add-memberalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbellblockcalendarcamerachatchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-upcircle-with-crosscomposecrossfacebookflagfolderglobegoogleimagesinstagramkeylocation-pinmedalmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1pagepersonpluspollsImported LayersImported LayersImported LayersshieldstartwitterwinbackClosewinbackCompletewinbackDiscountyahoo

The Evolution of Secularism

From: Don W.
Sent on: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 3:57 AM
What is the atheistic community? It is what happens when atheists get together and share their understandings, values, goals, humor and anything else of concern. To some we share the view that much of religion is bizarre falsehood. We can take advantage of our critical thinking skills to dissect how and why the various permutations of religion are false. The vast majority of us would be happy with the term skeptic and we would use our critical thinking skills on a large variety of cultural nonsense outside the domain of religion. As part of that we typically have great respect for the consensus of scientific opinion. The vast majority of us share the notion that there exists a common good and it is worthwhile thinking about how we achieve that common good.
Obviously not everyone who has posted here shared the last value of three values cited above. We had someone very passionately asserting his very selfish world view. However. there is likely to be less than one percent of those in our meetup who will take their libertarianism to the extreme of anarchy with no care concerning how we find or value the common good. Frankly the notion of building a society around personal selfishness would strike most of us as sociopathic insanity.
I think many of us look to the Scandinavian countries as an ideal definition of where we would like to see secularism evolve in our country. If everyone in our country valued the critical thinking skills of skepticism, the empirical findings of science and a desired to use those skills for the common good the result would be similar to the very high levels of average happiness and low levels of societal dysfunction that we see in all of the Scandinavian countries.
How do we achieve that? I think the relatively frontal attacks on religion from Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett were a necessary step toward a secular society. We must continue to include such criticism of religion as we go forward.
However, I think we need to look to the wild success of the GLBT community as they approach wide acceptance and hopefully including the full equality of marital rights. In the beginning there were some very violent confrontations with police, legal battles and demonstrations asserting gay rights. However, a huge part of the current evolution of gay rights comes from people just being “out” and visible. Ellen DeGeneres is primarily just a very entertaining host of a talk show. Her comfort with her sexual orientation is obviously present on occasion but her show would not be a success if that was its emphasis. The fact that people like her means that they associate that warm positive feeling for the person with an empathy for the rights that Ellen desires in her life. The evidence is that positive engagement, being out in a comfortable way that emphasizes common values, is a way to nurture acceptance.
I am finding an astonishing increase in people asserting the “new atheism” is too strident. It is asserted that it just makes people more defensive and determined to defend their religious dogma. However, these claims are made with no evidence whatsoever. I routinely meet people who have either read the books or watched a Christopher Hitchens debate and became atheists. There is often the claim that the logic and reasoning of the new atheists are somehow defective. This is done with arguments that seem more defective than any flaws that I see with the new atheists. I see no reason to move away from what seems to work quite well.
However, I think we have reason to include more positive engagement as we see with Ellen. That is in part what I want to do with our Secular Voter's Forum. I am thinking that I might also want to put together a presentation on atheism that would be somewhat positive to a religious community. After all, if we can move religious communities in a direction where they use critical thinking, accept science and are willing to vote for an atheist, haven't we achieved a large part of what needs to be done to move society in the right direction?
There has been a war in our secular community between those who are confrontational with religion in all cases and accommodationists who want to work in a positive way with religious communities. My vote is that we do both. We need to decide which we want to do with the context. If harm is being done in the name of religion let's fight against it. If there is little or no visible harm let's see if we can create a friendly rapport with our religious friends.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy