Friday, October 19, 2012

Thinking out loud to a friends question

"The role of "cultural sustainment" is key here. What is the draw (i.e., why does one want to participate? what is the proverbial "honey vs. vinegar" or "carrot vs. stick") to a coherent, collective atheist world-view? An intellectual satisfaction is not enough--it does not sustain nor replace the concept of "soul" or the emotional void that sits at the center of our humanity. The concept of "art" as a means towards this end is a good argument. Not surprisingly, I might identify Heinlein's "love" as a more encompassing ethic, but I think the intent is similar."

What if we created secular communities that were "about" having secular communities? What if we left off of our agenda having a "coherent, collective atheist world-view" and instead had an institution that fostered community and provided services without a supernatural excuse.

I myself have been looking for the consensus world view that we can all get behind as atheists. I have looked in cognitive science, philosophy of science, world religions, and sociology. We don't need One world view to handle all of our daily troubles. We need world views that can get us through. It is exactly the effort to find one value system and build off of that that has been so troubling.

That we are all human is enough commonality to start a community. The churches are freaking out that they can't hold on to the youth in their communities. This lack of "loyalty" or lack of engagement makes them look down on the people who stop coming to church at high school and don't come back until they have kids of their own. What they don't realize is that they are an institution that serves people, not representatives of God, whom people should serve. And the churches don't have anything to offer teenagers that they can’t find elsewhere.

I think that the drive to look for a central tenet of an atheist world view is the response to a bad question or a false premise. Most secularists I know don't need to believe anything in particular most of the time. Not believing anything is the regular state of most people and I don't think that needs to change. What I think most secularists need that they don't have is an institution on their side. And I see no reason that such an institution can't be built out of providing services without a coherent world view.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Request for Stories

After my talk last week I heard that one of the attendees would like to hear some ways to talk about atheism without causing offense. If they bring up their views some of people around them would take offense as if he was attacking his interlocutor’s views. And he is looking for ways around this problem that aren't fighting with people, staying silent, or disowning loved ones.

I myself have never really had this problem. Because I have no firsthand experience with this kind of problem I would love to hear some stories about the kinds of conversations that are difficult for people. Tell me what kinds of arguments you get into, or what subjects get you into the most trouble. Or anything you think is relevant, I just need more to go on to work on this problem.

This kind of work, where I would construct arraignments of ideas for others to use, is one of the best things I can offer in this context. But on this front I don't have enough personal experience to do so. So help me out and tell me a story.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Willfully Ignorant

This idea for a new meme comes out of me listening to some sociology of deviance. Specifically the idea of constructivism where people construct categories of deviance in order to gain social power. Which got me thinking that we should create a new category of deviance for people who take complex matters into their own willfully ignorant hands and screw shit up for everyone.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beyond Disbelief

"The only meaning that theory can have, in my tradition, is the meaning that the practical struggles of human beings gives it." - Rick Roderick
I have moved beyond the fight over religion and on to the fight for human flourishing. The effort to alter peoples beliefs is not my struggle. It is not even a good proxy for my struggle. What we face is human suffering, human flourishing and the ratio between those two. When I say I do not care for philosophical distinction making or for the truth or falsity of beliefs, even my own, it is because I do not see how those things effect the well being of human beings. Which is my only concern.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My talk from last night and some links.

So I had my talk last night and there is some video of it. Also Zac Bos of the Boston Atheist's who helped put the event together wrote up a nice little piece about the talk.