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Religion without God

Written By: - Date published: 11:42 am, December 26th, 2014 - 132 comments
Categories: religion, Social issues - Tags:

What does religion without god look like? It seems unlikely, yet all around the world atheists are congregating

Studies have been done of people who consciously give thanks or express gratitude on a daily, recorded basis and those people feel universally better about their lives than those who dont.

“… As it happens, this kind of God-neutral faith is growing rapidly, in many cases with even less role for God than among Unitarians. Atheist services have sprung up around the country, even in the Bible Belt.

Many of them are connected to Sunday Assembly, which was founded in Britain by two comedians, Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. They are avowed atheists. Yet they have created a movement that draws thousands of people to events with music, sermons, readings, reflections and (to judge by photos) even the waving of upraised hands. There are nearly 200 Sunday Assembly gatherings worldwide. A gathering in Los Angeles last year attracted hundreds of participants.

How do we understand this impulse to hold a “church” service despite a hesitant or even nonexistent faith? .”

Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.

We are here for everyone who wants to:

Live Better. We aim to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and practical ideas that help people to live the lives they want to lead and be the people they want to be

Help Often. Assemblies are communities of action building lives of purpose, encouraging us all to help anyone who needs it to support each other

Wonder More. Hearing talks, singing as one, listening to readings and even playing games helps us to connect with each other and the awesome world we live in.

132 comments on “Religion without God ”

  1. McFlock 1

    If I recall comparative religions correctly, I believe that the short answer is “Buddhism” 😉

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Yes Buddhism adroitly avoided the classic mistakes other religions fell into.

      • batweka 1.1.1

        No God, but plenty of gods.

      • tracey 1.1.2

        December 2012

        “..All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.. …” D Lama

        • Ant

          Existential dissatisfaction has been the lot of humankind since the night of time. Sure it provides stimulus to get off one’s butt, make progress, gain wealth or attain whatever “fix’ stills the inner dragon.

          Frustration and disillusionment when goals reached seem not to bring ultimate satisfaction are shrugged off by many as “that’s life.” For others it leads to a deeper probing as to the meaning of existence and the fecundation of imagination, generating the range of philosophies, faiths, and belief systems to which we subscribe. For yet another group there is a sudden and unexpected shift in consciousness, (the religious amongst us would term it a “conversion”) leading to a sense of genuine brother/sisterhood on earth.

          As opposed to the many who attempt to live out their faith in the hope of future reward, this latter group is motivated by irrepressible goodwill and strives spontaneously for human and planetary betterment. Believe in them: they exist but fly no flag or banner, hold to no specific creed or doctrine and make no attempt to persuade others to accept their way of thinking. Theirs is perhaps the “spirituality and ethics” the Dalai Lama has in mind.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Thank you for this rather brave post Tracey. No other topic generates quite so much heat than this.

    The traditional religions have an extraordinary history that has created millions of atheists. Equally part of us remains aware that a materialistic, rational society is not sufficient either. It places us at an interesting junction of history.

    Nothing else in human history has proven more effective at creating workable sets of communal values than religion, values which lie at the heart of politics.

    • tracey 2.1

      I hope it doesnt require the kind of bravery posting about sexual violence has come to require 😉

      I read Ernst Beckers pulitzer prize winning book, Denial of Death, a few years ago.

      He suggests religion is the device we created to deal with our knowledge that we are not immortal. Arguably we are the only creature on the planet with that awareness that death is inevitable.

      Religion is one way to keep us sane and productive in light of that knowledge, otherwise we might not bother getting up each day.


    • batweka 2.2

      “No other topic generates quite so much heat than this.”

      I haven’t followed the links, but on the face of what Tracey has written I see peopel congregating around belief, and focussing on human good, without needing to write off other people for different beliefs. Tolerance springs to mind.

      The heated conversations almost always occur around fundamentalism. I’m not seeing that in Tracey’s post 🙂

    • Olwyn 2.3

      Nothing else in human history has proven more effective at creating workable sets of communal values than religion…

      I think this is in part because with religion comes the idea of values and standards to which everyone is answerable, including the powerful. While there are numerous examples of powerful people insisting that their ideas coincide with God’s, religion also leaves room for challenging them. Think of an old testament prophet, returning to town after contemplating away in the dessert, and effectively saying “Hey King, you’re getting it wrong.” Such proclamations were able to give the king pause, where secular claims like “You are being unfair” would not have. With the first, the suggestion is that the king is acting out of sinc. with a divine order, to which all are subject, while the second is an appeal from an alternative perspective, which he may feel no need to acknowledge.

      • TheContrarian 2.3.1

        “Nothing else in human history has proven more effective at creating workable sets of communal values than religion…”

        What utter horseshit. Firstly workable sets of communal values have sprung up and florished outside of religion and the values of sharing, honesty, don’t steal etc predate all our modern religions. Secondly nothing else in human history has proven more effective at creating workable sets of communal prejudices and basis for othering than religion. I can be prejudice against you because my god says I can. Not to mention freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of association and religion are completely inconsitant with most of the major religions of our time including Christianity.

        • Olwyn

          That these co-operative groups pre-date modern religions does not mean that they did not have religions. Most tribal societies that I have heard of have had conceptions of sacredness, etc. And religious prejudices are open to being understood as distortions rather than pure expressions of religion. In the ancient world, people visiting a foreign city would go and pay their respects to the local god as a show of good will toward that city, which suggests that even way back then, religion did not consistently function on a “my way or the highway” basis.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            One of the oldest books of moral philosophy in the world points out that religion is “a colourful hope, or folly” and urges the wise to “dwell in the fruit, not the flower”.

            At least some of us have been onto these sanctimonious god-botherers for millennia.

          • TheContrarian

            This speaks to the fact that a code of law and behaviour is irrespective of religious belief and is a natural consequence of being a social species. Much like every other social species. The ancient greek gods were capricious and did not dictate morals from on high – that was down via law and from the minds of men rather than divination.

            “And religious prejudices are open to being understood as distortions rather than pure expressions of religion.”

            Bullshit – the 10 commandements explicity expresses prejudice. The very foundation of Christian law is intolerant, this is the same across almost all organised religion.

