A theist told me that without god I’m just molecules in motion…
We are molecules in motion. Only not just.
We are also heirs (at the very least) to 5 thousand years of history, 14 thousand years of civilization, 50 thousand years of behavioral modernity, 3 billion years of biology, 14 billion years of physics, chemistry, and cosmology.
We are descended from the cosmos — “A way for the universe to know itself.”
Not a p a r t from it, but a part of it.
We are particles that dream. Atoms that love. Star dust configured to comprehend its own existence.
We are kin and kindred to every earthly organism that is or ever was and perhaps ever will be.
We sail across an ocean of human toil and pain and blood…and of hope.
We are curators of knowledge. Co-authors of the human story.
At our feet, all of human achievement, above us endless possibility, within us untapped potential.
And the truly beautiful part, the sweetest, most succulent, warm and fuzzy, spine-tingling, uplifting, stupefying, humbling, unequivocally, undeniably most beautiful part about it…
The California State Senate just passed resolution AJR1, introduced into the State Assembly by Representative Mike Gatto, nearly 2 years ago. AJR1 calls for a Constitutional convention for the sole purpose of establishing that corporations are not natural persons and money is not speech and therefore can be limited through legislation.
California joins Vermont in passing a resolution calling for a Convention. We need 34 states to pass resolutions to convene a Constitutional convention and draft an amendment.
The resolution got an ovation after it passed, not from onlookers in the gallery, but from the senators themselves on the floor. They just struck their own blow to free themselves from incessant fund-raising an influence peddling.
As I said last night, we’re in the early stages of what will likely be an ugly, protracted political dog fight against some of the richest, most powerful people in the world. Typically those kinds of fights don’t go well for the little guys. But with an issue in which 96% of the population is in agreement and with grassroots activism driven almost entirely by citizen-fundedvolunteer organizations, things can have a way of snowballing.
We’re coming to take back our democracy. We believe it’s possible, and we’re ready for a fight.
BTW, Tom Berryhill, the state senator for my district, who has been fined for laundering campaign funds and, in my experience, all but refuses to meet with constituents, voted no. He will NOT be getting my vote going forward and wouldn’t even if I agreed with him on every other issue.
The California State Senate is set to vote on AJR-1, a resolution introduced to the California State Assembly in 2012 by Representative Mike Gatto. It calls for a constitutional convention for the purpose of revoking corporate personhood in regards to free speech and limiting campaign finance.
It has already passed the California State Assembly. And the Senate judiciary Committee. It was set for a vote last Thursday, but was tabled for unspecified reasons (rumors are some of the yes votes were absent at the time). It has been rescheduled for a vote on Monday, June 23, 2014.
A very similar resolution has already passed in Vermont. The movement, led by Larry Lessig and other citizen-funded groups was the very definition of grass roots. (Registering nary a ripple in the national media, of course.)
Similar resolutions are in various stages of percolation in 10 different states, introduced and supported by both Democratic and Republican legislators who’ve had enough.
Article V of our ceaselessly amazing U.S. Constitution allows for conventions to be called by the states, circumventing the federal government. It requires 2/3 of the states to call for the convention and 3/4 of the states to ratify the amendment once the convention puts forth a resolution. In short, we need 34 states to call for a convention and 38 states to ratify an amendment proposal.
It is also critical to note that constitutional conventions are required be very specific. They can only be held regarding the issue for which they were called. No switcheroos or add-ons after one has been convened.
Of the people. By the people. Like music to the ears, innit?
Needless to say, if AJR-1 does pass in California, it would be historic. The largest state in the union would have called to amend the U.S. Constitution for the express purpose of returning the democracy back to the American people.
It would be a chance to undo the damage done by the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) which proclaimed corporations as people and preventied bipartisan campaign finance reform on the grounds that money is speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, as well as McCutcheon v. FEC decided in April of 2014, in which SCOTUS struck down many of the remaining limits on campaign contributions. These decisions effectively allowed for the purchase of entire elections by private interests. It’s what led to the explosion of Super PACs and their shady regulations.
