Hey, true believing religiously-minded visitors to this blog, it's time for a reminder, as unnecessary as this should be, given the name at the top of every page: Church of the Churchless.
Get it? Churchless.
That means not belonging to an organized religion, spiritual path, mystic practice, or such. That means thinking for yourself, believing for yourself, finding a life meaning for yourself, seeking out truth for yourself.
Also, it means not accepting ready made answers from a holy book, revered guru, or other source that demands blind faith rather than open-eyed skepticism. Nor does it mean rejecting scientific facts because they don't mesh with some supernatural dogma.
Frequently I get aggrieved comments and emails from people who are disturbed that I'm not open to their particular brand of fundamentalism. After seeing that someone has missed the point of this blog, I delete the comment or trash the email message.
Look, guys (for some reason, I rarely, if ever, hear from fundamentalist gals), before getting all upset that a churchless blogger isn't interested in your favored religious delusion, you should do some experimenting.
Find your local Harley-Davidson club. Walk into a meeting and loudly say, "I want us to talk about why Japanese scooters are so superior to the American motorcycles you ride." Then, when they ask you to shut the fuck up, keep on demanding that they admit Harley's are pieces of crap.
See how that works for you.
Next, attend a Vegetarian Society get-together. When it comes time to share favorite dishes, start handing out the recipe for the great barbecued ribs you get so many compliments on from your meat-loving friends.
See how that goes over with the crowd.
My point is that there's something for everybody on the Internet. But not everything is suitable for somebody with a particular agenda or viewpoint. Like, this blog if you've got a religious dogma you want to push.
In that case, adios, amigo.
Up to now sometimes I've been pretty loose about allowing preachy comments on my blog posts to remain up. I've figured that having some examples of delusional fundamentalist thinking offers some tempting targets for us churchless types to shoot down.
That's getting tiresome, though, because I don't like to offer true believers any sort of blogosphere soapbox to spout their faith-based dogmas from. There's plenty of web sites where members of a religion can talk about how right they are, and how wrong everybody else is.
About six years ago I started this blog because I wanted to support those who are searching for "spiritual" truth (using that word loosely, and not in a supernatural sense) outside of the confines of organized faiths.
People who feel like they don't belong anywhere sometimes have a need to associate with fellow free-spirits. So when it came time to come up with a "tag line" for this blog, Preaching the gospel of spiritual independence popped readily into my mind.
And I've never felt like changing it.
I just re-read "Our Creedless Creed" that I wrote back in November 2004. Anyone who wonders whether this blog is for them should read those churchless principles and see if they agree with my central points.
There is no objective proof that any religion knows the truth about God. If there were such proof, most people on Earth would have converted to that faith long ago and all scientists would be believers.
Spirituality thus is an individual affair. Proof of any metaphysical realities that exist will be subjective, not demonstrable to others.
Science is the surest means of finding truth. Theory, experiment, analysis of data: such are the tools of science, whether directed toward knowing material or immaterial reality.
Religious teachings are hypotheses to be confirmed through individual research. As such, they must not be taken as gospel truth by adherents of a particular faith.
Religious doubters, skeptics, and heretics should be honored for their efforts to assure that unproven assertions about God are not put forward as solid truth.
Every adherent of a particular religion should say to himself or herself,"I could be wrong." If he or she won't do this, other people can say it for them: "You could be wrong."
I also said:
I also said:
This creedless creed of the Church of the Churchless also could be wrong. It needs to be reexamined and revised regularly.
So far, though, I don't see any need for revisions. A whole lot of churchless discussions on this blog, and a whole lot of life lessons I've learned over the past six years haven't led me to view things differently. I'm still deeply skeptical about unscientific faith-based approaches to understanding reality. But I'm not skeptical about religious skepticism. Thus if you're a true believer, this blog isn't for you.
So far, though, I don't see any need for revisions. A whole lot of churchless discussions on this blog, and a whole lot of life lessons I've learned over the past six years haven't led me to view things differently.
I'm still deeply skeptical about unscientific faith-based approaches to understanding reality. But I'm not skeptical about religious skepticism. Thus if you're a true believer, this blog isn't for you.
well, amen to that!!!
Posted by: tAo | July 11, 2010 at 10:45 PM
Ditto what tAo wrote...