            • Olwyn

              ??? The 10 commandments are a list of laws, not claims as to who is or is not worthy. I assume you must see prejudice in the “Thou shall have no other god but me” command, since I cannot think what a prejudice against neighbour’s-ass-coveters would amount to. However, a god is an object of worship, and asking people to have no other object of worship is not at the same time asking them to be prejudiced against those with different views.

              • TheContrarian

                The 10 Commandments are laws given by god. The are immutable – gods law as read. Handed down by god, to Moses. The bedrock of Christianity and they, by that nature, are not only prejudiced but are also an affront to the freedoms of speech, worship and association we enjoy.

                The very nature of the 10 commandments explicity excludes non-christians with punishment attached. The first 5 commandments are an affront to freedom of speech, religion, association and art.

                As read, dictated by god. Breaking them is to meet with punishment. As described in the bible. And to those who deny God…

                • RedLogix

                  Which is exactly why people who read the Bible with such literal exactness are so very dangerous.

                  kd laing with one of the best versions ever

                • To the modern reader that’s a problematic verse that seems to contravene the basic message of the Gospel (love), but on further investigation the imprecation probably applied to those who were persecuting the early Christians, and reassures believers that ultimately justice will be served.

                  No doubt that many Christians read the Bible with naive (and selective) literalism, but like most people they mainly want to get on with life, raise their families, and live in peace. Not go around judging people with flaming swords!

            • karol

              Religious beliefs and codes go way further back, and not just in the European-greek lineage.

              Wikipedia’s timeline of religion.

              Religion in the Ancient World

              There is no culture recorded in human history which has not practiced some form of religion.

              Religion (which, in ancient times, is indistinguishable from mythology) concerns itself with the spiritual aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next. And every nation has created its own god in its own image and resemblance.

              The world’s oldest religion still being practiced today is Hinduism (know to adherents as ‘Sanatan Dharma’, Eternal Order) but, in what is considered ‘the west’, the first records of religious practice come from Egypt around 4000 BCE.

              Some forms of religious ritual have existed since way back. The evidence is in the artefacts – objects used in religious rituals – figurines, stone circles. Most religions have a strong focus on rituals related to death. Many to do with changes of the seasons, and life changes – birth, coming of age, marriage, death, etc. But there is no remaining evidence to show the meanings or intent of the rituals of prehistoric cultures.

              It is not until there are written records that the content of religions become evident. And some of the earliest written records are from ancient Egypt.

              But also see Hinduism and Sumeria above.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4

      Nothing else in human history has proven more effective at creating workable sets of communal values than religion, values which lie at the heart of politics.

      This is simply not true. Religions co-opt humanist values that are at least as old as they are, if the oldest books are anything to go by.

      Taoist philosophy, for example, didn’t just spring up fully formed six thousand years ago. It ranks religion as the lowest of moral systems.

      When the way is lost, there is love;
      When love is lost, there is kindness;
      When kindness is lost, there is justice;
      And when justice is lost, there is religion.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4.1

        Postscript after reading Puddleglum’s comment at 5.1.1.

        Kahneman, knowingly or not, paraphrases Lao Tzu (c.400-600 BCE) when he says, “Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

  3. Richard Christie 3

    Putting scare quotes around the word church doesn’t make atheist meeting venues into places of worship or into anything approaching such.

    Atheism is not a religion.

    • tracey 3.1

      What are scare quotes Richard?

    • tracey 3.2

      did you read both links in the post?

    • Murray Rawshark 3.3

      Funnily enough, Marx defined atheism as a religion, so the development of atheist churches doesn’t surprise me at all. For many militant atheists, it seems to be as much a religion as marijahoochy does to Mr. Ure.

      • dave brown 3.3.1

        I think you are right Murray.

        Atheism is the non-belief in god/religion without overthrowing the conditions that make religion necessary. To that extent is substitutes for religion. It is not enough to disbelieve in god, it is necessary to overthrow god and realise the human essence. It is necessary to overthrow the material conditions that alienate humanity from its ‘essence’ (that is the freedom to live without ‘want’).

        Lenin said it clearly:

        “Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.”

        Atheism is like low alcohol booze in a plain wrapper.

        Marx was more long winded:

        Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

        The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

        Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.”


        • karol

          Hmmm. Interesting, and a lot to commend it. But the Marxist notion of a world without illusion, also sounds a lot like “belief” int he supremacy of the science.

          Yet science itself, can also be seen as a kind of religion – because there are also some unknowables upon which science is built. eg. what preceded the big bang? When did id start? Why?

          Science also tends to show the how, but not the why?

          • KenS

            No, no, no. Science is built on knowables determined by evidence. You don’t have to know how life began to know that evolution occurs. Same with the big bang and cosmology. The difference is that science accepts not knowing something, and even the possibility of not being able to know something. Scientists use their imagination to develop theories, but never need to resort to inventing god, or the kind of faith that means facts don’t matter. Faith is belief despite facts, the antithesis of science. Of course, humans can screw anything up and some scientists/atheists lose their way, but that is no excuse for equating atheism with religion. Most atheists just see no reason to think there is a god. Most of the ones who speak out are driven by little more than being tired of all the bullshit that gets justified in the name of some god or other and feel they need to say so.

            • ropata:rorschach

              “Science good, religion bad, just accept my moral judgement because I am a highly educated privileged technocrat.” Yeah, thanks Alan Greenspan.

              Your perception of religious faith is a bit screwy and not representative of the thousands of professional scientists who also profess religious belief.

              • KenS

                That’s another way atheists are different from the religious. We don’t accept someone’s word for it, but look for ourselves.

                Sure, humans are very capable of holding several contradictory thoughts. But in a Pew survey in 2006, 83% of the general public in the US said they believed in god, but only 33% of scientists did. I wonder what the difference is.

  4. Ant 4

    A sense of ‘wonder and helping’ engenders release from the thralldom of introspection and frees up intimations of an extended self interconnecting with life and living on a wider front than societal conditioning instilled in us.

    But how often to help? The consciousness of the Buddha, the Nazarene (and other lesser lights) expanded to the point where service became a way of life. If you take the godless new ‘religion’ to conclusion the cooperative consciousness will replace the competitive one.

    In this lies hope for humanity.

