- Written by Chuck Collazzi
You’ve probably heard the news by now that the fastest-growing religion in the USA is “Nones”. This misunderstood group is often defined as those who don’t belong to or attend a church, or subscribe to any dogmatic belief system. This statistic is said to include atheists and agnostics, secularists and humanists.
Of course, Nones aren’t necessarily non-believers, and this is important to keep in mind. Included in this category are self-styled “spirituals”, a term which means, to those that I know personally that identify as such, believers in some vague, undefined “higher power”. (“I don’t believe in religion, but I’m spiritual”.) Others are just fed up with the excesses of religion which include ownership of massive amounts of real estate, pedophilia, TV preachers, etc. The actual percentage of atheistic or agnostic Nones is hard to quantify because many people deny their non-belief in order to fit in, or not offend those with (usually) Christian sensibilities, especially bosses and co-workers.
At a time when slogans promoting religion are virtually everywhere (check out your local Wal-Mart parking lot) the non-believing community has groped for its own pithy bumper-sticker sound bites as a counter to the ubiquitous religious drivel we are presumed to respect, e.g., God Is My Co-Pilot, Jesus Is My Boss, In Case Of Rapture This Car Will Be Unmanned, Got Jesus?, and many more, all of which can be seen regularly on T-shirts and other apparel countrywide.
Although we non-believers have made a lot of ground against god-ism in the last few decades, we are far behind in the snappy, pointed slogan department. It seems to be more difficult to come up with succinct phrases which assert a negative such as atheism in a punchy, positive manner.
A popular, recent attempt is “Good Without God”. It can be seen it on mugs, stickers, t-shirts, etc. Although its proponents mean well, I find it problematic. I believe there are serious issues with it. In discussing my reluctance to embrace it I have encountered everything from agreement to derision. (I’ve been accused by my peers of over-thinking, which I find is a curious accusation in any case.)
Most clearly, Good Without God implies the existence of a deity. Here in christian America that can mean only one guy, Yahweh, the abusive, neurotic god of the Old and New Testaments. The assertion Good Without God assumes that there is a god, and that we choose to not believe in him, and reject him as the source of morality, good, and evil. It also fails as an attempt to be inoffensive to believers, especially those who find the mere existence of atheism an insult to their tender feelings of heavenly grace-filled righteousness.
Further, when I hear Good Without God I am reminded of Fox News’ mantra, “Fair and Balanced”. With frequent repetition, it takes on the nature of a meme. If you have to declaim to your audience that you are fair and balanced, it probably means you’re not either, or you’ve got something to hide, or it’s flat-out not true.
We atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers don’t need to buy into the lies of the preachers, or those congregational sheep who claim that morality comes from an imaginary deity and is not part of the evolutionary process which includes pursuit of mutual benefits for all as a component of survival. We should not be taking a defensive posture where morality (or any of the other lies the religious promote) is concerned.
Recently I have seen t-shirts with the slogan “Good Without Gods” which changes the meaning entirely. I think this represents a step in the right direction, but is totally irrelevant since pantheism is pretty much ignored in the USA. We need something better.
- Written by William Bruchert
This past weekend, hundreds — many, many more hundreds than expected — descended on The Slammer, outspoken atheist Penn Jillette's previous home, to help raise money and awareness for the project to transform it into "The Nevatican," intended to be a secular community center headed up by the United Church of Bacon. If successful, it will be free to use for events run by all the various secular organizations in Las Vegas (our own HALV, Sunday Assembly Las Vegas, and other LVCoR-related groups).
Word spread like wildfire across social media (Facebook, Meetup.com, Twitter, Instagram) as the event approached. An expected 200-300 attendees grew to over 1,100 RSVPs, and more than that estimated to have actually attended.
Dozens of volunteers helped organize and produce the event in only a matter of days; a great example of what humans can accomplish when working together towards a goal. Setup (seating, signage, etc.), execution (parking, attendee sign-ins, donation collection, food service, childcare), and even clean-up seemed to go exceptionally quickly and without a hitch.
The "Save The Slammer" project still has a long way to go, however, and more events are in the works to continue the fund-raising endeavor. Those events should go even more smoothly, as some setup will already be done from this first event (e.g. signage, grading of the parking areas, etc.), along with things learned that can be done better next time.
