Atlanta’s begun another sweltering, but gorgeous summer. I’m going to take a break from blogging for a few weeks. There are now 154 posts in this blog, all accessible using the listing just to the right of this text. It seems a good time to explain, in highly summarized form, how the major philosophic strains of my life come together, from Christianity to atheism to secular humanism, and the attitudes that accompanied them. Step by step, it goes like this:
- I am an atheist and agnostic as to the existence of gods or, for that matter any supernatural realm. Agnostic addresses an attitude toward extraordinary claims, usually but not always religious ones, in some ways it conveys a “Missouri show me” mindset. Atheist means I’ve no belief in the existence of god or gods or their supernatural kin. (It does not mean I know that none of them exist; though they’re pretty much in the same class as Superman, Santa Clause, and Zeus). My youth, however, was spent as a pulpit-bound Christian until almost 20. I did not then lose my faith; I jettisoned it.
- I don’t seek—in most circumstances—to convince you or someone else to agree with me. I very rarely set out to persuade Christians, Muslims, Jews, or New Agers of my views. In fact, I’d wager I’m more accepting and respectful of them than they are of each other. I will, of course, explain my point of view for anyone who wishes to read it or discuss it. That’s the reason for most of this blog (though a very small portion is related to politics rather than philosophy).
- I do seek—in certain circumstances—to attack religionists’ bullying with all the verbal tools I can muster. What are those circumstances? They include use of religion to tell me or others what to do, special tax advantages given to religion, and religious appropriation of public facilities, decorations, and practices as if the civil government is taking sides between one religion and another or between religion in general and non-religion. They include making laws favoring one or more religions, teaching Christianity or a brand thereof in public schools, adorning police cars and city council chambers with symbols of a “chosen” religion, and erecting civic religious monuments. All these are widespread practices and all of them are theocracy getting its nose under the tent.
- Finally, it only follows that my atheism means I respect no one’s god or gods (or their spokespersons-of-the-cloth) when it comes to my own behavior or yours. With no supernatural authority to tell me how to live, I must accept the obligation myself. That challenge for me led to secular humanism. It is a thoughtful moral code that addresses my indebtedness to other persons as it regards my behavior toward them. Morality/ethics considered this way is not derived from primitive people, but from careful consideration of our responsibility to each other. It has overlaps with other moral codes (e.g., the Golden Rule), but also large differences. Explaining secular humanism—as well as atheism—gave rise to this blog.
So that’s about it. I am neither Democrat nor Republican, though since the latter party has deteriorated in frightening ways over the past couple of decades, I have been more akin to liberal than conservative. Still, as stated earlier, political commentary was not the purpose for this blog nor has politics been more than occasionally the practice. In the future, there are more topics I foresee addressing, such as the awesome power of faith, religions’ net damage to humanity, the nature of Christianity’s “holy” book, the misconception of religious liberty, religious mistreatment of LGBTQs and other minorities, how Americans don’t really want democracy, and more.
But an aside before I close this post: I want to invite you to celebrate the birthday of the United States of America as a new nation added to the world on June 21, 1788. That’s right, not July 4, 1776. Don’t believe me? Take a look at my posts “Happy birthday, USA!” June 17, 2013 and “America’s birthday is next week,” June 12, 2016. Armed with the new information, you’ll be able on July 4 to have your hot dogs and fireworks served with a dose of counterintuition.