  5. tracey 5

    Sam Harris has some interesting views, including that science can answer questions of morality.

    “.. The moment we admit that questions of right and wrong, and good and evil, are actually questions about human and animal well-being, we see that science can, in principle, answer such questions. Human experience depends on everything that can influence states of the human brain, ranging from changes in our genome to changes in the global economy. The relevant details of genetics, neurobiology, psychology, sociology, economics etc. are fantastically complicated, but these are domains of facts, and they fall squarely within the purview of science.

    We should reserve the notion of “morality” for the ways in which we can affect one another’s experience for better or worse. Some people use the term “morality” differently, of course, but I think we have a scientific responsibility to focus the conversation so as to make it most useful. We define terms like “medicine,” “causation,” “law” and “theory” very much to the detriment of homeopathy, astrology, voodoo, Christian Science and other branches of human ignorance, and there is no question that we enjoy the same freedom when speaking about concepts like “right” and “wrong,” and “good” and “evil.” Once we acknowledge that “morality” relates to questions of human and animal well-being, then there is no reason to doubt that a prescriptive (rather than merely descriptive) science of morality is possible. After all, there are principles of biology, psychology, sociology and economics that will allow us to flourish in this world, and it is clearly possible for us not to flourish due to ignorance of these principles. ..”

    Here is a 25 minute video of him speaking.

    WARNING Harris is controversial.

    • Sam Harris is controversial I guess, but shouldn’t be. This is one of the best books you’ll ever be lucky enough to read: http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Faith-Religion-Terror/dp/0393327655

      • Puddleglum 5.1.1

        My take on Sam Harris aligns with the Publishers Weekly review from your link:

        “In this sometimes simplistic and misguided book, Harris calls for the end of religious faith in the modern world. Not only does such faith lack a rational base, he argues, but even the urge for religious toleration allows a too-easy acceptance of the motives of religious fundamentalists. Religious faith, according to Harris, requires its adherents to cling irrationally to mythic stories of ideal paradisiacal worlds (heaven and hell) that provide alternatives to their own everyday worlds. Moreover, innumerable acts of violence, he argues, can be attributed to a religious faith that clings uncritically to one set of dogmas or another. Very simply, religion is a form of terrorism for Harris. Predictably, he argues that a rational and scientific view—one that relies on the power of empirical evidence to support knowledge and understanding—should replace religious faith. We no longer need gods to make laws for us when we can sensibly make them for ourselves. But Harris overstates his case by misunderstanding religious faith, as when he makes the audaciously naïve statement that “mysticism is a rational enterprise; religion is not.” As William James ably demonstrated, mysticism is far from a rational enterprise, while religion might often require rationality in order to function properly. On balance, Harris’s book generalizes so much about both religion and reason that it is ineffectual.
        Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.”

        As the review says, Sam Harris not only has a simplistic understanding of ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ but also a far too simplistic understanding of the supposed nature of human reason/rationality.

        He strikes me as a camp follower of the poorly thought out position that ‘religions cause most wars’, or some such superficiality, and that religions are, primarily, ‘sets of beliefs’ and their associated behaviours, which they aren’t. Religions are cultural phenomena not cognitive ones.

        At its worst, and at a social and political level, organised religion is simply a cultural and rhetorical tool set useful for local elites in pursuing their interests (just like ‘nationalism’ and associated notions like ‘freedom’ and ‘our way of life’, all of which come complete with similarly useful rhetorical devices for stirring a populace to war).

        The brutality of warfare, however, does not primarily arise from some fundamental ‘irrationality’ specific to a religious worldview. Brutality has its own raison d’être as any naturalistic account of human behaviour routinely acknowledges.

        And, as for irrationality, you should read Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” for a sense of how much of our thinking is riddled with shortcuts and laziness – for good evolutionary reasons – which, together, cast doubt on the myth of human rationality and reason.

        That such ‘flaws’ don’t infect the thoughts of the typical atheist as much as the thoughts of the typical religious beggars belief. We’re all human and so we all come with fairly jury-rigged cognitive machinery.

        Because of that, I tend to think that the degree to which thinking is ‘infected’ in this way is positively correlated with the sense of certainty exhibited by an individual.

        Also, so far as I can see, in both religion (as understood by Harris) and atheism a lack of surety (i.e., certainty and confidence) in the relevant precepts is considered bad form. In the former it is interpreted as lack of faith, in the latter as a lack of rationality – both are ‘blackballing’ offences.

        By contrast to Harris’ reverence for rationality, here’s a few insightful quotes from Kahneman’s book:

        A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.” [And spin doctors, of course.]

        Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

        A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical
        exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the
        same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course
        of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of
        skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.

        However, optimism is highly valued, socially and in the market; people and firms reward the providers of dangerously misleading information more than they reward truth tellers. One of the lessons of the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession is that there are periods in which competition, among experts and among organizations, creates powerful forces that favor a collective blindness to risk and uncertainty.

        Confidence is a feeling, which reflects the coherence of the information and the cognitive ease of processing it. It is wise to take admissions of uncertainty seriously, but declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.

        • RedLogix

          I read Kahneman a while back. You have inspired me to go back and read it again with fresh eyes.

        • tracey

          Ernst Becker comes at this topic as an anthropologist, amongst other things, his book is a worthy read for those interested in how our human condition affects our behaviours individually and collectively.

        • Psycho Milt

          There’s a big difference between recognising limits to the typical human’s ability to think rationally, which most atheists understand and accept, and the active embracing of irrationality as a model to live by, which is what religion (or “spirituality,” or whatever other weasel-words you want to use to pretend you’re not religious) consists of.

          • tracey


            And not just embracing irrationally based concepts but seeking to enshrine them in laws and practises and making any refutationof them appear disrespectful.

            I point again to taxpayer funding to religious schools. By all means believe in what you will, with jsm rider, only until it harms another… But to suppose it is sacrosanct, free from demands of proof merely because you believe it, is slightly mad.

        • Beautiful comment Puddleglum, thanks for taking the time to share it.

          Minor quibble: I think that lack of “faith” and facing tough questions is a pretty common experience for thinking Christians, especially clergy and bible scholars. But yeah most unschooled churchgoers find it cognitively painful to admit that they might be wrong about stuff

        • Ad

          Keep it coming Puddleglum.

