A Commitment to Balance

I'm a big believer in balance. Everything in this world has a counterpart. And when the forces of balance are tampered with, chaos ensues. So I don't agree when I hear humanists and atheists insisting that religion and spirituality must "go away". I think we are all here for a purpose and we should all follow our natural inclinations when it comes to spirituality and the universe. In other words, never tell someone what they should believe.

However, being an atheist, I am often told that I reject "accountability". This is not true. I patiently reply that I try to be a good person, every day, no matter what, and I do it all without the promise of eternal reward when I die.  I aim high for respect and integrity. It is up to us to keep those in check whose conscience is not so pure, not an invisible god. And we have the means to do this.

I am often asked, how can you not believe in Heaven when you have lost a child? I say, well, my natural reaction was to be grateful for the time I did have with him, when he was with me for eight months in my womb and I loved him dearly. And I know he felt that love, because I expressed it often. This comforts me greatly, that I showed him love while I could. It does not comfort me that he is in heaven, a place I do not really know exists nor am I enamored with the idea. You see, my son is no longer with me. So I must cherish the time I had with him and not waste time wishing for more...even though I miss him terribly.

I often hear, 'it is arrogant to think we can do it all alone'. Ah, but we are not alone, my brothers and sisters. I see people every day who struggle with the conflicts of religion, who must pour all of their blind faith into believing, because theirs is a god who is very silent, invisible, and lets hurtful things happen for his own mysterious reasons.

I reply to these friends, I am here, let me hold you, let me listen to you and talk with you, let me share your pain. Bad things happen because Nature is awesome and powerful and cruel, and cares not a whit for our sentimentality, our sensitive humanity. This is the truth, the answer, of why bad things happen. But we also have each other. So we are not arrogant. And we are not alone.

Believe as you must, I will never judge. But being an atheist or a humanist is simply love of the human race...and a firm commitment to balance.

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9 Responses Mar 3, 2009

We may be closer than you think. When you look at some polls you see some gaudy numbers of people who consider themselves believers of some sort or other, and nonbelievers to be a pretty small minority. But if you look at more sophisticated and detailed polls, the devil is in the details, so to speak. <br />
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For instance, if you just put an option for "atheist" or "nonbeliever" you are going to get a small number, but if you also include "agnostic" then you see that atheists and agnostics make up between 15%-20% of the population. That's significant, it's a bigger minority than Blacks or Jews, and both of those groups have tremendous power in our Government. <br />
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The other thing to look at is what exactly do these so called believers believe? The concept of god has become more and more watered down over time, battered by science and modernity. Simply put, the more that we collectively understand how the universe works, the less room there is for a God. Most people's conception of God has retreated to a pittance, he's simply some vague force that may have started the whole universe and set up the laws and then retreated to watch everything unfold. This type of vague God is much more compatible with our pursuit of science and world peace. <br />
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Most people are beginning to realizing that they don't get their morals from the Bible, since there is so much in the Bible that they find distasteful and incompatible with modern society, and there aren't good explanations for how we pick and choose what we like to listen to and what we dismiss because it was a more barbaric time.

You know if the religious were as balanced and tolerant as you, Eltmoore, then we'd have less to worry about. But they're not and I tend to side with GodFree on this one. The evangelists and fundamentalists annoy me and not just because their rhetoric is meaningless it's the danger they pose to free thought. Ur comment about 9-11 also struck a chord with me. I visited the TT about a month before the attack and a few years later I visited Ground Zero. Whatever the perpetrators claim to believe in matters not a whit in the face of such a despicable act. On the brighter side the reaction of NYC to this disaster is nothing sort of heroic.

