Sunday service for atheists

The AHA, as the American Humanist Association is generally referred to, is a very active and belligerent association by way of advocating its beliefs.  For instance, it was reported that:

On July 17, 2013, the AHA managed to block a war memorial in California since it had a cross depicted in it.

“On July 30, 2013 the AHA will consider taking legal action after the U.S. Naval Academy denied a request for a humanist wedding ceremony in the academy’s main chapel.

They promote the National Day of Reason, the Darwin Day to specifically eliminate creationism from being taught in schools; they want Humanist’s chaplaincies in the Navy; they want to have officiants at weddings with no religious affiliations; they oppose any lobbying done by religious groups and naturally only admit their own.

Nonetheless, bringing all humanist groups under one umbrella, having an executive of the association to drive its goals forward; creating a strong lobby to embed its beliefs in society seem not to be enough.  Many want something else.

Blogger Alam Shaha writing on the website of the Rationalist Association of the UK on January 13, 2013 had this to say: “I wish I’d had a humanist priest to talk to as I was growing up.  Like many atheists, I arrived at the conclusion that I didn’t believe in God at a young age, but unlike my religious friends who had priests, rabbis and imams to talk to about their beliefs, there wasn’t an obvious person for me to turn to about this stuff.  Religious people can meet the need to strengthen and deepen their faith by going to a place of worship, and I think many atheists and humanists would get more out of their atheism and humanism if they could do the same.  The problem is, it isn’t easy to go along to an atheist gathering as it is to go to a church, mosque, or synagogue, simply because there aren’t many atheist churches around.  But that may be about to change.”

Not all atheists are happy with these developments.  Deputy Editor of New Humanist, Padraig Reidy says, “It just reinforces the ‘atheism-is-just-as-much-a religion’ argument.” Shaha differs since he concurs with David Belden who in 2005 argued, “We are tribal species.  We need communal rituals, songs to sing together, not alone in our rooms.  We need ways to care for each other, inspire each other, develop ethics and teach them to our children, through stories, plays, rituals, dances, and music.  Yes, you can find all these things in separate places- museums, theatre, evening classes.  Why not in a single, humanist place?”

Other similar initiatives have been taking place e.g. at Harvard University by Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein (cfr. The Christian Post of June 24, 2013); or by former evangelical minister Jerry De Witt in Baton Rouge.

Well, well, well…is my reaction.  Humanists (doing good without God), secularists, atheists, rationalists have come round to accept the transcendental nature of humans.  Now they want to teach their “religion” to their children!   An abomination of the established religion has become it seems an acceptable custom to humanists. 

I do not want to poke fun but just underline the fact the act of belief (even in secularists beliefs) is never a solitary affair but a communitarian event.  On the other hand horizontal transcendence, in my opinion, will never satisfy the deep longings of the heart that requires a vertical transcendence: towards God as the absolute being.

3 thoughts on “Sunday service for atheists

  • Reply Ramon Casha 17th August 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Demanding equal treatment as anyone else is not belligerence. OF COURSE they will take legal action against religious discrimination by the military, especially when the US constitution expressly prohibits religious discrimination. Of course they want their weddings, or any other event that has a legal status, to be granted equal recognition as any other group. Of course they want the state-financed war memorial, which should commemorate Christians as well as Muslims, Jews, atheists etc, not to exclusively cater for a single belief.

    However it is a complete falsehood to say that secularists have come round to the transcendental nature of humans. Taking a bunch of unrelated quotes completely out of context and stitching them together like this is intellectually dishonest.

    No, secularists and atheists are not considering the absurd notion of the transcendental nature of humans. No, we’re not teaching our religion because it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a religion. Having lectures and debates is not the same as a religious service. We do not oppose lobbying by anyone in fact we support freedom of speech. Teaching children ethics and good moral qualities is not the same as indoctrination of religion.

  • Reply iangrech 17th August 2013 at 5:59 pm

    David Cilia based his writing (and tangential assumptions) on his interpretations of what he read (he does not even reference properly since the blog is dated Jan 16). When growing up we all need someone to talk to, an adult one can trust to give right, just and correct advise. Shaha’s reference to a priest is not one to a collared person but an adult who will listen to the youth and give them advise based on self responsibility and action without leaving space for magical workings.

    Why does David find it strange that Atheists and Humanists want to meet as a group every so often? Does he need a lesson in anthropology to understand the need to congregate with others of similar principles? Does he fear that a real viable option will exist to draw (more) people away from churches?

  • Reply iangrech 17th August 2013 at 6:00 pm

    The author assumes the only teaching worth imparting to children is a one where the belief in an unseen being is the only one worth teaching. I happen to know many atheists, humanists and secularists (nouns which David seems to think mean the same) who teach their kids to not be good because of fear of a punishment in an afterlife, but to be good, decent, respectful humans because that is the only way humanity can advance. Sure, some may teach hate and disdain but then again so do religious people. Then again it is unheard of an atheist blowing up a church because it goes against their non-belief (against many believers who, for example, blew themselves and many ‘enemies’ up so they could walk into some heaven).

    The article ends with a personal opinion that, in plain language, a person is never fully developed unless they ‘develop with god’. Maybe David should seek out, and listen to, people who are not his ‘normal’ parishioners. I am sure he will encounter many who will say they are not practising catholics or do not belief in the church – most of these people are ones who are not aware that there is a life away from the church. He will also meet a few (and increasing) who have taken the (locally) road less travelled and now call themselves atheists. Listen to these people speak about their life’s journey, their morals, their passions and achievements.

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