Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thomas Covenant has company

Are you an Unbeliever? There may be a "church" for you.

It is hard not to notice the bells that ring on Sunday morning. But at churches, synagogues and mosques around the globe there are some for whom that religion is lost. This group is part of America's atheist minority.

While Christians, Muslims and Jews can celebrate their beliefs, and fellowship in the company of others in churches, mosques and synagogues, where can non-believers find a spiritual home?

One answer lies in Palo Alto, Calif., if you spot the sign by the roadside. It's at the Humanist Community, where for a few hours every Sunday the humanists, as they call themselves, come together in what one might call a congregation. It even has its own Sunday school.

Without church bells, but with music, this group of humanists believe in a lot of things – but God isn't one of them.

They get together and, with lectures for the older congregants and stories and games for the younger ones, discuss not their faith, but the opposite of faith -- the idea that truth arises from reason, from science, from free thought.

"I like to think freely, but still I can really think freely whenever I want 'cause I think thinking freely is good," said eight-year-old Jane Kovak, one of the humanists' younger congregants. Jane's parents, John and Kimberly teach in the community.

"I don't believe there is a God," Jane continues, "but there is a possibility that there can be. I don't really think there is."

I'm dying to know what my atheist/agnostic readership thinks of this. Not to skew or prejudice the replies I get, but my own reaction is: This is corny as hell.

Read zee rest.

UPDATE: Another ABC News article says the following:

There are an estimated 20 to 30 million atheists in the United States these days, and some of them say they feel like a persecuted minority.

"Atheists are completely vilified. And it's OK," says Kelly, an atheist who works alongside Brian and also asked that her last name not be used.

"It's actually OK to hate atheists," Kelly said. "We are like the last group that people overwhelmingly agree that it's OK to hate us, because there's an absurd caricature of atheism out there."

No, atheists: the "last group that people overwhelmingly agree" is OK to vilify is fat people. Believe me-- I know. Ha ha!

Switching gears: I hadn't realized there were so many atheists in the US. The above stat puts atheists at about 7-10% of the total US population. I expect the number (and proportion) to grow.



Anonymous said...

Back in them olden days, people would get together (usually church or town sponsored) at socials. Before the invention of the car and telephone, people were too busy working to make it into towns on a regular basis, so socials were held after the planting and harvesting seasons to get people together. Some for religious reasons, others just to try and set up unmarried people with each other who come from similar backgrounds. So, yeah, you are right in a way. It is "corny" in nature, as you can see in quite a few episodes of "Little House on the Prairie."

Anonymous said...

This is what really blows my mind:

They can't even decide if the Earth is 6,000 or 10,000 years old. I just wish they could explain to me how Noah got two of every species of animal, insect, and at least one of every plant type on board his boat (which doesn't explain how he then propagated them in such far reaching areas as New Zealand, Tibet, or Costa Rica), or how we have two types of fish (fresh water and salt water) or races of humans if we all are descended from Adam and Eve and Cain and Awan and their incestuous family.