Monday, November 28, 2011


From a reader at Andrew Sullivan's blog: ...
I sit with those who as of this moment cannot believe.....I sit with an increased sensation that we as humans must make deep efforts on one another's behalf, because we may be all we have....

I support and personally feel belief in the mystery of it all, recognizing that we don't know what we don't know; and I have a strong sense that the teachings of Buddha, of karma, of Judaism, of Mohammed, and of Christ have a great deal to offer - that these world views all are directionally healthy if interpreted without literalism, that they all imply reasons for gratitude and that they all help build social fabric as shared belief systems, and that those things are good things which probably outweigh the obvious downsides of groupthink and the devastating divisions they also cause with humans who otherwise have so much in common.

For lack of a better term I call this world-view Gratheism, aka Grateful Atheism, and believe it's a needed antidote to the condescending atheism of writers whose bravery I admire, like Hitchens and Dawkins, but who are - I don't think - building much social fabric, and who I suspect are not winning any converts.


JCF said...

I like it!

Hope to hear more...

JCF said...

But there's another atheist---a blogger published at AlterNet: name escapes me, but I called her the Angry Dyke Atheist---who I recall using the term (I think used among her circle of angry atheists), "Woo-Woo"

Anything w/ the *slightest* inkling of transcendence about it, was dismissed as so much "Woo-Woo". (Small 's') spirit? Woo-Woo. Dharma? Woo-Woo. Mother Earth/Gaia? Woo-Woo. Ritual? Woo-Woo. Power of Good? Woo-Woo? Collective Hope, Faith, Love? Woo-Woo.

I believe she (I want to say her first name was, ironically, Christine) would call Gratheism "Woo-Woo", too. :-/

JCF said...

Off-topic: great unpacking of Archbigot Dolan's latest whining, here:

[On-topic: Dolan, whose such a great evangelist of (drives people to) atheism. >:-( ]

Erp said...

I suspect JCF means Greta Christina.

Personally I'm highly dubious of transcendence as anything other than a product of the mind.

JCF said...

Well, I think "the mind" is an aspect of transcendence, so there ya go.

Yup, Greta Christina: she's the one! [And apparently it's just "Woo" not "Woo-Woo"]

I read this piece by her last summer, and just re-read it:

It bothered me at the time, but I needed more time to process it, and this time, my own response LEAPT out at me.

From the last bit:

We need to acknowledge that, for atheists, coming out is different than it is for queers. We need to acknowledge that, for atheists, even the gentlest, least- confrontational, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” forms of coming out are, in fact, still confrontational. Not just because people don’t want to hear it; not just because the conventional etiquette demands that we not say it. Because it is. Because we’re telling people that they’re wrong.

I think we need to accept that. And I think we need to take responsibility for it.


And I think we need to accept that being out as atheists, and maintaining our integrity as out atheists, may always be seen — and feel — a little bit churlish.

Because it is.

That’s just going to have to be okay with us.

JCF-channelling-CSLewis: you KNOW it's not OK, Greta Christina. "In your heart" [atheists' phrase of late], ***you know*** it's not.

It's not okay to be "churlish" [Euphemism alert!]

Transcendant Right and Wrong IS The Key to the Universe.

It's not empiric (empiric evidence that everything is empiric, please), but you can't just wish it away. [Wishing? Talk about irrational! ;-p]

GC's "churlishness" =/= Gratheism, IMO.

Erp said...

I'm confused. Are you saying atheists shouldn't admit to being atheists (at least to theists or suspected theists)?

IT said...

NO, I think JCF is saying that the live and let live attitude that you and I have, Erp, is preferable to being churlish and insulting.

JCF said...

[Yes, IT]

I'm say that, Greta Christina is Just Another Fundamentalist.

To paraphrase the ol' wag re Puritans, a Fundamentalist is someone who lives in horror that somebody somewhere believes differently than they do, it's their bounden duty to seek such persons out, to tell (harangue) them that They Are WRONG!!! Wrong, wrong, wrong! "Admit it! Admit you're wrong! I'm right and you're wrong! Believe as I do! Believe it!!!"



...euphemism for @sshole!

The universe does not favor @ssholes. They're irrational. They're also ungodly (to bear). To hell w/ 'em! ;-/


Y'know the neo-atheist slogan "There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying, and Enjoy Your Life."

My re-write: There probably IS a God. Now stop worrying, and enjoy your life.

I can find common cause w/ ANY ideology on the "Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life" side.

But for those who go around churlishly harrassing others re their wrong-ness, Feh! [Acknowledging there are, USA c.2011, many more churlish on the theist side]

Erp said...

Hmm, I've actually had dinner with Greta (a group dinner, about 10 of us so I'm not sure if she would remember me). I don't agree with everything she says, but, she does have some good points.

We need to acknowledge that, for atheists, even the gentlest, least- confrontational, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” forms of coming out are, in fact, still confrontational.

I find nothing wrong with atheists seeking to find other atheists by advertising "don't believe in God? you are not alone". Now many Christians including you probably have no problem with this, but, some do and find it 'confrontational' and 'churlish'; this is what Greta is pointing out.

It may be a bit like gays being told that it is fine to be gay but just don't show it (e.g., don't refer to your spouse in public in terms that indicate she or he is the same sex as you, don't show public affection like holding hands or, heaven forbid, kiss in public). Is IT confrontational when she posts about her spouse?

I agree that some stuff that some atheists do goes beyond what I would do. But I am also in one sense a 4th generation atheist and live in a community that is accepting of atheists; I'm not a new convert. Admittedly I'm fairly certain that my boss's boss thinks I'm a churchgoing Christian instead of a churchgoing humanist, and, I'm not sure how to correct his belief (I'm fairly certain he is an atheist himself).

JCF said...

Admittedly I'm fairly certain that my boss's boss thinks I'm a churchgoing Christian instead of a churchgoing humanist

I'm a churchgoing humanist myself! [I suppose some atheistic humanists would find "Christian humanist" an oxymoron]

FWIW, I don't have a problem w/ "Don’t believe in God? You are not alone"

But this:

is getting more into "churlish" territory. [Yes, yes. "The Nativity" (of Luke). It IS largely mythic. But I don't believe the atheists mean it in sense of biblical criticism (academic discipline). Rather, in the sense of critical of faith (any/all faith, inc. the Christian Gospel)]


I might be able to enjoy a meal w/ Greta also . . . but only if she didn't know I were a Christian, I suspect! ["Have you been SAVED...from Religion?!" "Um, could you just pass me the peas?" O_o]

Erp said...

Well I do at times call myself a cultural Christian though I know it would confuse people.

The ad is somewhat amusing especially since many Christians consider the stories around the birth of Jesus (wise men, etc.) to be not factual. However, most atheists also forget that 'myth' does not necessarily mean 'false'; the story of the American Revolution as passed down to young Americans is myth but mostly factual (the leaders of the colonists did meet to declare independence though Betsy Ross probably did not make the first flag). It is however going to offend a larger group of Christians than the first; it also indicates a difference in style between American Atheists and let us say the Center for Inquiry.

Admittedly I loved the billboard ad: "There is No God--Don't believe everything you hear" put up by the McElroy Road Church of Christ.