistakes will occur, tensions created, people hurt, and society roiled, that these and more women continue to speak up, because there are many more women as the Me Too movement showed.  Continue to shine not only to just limit the darkness but to reverse it.

 

This is a time for women when, like so many other issues such as racial discrimination, many point to laws passed and progress made and say no more needs to be done. And too many then go on to say too much has been done, and start darkening people’s lives.  In doing so they ignore that in actuality not enough has been done.  In fact, only the easy parts have been taken care of, and those imperfectly.

 

Shine on through the storm.

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So often I hear people say to stand firm on your principles.  As I have gotten older and thought about this, and had my thinking influenced by several conversations with several people and by watching current events and reading of past events, I have come to the belief that principles are not for standing upon.  They are for pointing a direction.

Too often when a person takes a firm stand on principle they wind up building a wall instead. And the problem with walls is that they actually can keep you from going anywhere, especially forward. They fence you in.

 

In fact, I think most of the times, the great majority of the times, that standing firmly on your principles can be the worst thing that can be done; that there are instead many times when a compromise, even an evil one, can be the right thing to do.

 

For a grand example of this, let me use something from the history of the United States, the creation of our Constitution.  The compromise was called the three – fifths compromise. This compromise  not only allowed slavery to continue to exist, but gave the southern slave states more power in the House and in Presidential elections.

 

The three –fifths compromise came about due to a heated disagreement on who to count for the census. This was important because the population of a state determined how many representatives it would have, and also how many electors a state has for presidential elections.   The Southern States wanted to count their slaves as part of the census.  Those opposed to slavery, and the northern states, did not want to count the slaves as they felt that would make the slave states too powerful (and I note the irony here that those against slavery wanted to have slaves not even count as being a person).  The compromise that was agreed to was that slaves would count as three-fifths of a free citizen.  Which still gave the southern slave states a great deal of power within the federal government.  Because of this the southern slave states were dominant for most of the pre-Civil War United State.   Something that can be seen in the fact that ten of the first 16 Presidents (all the Presidents before Lincoln) were from Southern States.

 

Now consider the principle of “All men are created equal”. No one at our Constitutional Convention stood up firmly for that principle. In fact, they gave way and made what I would characterize as an evil compromise (I will note that those opposed to slavery argued for slaves not being counted for the census in order to reduce the power of the Southern states).  They agreed to continue the belief and practice of treating some people as nothing more than property and, even worse, gave those with the greatest interest in promoting this belief and practice the means to continue it.

 

 

Why did those who opposed slavery agree to this compromise?  They did so because they hoped that a United States would one day be able to resolve the issue of slavery, and end it.  In other words, they hoped that more good would result from a United States than from there not being one. Because without this compromise the United States would not have existed.

 

 

And I would say that history proved them right in making this compromise, in not standing firmly on principle.  Why?  Because if they had not, if they had not made this evil compromise, I do not think slavery would have been abolished in North America until the 20th century at best. And once abolished those states that did abolish it in the 20th century instead of the middle 19th would still be going through their version of Jim Crow or worse.

 

Before going further let me acknowledge the complexities and difficulties in predicting what might have been. Let me also say that I am giving a very simplified version of what could have happened in order to try to keep this blog as close to 1000 words as possible.  Just to give some of those complexities, the United States could have broken down into three, four or more separate countries each going their own way and pursuing their own interests, with all the resulting conflicts, alliances, rivalries and wars attached to doing so. Some may have even become part of the British Empire again.  That’s not even considering the effect of several individual countries trying to expand westward.

 

But, in order to keep this short, I am not going to try to cover all of those aspects. Instead, I want to focus on just one simple part of this that illustrates what I am saying  about principle and compromise.

 

Consider this: if the United States had not formed there would have been at least two separate countries formed – the Northern States that would have abolished slavery and the Southern States that had already made slavery an integral part of their society and economy.

 

Consider also that the Northern States and President Lincoln did not go to war with the Southern States to abolish slavery, but to preserve the Union.  If there were no union to preserve, there would have been no war.  There would have been no war that resulted in abolishing slavery in North America in the 1860s.

 

 

There are two reasons to make evil compromises.  One is because all the other options are even more evil.  The other is that that compromise has the potential to lead to a good, a potential that the other options do not have.   In this example, I think most of the founders who were strongly against slavery – such as Alexander Hamilton – made this compromise not only because they believed that a United States with slavery was better than numerous countries in conflict, many of which would also have slavery as an institution, but because they believed that a United States would be better poised to eventually eliminate slavery – although they did not know how.

