Grrr. Epstein. I guess he’ll play his games, but I just find them so irrelevant. He’s exploring ways to structure atheist meetings modeled after religion.
“People get a lot of benefits from their religious communities including profound ways of filling existential needs, like commemorating significant events in their lives,’’ said James Croft, a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education who is heavily involved with the Humanist Community Project. “Just because they leave behind their religious beliefs doesn’t mean they stop having those needs.
“But secular society has not yet come up with a way to give them moments of significance with the same level of beauty and care that goes into religious ceremonies. That is a big gap.’’
I think it is entirely true that that weekly church ritual has deep appeal to people, and that there’s something there that can grab people and draw them in. But it’s a cheat and a waste. Tapping into our psychology to get us to sit and get sucked into pointless ritual is not how I want to see the atheist movement evolve. I want us to think and act, not reassure ourselves by going through repetitive motions, through superstitious behavior.
Ceremonies to mark major events in our lives, sure; that’s a celebration or a remembrance and entirely appropriate. But freethinkers ought not to be shackled by rote and rites. And they especially should not be led by “chaplains” or whatever the hell they’re going to call them. No gods, no masters, no dogma, and no goddamned priests…not even atheist priests.