      • tracey 5.1.2

        Hi Matthew

        So is Ernst Beckers book, Denial of Death.

        You won’t regret reading it.

        • karol

          Ah, yes. I read a lot of (at the time) convincing stuff about the significance of the “denial of Death” and Becker’s ideas about it, in my younger days. Albert Camus also said somethings about it as I recall.

      • KenS 5.1.3

        Harris is generally very good, very eloquent regarding religion, not simplistic at all in my view. The problem I have with him is that he doesn’t understand politics, particularly geopolitics. Sam thinks religion is all that is needed to explain the response of muslims in the middle east to decades of western interference and killing. This is what gets him into so much trouble with other liberals. Certainly religion plays a part (which his liberal opponents too often don’t want to admit), but it isn’t even the main issue let alone the only issue.

    • McFlock 5.2

      Didn’t watch the video, but the even basic things like “well-being” have had a variety of definitions from philosophers and religious leaders, with everything from purely physical definitions, through happiness and emotional calm up to some sort of spiritual plane.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1

        I don’t know about any sort of spiritual plane; however, the spirit with which one approaches things is crucial; that sort of spirit can be nurtured or neglected as much as the physical body.

    • karol 5.3

      Ah! The religion of science.

      How can science answer questions of morality?

      We should reserve the notion of “morality” for the ways in which we can affect one another’s experience for better or worse.

      But science doesn’t decide on that – people do.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.3.1

        There are plenty of ways in which science can quantify “better” and “worse” in terms of human experience, and plenty of ways in which that information can be useful. Take Epidemiology, for example.

        • McFlock

          But of course quantifying the incidence of a health condition makes no judgement as to whether that condition is desirable or undesirable.

          Maybe (and this is me playing devil’s advocate) infectious diseases are away of culling the weak, or our appreciation of life is increased by narrowly surviving an infection, or whatever. Or society is better when the weak are culled. Whatever.

          My point is that any arguments in support or against the statements in the above paragraph are strictly philosophical. Some questions are patently obvious to any functioning human being – ebola’s bad, m’kay – but questions about e.g. vivisection or when to try a high-risk experimental surgery need to be referred to ethicists.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.3.2

        Just re-reading that, Karol, are you sure you really believe it?

        Think about your views on inequality, for example; do you accept research findings as evidence of better and worse or not?

        • karol

          Behind decisions about what counts as “better” or “worse” are a lot of assumptions. Better or worse for whom? Individuals? The elite? the wider community? Anglo, middle class het males? etc.

          Key’s government proclaims that their decisions will make us all better off. They assume what is good for the corporates, are good for all of us. In contrast, some of us start with the assumption/belief, that political, (and scientific) decisions should be “good” for all of us, and should include the betterment of the least powerful and least well off.

          Science can provide answers to the causes of diseases – but prior to that, decisions are made by people as to which diseases receive most funding for the required research, and related product development.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Yes. In specific reference to your own views on income inequality, you are relying on a vast array of data from a range of sciences that go far beyond outlining the causes of diseases.

            Key and others are doing precisely what you prescribe: they are “people” making decisions on what is “better” and “worse”.

            On the other side of the debate is the weight of evidence.

            • karol

              Actually. You have not understood my comments above.

              Yes, I value evidence-based arguments.

              But underlying my choice to focus on income inequality, are value judgements – ie that of democratic and inclusive ideals.

              Underlying any evidence based arguments are value judgement, whoever is making them, in what ever sphere of activity.

              There are some politicians (probably many) who aim to spin and divert from evidence. But they also use scientific means to use effective spin. The choices of what science to use, are based in the underlying moral assumptions. For the likes of Key and Crosby-Textor – their values are about competition, winning being the highest value, and you will find many of them use (debatable but accepted by many) evidence that they are working for the betterment of the economy and thus society at large.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                How can we tell whether they are in fact, bettering society?

                By measuring the outcome. So far, the evidence is against them.

                That gives weight to our (moral) argument, and we see them change their position from “there’s no such thing as inequality” to “there’s no inequality here” to “I already fixed the inequality here”, to “I’m going to do something about the inequality here.”

                Science works.

                • karol

                  Yes. Science works. It helps to get things done, and it helps us to understand how things work.

                  But it doesn’t decide the morals/values we espouse. It, as you say, can give weight to our arguments based on morals/values of democracy and equality, etc. If people are decided by arguments that lessening equality will better society, some (right wingers) may be won over. But not because they ultimately value an egalitarian and inclusive society – but because they value society working well for other reasons.

                  If someone produces evidence to show that inequality produces a better society, those people will go for that. And, I see today, from UNDP India’s twitter account, claims that globally extreme poverty has halved since the ’90s.

                  Also, people choose the science to attend to, and research to support, based on their underlying values/morals – so the elites put more money into researching how to efficiently and effectively extract fossil fuels, for instance.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    That extreme poverty has halved globally is a source of shame for those politicians who have presided over the opposite trend in their own countries.

                    Science owns morality in a way that rhetoric never can.

                    • karol

                      These days, rhetoric itself is produced by the elites based on some scientific research and evidence about how to “persuade” people.

                      Your sense of shame, comes not from the evidence itself, but you underlying moral values that leads you to critique the evidence and apply some logic, resulting in pointing to the possibility of further evidence being produced.

                      Your claim that “science owns morality” is based in your moral values, rather than in the science – although one of your values seems to be the ultimate belief in the supremacy of science.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      “Supremacy” is your word.

                      Genuine curiosity is a far more accurate characterisation, and certainly articulates my opinion more accurately.

                  • KenS

                    Read Harris again, The Moral Landscape for how science can help determine morality.

  6. cyclonemike 6

    Really, in this country, who cares.
    We are fortunate to be part of a nation that is largely irreligious.
    Every time I see the Americans tangling themselves in knots over Dog, it makes me even happier to live here.

  7. Ross 7

    It’s a move away from religion. Could you call it organised disorganisation. Because with organistation comes rules, then rules beget judgement and judgement spawns evildoers that must die: from the cookhouse to the chook house to the court house. It’s a movement, as I see it, for people to get together and be who they actually are without being judged for it. That such a movement has grown so rapidly is (new?) testament to our collective need to express these aspects of the human experience: generosity, caring and love (of the capital “L” sort). If we could get away from the idea that ours is not an abundant universe; that every increase for me means a decrease for you; that everything worth having requires effort and strife, then maybe we could get to live without having to set aside special times on Sunday just to be ourselves.