 

So, they made their evil compromise instead of firmly standing on principles. And then they hoped, they prayed, and they worked to make that hope come true.  Something that would not have been as possible, or as quickly possible, had they stood firmly on principle.

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I see in the news that the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services is about to promote the pro-life belief that life begins at conception.  However, I cannot help but wonder if they have thought this out all the way.  I mean, if they had, they would realize that “life begins at conception” is way too liberal. Science, after all, tells us that both sperm and eggs are alive too.  And the Bible tells us that God knew us before we had even formed in the womb. In other words, life instead of starting at conception, is started before conception.

I have heard many religious groups, the same ones who Trump wants to allow full reign on imposing their morals on the country, citing Jeremiah 1:5 for their pro-life beliefs.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Now, it seems to me that if you are going to use this verse as a Biblical justification for being against abortion then you are also going to have to go much further than merely picketing abortion clinics and passing laws against abortion.  Much, much further. After all, before being “formed in the womb” you were an egg and a sperm.

If you are for life and take this verse seriously as a justification for being against abortion then you must also start a campaign to save the sperm and eggs that are being murdered in their millions every day.

After all, since God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb then that means he knew and had selected which sperm was going to unite with which egg to form Jeremiah.  If this verse then is the basis for being against abortion it is only logical to then be against losing sperm and eggs.  After all who knows what God has planned for each individual sperm and egg that was lost.  A man irresponsibly spilling his seed or a woman who menstruates recklessly need to be stopped and stopped now.

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Obviously this is going to change things quite a bit.  For one thing the Catholic Church is far too weak and wishy-washy in their stance against birth control.  Not only should embryos and fetuses be saved but sperm and eggs need to be saved too.  It is, after all, Biblical – from God to us.

Now, in order to save the sperm and eggs the following, as I see it, will have to be done:

1)     All males past the age of puberty would have to wear sperm catchers while they sleep lest they have a nocturnal emission.  Should they have one it will have to be immediately put in the refrigerator until it can be safely and quickly transported to an appropriate Sperm Collection Hospital.

2)    Males with hair triggers will be required to always wear a sperm catcher.

3)    Immediately after intercourse the insides of a woman’s vagina and uterus would have to be swabbed and any excess sperm saved.  Again this would have to be put in the refrigerator until transport to the Sperm Collection Hospital.

4)    If the couple engages in either oral or anal sex the man would again have to wear the sperm collector just as he does during sleep.  Those men with hair triggers who would be required to always have wear sperm collectors would have an advantage in that no annoying interruptions would occur during sex play.

5)    Women would have to wear egg catchers during their menstrual period to collect the eggs that would otherwise be lost.  Like the males these would have to be refrigerated and then safely and quickly transported to an Egg Collection Hospital.

6)    Probably both the Sperm Collection Hospital and the Egg Collection Hospital should be physically connected in some manner since eventually both egg and sperm would have to be united to form a new baby.

7)    Women would also have to wear egg catchers when they urinate – especially after having engaged in intercourse.  Scientists have been finding that there are many fertilized eggs that do not implant and are lost when peeing.  After being caught the same procedures are followed in regards to storage and transport.

8)    Of course laws would have to be passed to ensure that men and women followed these common sense Ultra Pro Life practices.

9)    Since we are talking about human lives here and a Biblical directive, a well funded crash research and development program needs to be initiated to resolve some rather pressing problems and issues.

  1. Since there are roughly 6 to 10 million sperm produced during each ejaculation and each woman only produces about 400 eggs during her lifetime it is obvious that there is going to be much more sperm than there are eggs.  Because of this we are going to have to develop an artificial egg in order not to let any sperm go to waste and thus spoil God’s plan.
  2. Since the number of sperm vastly outnumbers the number of eggs it is obvious that sperm will be driving how many babies will be born.  And of course how many women will be needed to incubate the united sperm and egg.
  3. In doing a bit of research I find that men between the ages of 20 to 29 ejaculate on average 15 times a month.  That number (sadly) declines by age 80 to an average of 5 ejaculations a month.
  4. According to the 2007 census there are over 19 million men in the United States falling into the 20 to 29 age range.  At 15 ejaculations per month that means there are 285 billion ejaculations per month.  Over a 10 month period (have to allow a woman at least one month recovery between pregnancies) we will need 2,850,000,000,000 women to host all of that sperm.  And that is just sperm from the 20 to 29 age range.  The number obviously becomes much higher when you factor in all of the post puberty males; both those younger than 20 and older than 29.
  5. There are only 143.5 million women in the United States of all ages from 0 to death.    Obviously we have a problem with not enough women for all of this sperm.
  6. I believe that in order to correct this several actions will have to be taken:
    1. We need to find a way to shorten the gestation period from 9 months to 4 months.  This will allow for a quicker turnaround of pregnancies.
    2. We need to find a way to allow pre-pubescent girls to become pregnant too.  And of course we would need to have all women, regardless of how old they are – including post menopausal women – being sperm hosts.
    3. We will have to freely allow immigration of single or separated women from other countries.
    4. We should immediately start research on how to create an artificial woman who can host sperm and produce babies.  Preferably of the Stepford type – the wives that is.

