Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Of Atheists and of Our Ideas and Ideals

This is an interesting story from a new and dear friend concerning American atheist figures.  It was sent to me as a link from the Huffington Post. I hope you enjoy!

I'm surprised Thomas Edison didn't make the cut. Or Steve Allen, or Woody Allen, or Bill Blass or Susan B. Anthony, or Lance Armstrong....the list goes on..and on..and on.  That's the great thing about the movement these days.  Since we're not cowering in the corner anymore and the fact that we're a global movement, as more people see the value in free thinking, we can openly share our history and our heroes in every nation and share them internationally.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants and I conclude it is emotionally fantastic to be a non-believer.  It means we accept reality over superstition, medicine and science instead of prayer and rationality over theology.  How wonderful to be connected to the universe and each other - we are the stuff of stars, yet here we are with our (limited?) understanding of the world, working to see the universe as it is rather than how we hope it would be. 

Religious faith is opposite of reason.  It demands we throw away logic and our understanding of the natural operation of cosmic, organic and inorganic life in all its forms in favor of Bronze Age dogma. Ultimately to be controlled by fables and mythology written and re-written by (mostly) men, to manage human thought and societal norms, behaviors, values and mores.  

If this was just an ancient phenomena we could look back with either shock, dismay or whimsy at how barbaric and inhumane we can be towards one another through the hands of organized religion. But such imperialism of thought continues today. I just listened to an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) about how the Roman Catholic Church is going after nuns for breaking with "Church teaching."  Yet, ever more violence against women as the need to subjugate females, even those who have taken the same vows as priests, for patriarchal male-dominated authority continues.

The nun who was interviewed, who represents 80% of all ordained nuns, said the RC Church was not interested in dialog. Apparently, the Pope’s henchmen bark orders and expect these women to be docile. Let's not forget the theistic justification for "Original Sin," the justification for harming and controlling women, begins with the story in the Garden of Eden (if you discount Lilith). Since it was a woman, Eve,who owed her very existence to a man, and tempted Adam with a bite of the apple from the tree of knowledge. Thus began humanity’s alleged and certainly theistic fall from grace.

Only in religion can we imagine that the human search for knowledge is seen as a negative and a sin. In modern times, perhaps that's why Rick Santorum, the bible thumping moralist and former presidential candidate, thought that it was fine to assail the aspiration of others who wish to achieve a college degree. He views education as a form of elitism.  

So we have to ask, when is ignorance better than knowledge? The answer is never! Unless of course when one places their religious faith before critical evidence, science and rationality, then reason goes out the window and we wind up in another Dark Ages.

All modern religions objectify women. So women get the short end of the stick (not meant as they're stuck with less endowed men - but it’s possible). In conservative and orthodox Judaism men and women do not pray together, women must go to a mikvah after their cycle for ritual cleansing, and they are trapped into having multiple sets of children to remain at home and essentially out of society.  

In Islam, where male dominated physical violence against women is inculcated and legendary - stonings, beheadings, disfigurements, honor killings, and the fact that women must cover their entire body to shield themselves from men and the outside world is apparent in almost every nation which uses Sharia Law to guide society.  Here again, men and women are not allowed to pray together. This is total control, no peace and no social justice for women.

Same with the Mormons, with the Amish and the list goes on here too! In all these cases, a form of Stockholm Syndrome works to keep women as willing and subservient accomplices in their own objectification.

And this is where and why a secular humanist approach to living and being in this world conflicts with and, I conclude, wins in the court of ideas. Such humanistic living,  as I’ve noted in previous posts, is a form of liberation. And with liberation comes the human and civil right to self-determination which every person regardless of gender, age, social-economic standing, location, ability and orientation, must be afforded.

But I have a vested interest in ensuring humanity treats girls and women with respect aside from and including the fact that it is the moral thing to do and to actively work to make sure it occurs. As the father of two beautiful daughters, I never want to see them harmed by religious perceptions of their abilities.  They deserve the right to declare their careers, seek an education, have ownership of their bodies, choose who to love, and how to live their life.  

I'm sure many of you reading this post will feel the same way about those who you cherish in your own lives. Good! That only works to build community, since we remain united not for ourselves but for the humanistic sake of others.


  1. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you. Your comment means a lot to me and I do appreciate the positive (if brief) review.


  2. I love everything about this blog entry. It is so spot on. May I post the link in my non-theist group on Facebook?

  3. Hi Laurin,

    Certainly use this and any content on the blog as you wish. The point is to share ideas and build community. I am both honored and humbled that you'd like to use my writings to do that. :-)