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Sep 19 2010

The South and God

I had forgotten how religious this place is.  I can’t tell if people here are genuinely more into religion or if they just like to talk about it more.  I have had religiousish conversations with far too many people today.  I will say this though, none of them have been at all horrible to me when I am outed as an atheist, so I feel like that’s good.

I went to an atheist meetup group here and I have learned that there are several atheists who go to the Unitarian Universalist church in town.  Now, I appreciate the need for community, and being someone just moving to a new place where I don’t really know anyone, I can see the appeal.  I am however completely wary of any place that’s churchy and it seems like the UUs are really open-minded to the point that their brains will fall out.  I’m not good about not being critical of beliefs I find… we’ll go with wacky at best.

I did listen to the most recent sermon of the guy who is the head priest thing at the local UU and it was about Religious Humanism, which is sort of like a slightly less interesting Secular Humanism.  Why can’t someone be both religious and a Secular Humanist?  (Aside from the fact that most religions have tenets that are cruel).  I am intrigued, I plan on going some time with my mom, since she’s also curious, though she’s coming at it from the opposite (ie already religious) perspective.

I realized today that one of my biggest problems with Christianity is the fact that it takes away the morality of your choices.  Your beliefs all come from somewhere else, you never have to think about what is or isn’t moral.  Gay people are awful because the bible says so, and you never ever have to question that belief because if you questioned it, your entire belief structure would come crashing down on you and it’s just so much easier to not confront the idea. Women can’t be pastors because the Bible is pretty clear on the fact that women just aren’t as good as men.  Slavery is OK, but let’s not talk about that.

People talk about how difficult it is to be an atheist, to be an outcast and different and not have the consolation of knowing that you go to heaven when you die, but the part that’s the hardest work is probably having to think through your own morality.  It’s also the best part.  My morality comes from trying to do right by other people, not from fear of hellfire.  I find letting god shoulder all the responsibility of your morality to be lazy and more than a little immoral.  ”Because the bible says so” seems to me to be the most morally bankrupt and intellectually lazy thing someone could possibly believe.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Dean

    Welcome to our meetup, Ashley, and glad you could make it to the UU. It took me three years to decide it wasn’t more wooish than I can tolerate, so no pressure. Glad you (kinda) liked Neal’s sermon, he’s an atheist, too. The Science and Religion event might be something you’d like, for some reason our more wooish members tend to shy away from it. I’ll try to make it an event for the meetup.

  2. 2
    Dean

    Ashley, you got me thinking about why I’ve stuck with the UU over the years (started there not long before I started the FSM). I realize it’s nothing very profound. Neal’s sermons and some other speakers are a draw. I love the fact that Neal is the president of the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which meets at the UU; and I love that he was a plaintiff in the ‘I Believe’ license plate case. More than that, though, is after the service, several to a dozen of us go out to lunch and I can talk to people about science, religion, and politics and hardly ever step on a land mine. I guess that makes me more of a ‘communitarian’ than a real Unitarian Universalist, but it seems to work.

    UU Joke: How many UUs does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, UUs screw in sleeping bags in the church basement.

    Did you see that Colbert episode where he asks his cameraman (Bob, I think) to explain UU? The joke is, he can’t. Colbert has a good piece on it in his ‘Uncyclopedia’, too.

  3. 3
    Jim

    Hi, Ashley. I spoke with you this morning at the UU.

    Right now my beliefs are up in the air, but it’s been a breath of fresh air to be at a place where not having it all figured out is a virtue. There was an ethics class yesterday where 16 of us discussed all these theoretical scenarios where there are no right or wrong answers, and I love that sort of thing.

    I guess I am an atheist…this week.

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