For more information and to donate to the cause, see the Indiegogo page: http://igg.me/at/nevatican/x
- KTNV - Church of Bacon hosts free barbecue
- Las Vegas Weekly - A Barbecue at Penn Jillette’s Slammer
- Las Vegas Sun - Penn Jillette’s atheist fundraiser: Bacon, skepticism and Trump on the side
- LVRJ - Jillette's home is now United Church of Bacon headquarters — VIDEO
- Written by John Sorenson
Can one be moral and not believe in a god? Questioning the perspectives of Atheists and Theists will achieve some answers to this questions. Although most of the world’s population upholds certain beliefs and principles in worshiping a particular god, we should keep in mind that critical review of religious rationale and applications of committed dogma are a duty for humankind. In order to reach the highest moral compass for our gifted species we all have to embrace the challenge of debating this question to proactively serve the evolution of all of humanity.
From ancient to contemporary times, questions have been raised as to who we are, why are we here, what makes us what we are and what are the correct morals for our societies. These questions have posed some of the most debated discussions known within the circles of scholars, politicians, theologian, and the average citizen.
As early as the sixth century B.C.E. philosophers such as Thales, Parmenides, Heraclitus asked questions as to what the world is made of, offered opinions toward the illusions of the real world and developed arguments that the world is in constant change, (Mosser, 2010). Socrates (469 B.C.E. 399 B.C.E.), who was noted for his interest in moral and ethical questioning constantly provoked inquiry at the moral and ethical values of those in authority. Although Socrates was put to death for defending his views, he remained steadfast to ideology that every person should continually evaluate their lives.
Moral conduct takes on different forms due to one's association or lack of association to a religious belief. Some argue that the very essence of a well grounded moral compass is in direct relation to belief in a god. Others believe that morals are inherent and develop through an evolutionary process, in conjunction with various environmental and societal impacts and experiences.
So, what is the real system of morality based on; Non Religious or Religious? Who or what is the natural motivator for such a compelling part of our human character? Are people existing from one side of this world to the other based on the natural processes of evolution or is there a superior being that has placed established systems of supreme thought and principle that were meant to guide the human spirit in the context of right and wrong? I would assume that most people settle on the fact that there is both good and bad in our world, but who or what is the facilitator of each?
If we place an Atheist beside an Theist would anybody truly know the difference only by judging their looks ? No. Only when you start to peel back the layers of worldly experience that the true identity of people begins to emerge. By comparing the two we can see that Theists insist that their existence, thus their moral compass, remains related to a supreme being. Theists argue that moral decisions come from the gods they choose to manifest and worship. I see this as a crutch, or a severe chronic ailment of sorts manifested by the mere practice of religious duties, and sworn doctrine. Atheists on the other hand dismiss ideology and likewise methodologies of a life leveraged by manmade mystic supreme beings. Easy, right? Well not so fast.
Ensuring a well grounded moral compass the Atheist simply takes the duties and responsibilities of deciding the right moral compass by look inward to our hearts, subscribe to our own minds, and reflect on past experiences when determining the best decisions. Basically the Atheist commits to the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in the most simplistic form. I see this as the most inherent form of moral compassing. Atheists go about life without the fear of reprisal from deity, folklore, and mysticism.
The majority of earth's population walk side by side with the same common goals most certainly beginning with Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. Moving past the lowest tier of food, sex, shelter, etc., is where the differences start within societies as human belief begins to attaches itself to gods, or supernatural mysticism to the remaining rungs on the Hierarchy. Theistic beliefs have proven the initiation of warfare, greed, corruption, scandal, proselytization, and dogma, all of which have negatively impacted the morality of societies through the centuries. These acts often beset religious communities, forcing a retraction of their ways and means through more prayers and offerings to the supernatural. Following the same path as the Atheist by adhering to the simple Golden Rule for moral compassing may have worked better for the Theist in these cases.
No deity crutch or religious chronic ailment is needed by the Atheist to support clear comprehensive decisions. The bottom line is that Atheists do not need all of the mysticism, pageantry, scandal, corruption, proselytization and insecurities to be moral. The Atheist operates on intrinsic principles rather than speculative beliefs about our world. Although Atheists have been among the casualties of religious reprisal for those same centuries, one unshakable attribute to which Atheists hold to remains abundantly clear. The Atheist can remain moral, without a belief in a god.