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
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.