But let’s call this for what it is: legalized corruption. A recent Princeton study found that voter opinion has no discernible influence federal lawmakers. The only opinions that moved the needle were rich donors and the lobbyists that work for them. In other words, lawmakers are only listening to the people who fund their campaigns. Money for influence. All that comes out of it is voter apathy and stymied political discourse (and cash windfalls for a select few). It’s the reason we can’t do anything about climate change, or for-profit prisons, or gun control, or our schools, or any of the monumental and mounting issues we face.
So long as SCOTUS holds that money equals protected speech, they can shoot down any campaign finance reform law anyone tries to pass. And so far, they pretty much have.
AJR-1 is a means to put an end to this broken corrupt system.
Of course, that’s if it passes. And make no mistake, it would only be the first salvo in what could very well be a long and hard fought political war.
But however the vote goes in the California State Senate, the fight is only beginning. Often times, the powers that be try to slow cook hot-button issues. They wait for the furor to die down, occasionally placating the disquieted masses with some meager, symbolic concessions, then get back to business when the noise dies down and interests shift (the 4 biggest banks are bigger now than they were before the 2008 crash…por ejemplo).
We can’t continue to let this happen. It’s not about going after the super rich donors or even the politicians. Its about tearing down the system that has squeezed the people out and made us inaudible.
We’re late in the game in California, but if you support the idea of exercising the power of the people and getting money out of politics, I urge you to call your California state senator Monday morning (you can find your state reps here) to let them know you support AJR-1 and you want them to vote yes.
Even if you don’t live in California, call your state legislators. Let them know you support a constitutional convention to get money out of politics. Demand it. Tell them you want your democracy back. (Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a catch-all database. The best way to find your representatives is to type in “who are my representatives” and then your state in your favorite search engine. Usually in the first 2 or 3 choices you’ll find one that only requires your address or zip code and then finds your reps along with contact info for you. Teh interwebs are awesome.)
96% of Americans say that the influence of money in politics needs to be reduced. 91% believe nothing can be done about it.
The Huffington Post has an interesting article about a recent Gallup poll showing that many Americans have lost confidence in organized religion. The shift represents a more than 22 point swing over the last forty years.
While the polls are clearly denoting a loss of faith in the institutions of organized religions and NOT a loss of faith in God or religious doctrine, they still represents cracks in the armor. Growing up, I don’t know that I held anyone outside of my immediate family in higher esteem than my church elders. Even after I was no longer a practicing Christian, I considered the ‘the cloth’ as an estimable position to have.
Very public scandals involving the Catholic church and televangelists preachers have clearly had a deteriorating effect on people’s trust in church leadership. There was the immediate effect of those scandals of course, but there were also long term effects. By painful example a religious title obviously doesn’t give a person greater insight into the human condition. It doesn’t make a person more wise or less prone to mistakes. It certainly doesn’t make a person better at decision-making.
I think another factor in this loss of confidence is the proliferation of the personal relationship with God central to evangelical Christianity–the fastest growing religion in the world. Evangelicals don’t need church fathers to intermediate between God and themselves. Through prayer and contemplation they seek the connection with God themselves and only turn to church officials for guidance in this effort.
While I still maintain that individual spirituality can have a obstructive impact on some advancements in science and technology as well as human rights, organized religion is the true culprit in the fight against cultural egality.
Most of the people I have observed who characterize themselves as spiritual rather than religious, no matter how similar their beliefs might be to organized religious dogma, do not presume nearly the same level of moral authority to impose those beliefs on others.
Obviously, the power of the church is far from broken. It’s more accurate to say the overall influence of the church is somewhat diminished and it has been considerably diminished over the last decade or so.
While it is my hope that–someday–everyone will come to see the merit–even wisdom–of skeptical reason, I have the utmost respect for religious freedom. In practical terms alone that goes to our basic freedoms of speech and thought. So I am not interested in any course that leads to the restriction or loss of rights for any churches or belief systems (except that any church that is politically active loses its tax exempt status. No one should be able to use tax free dollars to influence policy.)
It will be interesting to see how this trend continues. As an element of civilization, I think it is inevitable. The more we know, the less superstitious we become. Still, even the inevitable can take centuries and be rife with backslides and regressions. Hopefully, this trend will instead snowball to a point where we start moving towards policy dictated by evidence-based argument rather than unfounded claims based solely on religious beliefs.
It has been alleged that I like calling people stupid. 🙂
I actually don’t. It’s just an honest observation. Group think and mob mentality are well documented psychosocial states. Sometimes it manifests as a trend in the stock market other times as a guy being dragged to death behind a pick-up truck. Of course, stupidity comes in myriad forms.
