Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sexed Up Atheism

Richard Dawkins defined pantheism that way in his book, God Delusion. I found some fellow travelers over on this site. Now, you are a fellow traveler even if you are not a sexed up pantheist. You are all fellow travelers and I love you all tulips and hugs. No matter your God-ism or A-God-ism, you are good with me.

But, you might be a pantheist and just didn't know it! Here is what the site says about pantheism:

So what's the difference between Atheism and Pantheism? As far as disbelief in supernatural beings, forces or realms, there is no difference. World Pantheism also shares the respect for evidence, science, and logic that's typical of atheism.

However, Pantheism goes further, and adds to atheism an embracing, positive and reverential feeling about our lives on planet Earth, our place in Nature and the wider Universe, and uses nature as our basis for dealing with stress, grief and bereavement. It's a form of spirituality that is totally compatible with science. Indeed, since science is our best way of exploring the Universe, respect for the scientific method and fascination with the discoveries of science are an integral part of World Pantheism.
As much as I enjoy the smarky snark of Dawkins & Company, he is a bit hostile towards religion (and he knows it). You get the feeling he doesn't quite have an appreciation for any of it. I suppose it is a matter of personal taste. Is there a place for religion? According to this website:
Religions are not just a confidence trick on the part of prophets and preachers, or a self-destructive aberration on the part of believers. They have had social survival value in the past, and they continue to provide individual and personal benefits today, and these benefits are the source of their continuing numerical strength.
  • Religions provide communities of mutual support.
  • They overcome existential isolation and alienation, giving people a meaning for their lives and a sense of their place in the universe and nature.
  • They provide remedies for grief at the death of loved ones, and for the fear of one’s own death.
  • They combat the feeling of helplessness in a threatening world full of crime, conflict and disaster.
  • These benefits show up in the form of better health and longer life.
Most conventional religions come with a price tag of supernaturalism, implausible (if not ridiculous) belief systems, patriarchy, homophobia, and political conservatism. That price is way too high for many of us. The good folks at World Pantheism ask:
But is it impossible to get the benefits that conventional religions offer, without giving up one penny of the value offered by reason, science, and progressive respect for the human rights of everyone? Don’t we need approaches that offer the same range of advantages as supernatural religions – but without the costs?

Can there be such a thing as a religion without god, an atheistic religion or a religious atheism?
Who knows? But it is fun to try!
  • Today we welcomed seven new members.
  • We opened with wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • Our yoga teacher led us in a meditation to become empty.
  • I threw a bunch of baptismal water on the kids to honor the baptism of Jesus.
  • The choir wowed us with Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols (Latin and Middle English!)
  • We read our mission statement.
  • The Eight Points were printed in the bulletin.
  • We closed with Emily Dickinson's poem, Love's Baptism, which is about letting go of childhood religion and becoming part of something much larger.
  • Smiles all around.
The point of this play by play isn't just to advertise my church. The point is that there are religious communities all over the place (if you can find one in NE Tennessee you can find them anywhere) that are not oriented toward superstition. Even though many of the elements come from our past that was steeped in supernaturalism, nevertheless, we are not worshiping the supernaturalism as such but are honoring the creative artistry and wisdom of the human spirit. At least I am anyway. I don't hook everyone up to a belief-o-meter.

I do long for liturgy, hymns and choral anthems, and so forth that sing of the glories of natural selection for instance. Seriously. Hymns to the cosmos and to the trees are what are needed. This is the exciting opportunity before us today.

The via creativa is creativity in service to Earth and all the little critters in its choir. This may be the way of religion's future.

If we are here for any good purpose at all...I suspect it is to entertain the rest of nature. A gang of sexy primate clowns. All the little critters creep in close to listen when human beings are in a good mood and willing to play some tunes. --Gary Snyder

Call me a sexed up Presbyterian Pantheist.

And give me some love.
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