Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

The Newtown School Shootings – When There Are No Reasons

After the horrifying shootings at the Newtown, CT school, Bryan Fisher, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association proposed that God could have stopped the shootings, but didn’t because apparently it was God’s way of saying:

“Hey, I’d be glad to protect your children, but you have to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.”

A Gentleman?! Fisher’s “gentleman” god sounds more like a child throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get what he wants. A gentleman doesn’t sit by while 20 children are killed in cold blood just because he wasn’t picked for the team on the playground. I will tell you who does act like this: a coward; a sociopath; a sick and twisted, sadist.

Fisher’s god is an iniquitous and malefic thug. A god who can stand by and allow 20 innocent children be massacred is not a god worthy of praise or worth following. If such a god does exist and wishes me to believe, never mind support, that the innocent must die for the sins of the guilty, then I will proudly stand before him and tell him to kiss my ass and to send me to hell. I’d rather spend an eternity in hell than give the slightest support to such a evil creature. I thought that Jesus was the innocent one who was supposed to died for all of our sins, or did he just not get it right and now God feels that he must allow tiny children to die instead in order to pay for the supposed ills of our society? Where does God’s mercy and forgiveness come into all this? Apparently it doesn’t.

The fact is that 20 innocent children and 7 adults are dead. They aren’t dead because God is punishing us. They aren’t gone forever because of homosexuality, secularism, evolution being taught in our schools, or Obambacare. There is only one reason that they are dead: because a man walked into to the school and shot them. Period.

I’m not going to try to make this a sermon about gun control, or better access to mental health care, or any other political or social issue. That is something that we, as a society, must decide to do something about (or, as is often the case, do nothing).

We like to try to place blame when terrible things happen to us. We can’t stand the thought that something so horrific could happen for no reason as all. The reality is that nature doesn’t care and the universe doesn’t care. They just are. We, on the other hand, can and do care. Instead of seeking a reason beyond the the simple one stated above, we need to care for each other, help each other, and most importantly, cherish each other, every moment of every day. We must stop worrying about what comes after this life and focus on living each day as if it were our last, because, as we’ve been seeing far to often lately, life can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Religion, secular humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Faith-based Divorce Support Group Experience

I wrote back in my post about secular mental health options that all of the divorce support groups that exist in the entire Omaha metro area are faith-based.  I was very hesitant to attend any of them,  but was encouraged by several friends to at least go to one to check it out.  At the best, they said, I might get something positive out of it.  At the worse, I’d have something to write about on my blog.  Since I’m writing about this here, you can probably guess how things went.

Before I begin my review of the meeting, I must say something about the people who ran the meeting.  These people are truly trying to do some real good for people in need of help.  They are sincere, caring, and supportive, and some of the information they had to offer is good, practical advice.

They gave me a workbook titled Divorce Care.  The book had a lot of different sections such as Facing my Anger, Facing my Depression, New Relationship, and Kid Care.

We started out the meeting with a video titled Financial Survival.  It contained a lot of good advice about how to manage a budget and how to prioritize your expenses. It discussed the importance of accepting the life stye chances that inevitably come with divorce, especially about doing what you have to do to meet your and your children’s basic needs first.  They explained that this requires making a lot of sacrifices.  You may have to sell your house, car, unneeded belongings like T.V.s, stereos, computers; get rid of the cable and internet, possibly even the phone if absolutely necessary.   All of this makes sense because these are choices that very well may have to be made to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your stomach.  They mentioned how there are state services that can help you out if you need it.  They also mentioned help from the church, family and friends.  Never be afraid to tell people you are in need, we were told.  Good advice.  I just did that very thing by borrowing money from family to buy a car I needed.

Up to this point I was feeling pretty good about things.  Sure, there were plenty mentions of praying for help as a way to help you cope, but I felt i could overlook this since I was getting what seemed like good, practical advice.  And then came the the last part of this section.  Tithing.

They said, “Tithe on top of your budget and God will take care of you.”. WTF!? You just told us that we’d have to give up all these “unnecessary” things, even a phone (employers always love it when they have no way to get in touch with you).  Now you tell us that we absolutely must continue to tithe to the church even though we may be facing foreclosure, eviction, lawsuits, and having to go on welfare?!

