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roseweeed
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Greetings

 

Hi -- Just checking in to see what goes on here.  My story, short version, goes like this:  raised in an strong evangelical family, but the religion never really took hold with me; wrote my folks a letter from college declaring my lack of belief in God, and being a veteran parent myself I now have a greater appreciation for the shock and hurt that must have caused -- but that's life and the risk of parenthood I suppose; I have a career in the arts, and in developing collaborations between artists and scientists; I try to avoid the term atheist (too much baggage) when a discussion of belief comes up, which isn't very often, but my work in the arts is laced with, and perhaps thinly disguised by, an atheistic persuasion; if ever asked, I describe myself as a "naturalist," i.e., a non-supernaturalist, so if someone wanting to cling to the word God were willing to concede him/it as a natural phenomenon instead of a supernatural one, that's fine with me as long as it's understood that science then becomes the way to proceed.  I however do not cling to the word God or use it as a metaphor.  I think of myself as a spiritual non-believer, defining "spiritual" as a sense of awe and delight at the human capacity to contemplate the cosmos and feel a sensation of profoundity in doing so.  I'm wary of the potential there is for any use of "science and spiritualism" to be misconstrued as fuzzy New Age thinking, and of the responsibility one who speaks of such a non-supernatural science-based emotional "spiritualism" has to articulate the distinction clearly.  I also think that when it comes to the general public's understanding of a non-religious/non-supernatural view, there is no more important challenge than to expose the emotionally fulfilling side of atheism and scientific inquiry.

 

Some of my current and past exploits in the arts and sciences can be seen at http://www.williamsongallery.net/google .  I look forward to following the forums here and learning a few things from all of you!

 

roseweed

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Welcome to the forum.

Welcome to the forum.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Why do you think the word

Why do you think the word "atheist" has baggage? It is merely the "off" position like a light switch on god belief.

If anything has baggage god belief does. It is rooted in myth and emotionalism and tribalism.

"God" is the redneck on the Jerry Springer show who has two crack whores fighting over who he loves best.

Don't let their "baggage" of their own insecurities allow you to avoid calling yourself an atheist. They certainly are not ashamed of claiming their belief. Their fears of you are their problem, not yours.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


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Welcome, Roseweed!roseweeed

Welcome, Roseweed!

roseweeed wrote:

I think of myself as a spiritual non-believer, defining "spiritual" as a sense of awe and delight at the human capacity to contemplate the cosmos and feel a sensation of profoundity in doing so.  I'm wary of the potential there is for any use of "science and spiritualism" to be misconstrued as fuzzy New Age thinking, and of the responsibility one who speaks of such a non-supernatural science-based emotional "spiritualism" has to articulate the distinction clearly.  I also think that when it comes to the general public's understanding of a non-religious/non-supernatural view, there is no more important challenge than to expose the emotionally fulfilling side of atheism and scientific inquiry.


This sounds a lot like what I call 'wonderism'. You may find that your philosophy matches my descriptions here: Taking a Step Beyond Awe And here: What is wonderism?

Check out the wonderism group on Atheist Nexus, if you're interested.

BTW: I'm toying with the word 'inspiritual' to describe non-supernatural 'spiritualism', i.e. 'spiritual' without the 'spirits'. The word inspiritual is closer to the word 'inspire' than to 'spirit'.

Also, I'm beginning to play with the idea of countering claims of 'religious experience' with the more inclusive 'wondrous experience'. The key point being that all humans can experience wonder -- not only the religious -- and in fact so-called 'religious' experiences are merely natural wondrous experiences mis-attributed to something supernatural.

Quote:
I try to avoid the term atheist (too much baggage) when a discussion of belief comes up, which isn't very often, but my work in the arts is laced with, and perhaps thinly disguised by, an atheistic persuasion; if ever asked, I describe myself as a "naturalist," i.e., a non-supernaturalist, so if someone wanting to cling to the word God were willing to concede him/it as a natural phenomenon instead of a supernatural one, that's fine with me as long as it's understood that science then becomes the way to proceed. 

I originally had similar feelings, and I still identify as a naturalist, or 'natural' for short (hence my user name), but I no longer avoid the label of atheist. Instead, I've adopted the stance of unapologetic atheism when it comes to my activist persona. The only time I avoid calling myself an atheist is when I'm working, as it might endanger my employment. There is simply nothing wrong with being an atheist, and if friends, family, or acquaintances think there is something wrong with it, then that's a stigma I would like to confront and shed light upon. I'm no longer comfortable living as a 'quiet atheist' and all the self-imposed censorship that requires.

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roseweeed
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Brian37 wrote:Why do you

Brian37 wrote:

Why do you think the word "atheist" has baggage? It is merely the "off" position like a light switch on god belief.