I am not talking about people with legitimate cognitive disabilities, but rather people who fail (or refuse) to put adequate thought behind their words and deeds.
Like evil, stupidity is a result of behavior. It stems primarily from speaking or acting from ignorance. Ignorance is unawareness of–or disregard for–information, logic, reason, and common sense. So stupidity is nothing more than ignorance in action. It is learned and reversible.
And it is rampant in the United States of America.
This is mainly because we accept it. We allow people to espouse unfounded and illogical beliefs without challenge. We have a media that simply parrots talking points. We have an education system that is merely prep for standardized tests. We elect ignorant people to positions of power and allow them to use their ignorance to impact everyone.
So why do we do this?
As is often the case, it goes back to religion (I’m not trying to beat up on it, I’m just noting where things come from). Our nation has Christian roots. And what Christianity teaches us is that the sin that has doomed our entire race to suffering and strife is the acquisition of knowledge. Not envy, or wrath, or greed, not murder or rape, but knowledge. I’ve considered the Adam and Eve story allegorical for as long as I can remember. A disappointingly large number of people take it as literal. Either way, it’s unsurprising that after inculcating, even beating, this story into millions and millions of kids over the course of centuries, we have learned to distrust knowledge.
This distrust is nothing more than willful ignorance.
Education, discussion, and exposure to new people and experiences can do away with involuntary ignorance. Hey, I didn’t know cause I didn’t know. But with willful ignorance, commonly expressed as, “That’s just what I believe,” this baseless, line-in-the-sand positioning becomes a bulwark against enlightenment. It is often considered principled, even noble, to hold firm to one’s beliefs regardless of their validity. Unfortunately, it’s used to hurt people for “honorable” reasons.
But it is not noble or honorable. It’s hubris. It’s dangerous. And it’s antithetical to progress.
Essentially one is saying, I am going to keep believing in something even though I have no reason to believe it other than I want to. At issue in these instances actually isn’t the belief itself but rather the feeling of safety, security, comfort and stability one gets from believing it. Ignorance really is bliss.
This is common refuge for religious people. To some degree I understand the obstinance. Faith deals with ideas that are often reassuring, unquantifiable, and–most importantly–unfalsifiable. It feels good to believe it and it can’t be disproved, so there’s little motivation to stop believing it. Plus, science doesn’t have any better answers in many cases.
While this type of reasoning is actually unsound, there is a pure logic to it that appeases common sense…until you actually think about it. Pleasant fiction is still fiction.
The troubled waters really begin when this type of thinking spills over into other aspects of life, especially legislation.
When stupidity dictates policy you get Stand Your Ground and Sharia Law bans. You get our crumbling education system. You get bigotry, tribalism, and antipathy.
You also get the Texas state GOP rejecting higher thinking skills, including critical thinking, on their official party platform. Or you get the Louisiana lawmakers who passed a school voucher program allowing people to send their kids to Christian schools pulling their support for the program after people started using those same public funds to send their kids to Muslim schools. It’s how you get people scoffing at global warming every time it snows or refuting radiometric dating without an iota of expertise.
Of course, these are right-wing issues.
On the left, fear of vaccines and other pharmaceutical drugs are built largely on conjecture, unfounded claims, and circumstantial evidence. Any charlatan with an alphabet soup after their name can write a book and present it to the masses as a breakthrough. The lay person lacks the acumen to challenge it. But does that book hold up to the scrutiny of other experts in their field? The only thing these miracle herbalists and holistic healers need to do is demonstrate–to other experts in the field–that their methods get consistent results–that anyone who follows their processes can duplicate. That is the standard for the scientific method.
Most of the people I’ve had discussions with could not articulate that standard of proof. We haven’t been taught to think in those terms. We believe what we want to believe.
So we do need better education. But we also need to let go of our own arrogance. We need to stop presuming that we’re right all the time. We need to stop thinking that we know and start proving that we know. We’ve got to stop being scared of challenging our beliefs.
I lean towards skepticism because it makes the fewest presumptions. It’s mantra is simply that I will believe whatever there is sufficient reason to believe.