I almost walked out at this point, but I decided not to be rude.  That and I realize at that this was great blog fodder and I was sure there was more to come.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Most of the rest of the video was just giving out information which was mostly practical.  Then came the last section, God wants to help.  Yes, we were told, you are not alone.  The magic sky man is always watching over you.  No mention of why, if he was always watching over me, I was in this position to begin with, except to say that it was part of the continuing creation. Huh?

Now came an avalanche of testimonials one after the other until we had a veritable Grand Canyon with walls filled with strata after strata of confirmation biases.

“All I had was Christ.  You cling to it!”

“I prayed and I saw the results as things got better”

And this strange quote, “God is the father and the husband in this family.”  Well, hell, what about may family?  Is god going to be the mother and the wife?  I’m pretty sure that almost all Christians agree that god is 100% male and he sure as hell isn’t gay.

Then came time to wrap it all up.

“Look beyond people to God”

“You can’t get through a divorce without Jesus Christ”.

Fucking hell!  This was exactly what I feared would happen.  In the end, it would be all about putting your faith in god and damn the consequences, because with god, there would be none!

The final take away item that different people in the video repeated again and again:

“God (or Jesus, take your pick) is faithful”.

I don’t think I’ll be going back.  Although, I am tempted to go for the section, Single Sexuality. That one ought to be a hoot!

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Skeptical, Skepticism | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

God is Truly an Illusion

In my last post I mentioned how I am reading the book, When Things Fall Apart, and how I am keeping a skeptical outlook as I read it.  Well, I just got to a part of the book where I found a passage that makes me feel much more accepting about what the author has to say.  Here is the passage that really grabbed me:

The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. It is an issue that applies to everyone, including both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there’s always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves. Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves.

The idea that theism is a crutch that we feel we need is a beautifully simple way to explain why I am not a theist.  It is totally senseable and practical.  In her view of non-theism there is no need for a deity because the concept of a diety is an illusion created by our need to not want to feel alone.  Even more importantly, this idea of non-theism requires the rejection of even the need for a diety because it shows that this need is purely psychological and emotional and has no connection with the real world we live in.

I am sure I will have more to say on this subject once I am done reading the book and have given it substantial thought. 



 

 

 

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Skeptical, Skepticism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meditation In a Starbucks

I’m writing this as I sit in a Starbucks on my lunch break.  I was racking my brain trying to think of something to write about when after a few moments of staring at nothing out the window the music and conversations seemed to blend into one low hum.  I suddenly realized that I had just spent several moments with no thoughts in my mind.  It was very calming and helped me to feel centered.

This immediately made me think about the book I am reading, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron.  It was recommended by my therapist who said I might find some useful coping strategies in it.  Being a Buddhist, she writes a lot about meditation and how to teach yourself to keep your mind clear.  The idea isn’t to lose yourself or escape from the world, but to center yourself and accept where you currently are in the world.

I was, and still am, skeptical while reading the book.  She hasn’t gotten into any kind of spiritual ideas or concepts, outside of some very vague mentions of energy.  I can see the value in centering yourself and accepting where and what you are at that moment.  I just don’t want to see if devolve into talk of spiritual mumbo jumbo and “life” energy.    I suppose we will see.  I’ll be sure to let you know.

March 15, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Skeptical | , , , , | Leave a comment

Secular Mental Health Options

I recently posted about the difficulty of finding a support group for people going through a divorce that isn’t faith-based.  My therapist is secular, which helps me trust her.  I have worked with other therapists who, while they may or may not be religious, they never let their personal beliefs influence how they have dealt with me or my children.  They are professionals and have always suggested practical exercises and therapies grounded in the real world.

The problem I have encountered isn’t so much with therapists (when I use the word “therapist” I mean a psychologist with a PhD in psychology).  Myself, I need a divorce/grief support group; my son a support groups for teens with ASD, ADAH, etc; my daughter a support group for siblings of children with behavioral/cognitive disabilities.  The problem is that every single group I have checked out is faith-based, run by ministers, pastors and priests.

We are a secular family.  I am an atheist and my children are non-religious.  I don’t raise them as atheists because that is a decision they should make when they are mature enough to decide for themselves.  I raise them to be critical thinkers and to question everything.  The last thing I want for any of us is to be told that the path to healing is through faith in Jesus or some other superstitious entity.  That is not the way to healing, that is the way to delusion.  It is an easy out that makes it easy, if not inevitable, to avoid the real, difficult steps needed to truly heal and deal mentally and emotionally with life.