  8. tricledrown 8

    Religion without god or god without religion!
    A massive improvement.

  9. Foreign waka 9

    That atheists are congregating to find another way to express humanity just shows that nature does not allow voids. These are always filled, it is up to us what this will be. To belief in one or many gods, no gods at all, spirits of the underworld or any realm – it all has been done before and still, the search continues. To me, all religions look to a transcendental mind that overcomes the physical body once the time is up, atheism looks to the physical body to overcome the fear of the capacity to transcendent after death. I guess we all will have a surprise waiting.

  10. Michael 10

    I’m not a believer but I think that the cultural aspects of religion (holidays and such) as well as feelings of community at the local church/mosque/synagogue/etc can be good. People have an urge for that sort of stuff I think (to feel apart of a wider community).

  11. philj 11

    We, as humans collectively, can figure out how to live peacefully in harmony with a finite living biosphere or we devalue humanity and descend into a lower life form. This is the challenge for individuals, societies and nations.

  12. aj 12

    I’m an atheist, but if I held relgious beliefs I would choose pantheism.

    • The Al1en 12.1

      I’m an atheist too, but if I held religious beliefs, I would choose one that allows eating pork and beef.

      • RedLogix 12.1.1

        Those kind of rules around communal living are only the most ephemeral aspects of religion.

      • tricledrown 12.1.2

        Religion is escaping realty by being brainwashed by your brand of religion.
        Of course your brand of religion is better than any one else’s!
        Fundamentalist fanatics take way to seriously.

        • The Al1en

          “Of course your brand of religion is better than any one else’s!
          Fundamentalist fanatics take way to seriously.”

          Er, I don’t have a religion. I don’t believe in any god or gods.
          But nice inferiority complex you have going on there. Cultivating nicely. Well done. 😉

  13. Studies have been done of people who consciously give thanks or express gratitude on a daily, recorded basis and those people feel universally better about their lives than those who dont.

    A couple of questions arise: to whom are they giving thanks, if not some flavour of god? And, does this imply anything more than that a person who is deluded in one aspect of their life is likely to be deluded in others?

    They are avowed atheists. Yet they have created a movement that draws thousands of people to events with music, sermons, readings, reflections and (to judge by photos) even the waving of upraised hands.

    As someone who experienced a hell of a lot of church without quote marks around it as a kid, this strikes me as playing at church by people who never had to suffer the real thing. This looks to offer all the stupidity, pointlessness, embarrassment and boredom of a real church service but without the purpose. Bullshit for dilettantes and hippies, in other words.

    • Ad 13.2

      You have to live through fundamentalism to really see its energy, structured dynamism, and power. Join a third world NGO instead.

      Rational or otherwise, stuff that religion helps most of the worlds people do is provide persistent framing to:
      – engaging with death, near-death, and its remembrance

      – making sense about the end of the world

      – refreshing our irrationality with wonder when language, rationality and exchangeability order every breath of our life

      – replacing merely instrumental ethics with propulsive righteousness

      We could probably do without it.
      Most in NZ do.
      But as a Catholic, I don’t.

    • +1
      If I were to join a made-up religion I would probably go with Jediism. It’s gotta be more fun than some hipster atheists sitting around spouting their intellectual superiority.

  14. tricle up 14

    To be spiritual or religious is a choice..in the beginning was the word what divisions these words have created as we split the opposites. leaving religion has created a deep appreciation for nature and a oneness with all.A drawing together of the fragments in the total provides a sense of reality..culture is accepted just as it simply is a richness to life .We have created much.

  15. esoteric pineapples 15

    Possibly the best term used to describe the growing number of people who don’t belong to a religious group but believe in a spiritual dimension is “secular spiritualism”

    • McFlock 15.1

      Well, that’s a contradiction in terms.

      I read the post as being more about non-spiritual gatherings to reflect on good fortune and provide communal feeling, rather than being a rehash of early 20th century spiritulism and fairy photographs.

      Neither is my cup of tea, but as long as they don’t start any wars I’m cool with it.

      • RedLogix 15.1.1

        Or what it might also mean is that people still require a spiritual dimension in order to give meaning and purpose to their lives. This is a real and worthy thing. But on their own they find it very hard to sustain; people are social creatures above all else and we find anything difficult much easier to sustain in a group.

        The very sad truth for so many people these days is that most people really cannot find a social group that can help them with this – in a way that makes sense in the modern world.

        • Left Eye

          Well lets stick together then. Don’t worry ‘everyone’ will know it is me behind it all, I will make sure. You won’t be alone.

          We are not going to fail.


        • McFlock

          Some people might.
          A “spiritual dimension” was not mentioned or described in, for example, the final extended quote in the post, though.

          But whatever rocks their world, I guess

  16. Left Eye 16

    your keeping me up- stop posting.

  17. tricle up 17

    Dante had several spirits these were placed in the higher position to bounce ideas and thoughts of maybe they were just the wheels of imagination and creativity throw a piece of nonsense in any of the positions to make creativity run …Man wants to feel connected to something ..RED LOGIX has nailed it well..

    • Scheherazade 17.1

      I had a dream last night, and the person in it symbolized you, and you were completely ignoring me, it has made me feel a little depressed. I don’t know if the dream was a past dream, an inner fear dream or a literal dream, I hope it wasn’t literal. When you open yourself up to someone and then get kicked in the teeth, it saddens you. It is a misery that is terribly painful.
      When you share a soul with someone you want to be there ‘all’, not really so in a sexual sense, as soul sharing surpasses all that, but united together, in a union that is eternal.
      I don’t want to be your wife or lover, but I want to be able to connect with you, maybe then I could heal.
      These past two days have made me just hold on…..once again.

