Some Atheists Believe in Religion…New Books

A new bunch of atheist books are hitting the bookshelves.

Bruce Sheiman says he doesn’t believe in God, but he believes in religion.  Ignoring the question about whether God exists he argues that the benefits of religion outweighs the cost in his new book, An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off With Religion Than Without It.

In an interview with writer Daniel Burke of Religion News Service, Sheiman said: “I don’t know if anybody is going to be able to convince me that God exists, but they can convince me that religion has intrinsic value.”

“More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision,” Sheiman says.

“Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits,” Sheiman argues.

The last few years has seen an abundance of in-your-face books by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens who argue that belief in God, or any religion, is akin to being slightly crazy or worse.  But, throughout time there have been defenders of religion who may not believe in the religion per se, but recognize its cultural benefits.

Some really evil people in the Dark Ages criminalized non-belief  and you could lose your livelihood and/or life if you didn’t believe, and of course if you are a Muslim you’re screwed if you try to renounce your faith nowadays…this is the down-side of any religion…let them get in control and all benefits go away.

Greg M. Epstein, chaplain at Harvard University argues in his new book, Good without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, that morality does not depend on a judgmental deity and that nonbelievers can lead meaningful, even purpose-driven, lives, but they can also learn from people of faith.

“When our goal is erasing religion, rather than embracing human beings, we all lose.” Epstein says.

“Atheists too, can be a blessing for believers,” says co-founder and co-leader of New York’s interreligious Faith House Manhattan and author of It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian, Samir Selmanovic, “Atheists are “God’s whistle-blowers,” who keep believers honest and focused on the here-and-now,” Selmanovic added.

No one expects the God debate to end any time in the near future, but in the meantime, perhaps we can disagree a little more agreeably…or not. 🙂

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About the word of me
Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

3 Responses to Some Atheists Believe in Religion…New Books

  1. Eric says:

    It’s good to know that not all Atheists are militant and actually realize that religion is more than form.
    Anyhow religious form, has always been a personal thing and even a guy like Sigmund Frued was a closet believer in God, as were many.
    I think the whole classification thing ie. Atheist, Agnostic..etc .. might be easier expressed as believer and unbeliever. In our age we need so much to give an identity to our religious form or world view that we forget that people do change.
    I went from fundamentalist-dogmatic-scripturalist to something I now call a prodigalist…(and believe me it is a view with most of my Atheist friends find quite illuminating…are’nt we all a bit wierd.)…
    I think the solution is to realize that form differs but there is a common agreement even among the most informed Scientists, that there is a strong possibity that something bigger than ourselves is responsible for this simulation. lol.

    Who knows, perhaps in our time secrets will be revealed and we will make contact.

    I look forward to that day.

    Peace,
    Eric.

  2. thewordofme says:

    Hi Eric, thanks for writing.

    I think the actual majority of atheists are not militant at all…I know I never have been, and others I know are not.

    Down through the ages I think most leaders of nations and tribes have recognized that religion is useful in keeping the folks in line and malleable.

    “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Napoleon Bonaparte

    You write:
    “I went from fundamentalist-dogmatic-scripturalist to something I now call a prodigalist…”

    O.K. I’ll bite; what is a prodigalist? 🙂

    “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama

    Sounds like the Golden Rule to me, but it closely follows what I believe.

    You write:
    “…there is a common agreement even among the most informed Scientists, that there is a strong possibity that something bigger than ourselves is responsible for this simulation. lol.”

    Yes, I’ll agree, there is always a possibility of just about anything. I think there are a few scientists that believe maybe there was a God who got everything started and then walked (or floated) away (Deism), I will concede that this is a real possibility…but is there a real chance that the God whom the Jews and Christians made up is for real…I don’t think so.

    Just think hard about two small things in the history of Christianity. During the Dark Ages (which religion arguably caused), the only Christian Church around was the Catholic’s. They alone had the job of bringing the Word of God and Jesus through these troubling times. They alone had custody of the sacred scriptures and papers and oral history. The Catholic Church was all God had to teach and pass on His will.

    The Catholic Church however was evil incarnate, and in Europe went on to torture and in kill possibly over a million poor souls for witch-craft and hundreds of thousands of more poor souls for heresy and blasphemy.