What a great post Eltmoore, on your thoughts and beliefs of Atheism. I respect your decision to not judge. I don't like to think of myself as judgmental but living as an Atheist deep within the bible belt, I can't help but feel contempt for the self righteous bigots that I find myself ensconced around.<br />
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I believe our frustrations are the intolerance and hate we are faced with every day because of our non belief. We are judged and thought to have no morals, values and love. We're called devil worshipers, witches, warlocks and whatever other stereotype we can be lumped into.<br />
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I certainly respect people of religion, any religion, if that brings them comfort. Most people can't reciprocate that respect. Notice I said most. I resent people coming onto the "I am an Atheist" board and chiding us that "Jesus is the light," Jesus died for our sins," You're all going to HELL!" It's disgusting and severely offensive.<br />
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I'm so sorry you lost your son. Although I cannot claim to have lost a child, I have lost a beloved brother and my wonderful first husband. You're right. Although we are saddened by their loss, we have to be thankful for the time we did have here. I am alright with my thoughts that I won't see them "in heaven." I have me love and memories that will stay with me until I die. That's good enough for me. Thanks for coming in and writing your story. It's always so refreshing to read new thoughts and yours gives another perspective to contemplate. I appreciate that!<br />
All the best,<br />

Yours is a wonderful and thought provoking article, but I must tether my boat to that of Vendetta.<br />
Blind faith is fine in children, Santa the Easter bunny, Rush Limbaugh, but to quote the scripture "then I became a man and put away childish things". I believe the same is true for society's. When you are a tribal leader who wages war over the color of the prophets shoes, you are dangerous to the other tribes. But when your country is a nuclear power and your leaders feel they are spoken to by Jesus as they have coffee, it's ****** scary and lethal.<br />
When you live in a society that can brag of computers, space crafts, genetic engineering and yet you allow your medical research to be dictated to by followers of an iron age mountain god and his bastard son, you have trouble.<br />
If you think that the sky talkers will step aside and let the adults do the work of the world while they sing kumbia, you have a big surprise coming. <br />
The only way for the human race to evolve is by the destruction of the eye in the sky religions, faiths that fly in the face of reality, faiths that strive to teach the youth of this world that 10 million species of animals floated around in a boat for a month after the firmament, where god kept the water in the sky was loosed.<br />
A faith that does not teach light refraction to our youth but that rainbows are a promise of better days to come.<br />
Children should be taught the truth, when you see a rainbow you know god is having gay sex with Jesus.<br />
Religion and its traditions and dogmas are a cancer upon the human race, an excuse for charlatans to exact money from the poor, hopeless and retarded.<br />
and now, the *** hole leaves the room......but you did write a very nice piece.

Being spiritual and being religious are two different things. Many atheistic scientists were deeply spiritual and were moved by the beauty and wonder of the universe. You don't have to believe in man made tales about gods to feel that. I will comment more later about the science behind belief, but I am short for time at the moment. <br />
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Do read the book, for the last section of the book goes into Sam Harris' exploration of Buddhism and meditation. You might find that interesting.

Bush claimed to be what he never was.<br />
I saw a dog yesterday that had more faith than he had.<br />
He just wanted to be the one who caused the world to come crashing down

I found your story far from meager and especially like your take on "accountability".

You have a very liberal, moderate, live and let live approach to religion. Good for you. That approach sounds reasonable and rational, but you excuse the role that moderates play in protecting extremists, as you call them. <br />
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Do you realize that there are still people who vehemently deny that 9/11 had anything to do with religion, since Islam is a "religion of peace"...? People have become so scared to criticize other people's beliefs that many beliefs go unchallenged. Any belief which makes claims on no evidence is not an admirable belief. That's the bottom line. The reason is simple enough, because as long as you protect people's right to believe in insane stories based on no evidence, you are protecting their right to fear and hate those that believe otherwise. <br />
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Is it possible to be Muslim and be peaceful? Yes. As long as you ignore most of the Qur'an and Hadith. That is to say, as long as you aren't a fundamentalist Muslim (you call them extremists). The problem is that they have scripture on their side. Their crazy actions are not only excused by their holy books, they are called for. How can you expect rational people to respect such disgusting irrationality? <br />
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I suggest you read "End of Faith" if you're curious what's wrong with just letting everyone believe what they will. That mindset is what brought us 9/11.

You won't judge, but I will. I consider blind faith without evidence to be dangerous, and it has real world effects. Bush is an excellent example of faith based thinking. Anyone that opposes the teaching of science and who doesn't value evidence because of their beliefs does not deserve respect.