It’s a renunciation of absolutes and it’s far from sexy. For some, it may seem like a cold proposition (of course, that is once again basing one’s beliefs on feelings rather than facts). Admittedly, the argument that there’s more to life than what you can measure and calculate has merit. But in terms of what rules we make to live by, we should go by a reality that we can mutually demonstrate. The standards should rely on independently verifiable evidence.
This means getting past life by je ne sais quoi, and into the realm of the provable, quantifiable, and falsifiable.
That means getting past stupidity, which means letting go of our ignorance, which begins by admitting that we are ignorant.
I know, it doesn’t feel good, but it gets better (I hope! :o).
And it’s important to remember that the problem is not the lack of knowledge but rather acting on the lack of knowledge.
Changing the culture is a generational thing. But it’s possible. And it starts with each of us.
Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence and to ripen their judgments, dissipate their Fears, and allure their Hopes, by discussing it in News Papers and Pamphletts, by debating it, in Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety and Inspection, in Town and County Meetings, as well as in private Conversations, so that the whole People in every Colony of the 13, have now adopted it, as their own Act. — This will cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago.
But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.
–John Adams, July 3, 1776
We have been observing Independence Day as a federal holiday since 1870 (it was an unpaid holiday back then).
I was surprised–somewhat–to learn that there is a dispute as to whether the 4th of July should be the U.S. Independence Day. This is not a dispute started among modern day egghead scholars. John Adams felt that July 2nd should be Independence Day because that’s the day the 2nd Continental Congress voted for independence from British rule. We celebrate July 4th as the day the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted, but most historians believe that the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on August 2, 1776. This actually makes sense as it would take some time to write the Declaration.
However it happened, I’m thankful that it did.
Today we celebrate our freedom and our independence. So forget about all the day-to-day government nonsense and the ridiculous politics. This is when we remember what it’s all for in the first place–the sacrifice and the potential. And the hope of living up to it.
Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and young !
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
–From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The line between free thought and subjugated thought is thin but absolute and can be determined with a simple question that requires no modification of current beliefs: If there is no God, if we are all that is, would you want to know?
I believe abjectly that human potential is virtually limitless. We have just scratched the surface of what we can do and become. Unfortunately, we are constrained by a fatal flaw in our design (it also happens to be one of our greatest attributes):
I’m not just talking about religious faith–although religion is a crucial aspect. I’m talking about faith as the trust we have that we are correct about what we believe (i.e., hold to be true). Because of that trust we make presumptions. We hold some presumptions so dearly that we actually consider questioning them taboo. But presumption is simply unfounded belief, no matter how logical it may seem or profoundly we may believe it. Religion then exalts these unfounded beliefs as the Will or Law of supreme and/or supernatural beings–who are themselves unfounded beliefs. It uses evidence to justify–rather than evaluate–beliefs and either disregards or denounces contradictory evidence (such as evolution and radiometric dating).
It may seem like I’m calling humankind delusional, but as instinctive and intuitive animals, we are right so much of the time–purely by guessing–that belief has become innate. Whether it’s navigating through traffic, recognizing whether a door is automated or manual, or realizing that an unattended child is getting into something, we guess right an overwhelming majority of the time. It verifies our faith. It’s probably why it’s so embarrassing and even unsettling when we’re wrong; we’ve failed in our perception of reality.
Faith was crucial when we were ignorant of the natural world. But as we have passed from the age of faith, through the age of reason, and into the age of knowledge it has become imperative for us to re-evaluate the principles and processes by which we discern what is true.
We have not only acquired more knowledge–beliefs supported by evidence–we’ve gotten better at acquiring it; knowledge chafes against the limits of faith, religious or otherwise. Our understanding of the world, once buttressed by faith is becoming increasingly imprisoned by it. We resist accepting new truths because they may dispel older ones.
It has become untenable.
If we are skeptical–which is to say we presume as little as possible, only accepting beliefs supported by evidence–we can get closer to the reality of existence than we ever could by faith in unfounded beliefs. Because that faith may be displaced. Skepticism is the purest search for truth and truth encompasses all possibilities.
So this is not to denounce religious beliefs. The exploration of a transcendental origin, nature, or purpose for existence is at the very least well-intentioned. And it may very well be true. But until it is supported by evidence, it is only a belief in what is possible and therefore should neither be the basis for social law nor the arbiter of morality.