    Think about the death of Jesus. Does a real God think that a human blood sacrifice to appease “The Gods” and “atone” for “sins” is for real? This is not a God I would want to admit to following. It’s just creepy and not at all normal thinking

    Now in later days (although it’s extremely likely it has always happened) we have the “Mother Church” being a haven for boy-child fu_kers, a practice that a supposed God supposedly proscribed death for.

    Just how holy and Godlike is the church…any church? And how holy is it for the only vessel of God’s word and the good news of Jesus, to kill millions for religious “crimes” and here is God’s vessel covering up, probably for two thousand years, that God’s minions were f_cking young boys.

    We know there are not ANY witches, and there NEVER was…I wonder why a loving God would not let His followers know this? The Bible says that what these pedophile priests and Bishops were doing is an evil deceitful horrible thing…and where was God?…noticeably absent…as He always has been.

    I posit to you that a true and real God would not be a part of this madness…as it has unfolded through the ages. If one takes all the problems the religions have always had (and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet) I don’t think a reasoning person should believe what is an obvious con.

    Just my opinion mind you…

    Peace

    twom

  3. Eric says:

    Hi Eric, thanks for writing.
    Eric
    Ditto twom!

    I think the actual majority of atheists are not militant at all…I know I never have been, and others I know are not.
    Eric
    I have met some really chilled atheists/unbelievers over the years, but I have also met the really mean-spirited sort; and that goes for believers too. People are good, and people are bad, and some folks are evil.

    Down through the ages I think most leaders of nations and tribes have recognized that religion is useful in keeping the folks in line and malleable.
    “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Napoleon Bonaparte
    Eric
    Religious form varies from person to person, it is something personal and when it loses that and is used as a tool to manipulate people; it becomes something else. Something monstrous.

    You write:
    “I went from fundamentalist-dogmatic-scripturalist to something I now call a prodigalist…”
    O.K. I’ll bite; what is a prodigalist?
    “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama
    Sounds like the Golden Rule to me, but it closely follows what I believe.
    Eric
    I used to start off with the idea of original sin, but it does not take long to figure out that we are all brothers and sisters. Some of us lose that simplicity and get caught up in wrong thinking, but once we are awakened we are better able to conduct the business of life. It is less about explanation and more about reconciliation. More about love and less about hate. It’s cute to believe in the Golden Rule, but to live that way is often not possible. Some people’s circumstances are so unbelievable hard, that they grow up with tremendous rage and hatred. It is only once they are loved that they will be able to love in return. I was one of the fractured ones, but the love of my heavenly Father changed the way that I behave. Human love did not save me, though many tried, I was only once I was reconciled to my heavenly Father that awoke and was able to love. To me there is human love, and there is agape love. Agape love is what changes the hopeless. It changes those who are abandoned as shipwrecks, derelicts and outcasts. That is part of what it means to be a Prodigalist.

    You write:
    “…there is a common agreement even among the most informed Scientists, that there is a strong possibity that something bigger than ourselves is responsible for this simulation. lol.”
    Yes, I’ll agree, there is always a possibility of just about anything. I think there are a few scientists that believe maybe there was a God who got everything started and then walked (or floated) away (Deism), I will concede that this is a real possibility…but is there a real chance that the God whom the Jews and Christians made up is for real…I don’t think so.
    Eric
    Yes, I know that. I think most of us are prepared to say that there is a higher something. Sort of like a colouring book where we can either colour in the scene, or we can allow the colourist to do it for us. I prefer the latter.

    Just think hard about two small things in the history of Christianity. During the Dark Ages (which religion arguably caused), the only Christian Church around was the Catholic’s. They alone had the job of bringing the Word of God and Jesus through these troubling times. They alone had custody of the sacred scriptures and papers and oral history. The Catholic Church was all God had to teach and pass on His will.
    The Catholic Church however was evil incarnate, and in Europe went on to torture and in kill possibly over a million poor souls for witch-craft and hundreds of thousands of more poor souls for heresy and blasphemy.
    Eric
    To take the name of one who did not unite himself with evil, and attach that name to a particular cause; especially when that cause is evil, is where I have drawn my line, and where he clearly drew his. He spoke out very aggressively against religious mania. I can identify with that rage in so many unbelievers. But what is the solution, what did he do ?