Now I know that some unthinking person is going to ask why not just make all males past the age of puberty take some sort of medication to prevent erections and in that manner control the killing of sperm.  That way we can limit the living sperm to the numbers of available women.  I am sure that some especially vindictive and short sighted women who hate God might even suggest electro-shock aversion treatment instead of chemicals as a way to prevent erections.

However this would be wrong.

For just as the Bible tells us to save the sperm and eggs so too does it tell us to go forth and multiply.  And since God gave us all it is up to us to give God all we can to fulfill his commandments… no matter how difficult it seems.

So this suggestion is a no go.  And that’s not even considering the other bits in the Bible about woman being the helper of the man and having to bear the pain of childbirth.

Now I know that this may seem radical to some, but is it really?  After all we are talking about human life here.  It doesn’t matter that they, the sperm and the egg, are small and do not look like us.  Life is life and God knows it all.

God said so when he spoke to Jeremiah.

 

 

Note: This is a revision and update of a blog I originally posted on October 4, 2011.

 

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I came across a post in Facebook the other day about the possibility of requiring car manufacturers to install some mechanism to keep children from being left in cars on hot days and dying. Instead of the praise I expected to see, the comments were dissing this – asking what about personal responsibility.

Okay. So I just saw on CNN a lawyer advocating to make it MANDATORY for car manufacturers to put a device in the car that reminds parents that they have children with them – so they won’t be left to die in a hot car.

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Is this what it has come down to? Passing the buck to the auto industry for parents to be responsible for their own children? I mean, am I missing something? Should I be more sympathetic to parents who “forget” about their children? Please tell me if I am missing something, because, I just don’t get it.

 

I don’t get it either….what on a person’s mind could be more important than taking their child out when they get out?

 

I hear they’re working on a device that reminds you when to poop! After all these years without it I know my life will change!

 

In reading these comments, it occurred to me how much suffering still exists in the name of “personal responsibility”.

Yes, I am like these commenters in that I find it hard to imagine forgetting your child   However, guess what? The unimaginable happens. So, are you going to let children continue to die or take actions to prevent it? As for personal responsibility – parents have thousands of decisions they make every day.  I do not think that something that aides parents in remembering their child is in the car seat is going to wind up taking all the responsibilities away from being a parent.  I imagine there are one or two other things that occur occasionally that a parent winds up being responsible for.  And even if it did take away all other responsibilities, keeping that personal responsibility would still come at too high a cost – a child’s life.

This same argument, that of what about individual responsibility,  is used in so many other areas of our life.  For example, a prominent one today is in regards to universal healthcare.

Shouldn’t people be responsible for getting their own healthcare? What ever happened to the idea of personal responsibility?

To put this in the proper perspective then, you who argue against universal healthcare on the basis of personal responsibility are OK with poor people or those who are just getting by going without healthcare, being sick and suffering, and dying sooner than those with healthcare; OK with children doing without needed medical care with the healthcareresult that they have both their physical and mental development harmed, and too often dying when they could have lived and thrived; OK with pregnant women not getting the needed prenatal and postnatal care with the result that we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world, and, unlike every other developed nation, one that is rising; Ok with having an infant mortality rate that is worse than 27 other developed countries (about on a par with Serbia or Malaysia); OK with people going bankrupt trying to pay their or their loved ones medical bills.

You are OK with all of that and more, all in the name of personal responsibility?

Oh yes, it is indeed a carefree life under universal healthcare with no personal responsibilities or decisions to make.  Well, other than decisions on what to eat and how much to eat, how best to exercise or even to exercise, to smoke or not to smoke, when to go to the doctor and when not to, which doctor to go to, do you want to follow what they tell you or not, do you take all of your medicine, or do you go for alternative medicines, and the list goes on and on.  And, of course, that covers only decisions on health issues.

I don’t know, but it  seems to me that there is plenty of personal responsibility left. The only thing being taken away is the stress and worries caused by not being able to afford and get healthcare. And the pain and suffering and deaths of millions of men, women, and children.  And like saving the lives of children in car seats, I think this a good, a moral thing.

