Just Think About It!

Think about your beliefs, no really, take a moment to consider what has shaped your view of reality. Do you have a few ideas just yet? As a guy who muses on these things day after day there are a few things I’d like to highlight. All of us, whether we like it or not, are the victims of not having access to some of the most basic answers to our questions.

A holy book or sacred text of a religion is something that I suspect to be not very well founded and here’s why. The answers provided tend to scratch an itch that many of us have. An itch that asks, “what is my community, my spirituality, my family, my role, my calling?” The way we as humans have been approaching these questions for thousands of years reveals a rather striking variety and dissimilarity throughout the world. You see, these are basic questions with highly varied outcomes among us.

This dissimilarity is something that I find to be profoundly challenging to the idea that truth with regard to religion is able to be easily identified within life. It is what leads to movements that attempt to say that all roads lead to heaven, while still others insist that there is only one path that gets us there. What I find truly fascinating, however, is that religion often poses these questions of heaven and hell as being the most important questions to ask and find an answer to.

Now, think about that for a moment. These are considered the most important questions in life. Some preachers will cry out of desperation to their crowds that heaven and hell is inevitably in the balance! It all comes down to what we as human beings do with the message. My sincere answer to those who speak with such confidence is, “how can you know for your own self that you stand on good ground? That you know who or what is behind the veil?” Another important related question is, “what information do you posses pertaining to these spiritual statements that is able to act as a compass to tip you off with regard to which God to embrace?”

I don’t care if one is convinced that they have seen miracles, this is after all quite commonplace within the claims of most or all religions. Miracles or supernatural phenomena is said to validate most religions either now or in the past. Well, does it? It seems that if this is the case then anyone from any religion now has the burden to demonstrate why their particular set of divine claims is somehow discernable from the others? That is, somehow more true or valid?

You see, on one hand religion exalts one’s personal act of trust toward past authoritative claims as being virtuous, however, there seems to be some incentive for that, namely the advancement of “fill in the blank” religious ideas. My argument is that anyone from any religious background should be far more concerned about how to validate what is behind the veil. Without doing so it would appear that religion is actually not so concerned about what is true. As a thinking human being, I am. I want to advocate the things that are true, what about you?

Truth Matters!

Whether or not someone personally values the role of religion in their life, my encouragement to anyone is to resolve to serve the truth. No matter how inconvenient it may present itself to be. We must be aware of our own expectations. Are they way too low, way too high, somewhere in between?

Here is a simple rule of thumb in the form of a question: “How well do my personal beliefs align with what I understand to be reality?” How can I best strive to represent the facts and where is it more appropriate to suspend judgement? These principles won’t have everyone believing and perceiving the same things, but they will distinguish us from not actively evaluating the most important questions in life! Being passive is the most unhelpful and unsatisfying way to leave a legacy.

You know what we don’t think about all the time as human beings? The fact that we are all intricately intertwined into a web of assumptions and beliefs that have been evolving and branching out into differing pockets for thousands of years. We are all the victims of having very limited knowledge in a very small pocket of our universe.

You May Be An Atheist If…

1) You may be an Atheist if your own sense of certainty is no longer built up by claims of authority. If you begin to realize, as I have, that Theism is far more comfortable with keeping said evidences at the bottom of the rung, and placing premises of inspiration at the top. Rather than saying, “I must first assume that the Bible is authoritative in order to benefit from said beliefs, you will begin to say, I must first see how the Bible is authoritative in the here and now in order to invest my life further into that system of thought.” There’s a big difference in these approaches. Past claims of authority are intending to stretch the assumptions of the past into our present scenario. Be aware of this.

 

2) You may be an Atheist if you are starting to realize your own placement in this existence and the peculiar way that you are told to accept divine claims. Your placement in the world, you may find, is one that astonishingly enough is going to dictate what you believe about God and so many other things. Your own sense of morality and self is intricately wrapped up within your own family and immediate culture. Begin to tread other waters by traveling the world and your internet search engine, and suddenly you exist within a quagmire of competing belief systems. The trend within most or all religions, as I alluded to above, is to first rely upon past authoritative statements rather than present evidence that could put these questions to rest. Sound a little fishy to you? It certainly seems to highlight why the world religions are so unyielding to one another. Clinging to past narratives about the gods is doing nobody a favor in the present.

 

3) You may be an Atheist if the concept of God is becoming increasingly incoherent due to there being no reliable way to narrow down upon the question. Is it important for the most significant truths in our lives to be available and readily identifiable? You tell me? The question of God is posed as the most important thing to know, and oddly enough provides the least amount of relevant data from which to make a basic case. If our beliefs should be in proportion to the evidence then why is Theism so starved in comparison to any other beliefs we may hold simply by interacting with reality?

 

I believe in gravity because it works on paper and depending on our acceleration, if we are in a state of freefall, like the astronauts in space, it gives the illusion of weightlessness when confined within a space shuttle. That illusion of weightlessness is just further proof of how strong the earth’s gravitational pull really is. I think I explained that correctly. My point being that there are so many actual invisible forces that we see clearly at work when we do the math and God isn’t one of them. If it was necessary in the Bible and many other accounts for a personal God to intervene and establish His presence in our universe, how is that any less important now in light of all of the competition? In light of how to reason properly about what is either reliable or unreliable, true or false, likely or unlikely? Humanity is otherwise taking a shot into the dark and that is a patently unfair way to bring people into actual belief about anything. I again rest my case. Love the questions, and that includes the uncertainty and doubt that they may bring.