      • tricle up 17.1.1

        Scheherazade thank you for your kind concerns.My thinking does involve feelings and the awareness of information attached.The mind is pretty much open adding much to the experience pushing thoughts into the mystical and the world of nonsense and then pulling them back to the mid point or the natural is somewhat fun and revealing that some of the weirdness is in fact present or has pasted into fact..The living and the personalty in the souls are clearly seen and do hold me in awe and are respected ..These expressions or manifestations on the fabric of life do hold much interest….I welcome your thoughts..

        • Scheherazade

          I actually welcome your thoughts, you sound really interesting!

          “The living and the personalty in the souls are clearly seen?”


          • tricle up

            Simply put you are looking at only the whole personality seeing no form or excluding form, the living in a material object.. anyway happy new year…

  18. tracey 18

    If we didnt know that we are going to die, would religion have emerged at all?

    As an excuse/method to impose rules and power on others?

    In the context of realisation of our own mortality it is a kind of security blanket, as is any belief in life after death.

    The Buddhists encourage us to begin each day with knowledge of the shadow of death on our shoulders. To my understanding not to invoke fear but to encourage us to make the most of the day ahead. Some use religion as a means of abdicating personal responsibility for living their life to the full, choosing instead to be straight jacketted by systems of rituals and rules until getting their reward post death.

    If we live each day in wonder at the world around us, live to reach our individual potential, we have nothing to fear or regret when our time is over.

    The question is not that man wants or needs to “believe in something” , other than himself and tge world around us, but why.

    It remains a kind of heresy to question the right to religious freedom. We have enshrined it so thoroughly as to shield it from the kind of questioning that folks like Harris, Dawkins and others earlier, encourage.

    In our own country we still extend taxpayer money to religious based schools without questioning their foundation on a mythical being. We develop strange differentiations.

    • Unfortunately the dream of John Lennon’s “Imagine” remains imaginary, due to imperfect human nature. The secular world’s adulation of wealth and faith in technology will probably crash to Earth pretty soon after peak oil and a few climate shocks.

      Religion is a bit more than a security blanket/ dream of immortality/ power play. It’s a cultural touchstone that infuses life with meaning and rhythm. It binds communities together and expresses the deepest longings of the human soul.

    • Ad 18.2

      Tracey, religion is not only a response to death. It has several other functions.

      • tracey 18.2.1

        I understand it has many functions, I am most interested in getting to the bottom of the underlying push factors.

        For example a way to explain the natural world around us before recourse to science.

  19. Chooky 19

    Lloyd Geering wrote a very good book called ‘Christianity Without God’.



    Geering makes the case against the patriarchal, tyrannical, war mongering God of the Old Testament ( the one that Richard Dawkins goes on about in ‘The God Delusion’ )…and a case for a humanist ‘Jesus of the Wisdom Tradition’ or ‘Wisdom Streams’ ie Jesus was a great sage in the Wisdom Traditions of Christianity

    …..the type of Christianity Geering advocates is secular , feminist and an eco-theology .

    imo Lloyd Geering is a great thinker, scholar and theologian ….and not just in New Zealand. Before going into the Presbyterian Church ( he was later charged with heresy ) he was a mathematician of considerable ability. His theology draws from physics, Jung, ecotheology and other religious traditions

  20. emergency mike 20

    Ah science vs religion, how lovely. Science is a human endeavour, thus subject to failings and biases that are human, all too human. It is a tool, and tools are only as good as the user. As Karol alluded to above, humans decide what will be researched, from what angle, and within what parameters. Science does not determine these things.

    The history of science is full of scientists who thought they had it all figured out, or were researching in circles, only for a new paradigm to come along and prove them all wrong. You could answer that that simply shows progress, but as Thomas Kuhn argued, there is no objective way to know whether the new paradigm is superior to the last. Each paradigm simply is what it is, it might happen that it’s seductive explanitory power has led us to concepts that have utilty, but are themselves preventing us from more important discoveries. There is thus no possible objective scientific measure of reality.

    Aside from that, there is the simple point that by it’s own definition, the scientific method is concerned with that which is empirically measureable. Therefore, science can offer no comment on anything that cannot be empirically measured. I’ve previously seen people here blithely claim that ‘science measures reality’, it doesn’t, or at least, we can have no idea to what degree science measures reality. Even putting aside the biases, careerism, egos, vested interests, thinking inside paradigms, etc, science measures that which can be empirically measured. To claim then, that science measures reality is to claim that all reality can be empirically measured. This would be a statement of faith, as by definition there is no objective scientific way to determine it’s validity. A curiously unscientific claim. Pop down to your university’s philosophy of science dept and proudly affirm that ‘science measures reality’, see how long it takes you to get politely shown the door.

    Why then, people might think that science ‘disproves’ God, religion, spirituality or whatever always confuses me. The mystical aspects of these things are not in the domain of science. What empirical measure have they failed? There aren’t any. (Spare me your list of Likert scales.) Science has no comment to offer on religion. Even 1st year lawyers understand that ‘abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence’.

    It might well be that reality operates according to laws that are simply beyond our human abilities to empirically measure. If so it might be that that is what people are talking about when they speak of God or mystical things. That’s not believing in ‘magic’ in the Harry Potter sense, but an acknowledgement that science can only take us so far. If we want to speculate beyond it, then we can either take a “no comment, ever” stance like some atheists and intellectual rationalists seem to do, or use language that moves beyond pure rationalism, and into mysticism and/or faith.

    People like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris typically posit a boring, stereotyped view of the religous person. For them, being religious means believing in fairy tales. Magical cities in the sky where we all joyously reunite with our ancestors and kick back in a sweet floaty happy party 4eva. Not very rational iz it? No evidence 4 dat. When it’s pointed out to them that the majority of religous people don’t have any such literal belief, but in fact are speaking in metaphor about their concept of the afterlife mystery, they just repeat the same strawman again, and bash it down all over. Harris, in the quote above, sounds as religious about science as any preacher. Science gonna ‘splain morality? Give me strength.

    Believe. Have faith my rational brothers and sisters. For I believe, that one day, scientists will come, scientists like we cannot now imagine, and they will show us the truth. Yes I have no evidence for this, yes I’m just talking, but I think that there are those here today who hear my words, and want to believe it as much as I already do. To you I say, believe. Oh yes, do you feel it friends…. zzzzzzz.