    Think about the death of Jesus. Does a real God think that a human blood sacrifice to appease “The Gods” and “atone” for “sins” is for real? This is not a God I would want to admit to following. It’s just creepy and not at all normal thinking
    Eric
    To understand “the book” properly is to understand that it is like most of the books which have attempted to explain “the mystery” and ended up with what looks like a patchwork quilt, and a very tattered one at that. It is my opinion that “the mystery” has been declared in so many ways, through so many civilizations; choosing different individuals – fragile and fickle though we may be, “the mystery” was revealed in much the same way as a vision of things comes to the mind. Not through the able eye of the telescope or the microscope, which have there very important function, but through the fragile stuff of us homo-sapiens. Catching glimpses of shadows, and glimpses of something, or someone. The book is like that but for some reason “the mystery” was profoundly clear in the teachings of Jesus. Awkward though they may be rendered, for GOD has condescended to use OUR minds and OUR hearts, to communicate with us.

    Now in later days (although it’s extremely likely it has always happened) we have the “Mother Church” being a haven for boy-child fu_kers, a practice that a supposed God supposedly proscribed death for.
    Just how holy and Godlike is the church…any church? And how holy is it for the only vessel of God’s word and the good news of Jesus, to kill millions for religious “crimes” and here is God’s vessel covering up, probably for two thousand years, that God’s minions were f_cking young boys.
    Eric
    I cannot defend the religious form of the Roman Catholic Church, but I do know that not everyone who is a Roman Catholic is a child molester. I think that one needs to keep clear in one’s mind the immense kindness and goodness that has come from individuals within these motley institutions of man. Denominations do not a good person make, but often-good people go to the gathering for they have found a form of religion that is redemptive and believe they can change the lives of others. I personally do not find myself trapped in such a system and over the years have found less and less reason to do so.

    We know there are not ANY witches, and there NEVER was…I wonder why a loving God would not let His followers know this? The Bible says that what these pedophile priests and Bishops were doing is an evil deceitful horrible thing…and where was God?…noticeably absent…as He always has been.
    Eric
    [read my previous comment] – I acknowledge the bloody history of the Denominations, certainly not something I imagine that God would have supported, though the name of God is used to promote all manner of evil deeds, to somehow justify them as being Holy Acts. To quote Mark Heard, ‘..everybody loves a Holy War…’ I don’t!

    I posit to you that a true and real God would not be a part of this madness…as it has unfolded through the ages. If one takes all the problems the religions have always had (and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet) I don’t think a reasoning person should believe what is an obvious con.
    Eric
    This is where I agree with you on the matter of disassociation with things that are evil and false, but as to being in the thick of it; one has to merely look around and find that there have always been those who took the blame.
    People are always looking for someone to blame for the evil and the suffering, and why not blame fanatics, and those who are evil; but do not shut your eyes to the those who became lambs and took the blame when other ran away. One has to only look at the humanitarian causes, and the outstretched hands, which in my mind more accurately represent a “god” who cares. To observe such singleness of eye, is to see God at work. I put Jesus in that crew, and consider that his greatest triumph was to show us how it is done, rather than preaching and not practicing.
    —-
    Just my opinion mind you…
    Eric
    As a young man, I found that within me was a deep urgency to do what is right, to do what is truth. Others liked to talk about doing these things, but I pursued until I found that there was something blocking me from being that kind of person. The spirit of Jesus Christ, whose spirit is in all those who want to do what is right, then awakened my spirit to Abba. Not the pop group by the same name, but too my heavenly Father who then empowered me to live the life that so wanted to, all along. I do believe though that this same spirit is in each of us, therefore we are sons and daughters of God, but some kill the spirit and turn to hateful ways and cruel and evil for they let the evil rule and for some reason, I do not think that this evil is carried away but goes with those people to the afterlife, or next world – some teach ‘Purgatory’ or ‘Reincarnation’ or ‘being born again and again’ or eternal torments and the lake of fire. I think that whatever such a person gets will fit the crime. It won’t be the sort of justice we find in our world. Some folks just believe that when one dies, one goes back to dust, I believe that too, but I think that the non physical part of us, our mind or spirit or soul, leaves the body behind at death and journeys into the next world, to await a reconstituted body. But that is another tale from the murky pond of our fragile egg shell minds. We only see in part, and some prophecy, but as to the details I think I am happy to make a guess.
    —-
    Peace
    Eric
    To you too.

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