I have contacted my local atheist group asking if anyone there knows of secular support groups.  I will work with my therapist to see if she might be able to find a secular councilor who would be willing to run a support group.   I just want a group where issues and ideas can be discussed and experiences shared without having to bring god and religion into it.

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Humanism, Religion | , | 3 Comments

Sometimes Being a Non-theists Sucks!

 

I am currently going through my second divorce in 5 years.  My first marriage lasted 18 years and produced two children who live with me.  The second marriage lasted two years, but we were together four years.   On the advice of my therapist I am currently looking for a support group that I can meet with to help me through this and possibly even make some friends from.   I never really recovered or grieved after the first divorce so I’m sort of reeling right now.   My therapist recommended that I find a divorce/grief support group.  A search at http://www.divorcesource.com brought up the following.  Notice a pattern?  Out of ten search results, only one is not, on it’s face, affiliated with a faith based organization.

Nebraska Divorce Support Groups

  • ( Dakota County ) 
    Assembly of God
    1219 First Avenue South Sioux City , Nebraska 68776 Phone: 402-494-1852 Contact: Mr. Ward Aspin 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Christ Community Church
    404 South 108th Avenue Omaha , Nebraska 68154 Phone: 402-330-3360 Contact: Data Administration 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Faith United Methodist Church
    4814 Oaks Lane Omaha , Nebraska 68131 Phone: 402-345-5383 Contact: Mr. Doug Ferguson 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    First Presbyterian Church
    216 South 34th Street Omaha , Nebraska 68131 Phone: 402-345-5383 Contact: Mr. Ray Stewart 
  • ( Douglas County )
    Grace Counseling Center
    1316 South 8th Street Omaha , Nebraska 68108 Phone: 402-449-2909 Contact: Dr. Norman Thieson
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Harvest Tabernacle Church
    P.O. Box 4772 Omaha , Nebraska 68104 Phone: 402-333-1322 Contact: Mr. Martin Williams 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    King of Kings Lutheran Church
    11615 I Street Omaha , Nebraska 68137 Phone: 402-333-6464 Contact: Ms. Soni Schegelmilch 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Lutheran Church of the Master
    2617 South 1114th Street Omaha , Nebraska 68144 Phone: 402-333-4444 Contact: Mr. K.Alan Tyler 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Salem Baptist Church
    3336 Lake Street Omaha , Nebraska 68111 Phone: 402-455-0750 Contact: Mr. R.W. Williams 
  • ( Douglas County ) 
    Trinity Church
    15555 West Dodge Road Omaha , Nebraska 68154 Phone: 402-330-5724 Contact: Pastor Les Beauchamp
  • The real kicker is that a search for Dr. Norman Thieson and Grace Counseling Center brought up the following:

    NORM THIESEN, PH.D. is a licensed Psychologist in Oregon. Dr. Thiesen is a professor in the Masters in Counseling Program at Western Seminary. Dr. Thiesen has over twenty years of experience as a psychologist and college professor and now focuses his practice on adults presenting with mood/anxiety disorders, divorce recovery, life and career transitions, faith/spirituality issues, marital counseling and life coaching.

    The site I found that at is for what seems to be his personal practice.  They have this to say about their staff:

    The clinical staff at Cornerstone Clinical Services, P.C. represent a unique collection of Christian clinicians licensed in psychology, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing and social work. All are committed to excellence of care in a warm and confidential setting.

    Ten out of fracking ten!  Or more poignantly, zero out of ten. While I laud these organizations for the help they provide to people, and I’m sure they do provide much help and comfort, I could not imagine that I would fit in at any of these groups as I am sure that faith will somehow creep into the proceedings somewhere, somehow.  Perhaps I’m just being cynical.  I could just give a couple of them a try, but I don’t want to invest my emotions into a group that I could quite likely end up feeling uncomfortable with.

    Suddenly my rejection of faith, which until now hasn’t really hasn’t caused me much grief, except with a few individuals, is a significant stumbling block in a much needed mental health treatment plan.  I’m sure I’d be better off back east when I’m originally from, but I’m not moving my kids again.  They finally have stability, a home, and friends after almost seven years of constant change.   Of all the places we could have ended up, I’m in one of the reddest of the red, most God fearing states in the nation.  Geesh!

     

     

    March 11, 2011 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

       

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