    You might be with me so far, but perhaps you’d say ‘but why should I believe in any beyond-science mysticism like religious people do? Speculation is one thing, belief is another. Isn’t that an irrational step to take?’ All I can say is that what someone choses to believe on faith is their own choice. They make that choice based on their own life experience, learning, reading, interacting, and thinking. It’s their right to make that choice, it’s their life, their experience. One should be free to chose the beliefs that will inform your experience of life in the way that one wants. It’s called freedom. I’ve known religous people who humbled me with their intellect. To call it ‘irrational’ is conceited, intolerant, arrogant thinking related to the authoritarian ‘anyone who doesn’t think like me is wrong’ attitude. Who are you to say you know better than them about their life experience which has led them to their choice of belief? Could it possibly be that they have experienced something in their life that you haven’t? Just because you can’t see a solution to a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one, thus, just because you can’t see a reason to believe doesn’t mean no one should.

    Einstein said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” He made his choice, I’ve made mine, you make yours, but please, spare us the ‘what’s wrong with you’ comments if our choices don’t align.

    Wasn’t Einstein a scientist or something? Weird eh?

    • Yep, this whole “science vs. religion” debate is pretty much a storm in a teacup, as these two great cultural projects have been closely aligned and intertwined throughout history. (Note however that the modern “Scientific Method” was only established around 400 years ago from the time of Galileo)

      Also, please read this thorough debunking of the Conflict Thesis, by an atheist who has bothered to read some actual history…

      Further reading:
      Hannam, God’s Philosophers
      Jaki, Science and Creation

      • emergency mike 20.1.1

        Thanks ropata. And from below: “Faith is not blind, it can be rational and based on good evidence. It should be a journey of (self-)discovery, not mindless adherence to an old book.”

        Well said.

        • aerobubble

          Just as you will find good morals and ethics in any religion, so you will find good rational arguments. Highlighting that within in each faith rational arguments are respected, merely leads to the notion that science is the most perfect form of religion. Since invariably every religion will have irrational beliefs, that another religion rationally sees past.

          Politics earliest form was religion, since the newly emerging rulers needed consent for their rule, and did not have our modern means for its manufacture. As time passes, religion aligns with conservative forces against progressive forces who embrace science – their own form of consent making. Essentially first there was religion, this then splits into philosophy, science, politics, economics, military, etc.

          As religion is expelled to the corners of society, marginalized, it needs to evolve to survive. How I wonder, will they get over their pity for the other, and spiteful need to reward their own creed in the face of overwhelming opposition? We are one family of humans, of many species, of one planet, yet religion still can’t get along with each other or the rest of us, flora, fauna, etc.

          Politics is war by other means, Religion is politics by other means.

  21. Scheherazade 21

    The best thing in life to have is an open-mind, and then possibilities are available to you. To have a set of strict beliefs out of tradition, fear or whatever it closes you off, it shuts your senses down and restricts your natural exploration and your potential. Atheists, to me, are a little sad. Devout religious people, I feel, are restricted. Even as a Christian growing up I remained completely open-minded, you have too, otherwise you might miss out on something. From the first moment I can remember I always knew something was ‘out there’ and I had an inner feeling of ‘knowing’ that there was a spiritual element to my being. I just knew. I had no proof, but I didn’t need any- I just knew!

    I always saw Earth as a little ball rolling around in a vast space, to me, this was absolutely extraordinary, so I started to observe my surroundings, human beings were physically functional, intelligent and independent, the positions of the sun and the moon were in perfect alignment with the earth, everything was ‘set-up’ for human survival. There was fresh water; food from the land, the sea, the ground and the tree, there were creatures of all different types and they were absolutely beautiful. Flowers were beautiful (you look at a rose- the smell, the texture, the colour- roses are utterly divine), oceans were beautiful, and the seasons were beautiful. We have all the elements- water, fire, earth and air- it is only logical that something is ‘going on’.
    The chemistry when you fall ‘in love’ is electrifying – it is the most insanely intense feeling- where does it come from? The orgasm- what the?? Where the hell did the orgasm come from, like come on, like wow, both sexes can orgasm, that’s insane- surely that has to be ‘intelligent design’ at play here, like there is no other explanation?
    Every single thing on this earth and within human functionality is absolutely incredible.

    We have instincts, intuition, foresight and psychological understanding. We have a conscience ingrained in us, empathy, feelings of affection, we have love for others, physical desires and bonding experiences- it is all so special. We have the freedom to believe, to hope, to wonder, and to dream. Human beings have these wonderful hopeful elements that keep the spirit striving and surviving. Then there is the ‘unknown’ the deep dark depths that keep humans pondering the possibilities for centuries, having an ‘unknown’ element to our existence keeps us guessing – what are we doing here? Is there life after death? Do humans have meaning? Do humans have a soul?
    It keeps us believing and questioning, and we longingly search for answers, this allows us to truly reflect on all things spiritual, unordinary and unfamiliar.

    If human beings knew all the answers to this secretive universe, it wouldn’t be so special anymore. Human beings need to have mystery in their existence because it creates a feeling of bewilderment and intrigue; and this keeps the human being inspired.
    ‘Things’ people don’t fully understand, or grasp yet have a slight inkling of keeps the human being excited and eager.
    Not having all the answers is a clever way of keeping us human beings on our toes, making us learn, and making us search. When we explore we start to believe in possibilities and when we believe strange things happen, because we don’t find the answers through the art of not believing do we? We have to believe in something, to get somewhere, don’t we?

    The gateways to universe are so beautifully simple, there’s something right in front of our noses, yet we cannot see it.

    How utterly beautiful our journey is.

    • tricledrown 21.1

      Shcaudenfraud Baffling us with your BS !
      Religion is like a kid with an invisible friend!
      Man has invented religion.
      Man has used Religion to exploit and subjugate.
      Empires invent their own brand.
      i.e. the Romans rewriting their version of the bible.
      Henry the eigth.
      Even hitler had his own religion for his empire..

      • Scheherazade 21.1.1

        No fucking kidding!