If anything has baggage god belief does. It is rooted in myth and emotionalism and tribalism.

"God" is the redneck on the Jerry Springer show who has two crack whores fighting over who he loves best.

Don't let their "baggage" of their own insecurities allow you to avoid calling yourself an atheist. They certainly are not ashamed of claiming their belief. Their fears of you are their problem, not yours.

Brian -- many words have baggage of some sort acquired over time, cultural meanings other than their dictionary definition.  I agree with you that belief has baggage, in fact the notion that certain things are to be "believed in" or not is really pretty silly.  I'm not afraid of saying I'm an atheist, I'm happy to use it as a shorthand answer if the question is just about my belief or not in the Christian god or any other god.  But in the U.S. cultural vernacular, at least, the word "atheist" has undeniable textures of meaning that conjur images of Nazis, Communists, intellectual elitists, cynics, hedonists, and other ridiculous categories where atheists are lumped in with the likes of criminals and child molestors.  And it really only describes something one is not with respect to a single subject, instead of what one is with respect to a broader view.   If I'm going to walk into a discussion about religion or science or the suupernatural, I find it productive to enter through a doorway less obstructed by cultural baggage -- they'll know I'm a non-theist after just a few sentences, even without using the A-word.  "Atheist" doesn't necessarily deserve its bad rap, or all those extraneous meanings it's acquired, but they're there nonetheless and you can choose to communicate with others through all that flack or take a different path.  For me it's just about what's pragmatic and most productive in the moment.

roseweed

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Quote:This sounds a lot like

Quote:

This sounds a lot like what I call 'wonderism'. You may find that your philosophy matches my descriptions here: Taking a Step Beyond Awe And here: What is wonderism?

Check out the wonderism group on Atheist Nexus, if you're interested.

BTW: I'm toying with the word 'inspiritual' to describe non-supernatural 'spiritualism', i.e. 'spiritual' without the 'spirits'. The word inspiritual is closer to the word 'inspire' than to 'spirit'.

Natural -- thanks for the welcome and for for the excellent links.  I like "inspiritual" -- I like looking for words that better and more fully describe my perspective than "atheist," which only says what I am not instead of what I am.  Like you, I am not a quiet non-believer.  In fact, I'm fortunate that my line of work provides somewhat of a platform for talking about these issues to a public audience.  I think we all should be evangelists for non-theism, beyond discussions amongst ourselves on forums like this.

 

roseweed

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Welcome to the forum

Welcome to the forum rosewood.  I think you'll enjoy it here.


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 Thanks, harleysportster --

 Thanks, harleysportster -- looking forward to it.  Which forum the best to dive into -- is there one where most of the action happens?

roseweed

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roseweeed wrote:Natural --

roseweeed wrote:

Natural -- thanks for the welcome and for for the excellent links.  I like "inspiritual" -- I like looking for words that better and more fully describe my perspective than "atheist," which only says what I am not instead of what I am.  Like you, I am not a quiet non-believer.  In fact, I'm fortunate that my line of work provides somewhat of a platform for talking about these issues to a public audience.  I think we all should be evangelists for non-theism, beyond discussions amongst ourselves on forums like this.

This got me intrigued to follow your link in the OP. It appears your blog server is down, but I also checked out some other links and found this gem:

Stephen Nowlin wrote:
I admire science for its brains, but what it symbolizes is what seduced me. And what it symbolizes is that we humans are audacious and unafraid, we are the gods of a rational quest for truth. As it may demand we shed sometimes treasured shackles from the past, science is the essence of chutzpah - with an exquisitely dissonant beauty found in its minutia and its unfathomable scale. Science is liberating, a constant provocateur. But perhaps in the end what science best symbolizes can be reduced to a tiny and splendid fact about ourselves - we humans are simply and helplessly curious, and nothing for long impedes the force of our curiosity. Science is important for many reasons, but it’s important to me because of its spirit.

Allow me to be so presumptuous as to attempt to interpret your words with respect to the concept of 'wonder':

"I admire science": The word 'admire' has a latin root 'mirus' meaning 'wonderful', and a typical definition is "To regard with pleasure, wonder, and approval." In its original usage, it meant, literally, "To wonder at".

"what it symbolizes is what seduced me": See my discussion, in Taking a Step Beyond Awe, on "mysterium tremendum et fascinans". It seems to me you are describing a 'mysterium fascinans'.

"what it symbolizes is that we humans are audacious and unafraid": both words connote a rejection of fear-based responses to the unknown, a preference toward wonder over terror. Basically this is wonderism in a nutshell.