The only way to liberate thought is to prioritize truth. Science and philosophy which share this mandate with religion, will always trump religion because science and philosophy admit to fallibility. A core tenet of scientific method is scrutiny through peer review and the first rule of philosophy is that we may be wrong about everything. Meanwhile religion, particularly Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism, profess, without evidence, to relay the infallible, yet wildly interpretive, word of God. None hold up to objective scrutiny. Their only defense is to restrict investigation, deny contradiction, and denounce skepticism.
It’s been successful. We have been programmed to avoid intellectual conflict. Never talk about politics or religion. By default I would add money to that list. But these are the core, substantive issues affecting the quality of life on earth. What better to talk about than money, politics, and religion? Or should billions suffer and starve so no one has to admit they may be mistaken?
When we are wrong–which is inevitable–failing (or refusing) to re-examine what we hold to be true diminishes our potential. We deny possibilities for no reason outside our own minds. It limits our ability to understand, even to question.
Thus faith has become the albatross around the neck of human thought.
We absolutely must free ourselves from the yoke of this superstition. We must define truth as beliefs justified by–and better, arising out of–evidence and always subject to greater truth. Only skeptical reason, tempered by compassion, can elevate society beyond unfounded belief and into the realm of knowledge in the noble quest to understand.
Funny to think of the (falsefied) uproar Common’s presence in the White House caused last year (ahh…politics).
The Chicago native has endured–over 21 years–because of his unique and unparallelled ability to straddle the line between poetry and rap. It’s not hip hop for dummies. This most clearly evidenced with his inspirational track The Believer off his 2011 album The Dreamer/The Believer. I find it to be insightful and sometimes moving music that gives me a little something new each time I hear it.
His line, “If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us/look at the picture, it’s hard not to blame us,” is in reference to Barnes’ custom of painting his subjects with their eyes closed to symbolize our blindness to each others’ humanity.
Likewise, in the verse, “Destiny’s children, survivors, soldiers/in front of buildings their eyes look older,” Common uses the now-defunct R&B group’s name and song titles as a metaphor to describe the saga of young life on the streets.
And lastly, with, “That ain’t the way the Langston Hughes wrote us/soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah,” Common laments how urban youth, despite possessing biblical potential, are running around with guns; it’s such a shortfall to how poets (and visionaries) such as Langston Hughes described African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance–which was the first real exposure the modern world got to the potential contribution blacks could make to culture and thought.
I love stuff like that. 🙂
P.S. The lyrics are included below.
– John legend – Hook –
I believe in the light that shines and will never die
Oh I believe the fire burns, we stay alive
They will talk about us
Like they talked about the kings before us
They will talk about us
– Common – Verse 1 –
These are the words of a believer, achiever, leader of the globe
Feeding souls of those in need
I bleed the blood of the struggle
Walking over troubled puddles
Hustles in my chest, no hustle no progress
Extremities of life and it’s process
Birth of a son, death of another
With love I caress both mothers
And tell ‘em, who’s in control is the One that’s above us
I walk where money talks and love stutters
Body language of a nation going through changes
The young become dangerous, pain gets spent into anger
Anger gets sent through the chamber
It’s tough when your own look like strangers
We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers
If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us?
Look at the picture, hard not to blame us
But time forgives, in the Chi where the young die often
Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them?
Is it what we talking? We really ain’t walking
Dues hustlers pay, how much did it cost ‘em?
Find myself on the same corner that we lost ’em
Real talking, in their ear like a Walkman
Thoughts spin around the corner to the World
When I see them, I see my baby girl
– Hook –
– Verse 2 –
The lord lives among us
The young ‘uns hunger becomes a means to get it
By any means necessary, under pressure
Children feeling lesser, with the steel upon the dresser
Kill-at-will aggressors, Destiny’s children
Survivors, soldiers, in front of buildings their eyes look older
Hard to see blessings in a violent culture
Face against weapons, sirens, holsters
That ain’t the way that Langston Hughes wrote us
Soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah
We go from being Precious to Oprah
Cultivated to overcome ever since we came over-seas (seize)
The day and the way that you can see we determined
Solar keeps burning, shorties know to keep learning
Lessons in our life, but life stripes that we earning
Took Gramp’s advice that Christ is returning
Like a thief in the night, I write for beacons of light
For those of us in dark alleys and parched valleys
Street kids spark rallies of the conscience conquerors of a contest
That seems beyond us, even through the unseen, I know that God watches
From one King’s dream he was able to Barack us
The prophets, nothing can stop us
[John legend] I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I was waiting until Mother’s Day to post this but I’m feeling it a little too much. I’ll have to figure something else out.
