If only Baz Luhrmann directed my life.
Stephanie Irene. KC girl. Feisty. Feminist. Neurotic. Atheist. Passionate. CATS!
Finally home from another ever-so-enlightening weekend with my fellow skeptics at REASONFest. I am so grateful to be able to attend conferences like this and Skepticon and to be able to participate in activities with KC Atheist Coalition. Starting, and now leading, my own SSA group has shown me the tip of the iceberg of the enormous undertaking the leaders of these national groups which facilitate and organize these meetings for the atheists, the agnostics, the humanists, the skeptics, whathaveyou. I have so many new thoughts to get out before the inspiration from the weekend fades.
First of all, I have such a new found appreciation for the importance of humanism. I have been identifying as a humanist for the last several years, but listening to Greg Epstein discuss how ‘not believing something is not enough’ reminded me that we are all humanists (or at least all the secularists I’ve met so far have been). As much as I don’t believe in God or feel the need to reconcile life’s phenomenon with supernatural explanations, it is just a given to me. The values that I constantly evaluate and the morals I strive to uphold are really the things that define what ‘I believe’. I believe in compassion above all. It is my basic belief in compassion for others that leads me to seek to improve others’ condition through the community service that is so important to me, and it is this same compassion that drives me to be a devoted friend and loved one. I want to offer to others whatever skills I have at my devices, be it listening, or understanding, or aid, etc.. I need to remember to uphold this mentality more effectively at times when it is quite tempting to be selfish or lazy. I value accountability, respect, scholarship, curiosity, planetary stewardship, passion, and always reason. It is important that I understand the consequences of my actions, and while I understand most religions have accountability based on the idea of salvation vs. damnation, but I struggle to respect a system in which followers can so easily repent for not following the rules of the gospel that they prescribe themselves to. Because I am able to make my own set of ‘rules’ to live by (in accordance with the law of course and accepted social norms to an extent as well), I take these values very seriously. I would develop terrible cognitive dissonance, for example, if I were to perpetuate slut-shaming, the virginity myth, or any other issue plaguing women that I am so blatantly against. I hold myself accountable to stick to my feminist convictions, as well as others. And I feel I am far more compelled to uphold the morals I created for myself because 1)They are my morals because they are important to me, not because some supreme being told me to care about them, and 2)I am intrinsically motivated to uphold these morals, not motivated by promise of salvation or beneficial rebirth or fear or damnation. I will forever have respect for those who strive for knowledge, and will forever strive for knowledge myself. I can’t think of a better way to improve than to continue educating myself. And how else am I supposed to rectify all of my curiosity? I need to seek out this reason, and I don’t find reasoning and rationality to be the cold, calculated solutions to issues that religion has solved through ‘love’. I think that reasoning encourages love, again in a beneficially motivated way.
When considering the idea of mortality, I am absolutely not afraid that I might be wrong and that I’ll go to hell. To put it lightly, if I am wrong, at least I’ll be in hell with my family and all the cool people I’ve met through KCAC, SSA, or the skeptic conferences I’ve attended. And on a more serious note, it is my very mortality that drives me to live to the fullest. I know so many devoutly religious people who don’t take risks or get all the experiences they want because they are waiting for heaven, for the greatest thing. My grandma is the prime example of this to me. She doesn’t even take adventures in what she eats, whereas I want to try as many new foods as possible, and savor and enjoy my food. I don’t have that much interest in ‘living on after I die’, through my works, my children, etc.. mostly because I believe I’ll be dead. And therefore not aware of whether or not I made an impact. Of course, I still want to be impactful, but for other people’s benefit, not mine.
And I also believe that religion might do more harm than good. Someone this weekend said ‘there is not a single good thing that religious people do in the name of god that secular people cannot do simply for goodness’ sake’ or something to that effect. I admire religious people who do good works, but I don’t credit that to religion. And many injustices, I think are the direct result of religion. And no, you cannot say the same of atheism. Even if you argue that Hitler was an atheist (which I find ridiculous), he was not massacring Jews in the name of atheism. People do however, commit atrocities in the name of god or because of the position that their religion has put them it. Forcing religious figures to be celibate for their church causes sexual molestation and harassment. It has been proven that repressed sexuality can lead to disturbed sexual thoughts and actions.
Sorry this is so scatterbrained.. And of course, it doesn’t even begin to fully explain all my views and beliefs.
So what do I believe in? GOOD (without god). Really, whether or not I believe in god is irrelevant. Ask me what I want to accomplish or what I think is important. Ask me where I find meaning or beauty. Ask me about my morals. None of it really has to do with whether or not I believe in one less god than you do.