"we are the gods of a rational quest for truth": The 'gods' thing I'll grant you on poetic license, as similar to Einstein or Hawking or Joseph Campbell. The word 'quest' has the same root as the word 'question', both meaning 'to seek', and one of the most common uses of 'wonder' is as in 'to wonder about something', a state of 'inquisitiveness', which itself comes from 'inquire' (again, same root as 'quest' and 'question'), which means 'To seek information by asking a question.' Indeed, one of the synonyms of question is 'wonder', and one of the synonyms of wonder is 'question'. Now 'quest' is not synonymous with 'question', but I would argue that 'quest for truth' is so, and certainly compatible with what I mean by practicing a 'philosophy based on wonder'. The 'rational' part just makes the connection that much more clear, since questioning is such a central part of any rational worldview.

"we shed sometimes treasured shackles from the past": Again, to wonder is to question: our assumptions, the status quo, dogmas. And when we find cracks in our walls, we keep wondering, chipping away at the weak spots, until finally, the wall crumbles and we find the bright and open sky behind.

"science is the essence of chutzpah": Again, I would argue, wonder is synonymous here.

"exquisitely dissonant beauty found in its minutia and its unfathomable scale": Can you say 'mysterium fascinans'? Eye-wink

"Science is liberating, a constant provocateur.": Because it constantly doubts and questions arguments from authority in favour of the real truth of reality. To doubt and to question = to wonder.

"we humans are simply and helplessly curious, and nothing for long impedes the force of our curiosity.": Ummm, yeah. That's basically the thesis of wonderism. Smiling

Anyway, just thought you'd find it interesting if I spelled out the similarities.

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roseweeed wrote: Thanks,

roseweeed wrote:

 Thanks, harleysportster -- looking forward to it.  Which forum the best to dive into -- is there one where most of the action happens?

Needless to say, there is quite a bit of information to read on here. To keep up with the latest action, simply click on the recent posts tab to the left and it will show you the most recent activity. Hmm, there is just no telling where the next bit of action might be. You can get an indicator by the number of responses on that thread. (Hint, when the response number goes past the first hundreds, you can bet it is going to be an entertaining thread, hehe). Have fun and feel free to join in.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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  natural -- thanks for the

 

natural -- thanks for the analysis.  Ok, you've convinced me, I'm a "Wonderist!"  I checked your Wonderism links and what I do certainly falls squarely within your descriptions.  My current project, perhaps more than any other, deals with wonder.  It's called ENERGY and the e-flyer is here:  http://www.williamsongallery.net/energy .  

I think of wonder as a form of non-supernatural transcendence -- humans like transcendence and look for it in poetry, art, music.  And, of course in religion.  They don't typically think of science as offering transcendent experiences, and that's one of the challenges I think for science in the future if it is ever to replace religion in people's world views.  The idea, though, that art might use wonder to "spiritualize" science is very close to what New-Age proponents like Deepak Chopra exploit -- and so "Wonderism," I should think, must be careful to be clearly tethered to true science and rationalism, as it may run the risk of becoming confused with the attempt of New-Age philosophies to conflate artistic intuition, mysticism, cosmic consciousness, pagan mythologies, and parapsychology with modern science -- particularly with quantum theory.   That parsing, I think, is a challenge to anyone speaking about an atheistic spiritualism belonging to the scientific view -- but on the other hand, I think there is nothing more important than articulating such a wonder-based view as an alternative to religious belief.

 

roseweed

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roseweeed wrote:Thanks,

roseweeed wrote:
Thanks, harleysportster -- looking forward to it.  Which forum the best to dive into -- is there one where most of the action happens?

I think the easiest way to dive in would be to click on the Recent Posts link on the left side of the page. This is what I always use; very rarely do I actually peruse individual sub-forums.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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What I am saying to you is

What I am saying to you is avoiding using the word because of the insecurities of the majority are THEIR problem, not yours.

There has been a debate amongst atheist as to if we should use the word or not. Some call themselves humanists or brights or freethinkers, but that does nothing to take away the wrongful stigma placed on the word.

That would be like a gay person refusing to call themselves gay because bigoted assholes use the word to mean "fagot".

All the word "atheist" describes is the "off" position on the existence of a deity, nothing more. Atheists need to take the word back to that position and be unafraid of those who place those stigmas on that word.

I understand the silence of some out of fear of losing their jobs or losing their apartment or being kicked out of their family. I DO understand that. But for those who don't have that problem, it is up to us to make life better for those who have those problems by being MORE OPEN so the future can be better for all atheists.

Being silent is what they want out of us, not what we want for ourselves. I see no long term good by placating people's emotions because they fear what they don't understand.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


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Brian37 wrote:Being silent

Brian37 wrote:

Being silent is what they want out of us, not what we want for ourselves. I see no long term good by placating people's emotions because they fear what they don't understand.

