I have proposed the following as the broad topic for our discussion group this Friday.
A secular world view
creates a strong motivation toward the use of science and logical
thinking to define the cultural assumptions of our secular group. We
do not have the 'word of God' to abort the use of the more effective
tools to understand our universe. A good general question is what
can we assume to be shared among other secular members of our
community by virtue of our shared world view? There is general
support for evolution, the science of global warming, standard
scientific notions of cosmology, effective sex education in our
schools and gay rights to name some of the more obvious. In each of
these areas the religious right makes Bible based claims that
directly contradict what is scientifically known. As a community, I
do not think that atheism is intrinsically left leaning at all. We
will vote more with the liberal left just because so much of the
right is based on appalling anti-science lunacy.
What other values can
we assume to be shared in our secular community? While it seems that
we have decent general support for feminism in our local community,
it is most certainly not unanimous. Religious communities often
strongly support not having any children until marriage. Science
very much confirms the notion that outcomes for children are better
if there are two adults sharing the child rearing. Single parenthood
is increasingly accepted in our secular community. Given the
conflict with the data from science, should this be the case? What
about the broad area labeled social justice?
The Atheism+ movement
is seen by some as being divisive because it seeks to include values
such as feminism. Their reply is that the secular movement is
strengthened by expanding the understanding of secularism to include
values that we wished to see expressed. We once had a regular member
of our Rockville Discussion group who came out against gay marriage.
He got a rather ferocious push-back from the rest of the group.
Shortly thereafter he ceased to find our meetings to be enjoyable. I
have had a number of others assert that we should focus primarily on
the criticism of religion because that is what we know we have in
common. This leaves us with the question, how do we best nurture our
secular community if we have an understanding of our shared values?