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A former member
Post #: 1
I've joined your group, for the second time, because I would appreciate the opportunity to share my views with you. I say I've joined though I'm not that interested in the kind of militant atheism you espouse. I do respect it though. To stand up for one's beliefs, to counter wrong and harmful beliefs, is always admirable. To think with clarity and reason, as humanists tend to, is always a good thing. But personally I don't have the right temperament for militancy; I am too impatient, plus I have a different slant on humanism, which is what I would like to share here.

I am what might be called a post-theist and I believe we are living in a post-theist age. Here's Wikipedia's definition:

Post-theism is a variant of non-theism that proposes to have not so much rejected theism as rendered it obsolete, that God belongs to a stage of human development now past.

What about all those Christians, Moslems and others out there practicing theism? How can religion be obsolete if so many practice it? The answer is complex of course. The great mass of humanity suffer from ignorance and social pressure, always have. They will believe anything, or pretend to. You can't wait for them to catch up to new ideas and realities; some of them never will. But what is mainly obsolete is not religion as a natural, cultural phenomenon, but rather its supernatural underpinnings. Religion in many forms is a good thing. It promotes a sense of community, provides emotional support, encourages contemplation of nature, helps celebrate the major stages of life and encourages people to act more decently toward others. What's bad is the supernatural nonsense which like a sugary coating on a healthy snack gets people to bite into it. The challenge for humanists is to provide a way for people to engage in healthy communal practices without that sugary, delusional coating. It is being done, to some degree, in largely secular Western European countries where people go to state-supported churches for the natural, non-spiritualistic value of traditional rituals. There is even an atheist-Christian minister serving in a Dutch church.

Too many humanists have a knee-jerk hostile reaction to churches and religion. I don't blame them. Some of us grew up in families where religion was force-fed to us, where independent thinking was viewed as rebellious and suspect. But there is little point in constantly attacking something that can't be proven or disproven: supernaturalists conveniently hide their hocus-pocus in the murk of "divine mystery" where logic, empiricism and common sense experience, to their minds, are irrelevant.

The problem with most Christians (and this is why I no longer care to debate with them) is not so much their religious theories, but the mind-set that craves such beliefs. They suffer from a deep existential and social insecurity which preconditions them to accept the absurdity of supernatural faith. Much of humanity shares that insecurity. It can lead to political extremism as well as religious cultism. People will quite literally believe anything if they see other people engaging in that belief, if their emotional neediness is strong enough. History has plenty examples of this, we see it every day in crazy cults, dingbat churches like the Westboro bunch, Moslem suicide bombers, UFO cults, etc., etc., etc. Christianity is simply a very successful cult.

I am a post-theist because God and an afterlife and all the rest of the nonsense of faith is so thoroughly ridiculous, an Emperor with absolutely no clothes, that I don't see any point in militancy, in debating, in opposing these beliefs. It makes about as much sense as discussing the possibility that the Easter Bunny is real. As I see it, the vital issue is: Okay, God is dead, deader than a proverbial doornail, now how do we proceed to create a saner society? What can we provide for people to find support, encouragement, inspiration and hope in? I know that some of you are exploring these matters, but I feel too often you waste your time fighting the phantom shadows of a dead belief system.
Kansas City, MO
Post #: 31
I was going through some old messages, and found a reference to "militant atheism." This an old pet peeve for me, for I am a strong secular humanist, and yet I never carry a gun to an meetup. The force of persuasive ideas is as much force as I care to use, and unfortunately my ideas aren't always as persuasive to people as I might wish. "Active," "intelligent," "insightful," "useful," "appealing;" these are adjectives that are more appropriate for intellectual discussions. Use of the word "militant' when it comes to atheism, agnosticism, or humanism is a rather corny or even belligerent expression. It is certainly a false and irresponsible accusation.

Don K
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