I am a 73 year old man who has spent a lifetime looking for spiritual meaning in life. I was raised in the Anglican church in the UK, attending Sunday schools at the Anglican church in the morning and the Methodist church in the afternoon. Later I was confirmed into the Anglican church. A few years later I became a member of a church which focused heavily on the Bible. I remained with them for about 15 years, but eventually left some 30 years ago. There were many events over the years which brought this about, but the disconnect between what was said and what was done took its toll.
After I left this group I began to question what I had been taught, comparing the behaviour of adherents and their leaders to the standards they espouse. From there I expanded my questioning into many other religious philosophies, both ancient and modern, mainstream and esoteric and some that most Christian churches would consider heretical. I concluded that there are significant common threads in all religions but that all of them, without exception, require a fundamental suspension of objectivity to first accept the existence of ethereal beings who are directing or otherwise influencing human events. Eventually, I looked at these matters objectively and concluded that ethereal beings do not exist. From that point on I have considered myself to be an atheist.
My views on religion, various scriptures and spirituality (for they are not the same) has continued to develop ever since. I have looked at many faiths originating in many parts of the world and, while there are many differences between them, I find many similar attitudes between faiths of diverse origins. What distresses me is that faiths that are so similar in outlook and practice will dispute and fight, sometimes literally, when the differences that separate them are so trivial. One common thread among almost all faiths is the desire for peace and a safe place to raise our families, yet the only thing stopping that from being realised is the refusal of those same faiths to practice it.
I no longer care much for the niceties that separate one faith from another. Look up at the stars. Realise that nearly each one of those pinpoints of light is a galaxy of literally billions of suns like our own. A being powerful enough to create a universe such as that and control the dances of those galaxies could not possibly be as small minded as many religious leaders would have us believe.
As a thinking person I was still looking for some meaning to my existence and, although now an atheist, I still had appreciation for the universe and the beauty of the world we live in. That is, I still had a spiritual inclination. I began to describe myself as a Spiritual Atheist when necessary. This term confuses many religious people, although atheists appear to understand it quite easily. It really is just a description of my interest in things that I appreciate on an emotional level rather than the merely physical. There is no inference in it that I believe in ethereal beings, or that someone greater than us is guiding our destiny.
My musings are the results of some of the debates I have had with myself and others over the years. I am a resident of the Province of British Columbia in Canada, having emigrated from the UK in 1967. Throughout this document this province will be my reference standard. Other provinces may well have laws and attitudes which differ from those of BC, but most of the arguments I make and the ideas I present will still be relevant, as they will be for other countries as well.
I have tended to use Christianity in many examples during these musings. Please do not read into that any thought that I am anti-Christian. That is not the case. Many Christian people and churches are to be admired and do a lot of good work for their communities. I was raised in a Christian environment and became a strict Christian for many years and I cannot say that I found the life particularly onerous. I mention it only to point out that it is a matter of convenience and familiarity and should not be taken in any way as condemnation.
I should also stress that the opinions expressed here are exclusively my own. They do not reflect the doctrines of any religion. If there is any fault to be found with the opinions expressed, it is mine alone.
B. D. L.
Musing is defined at Dictionary.com as :
|adjective||—||absorbed in thought; meditative|
In line with that definition, the comments made here are my thoughts, my reflections on a variety of subjects that interest me. The reader may not agree with what I have written. That is quite alright. Perhaps their own musings will lead them to different conclusions from what I have reached, but in order to reach any conclusions, they must first muse themselves. Perhaps I can take some credit for stimulating that. There is no consistent, overall theme to my meditations and I wandered wherever I felt inclined. They are the musings of a spiritual atheist, however, and so spiritual matters, in their widest sense, may encroach from time to time. Many of the chapters which some readers might consider to involve spirituality do so in its most general sense of being intellectually interesting and engaging to my mind. Oftentimes they reflect the relationships between an atheist approach to life and one based on religious belief. I have experienced both during my lifetime. Nothing written here should be taken to mean that I am recommending a religious, as opposed to a spiritual, approach to living. As far as I am concerned, the two are completely different things.
There is no particular purpose to my writing these thoughts down, although doing so did encourage me to reach conclusions on some subjects that I had deliberately left hazy in my mind and to think about subjects that I had previously not considered. It also gave me a document that my wife could read at her leisure. She doesn't really need a written document, since she has heard most of it over and over and over again, but she still wanted it to read. She finds reading a good way to go to sleep!
The topics covered are divided into two groups: those from a secular, or non-religious viewpoint, and those from a religious viewpoint.The secular topics are in the first list of articles and cover many current political and social subjects.
The religious section is largely about subjects on which I believe Christian groups have misinterpreted their own Holy Book, and includes many bible references. In them I have commented on some biblical passages relevant to some of the subjects discussed in the main text, most notably, homosexuality and subjects that relate to it. For that reason the articles may be of little interest to atheists, dealing as they do with religious matters from a Bible perspective. Some readers, though, may be interested in explanations involving biblical references which present material differently from most main stream religions, and give an alternative view of what bible writers may have meant. I did not include them in the main section since they are quite religious in nature, and atheism is fundamentally not religious, so they really have no direct relevance Consider them a hangover from my distant past.
I stress that these articles are all my own opinions and not those of any organised group, religious or secular. Please do not presume that any religion with which I may have been associated teaches any of this. Be aware, also, that it is common for religious people to reject reasoning such as this on the grounds that the person giving them is not a believer and therefore cannot have god's blessing and Holy Spirit, and for that reason could not possibly understand Bible statements properly, as god's Holy Spirit is absolutely required for any “correct” understanding. This circular argument is used to justify the rejection of comments that do not fit in with the preferred dogma, i.e. we believe this thing so that proves what we believe is the correct thing for us to believe.
Please do not be confused by the style used. I do not accept the Bible as an authoritative voice from god, nor as an authoritative basis for determining national direction and societal aims. To me it is merely a collection of ancient writings reflecting the societies of the past and peoples’s attempts to deal with life’s difficulties. However, it is undeniably a strong underpinning to Western society and many of our attitudes originate there. For that reason I believe it is a valuable book. The Bible records that the Apostle Paul’s advice was to use language in the same way as the group being addressed uses it. To, metaphorically, become one of the group being addressed. I have followed his advice.
Quotations from the bible are from the King James translation unless otherwise specified.
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