“Since the Bible and the church are obviously mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust them to tell us where we are going?” – Anonymous
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Seneca the Younger
“All thinking men are atheist.” – Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms)
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quite. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
“The cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion is not intrinsically a religious endeavor. It has really a much more general pertinence and general applicability. You don’t have to be religious or buy into a religious doctrine to do it. This is why I think it is important to develop techniques that are secular and not simply religious in orientation.” – The Dalai Lama
I am no longer a Christian or have any religious affiliation. I am an atheist. Freedom, freedom and saying it again, freedom from the old religious quicksand that engulfs so many others. How fortunate I am. My God – if there was a god – that felt so good to say! Wow! I am an atheist. I am an atheist and I am free. What a relief. That took me a very long time to say. 53 years to be closer to the mark. I AM AN ATHEIST. Wow!
Growing up in Wichita Falls Texas I was exposed to the Southern Baptist way of religion. And until I was 20 years old I still believed in it. The bible was the word of God. And anyone that goes against it would be struck down and sent to hell. Literally – no ands, if or buts, you would go to hell. I literally believed this until College. Damn College it opened my eyes. The study of Geology and Biology – specifically the age of the earth, fossils that are millions of year’s old, and comparative anatomy started me down the road to that freedom. What I was learning could not be reconciled with what the scriptures and the “man” on Sunday championed. Just could not do it.
The field of study that completed the liberation was, of all things, Art History. Really – it was Art History – it helped me finally come to the understanding that all of what we take for granted in our religious iconography – has just been made up, copied, changed and adulterated in some form or another since time immortal. This includes paintings, drawings, decoration and ritual, architecture and most importantly writing (ex – the Bible, Quran, etc…). All of it has just been made up. Nothing in religion as in art is sacred.
Now this is not to say that I am not a spiritual person – you can be spiritual and not believe in any kind of religion or god. In fact, any meaningful activity or experience can be considered spiritual. Your work can be spiritual to you. Sex can spiritual to you. Painting can be spiritual to you. Hell even mowing the lawn has been described as a spiritual experience for some people. Long distance running is spiritual to me. It is a subjective experience in the pursuit of psychological growth.
So what is my philosophy on life? That is a good question and it took me 50 years to formulate an answer and I am not done yet. At the moment I would have to consider myself closer in Buddhist thought than anything else. But not Buddhist thought in the traditional sense with all the robes, rituals and religious dogma that has been placed on it over time. I am secular in Buddhist thought. Again, no robes, no rituals and most of all no religion. There is no consideration for the supernatural or reincarnation and karma is considered only in this life – your intentions, actions and their results. Some have called it a return to the original teachings of the Buddha – the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path. Whatever you say about it – I believe that it lays a frame work to build and live a more meaningful and compassionate life. A frame work that allows for the unique differences of others without the discrimination and judgement of others. Religion in contrast is about control and domination of the masses, disguised as kindness and compassion, but really more about control.
A philosophy or way of life that does not allow this will not appeal to some that are in charge or think that they are. Maybe this is the next step in human psychological evolution – the end of all religion and an adoption of a more compassionate and loving human experience?
The above opinions are mine and I am sticking to them for the moment. The bottom two pictures are from bike riding this past week. The middle one is from the Pine Ridge Open Space looking South towards Denver and the bottom one with the large Bull Snake is from the Redtail Grove Open Space, both of which are in Fort Collins. The day I came across the snake it had been a cool morning and my guess is that it just needed some warmth. The sun was directly overhead and the concrete of the bike path was quite warm. Ahhhh – the simple pleasures of just lying in the sun, even for a snake. Well that is enough for this week. Take care and hope to see you Out There!