Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why is this atheist blog different from all other atheist blogs?

Since officially putting up the Scarlet A, I've wondered what I could do to distinguish this blog from the other atheist blogs out there. Unfortunately, I don't belong to any special group that could lend me particular insight into this sort of thing. I don't have any special expertise in philosophy or the natural sciences. But even a cursory reading of my previous posts hints at what I think is sparsely-populated territory in the freethinking blogosphere.

Many who have left religion compare their experience to abusive relationships, and sadly, this is often based on actual abusive experiences. But at some point, it becomes counterproductive to wallow in victimhood, and if nothing else, it gets tiring after a while! If you are in such a situation, eventually you have to ask yourself, "OK, so all this happened. What comes next?"

That's what interests me. Once you've made mincemeat of the ontological argument and can refute creationist talking points blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back, how do you go about living your life? After you throw out the Ten Commandments, what do you put in their place? What process do you use in such choices?

As you may have guessed, I don't think there's necessarily a single set of answers that applies to all people in all situations. But I think it might be possible to find general principles that at least apply to most people in most situations, and equally importantly, to understand the occasions when such principles don't apply. I also think it might be possible to help people devise a framework for constructing meaning in their lives.

Most importantly, I'm interested in the discussion on these topics. If I had to sum it up in one question, it would be, "What constitutes a life well-lived?" For starters, it's perfectly reasonable to wonder what I mean by "a life well-lived," and I'll probably elaborate on that in future posts. I fully expect to discuss ideas from across the theological spectrum. If someone I vehemently disagree with on other issues says something insightful on the topics relevant here, I'll gladly mention the idea and credit that person.

Naturally, I hope you will join me and participate. If you've got a thinker whose ideas you'd like to discuss, suggest away!


  1. Nice job Danielle. I think of ot like this. Life without religion is a little like quitting smoking, which I've done. Where it is different is that I don't experience the pangs of true addiction. What I discovered upon quitting religion whis is similar to smoking is that a whole new world opens up. The smells and tastes which become better and more acute are like the free thoughts which you now experience. Like not spending money on tobacco, I don't spend money on religion. The heavy burden or yoke of having to consume tobacco is mostly gone; the heavy burden of someone else or some book telling me to live my life is gone. Like giving up tobacco, something must fill the void left by non-consumption. I have found it easier to fill the void left by non-religion. as it turns out, I just view religion as a waste of time and effort.

    One of my Philosophy professors suggested that god is what is most important to you. Of course, for me this thought helps to couteract the need for religion altogether. Family, career, public service, love, friendship and many other pursuits can fill the most important role. Other things can fill the "devil" role, like over-emphasis on money, prejudice and on and on. Religion uses free choice to cover it's flaw. Free choice is stilol with us. I like to think that the burden for who I am does not rest squarely on me, but is a mixture of environment and my choices. The relationship between environment and choice may be different for each person. I like to think that 50/50 is the norm. Being fifty percent responsible for me is an awesome burden compared to the god's will concept. It also provides much more mental and emotional freedom compared to the slave virtues proposed by religion. One principle of christianity I always maintain is "do unto others.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Phil! The comparison to quitting smoking (or addiction in general) is fitting.

    I remember discussing the idea of God as "ultimate concern" (Paul Tillich's term) at Texas Lutheran. And as you pointed out, there's a lot recasting that typically has to be done when a person leaves religion. You make a lot of good points!