Posted by: The Rambling Taoist | July 12, 2010 at 12:36 AM
Well, I still have a small fascination with a supposed Atheist that follows a 'belief system' of Atheism. This would be a person that has redirected the 'no-belief' to a 'belief' in some sort of nonexistence of God. On the other hand, this person may have never engaged in a 'redirection' and simply created a belief in no God or gods.
If such person were to come to this blog and intelligently discuss how the 'belief' came about, or seeded, that would be interesting. The actual belief wouldn’t be so important, just how it began.
Posted by: Roger | July 12, 2010 at 08:25 AM
"There once was a young man from Didjon
who had great disrespect for religion.
He shouted out: "God! These three are so odd!
The Father, The Son, and the Pigeon!"
My favorite limerick.
We would do well to let God figure out whether God exists or not, since, from the human vantage point, there is nothing we can do about it one way or the other.
Posted by: Willie R. | July 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM
Roger, I don't believe that God exists. But I don't consider that this is a positive "belief" in God's non-existence. It's a conclusion, based on the evidence (or lack thereof), that an entity many people believe in, doesn't actually exist.
As has been noted before on this blog, once we start calling an acceptance of something's non-existence a "belief," that word begins to be used in a strange way.
I don't see any evidence of gnomes in our garden. Yet I would object to someone saying, "You are a believer in the non-existence of garden gnomes."
No, I simply don't give them any thought, because there is no evidence that they exist. Same applies to an atheist's conclusion that God doesn't exist. This is an absence of an affirmative belief, not the presence of a belief.
Likewise, I don't believe that Big Foot exists. However, I'll admit that I've haven't studied the evidence about this creature in any detail. That evidence just doesn't seem persuasive to me (as to most other people). If solid evidence comes along, I'll change my mind.
Again, it wouldn't be right to say that I have come to a belief in some sort of non-existence of Big Foot. The default position regarding the existence of anything is that it doesn't exist, unless there is evidence that it does.
With God, we simply have many more people believing in this entity than is the case with Big Foot. So it seems more out of the ordinary to not believe in God, than to not believe in Big Foot. Still, the same principle applies: not-believing isn't a belief; it is the absence of belief.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 12, 2010 at 01:37 PM
Brian, I'm a big supporter of what you have to say and the manner in which you say it. The biggest problem I see in the area of belief is the human need for it. Any student of psychology or human behavior understands that beliefs form the foundation of human thought and action. Attitudes, opinions, even knowledge and wisdom, sit on top of fundamental beliefs. Those beliefs are formed early in life (and help form my thesis that the religious indoctrination is child abuse) and are virtually intractable except for the truly brave.
How does that relate to your absence of affirmative belief? For many, human life is only meaningful if one holds acceptable beliefs, and the universal presumption of religious beliefs--perceived as a necessity by many--betrays a bias that can only be flushed by evolutionary forces. Supernatural human beliefs will only be replaced by rational beliefs when human adaptability demands it (not unlike how AGW deniers may perish by their affirmative dis-belief).
So, for many, they can't conceive of a) the absence of religious belief, and b) a uniformly rational belief system. They hold a sort of 'entropy of belief' (though that may be too scientific for them) where the rejection of a broadly applied belief must therefore be replaced with either a) a counter-belief, or b) an irrational belief, neither of which is acceptable to them since a) is 'evil' to them, and b) is 'crazy'.
I'm not sure we ever, as a species, reconstruct the belief-based behavioral hierarchy. Maybe we isolate belief-based behavior on the unsubstantiated (i.e., by default we "believe" that provable facts and rigorous theories speak for themselves and must be accepted). I suppose we evolve to a point where our knowledge of the universe is complete enough that beliefs become irrelevant. Of course that means we must turn over every celestial rock and find no gods before that happens.
Keep up the good work and filter away.
Posted by: Capt. Jack | July 12, 2010 at 05:57 PM
I am new reader here in this blog, and wonder why some words are here one day then gone the next? I readed words by blankty blank about Capt jack words which was very good, but now they are gone, why is this? does someone take away some words but not other words? I dont understand. this means this is not trust place to learn true words from people.
sorry for my english not very good
Posted by: pablo | July 13, 2010 at 10:05 PM
pablo, since you're new here, you must have missed the bad thing Blankety Blank did which got all of his previous comments deleted, and his most recent comment also deleted.