Too often the cry of personal responsibility is nothing more than an excuse to justify not taking personal responsibility for the good of our country, our society,  our neighbors, and, ultimately, our own enlightened self interests.

 

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I have been told I do nothing. That while on Facebook I talk about changes and issues facing our nation, that all I do about them is blog. I write the write but don’t do the walk. Usually this is when someone is in heated disagreement with me on an issue and are looking for a way to put me down, and minimize what I do.  Which, along with my experiences during Hurricane Harvey, got me thinking, and so this blog.

For myself, my critic is partially right. I don’t do any big earth shaking , country roiling , state rattling deeds. My words and actions are not going to inspire any great movements, or even any memories that will outlast me by much.  Which makes me just like most people.

However, that does not mean that what we do does not make a difference, or that the difference we make is unimportant.  In fact, one way of viewing this makes what we are doing the most important thing possible.

I know that when I view the actions and policies and statements of those who can influence and change the state, the country, the world, the bottom line of my evaluation is how will it affect people. Not people as a massive group, not people as an idea, but people as individuals. As persons.

And it is at that level that everyday people can and do make a difference.

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Stopping to help a person with a flat. Seeing a person struggling with a load and offering to help carry some of it. Pausing to let another driver in during heavy traffic.

Small things, everyday things, but they make a difference to that person at that time. They set a tone for our neighborhood, our town and help create our society.  Some examples that I personally know about during our time in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

A neighbor with a well has run a hose from her house for everyone to use since our city water is currently contaminated.

When out scouting for food and water, and too often standing in long lines, people share information and suggestions. There is water to be found there, that street is flooded, avoid it, this store is open until then, that one is not, etc.

People using grocery carts to take their water and food to their car returning that cart to those waiting in line instead of putting them in the parking lot cart corrals since there are no carts at the doors.

A co-worker with a swimming pool letting people know if they need water they can come get some from his pool – this was when we had no water, contaminated or clean.

On the neighborhood website, people in our addition offering help- from going to help clear the fallen tree, to passing on info about where to get water. One guy’s house flooded and another neighbor went right over with heavy duty vacuums to help clean the mess.

One woman got caught away from home when her street flooded and she couldn’t get back in. There was a litter of puppies trapped in her yard.Another woman managed to get through the water to the pups and rescue them.

And of course, this does not include the many people with boats and jet skis who rescued people from flooded homes.

Small things really, overall. Things that will be not only be soon forgotten, but are often not even covered to begin with. But, they helped someone, and made a difference for individual people.  Such actions not only create the bonds of a society, bonds which are essential for the survival of any society,  but are also the result of those bonds.

And this happens everyday everywhere in the US (and the world). It is not limited to times of disaster. Other examples from my life, my wife’s life, and from friends.

Having a stranger stop to help fix a flat on a rental car during a wet night in the middle of nowhere.

Providing a place to stay not just once, but twice to those displaced by tragedy .this-beautiful-random-act-of-kindness-was-photographed-give-this-awesome-guy-a-like-for-caring

Providing first aid to those injured by a tornado that was still there.

When seeing a man who had enough money for a gallon of gas but not enough to pay for the gas can the gas station insisted he had to buy instead of borrow – buying the gas can and the gas.

Paying the difference for a person in the grocery costs at the store when they were short of money.

Helping a neighbor look for a lost pet.

Along with other drivers who stopped, pulling a young man out of a car that had flipped just before it caught on fire.

And the list goes on. Nothing that by itself will change a nation. But done by the tens and hundreds of millions each day, they help cement the bonds of society. In all of the above, there was no concern about the person’s race, religion, gender, employment, or politics. Just a person in need.  And a person willing to help.

So, while it is well worth the time and effort to try to influence the ones who can shape and shift the country, to join together with other like thinking people to advocate and to press for needed changes, you and I can still make a difference on that most fundamental level, the person.

And as for my blog.  Well, even if I can just influence a couple of people with one or two of my blogs, cause a couple of people to think, or maybe even act, that would be enough. Especially since from small beginnings such as this, things can grow and grow large enough to make the bigger differences that so impresses people. But, probably not. And if it does wind up making a larger difference through a chain of hundreds of people, I will probably never know. And that’s OK.   I am fine with the small.

So, no, no earth shaking differences. Just small ones. And usually not original either. In Just a Reminder 2fact, the ideas embedded within my words here are not new, and have been expressed many millions of times by others.  But, then, perhaps they need to be. Just as a reminder.