P.S. Here are Sarah’s lyrics-for my fellow linguaphiles. 🙂
She is gonna call me point B
So no matter what happens
She can always find her way to me
And I’m going to paint the solar system
On the backs of her hands
So she has to learn the entire universe
Before she can say oh, I know that like the back of my hand
And shes gonna learn that this life will hit you
Hard in the face, wait for you to get back up
So it can kick you in the stomach but
Getting the wind knocked out of you
Is the only way to remind your lungs
How much they like the taste of air
There is hurt here that cannot be fixed by
Band-aids or poetry so the first time you realise
That Wonder Woman isn’t coming don’t feel like
You have to put the cape on all by yourself
Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers
Your hands will always be too small to
Catch all the pain you want to heal
Believe me, I’ve tried and baby I’ll tell her
Don’t keep your nose up in the air like that
I know that trick, I’ve done it a million times.
You’re just sniffing for smoke so you can
Follow the trail back to a burning house
So you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
To see if you can nurse him back to health
Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place
To see if you can change him
But I know that you will anyway, so instead
I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby
Because there’s no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix
Okay there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix
But that’s what the rain boots are for because
Rain can wash away everything if you let it and
I want her to see the world through the underside
Of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the
Galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind because
That’s the way my mum taught me, that there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this my mama said, when you’ll
Open your hands to catch and wind up with only bruises and blisters
When you’ll step out of the phone booth and try to fly
And the very people you want to save are the ones
Standing on your cape. When your rain boots will fill with rain
And you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and
Those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you
Because there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses
To stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times its sent away
You will put the win in win some lose some You put the star in start over and over No matter how many land mines erupt Make sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life And yes on a scale from one to over-trusting I’m pretty fucking naive But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar It can crumble so easy But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it Baby I’ll tell her remember your mama was a worrier
and your papa was a warrior and you are the girl with
Big eyes and small hands who never stops asking for more
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and
Always apologise when you’ve done something wrong but
Don’t you ever apologise for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing when they
Finally hand you heartbreak, when they give you war and anger
When they slip hatred under your doorstep, when they offer you handouts
On street corners of cynicism and defeat you tell them
That they really need to meet your mother.
I have a love/hate relationship with labels. The clarity is great but the rigidity sucks.
When I noted that I am a spiritual atheist, some people ascribed to me their stigma of atheism. Others considered spiritual atheism paradoxical.
I am a human being who does not believe in deities nor any connections or derivations thereof (divine books, origins of birth, miracles, etc.). I do not deny the existence of any god, I just don’t subscribe to it. I don’t know what happens after we die (of course, what I don’t know is infinite).
However, I am a believer and proponent of the connection I share with other people–all people, in fact, all living things–the earth, and the universe. We are cosmic beings, made of celestial material; we come from the universe and to it we will ultimately return.
And we are alive. I know of no other comparable fortune. What’s more, we are aware of this gift and can enjoy it for the blessing that it is.
Plus, we are the inheritors of 200,000 years of human history. I am the beneficiary of the sacrifices and accomplishments of all those who came before me from families, merchants, soldiers, kings, scholars, and philosophers to theologians, artists, inventors, and masons, even bakers and cobblers. Their achievements have made our lives possible. They have progressed us–technologically, scientifically, and morally–to our highest point in recorded history. I believe we have a responsibility to continue their work and leave an even better world than we inherited. They are examples, not the pinnacle, of how high we can go. We honor them by striving to exceed them as they exceeded those who came before. I believe it is our duty, our obligation, to do so (We have a LOT of work to do).
I believe in a world without suffering, where we are each free to pursue our own happiness, so long as it does not infringe on the happiness of others or abandon our sense of responsibility to one another.
Some will call it a pipe dream, an impossible quest for a perfect world; but I respond (echoing Vince Lombardi), perfection may be impossible, but in striving to achieve it, excellence may be attained.