He posted three comments in a row under different names, posing in one case as a regular commenter on this blog, tAo. Very, very bad. I don't tolerate people impersonating someone else, because that is cowardly and very impolite.
So Blankety Blank always will have his comments deleted from now on. But if he behaves himself, he can post comments under another name, so long as he complies with this blog's comment guidelines.
Why, he could even post comments under a name like yours, Pablo2, or whatever. Anyway, that's why his words were taken away. Blankety broke the rules of this blog. And don't worry about your English. I'm impressed by how you can write a complete grammatically correct sentence, like "does someone take away some words but not other words?," while you also said "sorry for my english not very good."
I think you write just as well as Blankety Blank. It's interesting that you started to visit this blog in between the brief time he left his comment, and when I deleted it. There's so many amazing coincidences in life! And no need for any God to explain them.
You'll find that sometimes I have to go to "comment moderation" because childish people like Blankety Blank choose to disrupt the comment conversations on this blog, rather than maturely discuss issues raised here. Since you're new here, this is a good lesson for you: don't let yourself get carried away by religious fervor, because it causes some people to act like jerks.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 13, 2010 at 10:45 PM
Capt. Jack, I think the post I wrote today addresses the issues you raised:
The physicist and philosopher of science whose book I talked about would say we need "myths" rather than "beliefs," taking "myth" to mean a higher-order way of viewing our place in the cosmos.
As I said in the post, we humans indeed are meaning-seekers who have evolved to look upon the universe as more than a collection of brute facts: food, sex, water, shelter, etc.
But with the rise of a scientifically accurate (though admittedly incomplete) understanding of the universe, we can choose to create meanings that are founded on facts rather than fantasies. This is why religious beliefs fail to satisfy those who value truth.
This evening my wife and I hosted a couple that we've known a long time. I enjoyed talking with my old friend about how we look upon the cosmos. He told me that he'd been able to meet astrophysicists who work at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. They look upon the universe in fascinating ways.
We are not separate from the cosmos. We are literally made of stardust. What the universe is, we are. These sorts of understandings are deeply meaningful to scientifically (and philosophically) minded people like me and my friend. So there's more to choose from than simply (1) blind religious belief and (2) supposedly dry and barren scientific facts.
Truth is richly satisfying. I often get tears in my eyes when I read about the majesty of what science knows about the universe. We meaning-seekers can get plenty of inspiration from scientific truths; no religions are required.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 13, 2010 at 10:59 PM
All-a-praise to Allah!!
No, but seriously, this entry pairs very well with my thought from a few days ago:
Life is continual perplexion.
Granted, we do arrive at various truths along the way, but ultimately, we are living upon uncertainty.
And this is what I feel the self-termed religious/fundamentalist people fail to grasp - that our minds cannot understand and grasp ahold of everything.
They have this outlook as though there is a range of multiple-choice answers to all the 'questions' of our existence...but they don't see that it is we, ourselves, asking the questions, and it is also we, ourselves, CREATING those answers!
Personally, from what I have found, there will always be a sparkling uncertainty in our life, and any attempt at masking it with a 'belief system' is only casting an illusion upon ourselves.
Though, I am curious - what does it take for the rest of the world to realize that?
Posted by: Travis | July 14, 2010 at 03:15 AM
Brian said "we are all made of stardust". What is this stardust? Is it a scientific term for some element or group of elements in quantities above the Avogadro number?
"Truth is richly satisfying". What is your definition of a truth?
Meanings founded in facts", what is definition of a fact?
Lets be less emotional and more scientific and define terms. And while we are on subject of emotion, how do we scientifically quantify grief?
Posted by: Rational thinker | July 14, 2010 at 09:55 AM
There's lots of sources of info on the Internet about the formation of heavy elements from exploding stars. You should be able to educate yourself on this pretty easily. Fascinating stuff. Here's one link I found:
Wikipedia is a good place to start for lots of inquiries. If you're not familiar with it, you should be. For example, you can peruse a discussion of "facts" here:
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 14, 2010 at 10:06 AM
I suggest studing m-theory.
Well I started using my nickname instead of my real name. And I guess I had been a little preachy and perhaps sended you a mail which perhaps you hatedly trashed.. or might havent read yet. Well please forgive.
Posted by: you may read this.. goku | November 22, 2014 at 07:42 AM