Shuck and Jive

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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Good Without God

It looks like we are in for a bit of weather in Southtown:
Snow. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches. Lows in the upper 20s. Northeast winds 10 mph or less. Chance of snow near 100 percent.

Snow in the morning and early afternoon...then snow likely late in the afternoon. Snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. Total snow accumulation 6 to 12 inches. Highs in the lower 30s. Northeast winds 10 mph or less. Chance of snow 90 percent.
A good weekend to settle down with a good book. I picked up (at the Cokesbury Bookstore of all places) a new book by the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, Greg Epstein.

The book is Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.

I am finding it refreshing and certainly compatible with where I am on my journey. It is a book about Humanism. Here is what he writes about it:

In short, Humanism is being good without God. It is above all an affirmation of the greatest common value we human beings have: the desire to live with dignity, to be "good." But Humanism is also a warning that we cannot afford to wait until tomorrow or until the next life to be good, because today--the short journey we get from birth to death, womb to tomb--is all we have. Humanism rejects dependence on faith, the supernatural, divine texts, resurrection, reincarnation, or anything else for which we have no evidence. To put it another way, Humanists believe in life before death. P. xiii
Epstein, unlike Richard Dawkins (who is also a humanist), has a more gracious tone toward believers and sees progressive religious folks as allies. He also values communities:
People need community. Not just out of some whiny desire to be hugged or avoid loneliness--we need community because we succeed best in life when we can count on reliable help from a wide range of individuals with a range of skills and talents, all of whom know us personally enough to treat us as their own when we are in need....For most people, it takes a congregation. But it doesn't necessarily take God. p. 24
He answers the insulting question, "Can you be good without God?" Duh. Yes. Then he replaces it with some important ones, why be good? and how do we be good? He also turns the tables: can you be good with God? Answer: Yes and he includes some suggestions for how to include humanists in inter-faith groups and gatherings.

A lot of good stuff here and I am only through the third chapter. Oh, by the way, curious about what humanists believe about God? Here is the answer:

We (the non-religious, atheists, Humanists, etc.) believe that God is the most important, influential literary character human beings have ever created. p. 13-14
Count me in that number.