      • Chooky 21.1.2

        @ tricledrown ..re “Even hitler had his own religion for his empire”…Hitler was brought up a Catholic and a Catholic until the end …many personal accounts from those closest to him…However there were Catholic priests who opposed Hitler …and Christian Germans of other denominations who gave their lives in opposition to the Nazis ….eg Deitrich Bonhoeffer


    • Cool thoughts Scheherazade, but are you advocating Science as a new kind of religion? That seems to be the approach of Prof Brian Cox, Higg Priest of Physics. I find his posturing distasteful.

      On the other hand, it is a good thing to have perspective on your finite life in the grand scheme of the cosmos. As the movie “The Tree of Life” challenges:

      The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.

  22. b waghorn 22

    Part of the attraction for a non religious ‘church’ could be were else can people go for a feeling of community that isn’t commercial (pubs)or filled with petty politics .

  23. Orthodoxia 23

    Reflecting on Atheisim, one of the things trumpeted for it is that religions cause so many wars and killings. Yet if one reflects on the 20th century, Atheists (Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc) killed more people than the religiously minded.

    • Scheherazade 23.1

      I wonder who really causes all the problems..eh?

    • Pascals bookie 23.2

      Got any other centuries that works in?

      • McFlock 23.2.1

        Bold call to count hitler as an athiest, too.

        • CATMAN

          Or anyone who makes himself into a god, really.

          • Scheherazade

            Or a devil?

            • CATMAN

              Nah, he cast others as devils. His role was the omnipotent omnipresent god.

              • Scheherazade

                A omnipotent omnipresent god…….with a little g?

                Why a little g?

                • CATMAN

                  Dunno. Maybe it’s because he didn’t write the comment.

                  • Scheherazade

                    Excuse me I wrote “A omnipotent omnipresent god’ while you wrote “the omnipotent omnipresent god” interesting, you make it sound like there is only one god?

                    Is that so?

                    What is your opinion?

                    • CATMAN

                      i don’t know what my opinion about god/s has to do with hitler’s opinion about himself.

                      you do realise i’m not hitler, don’t you?

                    • Scheherazade

                      Yes I know your not Hitler, your just being sarcastic.

                      I wrote “you make it sound like there is only one god?”

                      What am I implying?

                    • RedLogix

                      If we allow that the essential aspect of the Divine is that of the Creator, and given that there is only one observable reality, obeying one set of coherent, consistent laws – then logically there must be only one God.

                      You are free to challenge those assumptions – but that is the simplest approach usually taken. But like most arguments that attempt to prove or disprove the existence of God on purely rational grounds – it tends to be a circular argument.

                      If we could prove or disprove God by logic or rational means – the problem would have been unequivocally solved a long time ago. But any meaningful Divinity must by definition be something beyond the ability of the rather limited rational human mind to embrace. Otherwise all we really have created is a captive figment of our collective vanity.

                      But rationality is not the only tool in the box of human tricks. It’s merely the one us Westerners have declared the only valid one. Unfortunately as the old saying goes, “when all you have is a hammer, then all problems look like nails”.

                      Yet if you asked someone from any of the many thousands of historic and existing non-Western societies about the nature of spirit – they would immediately offer a sophisticated language and model to use. Suddenly you are no longer whacking screws with hammers, and the stilted, confined conversations we tend to have about religion become far more flowing and rewarding.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, that went downhill quickly

                    • Scheherazade

                      Yes I agree there is only one Creator, the problem is we are made in the image/s of God (obviously), and there are two sexes?

                    • CATMAN

                      “If we allow that the essential aspect of the Divine is that of the Creator, and given that there is only one observable reality, obeying one set of coherent, consistent laws – then logically there must be only one God.”

                      But why should the creator be bound by the laws of his creation?

                      Scheherazade, I’m not being sarcastic. I think Hitler meant to present himself so as to fulfill the role that “the omnipotent omnipresent god” takes. This has nothing to do with what i think about the existence or otherwise of such a being.

                    • @Redlogix, Christmas is all about the supernatural becoming natural. Jesus shows our ape-like brains what the divine person looks like as a relatable human being. We can talk rationally about God.

                      Faith is not blind, it can be rational and based on good evidence. It should be a journey of (self-)discovery, not mindless adherence to an old book.

      • Herodotus 23.2.2

        Roman conquests in the 1 st century bc or ce were not religious based they focused their attention on conquest and for the Caesars self glorification, nor were the great inter state Chinese wars of or that the mongrel conquests. The taiping rebellion estimated in the 1800’s the deaths est. to be between 20-100 m alone. To counter your request any century that it doesn’t work ?

    • Reflecting on Atheisim, one of the things trumpeted for it is that religions cause so many wars and killings.

      One of the less-important and more-disputable things, yes. For instance, it’s far less significant than the main claim for atheism: that rationalism is a much better basis for thought and action than irrationalism.

      Yet if one reflects on the 20th century, Atheists (Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc) killed more people than the religiously minded.

      People kill for political reasons as well as religious ones? I’m not feeling a sense of stunned surprise, here. More to the point: the atheist models (assuming fascism counts, which is disputable) that you’re presenting for comparison with religion are murderous totalitarian ideologies. Now, as someone who considers Islam a totalitarian ideology I have no personal problem with that comparison, but if you’re a religious person yourself, is it really a comparison you want to make?

      • aerobubble 23.3.1

        First off there is no claim of atheism, since atheism is a catch all. Like theism. Atheism is the collective set of all beliefs that don’t hold to super natural deities. i.e lack theism.

        Second. There are many irrational atheists beliefs, just like theism, just theism are more exposed since they make more assumptions, and those assumptions are better known, and have had a lot of history behind them to exposed them for irrationality.

        Third. Sure Stalin, a student of the seminary school, picked up his atheism hatred for jews from his atheism. Not the systemic abuses of Jews by religion in E.Europe.

        But more pointedly, the lack of faith has no causal basis for a positive hatred of a minority. Its the positive beliefs, i.e communism. Casting all atheist beliefs as bad because of one particular degenerate,and arguably off shoot of christianity (communism).

        Anyway. Politics is war by other means. Religion has done war and politics. So what?

        If all these atheists are doing is meeting together under the constructive banner that they keep in check their assumptions about how we’re all sinful, fallen, flawed beings, to a minimum. Not letting those beliefs over take them and become stagnated arrogant monoliths of faith, then I say the human species will be better for it. caveat that of course we not perfect either, its all grey you know.

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