And truth to be told, I have been lucky enough to actually change the minds of some people with pre-conceived notions of Atheism.

It's always a good feeling when someone actually tells me that they better understand my position and actually just agree to disagree. That does not happen very often, but it happens enough that I am pretty out in the open about being an Atheist.

The most comical responses I get are : Well, you sure don't talk like a regular Atheist. To which I always reply : What is a regular Atheist supposed to talk like ?  I get the same thing with : Well you sure don't talk like a normal biker. Same reply : What is a "normal" biker supposed to talk like ?

Granted, I do run across alot of closed minds that hear the word Atheist and immediately shut their ears to anything else that I have to say. Oh well, truth to be told, I kinda feel really sorry for them. I can remember what it was like to be deeply religious and how I viewed the world in those absolute terms. I can remember feeling inherent self hatred because of my doubts and inability to believe in god fully.

Now the hate-filled fundamentalist types that I encounter that wish to kill gay people, place a monoply over morality, and push for a theocratic society are the ones that I lose all patience with.

I do believe in more open expressions of Atheism. I believe that would be the only way to change the public perception of what Atheism means.

100 years ago, the majority of people would not have believed in the equality of the races. Only through time, effort and social change that broke the barriers was that type of thinking overcome.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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roseweeed wrote:words have

roseweeed wrote:

words have baggage of some sort acquired over time, cultural meanings other than their dictionary definition.  I agree with you that belief has baggage, in fact the notion that certain things are to be "believed in" or not is really pretty silly.  I'm not afraid of saying I'm an atheist, I'm happy to use it as a shorthand answer if the question is just about my belief or not in the Christian god or any other god.  But in the U.S. cultural vernacular, at least, the word "atheist" has undeniable textures of meaning that conjur images of Nazis, Communists, intellectual elitists, cynics, hedonists, and other ridiculous categories where atheists are lumped in with the likes of criminals and child molestors.  And it really only describes something one is not with respect to a single subject, instead of what one is with respect to a broader view.   If I'm going to walk into a discussion about religion or science or the suupernatural, I find it productive to enter through a doorway less obstructed by cultural baggage -- they'll know I'm a non-theist after just a few sentences, even without using the A-word.  "Atheist" doesn't necessarily deserve its bad rap, or all those extraneous meanings it's acquired, but they're there nonetheless and you can choose to communicate with others through all that flack or take a different path.  For me it's just about what's pragmatic and most productive in the moment.

I see your point. As I mentioned above, I have had discussions where the word itself throws all further discussion out of the window.

Granted, I am not involved in the types of discussions that maybe you are exposed to. So I can't really judge the situation or tell you how to identify yourself. I would say that simply has to be up to you.

I generally try to judge the situation by whom I am talking to. I've had situations where I had to ease the A word in and others where it is just up front.

But for the most part, I am out in the open about it. Only problem is, once I made the decision to be very open about it, I leave myself open to all sorts of nonsense that I have to defend on a constant basis. But I feel that more people being open is the only way to change public perception.

Hehehe, had this one lady tell me : "But if I look at a beautiful sunset I feel wonder, whereas you only see empty sky,".  MAN ! Took every ounce of patience that I had to explain the error of that one. I don't know if she fully understood me or not, but she did tell me that she had never thought about it that way after I was done.

Now at work, that is a different story sadly enough. Our new manager that started a couple of months ago is a creationist and believes the world is 6,000 years old. He also believes that dinosaur bones were created by Atheist scientists to mislead the public.  The double standard of the Bible Belt in which I live allows him to talk all of that nonsense, but could stand to get me in alot of trouble if I responded. I damn near have had to bite my tongue off to keep from responding to him on several occasions.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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roseweeed wrote: I try to

roseweeed wrote:

 

I try to avoid the term atheist (too much baggage) when a discussion of belief comes up, which isn't very often, but my work in the arts is laced with, and perhaps thinly disguised by, an atheistic persuasion; if ever asked, I describe myself as a "naturalist," i.e., a non-supernaturalist, so if someone wanting to cling to the word God were willing to concede him/it as a natural phenomenon instead of a supernatural one, that's fine with me as long as it's understood that science then becomes the way to proceed.  I however do not cling to the word God or use it as a metaphor.

Welcome aboard.  I normally put the atheist badge on users who lack belief as it opens up some other functions of the site for us "naturalists."  However to respect your normal avoidance of the word atheist I applied the "superfan" badge to your name instead, it opens the same features.  I hope you're ok with that. 

Enjoy your time here!

 

 

- Brian Sapient


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