I am an atheist. I say this without shame or reservation.
This essay will discuss my history and the contradictions and circumstances
that have led me to this position.
My family history has included several examples of
individuals changing religions because of who they wished to marry. These were
various flavors of Christ-centered religions, so it wasn’t terribly jarring to
the individual in terms of philosophies, but mostly in terms of rituals and
I was baptized as a Methodist, although my mother tended to
refer to us as Protestants. When my mother remarried, she converted to become
Roman Catholic in order to marry in my stepfather’s Catholic church. My brother
and I followed suit, and I was confirmed at age 14.
From a very early age, I questioned what I was being taught
in the Bible in Sunday School or Catechism classes. First, it was the usual,
“who did Cain marry?” Apparently, she was from the Land of Nod. I guess this
was a suburb of Eden or something. No record of when …
I had originally intended to title this post "On Religion", but upon introspection, the issue is dogma as much as it is religion, and I believe I'll explain this adequately later.
If you've read the prior posts in this series, you will probably have many assumptions about what I intend to say. You're probably right. Let's dive in.
Merriam-Webster defines dogma as follows: a :something held as an established opinion; especially :a definite authoritative tenet b :a code of such tenets pedagogical dogma c :a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate groundsa doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church
Dogma, in a non-religious sense, is not damaging in and of itself. It is only as benign or malignant as its content, as well as how it is applied directly and indirectly to a population. For that matter, secular humanists subscribe to a certain level of non-religious dogma.
Much has been made in the last year or two regarding free speech in the United States. The United States is one of the few countries where the freedom of speech is codified in the constitution. It might surprise many Americans to know that Europeans do not enjoy the same latitude. For one example, in France, it is illegal to deny the Jewish holocaust.
However, in the United States, the right to free speech is also not clearly understood.
Many colleges and universities, most notably the University of California at Berkeley, have been in the news for their response to controversial speakers coming to their campuses. UC-Berkeley has invited then disinvited speakers across the spectrum, and in cases where they have not, there has sometimes been violent protest against the presence of these speakers.
I strongly disagree with violence of any kind in response to an individual speaker, but I certainly understand and support the right to protest. There are some in this discourse who do not bel…