A Prayer To The Universe

Dear Universe,

As far as I can discern within this life, a universe does not consist of unembodied minds, however, there do appear to be many physical bodies which consist of physical brains, that serve to create the concept of a mind. It is for the benefit of such persons that I recite this prayer. It is because such persons are in fact what I can understand to be the conscious components of my universe.

My prayer can be said to extend to all persons who have minds, to anyone that can conceivably make sense of the words on this page. If this does involve an existing Deity, I would simply need to see how an unembodied mind could in some way fit into the paradigm of my existence. It is one thing to state that gods exist, uncaused, and quite another to reliably narrow down the question and confidently say, “an uncaused God can be understood to exist within my universe.”

If no such criteria can be found to hold true within my life then I will assume that it is justified to consider that one or many gods very likely do not exist. In a universe that this can be logically deduced in, given how we can understand truth from falsehood, and reliability from unreliability, I have found my home with a minority of humans that wish to demonstrate that the question of God is open ended for a reason, and it is most probably no longer the right way to understand our origins. Such incoherence lends itself to being a peculiar fabrication within the world.

I would perhaps not be as skeptical if religion could show itself to be a little less the slave of the human imagination and a little more as a force that could serve to actually resolve the issues that we face in the world today. Instead, what truly becomes an instigator for change is a resolve to understand our lives objectively and honestly. This perhaps most rigorously extends into the scientific endeavor. Though it would be fallacious to say that science can somehow disprove a negative, it is actually where knowledge is not found that seems to most strongly highlight the need for Theism to first meet its burden of proof before ever being seriously considered as reality.

With all of that in mind, this prayer most likely will be heard not by the unconscious components of a universe that expands outward from a singularity, but rather from some conscious brains that have formed as a result of cosmic evolution. These conscious minds are not all necessarily the product of earth. Planet earth very well may be one of a high number of other planets within this universe that has generated life from nonlife.

So it is that in terms of probability the most God like thing to be imagined may be a civilization other than our own that has graduated itself away from dependence on planetary climates and resources. It is my hope that our civilization is on its way to achieving this state of being because it would truly redefine what it means to be human in every conceivable way.

Sincerely, the product of stardust and the rich aftermath that it took to nourish the fragility of the chain of life that has led to me. Something I strive not to take lightly. Amen.

Can An Atheist Pray?

What is prayer within religion? Also, what is the usefulness or utility of prayer? As I’ve been thinking about this more lately my view is becoming more varied and multifaceted, just as this issue truly seems to be. For instance, can an Atheist pray on a regular basis? I don’t see why not. All one really needs to do is to define their own terms for what constitutes as prayer.

Prayer in and of itself does not need to be Theistic in its intentions. At the most basic level it can be viewed as a way of expression. A very human desire to invoke goodness and wellbeing even if it is not directed toward a deity of some kind. An Atheist views and defines religion as originating within human minds across the span of culture and time. Since this is the case, we actually find ourselves at a rather large buffet when it comes to how we want to live and express ourselves within the world.

Posturing our lives in such a way that involves invoking wellbeing via reciting prayers and seeking psychological resolve may very well be what gives prayer utility and purpose. The aspect of prayer that I personally reject as having any form of efficacy is the kind that believes a God to be present and involved. For ten years I viewed that form of prayer as being meaningful until I was brought to conclude that never had I reliably gained anything from that view. Praying to the Christian God, at least for me, was no different from invoking a lifeless rock to guide me through the struggles of life.

In terms of what prayer is psychologically speaking, I see no reason not to try it out if the very expression or posture is found to be therapeutic. I’m actually considering the benefits of meditation and various strategies for mindfulness as another possible avenue to alleviate stress and anxiety. So, just remember, if you encounter an Atheist like me that is willing to use the phrase, “I will pray for you,” in their mind they are expressing a desire for your wellbeing rather than a belief that a God is somehow present and involved in the world. There’s a difference friends!

As a final thought, would I personally use the phrase, “I will pray for you,” around my friends? Being that I still have a lot of Christian friends who believe that a God exists, I would refrain from saying it so as to avoid confusion about what that process really is. I find these kind of ideas to be fascinating!

I Will Fight For Your Beliefs!

You know the kind of people that basically want us to put a sock in it and not create a stir with our words and ideas? Well, when it comes to exchanging ideas openly and freely I am not one of them. When it comes to your beliefs, insofar as they are not a recipe for violence and abuse I will labor to protect your right to think whatever the hell you want to!

There is nothing more tyrannical in my mind than for people to legislate the beliefs and words of others if said words and beliefs do not lead to mental and physical trauma. So as you can see I am attempting to distinguish between peacefully held opinions and what leads to terror and unjustified violence.

I am happy to say that many modern forms of religion are peaceful. I’m not really worried about the vast majority of people who identify as being Christian in America. Indeed, many of these people adhere to such beliefs because they feel strongly that at its core it is both loving and peaceful. That’s great! I am happy to have such neighbors and people to work with in my community.

My qualm about religion derives primarily from the sacred texts themselves as well as with how to think most logically about our origins. So with all of that said, I will fight for people’s right to believe and practice religion even though I personally do not identify as being religious. I want to live in a world that freely and peaceably exchanges important ideas. I want to live in a world that is also not afraid to criticize ideas.

If we can’t have intelligent conversations about our deepest held beliefs then the problem is with our own personal insecurities and prejudices. It isn’t with freely exchanging our beliefs, testing them, critiquing them, and being willing to abandon wrong ideas if need be. To all of my religious friends, just know that I am actually fighting for your right to believe and practice the things that you desire. I ask for you to return the favor in my case as well. Take care!