Atheism in Unitarian Universalism

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996
Sender: Unitarian Universalists list
Subject: UUS-L Digest - 29 Jun 1996 to 30 Jun 1996 - Special issue
To: Recipients of UUS-L digests

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 1996
From: G J
Subject: Defining Atheism

I am a life-long atheist -- literally from childhood. My parents are atheists and in fact am at least a third-generation atheist on my father's side.

I am greatly disturbed by the definition of atheism, which is often implied by both theistic and non-theistic UU's (to say NOTHING of non-UU's), as non-spiritual. I consider myself quite a spiritual person.

I believe in the holy and the sacred, but I don't think they have anything to do with the supernatural. I have no problem with the term "worship" because I don't see that its use must be confined to an act of veneration of a supreme being. And as some of you who are acquainted with me know, my belief in the human soul and/or spirit is partly responsible for my being what many call a "pro-lifer".

I don't mind if other UU's (or non-UU's, for that matter) want to pray, talk about "god", etc. I don't do it myself, but as Jefferson said, "It does me no injury...". I do sometimes talk to other atheists about how I think there is room for spirituality in atheism, but I observe that a certain number of them are uninterested. (That, too, does me no injury.) But I digress...

It concerns me greatly that the diversity of belief/philosophy that exists within atheism is sometimes not recognized, even among atheists and UU's. I think that if we leave unchallenged the implication that atheists are, by definition, non-spiritual, we further the cause of the Religious Wrong. These people often attempt to characterize nearly everyone who is not a Fundamentalist Christian, and atheists in particular, as being immoral and value-less.

The fact that I or anyone else has a life-philosophy that lacks a "higher power" is irrelevant to our morals, values, spirituality, politics, church attendance, and just about everything else I can think of. IMO, to imply otherwise is to play into the hands of our mutual opponents in the Culture Wars.

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 1996
From: J E
Subject: Re: Defining Atheism

Very well said, and very beautifully said. I also grew up an atheist and a humanist in an atheist family. The Unitarian Fellowship my family belonged to had a series of lectures on theology that were held in our chicken coop. (It was a big chicken coop!)

The speaker, Rabbi Reines, professed an atheistic philosophy that spoke of an "indifferent universe" and "potent finitude". I was 13 or 14 years old at the time and his philosophy formed the basis of my theology for many decades. I agree that atheism can be spiritual; my family, particularly my mother, were profoundly spiritual, and the services that she gave on the subject of slavery are still some of the most powerful, spiritual, church services that I can remember.

This philosophy is in the past for me now as I have changed for many reasons, partly through the Cakes for the Queen of Heaven Class, to feeling that the universe is not indifferent afterall. But that is another story.


Home | Typologies | Judaism | Classical Greece | Christianity | Islam | Modern
Suspicion | Academia | Religious | Daoism | Indian/Hindu | Confucianism | Buddhism
Native American | African | Definitions | Literature | Metaphors | Songs

created 1jun1996, revised 20mar98     |     comments on this site? tpkunesh@atheisms.info