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I am an atheist. There are some atheists who get upset when someone says they will pray for them. Many others who would denounce prayers, and sometimes thoughts, as being worthless and empty nothings. Especially during times such as now.  I am an atheist who lives in Beaumont, which is about 90 miles east of Houston.

What that means is that, although we did not get whacked nearly as badly as Houston, we did experience severe flooding (still on-going in some areas as I write this), power outages, loss of water, and loss of lives. As I write this, there are no open roads leading out of the area I live in.

It is times such as these that you see many people calling for prayers for those of us in danger. Or passing on that we are in their thoughts. Or that they wish and hope for the best for us.

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Many atheists, and even some non-atheists sneer at such things as nothing.  Me, I don’t.

When something bad happens to me, my wife my will say she is sorry that it happened, and give me a hug. Those are not nothings, they are expressions of emotional support. They also build up and support the bonds of our family. The same happens when you expand this to friends.  Much of what we do and say to family and friends is nothing more, and nothing less, than expressions of emotional support meant to provide comfort.  These words ware not meant to solve the problem. Instead, they are meant to let you know that you are not alone.

Humans cannot live by bread and water alone, especially during times of trouble. We are a social species. In fact, a highly social species. Emotions are an important part of who and what we are.  To ignore that is to ignore a large part of what it means to be human. Relationships and society are an important part of what we are.

To me, when I see these expressions of support – our thoughts, our prayers are with you – I understand them as being these sorts of statements. If I gratefully accept it from friends and family, and find it comforting, then why not from the society I live within and am a part of? These sorts of words are part of our social fabric and part of the ties that bind us together.

Now, if there are actions that can be taken but these words are taking their place, then there is a problem. I have blogged about that before. But, that is not true for the vast majority of these.  Many of these people have offered us a place to stay if we need it. Others have contributed money or food to relief efforts. And others have actively participated in such relief efforts. For others, prayers and thoughts are the most that they can give.

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Finally, why should I take offense or get mad or make light of someone else wishing me well. To me, our society could stand to use more, not less of this.

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In my last blog I talked about how confederate monuments are not about history but, instead, monuments about a society’s values.  In this blog I to stick to the theme of values, but this time to discuss an atheist’s values.

 Atheism has none.

Does that mean then that the  Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others who claim that atheists are immoral creatures devoid of any redeeming trait are correct?

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No. But, the reason this is not true is not due to atheism.  Atheism is nothing more than emptiness.  It is, according to the Oxford dictionary; “ Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”

There is nothing there in atheism.   It is a void, formless and empty, waiting to be filled It is what this void is filled with that allows an atheist to have morals and ethics, a sense of right and wrong. Or not.

Not believing in a God or gods leads only to the belief that there is no God or gods. It doesn’t even mean that there is no life after death. It doesn’t even mean that there is no supernatural. Both concepts are perfectly compatible with a lack of belief in a God or gods.

Atheism is a void waiting to be filled.

A curious fact though is that theism is almost the same. According to the Oxford Dictionary, again, theism is “Belief in the existence of a god or gods”.

Theism then is an idea of God/gods, formless and empty, waiting to be shaped. The idea of God/gods does not lead to any beliefs in and of itself. Not even in a life after death or the supernatural.

Like atheism, theism requires more to become formed enough to provide a framework for understanding the world for making decisions about how to live in that world.

There are no values, no ideals, no morals embedded within either atheism or theism. Both take more. That more comes from the world around us, our family and friends;  from our enemies and those who do not care either way. It comes from schools and teachers; from church and ministers;  from shows, movies, plays, and advertisements. It comes from books and music and art.

It comes from conversations, debates, and arguments with others – in person, on line, through letters, through emails, through reading.   It comes from love, from hate, from hurt and from joy. It comes from being part of a group. It comes from being alone. Both the void of the atheist and the blank face of the God/gods of the theist are shaped by our lives.

It is why, when you come right down to it, most theists and atheist share the same values. There can be, and often are, significant and important differences. But there are, most often, more areas of agreement than disagreement.  Do not believe this? Then, instead of looking at the differences start looking at what you and the others have in common. What laws, rules, morals do you agree on. Yes, the ones you disagree on may be highly important, but that still does not change the fact that most values are shared, even important ones. To have a functioning society it can be no other way.

It is also why there are times when a theist and an atheist may find their views more in agreement than the theist with other theists or the atheist with other atheists.  A anti-racist, feminist theist will find more in common with an anti-racist feminist atheist than either will with a racist, misogynist person whether that person be atheist or theist.

What it comes down to is that it is not the fact that one person is an atheist or the other a theist that really matters. What really matters is with what did the atheist fill his void, and what shape and color did the theist give their God/gods.

 

 

 

 

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