Friday, November 11, 2011

The Power of Pity

Many atheists and humanists are angry. We've been ostracized and left out. Hardly surprising, since, in America, as much as 80 percent of the population claims to be religious. But it isn't the mere presence of these people that incites anger. It's the way they use their religions to influence politics, laws, and the economy. And the costs of those societal controls are difficult to reconcile.

Next time you find yourself in angst because of something you hear in the news or when Jane at work tells you "she'll pray for you", try this: pity. Instead of trying to convince them their ways are flawed or instead of fighting fire with fire, try expressing pity that they needed to result to childish magical thinking to handle a real problem. But it is important that you do this publicly.

For example: I feel sorry for my stepmom, who is so insecure about her abilities as a parent that she pretends to believe "God had a plan" when anything bad occurs or when I actually needed her to be there. I pity her because, although her intentions may be good, nothing defeats I child's sense of security more than emotionally unavailable and incompetent parents.

Share your stories of pity in the comments below, I promise it will make you feel better.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Religious business directories

Here is a fun exercise: go to a search engine and type in "religious business directory". Did you get tens of millions of hits like I did? Try something more specific like "Mormon business directory". I get around ten millions hits.

In many ways, this would seem to go against the canon of many religions, particularly those that "reject" capitalism, materialism, and commerce in general. Think of the ascetics or the monks that survive on nothing but the bare essentials and subsistence farming. So what does worship and holiness have to do with getting your nails done or tire changed by someone whom you chose solely on their religion? I guess these are futile questions and I only ask them rhetorically to make a point. Afterall this only scratches the surface of things religious people do that don't seem to match their stated goals.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Humanist Bible

I have been reading the Humanist Bible on my way to work (I take public transit). To be honest I had no idea what to expect when I started reading. It is very poetic and well written... almost mystical. The chapters are presented as sets of verses - just like other religious texts - each one presenting a complete thought or natural statement.  I'll try to include some of my favorite verses on twitter and on this blog.

"what feeds the stars? Time and ages must otherwise eat all things away, except that nature's laws infallibly rule that nothing returns to nothing."

Humanist Bible Ch.5 verse 4

I like the idea that it is impossible for something to die in vain: everything eventually serves as food for something else, and even the stars "feed" on other matter in order to exist. Everything must eat to survive. Therefore, given finite space, eventually everything must be eaten. Out with the old in with the new. The genesis for many religions is grasping the meaning of death. For me, I can come to terms with the fact that, since I've lived and grown by feeding off other matter, I owe the universe that matter back.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I joined my university's secular/freethinkers club. I found the club while researching how to start my own Humanist group. I have to say, I'm a little disappointed, as the club seems to mostly be dormant. I posted a few things on it's site but received no replies thus far, and given the lack of events or other communication on there, I doubt it will have much to offer. Too bad because there are a few other people who just recently joined but the leaders of the group don't seem to be very active. Nonetheless, I'll keep trying. You never know, maybe if I keep at it and keep posting, something will stick or someone will reach out.

I have had luck with and the Phoenix atheist and Humanist groups. These two groups have extremely active members and they do lots of cool stuff. I'll definitely do my best to meet up with them as much as possible.

Also, I've added this blog to a Humanist blog webring as well as started a twitter account (the twitter feed is to the right). Please follow me if you can. My username on twitter is humangeist.

"Knowledge is freedom, freedom from ignorance and it's offspring fear; knowledge is light and liberation"

Humanist Bible Ch.2 verse 11


Monday, October 31, 2011

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible

This morning I downloaded A.C. Graylings The Good Book: A Humanist Bible on my iphone Kindle app:
I'm pretty excited about this. I've been following Grayling in the news for some time and I remember when this book was first published it made national news. I've wanted to read it ever since.

Hopefully it possesses some good insights. As I read my way through it I'll be sure to post about it accordingly. Please submit a comment if you have read this book!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Humanism?

I suppose most people experience periods in their lives with feelings of vulnerability. I'm no different. I get frustrated by people I interactive with, or the bad things I read and hear in the news. I reflect on these things and daydream about what I would do if given the power to make them better.

And when I encounter those stressors (which is often) for some reason I always think about how religious people rely on one another to get through it all. I believe this is because I've encountered many religious people in my life who are successful and claim their religions as integral to their success. I know way more religious people who are successful than successful atheists. That is not to say I think this trend holds true all the time; it is just what I have observed. Also, whenever a new study comes out in the news about how to live to 100, it seems like many times centarians are described as being actively spiritual.

So, being someone who wants to be successful and who wants to live for a very long time, I am obviously a little envious. I hope that the humanism community and way of life can fill that void. If the act of being religious can be distilled down to a means of getting to live longer and more prosperously, then why can't I just lead a religious life of sorts without all of the stuff I don't believe in? I can congregate with likeminded people, read about my religion, meditate, etc. Who knows what such a life could bring...

I'm still trying to figure it out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introduction - This a blog about Humanism

First a little about me:

My name is Gabe. For a living, I work in a cube crunching numbers for a large organization doing work completely unrelated to the subject matter of this blog. Save for a couple of acronym-laden emails a day: I'm no writer. But, despite this disconnection, I've found myself, for quite some time, constantly compelled to learn and write about, of all things, Humanism.

Perhaps you are wondering what that is. Well... so am I! Hence my attempt to blog about Humanism and experience it in this open forum.

For a start, let us resort to the experts:

"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that,
without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
-American Humanist Association"

The sentence from AMA above, which I had never seen until I googled "Humanism" just now, actually sums up my beliefs better than anything ever written. That is not to say I didn't have the gist of it before writing this, but it is the most succinct definition of Humanism I've come across.

My whole life I have acted as an observer. I've watched other people live their lives, take risks, seize opportunities, and, most importantly, act on their beliefs. I have seen how religions and shared philosophies connect people in a way that, frankly, creates a change in their behavior that I have never fully experienced for myself. When your beliefs are totally secular and atheist, but you are surrounded by theists, difficulties arise when it comes time for you to ground yourself and assert yourself. This is because you are constantly digressing while they progress, they get to strike first, and the world we live in rewards action.

I want to stop the digression. I want to have a sense of community. I want to have a sense of spirituality. But I can't do it by acting like I believe in things I know do not exist. Things that I cannot observe or cannot be explained by science are not real and therefore can never influence my actions.

Hopefully, this simple exercise will aide in my pursuit and if I am lucky, I will run into a few likeminded folks along the way. This is my open and official invitation to contact me if you feel anything remotely like I do.

In the meantime, check out the official Humanist logo known as the "Happy Human" created by Denis Barrington in 1965: