Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Although I am secular & I am human, I am not a “Secular Humanist”. I strongly agree with every one of Paul Kurtz’s statements of principles of “Humanism” TEXT except for the last. I can only hope for the fullest realization of the best & noblest that humans are capable of: I can not “Believe” in it.

I am an atheist; one of the few “-ists” that I accept to define myself. I have been an atheist since I was ten years old. In a world wherein people strongly define themselves and others by their relation to a monotheistic belief system, I find myself in opposition to the expected & accepted dogma. However, I am not in opposition to religion. I feel a powerful sense of religion in my life. This feeling is the opposite of the common self-description by many as “Spiritual but not Religious”. My beliefs are not spiritual. My religion is not based on “Spirits” or“Fairies”, the belief that the universe is run by & populated with magical creatures.

My religion is science; a process for the systematic examination of the material world which we all share. My faith is statistical: I have faith that the sun will appear to rise in the east at a specific time tomorrow. This is quite different from “Faith”; the belief that “Fairies” intervene in the behavior of the world.

The problem with rejecting the word “religion” is that it is an appropriate term to describe any person’s relationship to reality.

The word religion comes from the Latin: _ re_{prefix-backwards} _ lig_{verb-to bind} _ ion_ {suffix-making previous verb a noun}. Related to _lig_ are the root words _lex_{law, legal } and _legio_{levy}. The word legion referred to a form of Roman military organization, a cohort of large & variable number under formal discipline. When Roman citizens served in the army, as most men did during many years of Roman history, they were bound into legions (as well as smaller divisions) where everyone knew their place & task. So religion has three important components: first, it is what connects/binds us to the past; second, it reflects our understanding of our connections within society & with the external world; and third, it implies large & perhaps uncountable numbers.

Simply, religion is what connects us to existence, past & present, and to our peers; to all that is and has been. (And through the minor influence of our actions, to what will be.) Science fulfills all those requirements for being a religion.

For most people religion is bondage to dogma.

I have a powerful sense of awe, based on my limited but coherent understanding of the universe. I am awestruck by the absurdity, arrogance & willful ignorance of the beliefs of “Fairy Worshippers”.

Religion must not be limited to irrational beliefs. There is great value in understanding something about one’s place in the world, even if that understanding is limited & provisional.


Blogger Colleen said...

The Unitarians have a FAQ page on their web site and one of the questions is (presumably from a christian) "If you don't believe in god, hell or eternal damnation, what is your incentive to act morally and responsibly?" I think that says everything you need to know about the questioner (backing away slowly).

3:14 PM  

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