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"Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community. -- From 'Knowing What's Nice' by Kurt Vonnegut -- November 6, 2003

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As a literary figure. Not believing in any gods means that I imagine them in ways informed by mythological tradition. The question's capital G "God" that typically refers to the god of Abraham is for me, another figure in a mythological pantheon that includes Zeus, Ra, Raven, Odin, Krishna, and so on -- all characters in fiction. 2 people liked this

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator in encouraging goodness for its own sake. An action motivated by the fear of punishment or desire for reward is qualitatively different than an action motivated by the simple desire to do good. 2 people liked this
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator waking up from anesthesia after emergency surgery. It was at that moment that I realized (much like Ingmar Bergman in similar circumstances) that the preceding experience (or non-experience) of complete oblivion occasioned by being sedated was the likeliest preview of the end of my conscious life. And I was fine with that. The peacefulness of it is a present comfort to me, and it solidified my conviction that *this life* is what has value. There isn't another to be had. 1 person liked this
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator that I am capable of seeing the poetry of nature and understanding the (literal) astronomical unlikelihood of such an amazingly beautiful place in the universe existing. 2 people liked this
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator that since one does not believe in gods, one does not believe in anything. The corollary to this is that atheists cannot be moral, since morality derives from God's revealed wisdom. The problem with revealed morality (as opposed to reasoned ethics) is that it is subject to the caprice of whomever is revealing it and not to the strictures of rigorous investigation. 2 people liked this
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Bertrand Russell. The bible says that "thou shalt not test the Lord" (Matt. 4:7), but I think that Russell is more worthy of quotation in this instance: "Not enough evidence, God. Not enough evidence!" 1 person liked this
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As a Humanist, I am most appreciative of the idea that we have a responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to improve the quality of life for humanity here on Earth. Nothing else is going to make the world a better place if we won't. 1 person liked this

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator God was indifferent. I don't think I every really believed in a god to be honest. As an eight year old I was asked to pray for a sick relative because "God listens to the prayers of children." I already knew *that* to be false given the amount of intercessory prayer I had already engaged in with no discernible improvement in my life. Unwilling to be used by adults in any situation in which I could avoid it, I did not pray for the relative and still she got better. It was medicine that healed her, not a petition to the supernatural. The point was made. I spiritually searched for years after that, but the seed of doubt planted during that time was always there, growing in me. 1 person liked this
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator one of moving from abstraction to a logically defensible ethical world-view. 1 person liked this
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator a deist, although I later became a Buddhist and an atheist. 1 person liked this
Are your beliefs or practices different from your parents? If so, how and why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes and no. I think we're all on the same page, although we approach it from different angles.
If you have children, did becoming a parent change your relationship to faith? If so, how? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My wife is pregnant with our first child now. Witnessing the development of this life and learning about fetal development has led me to a greater conviction that a natural worldview contains more poetry than a supernatural one. At this end of a chain of generations, millions of years of human development, and billions of other births, this one person will be a unique blend of the two of us.

How I Practice My Faith

Where and when do you practice your faith? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator There is no practice. Not believing is something in the background like consciousness or unconsciousness. Occasionally, I meditate, but it is not a spiritual practice as much as a physical/psychological process of calming the mind and finding an emotionally peaceful state.
Does your family practice more than one religion or faith? If so, how do you blend the traditions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My grandmother is Christian, my mother and aunt are Wiccan, my sister and I are atheists. We don't blend the traditions. We agree to disagree civilly. 1 person liked this
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator It's easy now. Although it was hard to get here. Years of trying to be convinced of the existence of a "higher power" and of an eternal Hell left me with feelings of irrational unease long after I abandoned faith in a god. 1 person liked this
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Song: "Dear God" by XTC (although I like the cover by Sarah McLachlan better); Book: "Unweaving the Rainbow" by Richard Dawkins.

Religion & the Public Square

What should be the role of religion in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator There should be none. I believe in an impermeable wall of separation between church and state. 1 person liked this
Should courses about religion be taught in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As long as the courses offered are comparative cultural/historical/literary matters of study, I see no problem with it. Once a class becomes a platform for advocacy of a particular religious viewpoint it no longer belongs in a public school. Endorsing a religious viewpoint is the role of a church. 1 person liked this
Should the Bible, Torah, Quran or other religious texts be taught as works of literature in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator So long as literary study is not infused with advocacy. 1 person liked this
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I think interfaith dialogue is terribly important. It's through mutual understanding that we realize our interconnectedness in the world. Intellectual isolationism does nothing to help solve the problems of tribalism that threaten to divide us as a people. 1 person liked this
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I do now. Although, there is still an element in society that believes that simply declaring disbelief is tantamount to mounting an assault on religion. Expressing a contradictory view is not the same as an attack. Greater visibility for Humanists, agnostics, and atheists in their communities will go a long way toward allowing people of faith to be comfortable with engaging in a dialogue. 1 person liked this
Do you feel that you have a duty, because of your faith, to put your beliefs into action? What are some of those actions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I definitely have a duty to put my beliefs into action. This is the only life and the only planet we will get. And it's not just mine, but my wife's, my friends', and my child's. It is my responsibility to live in a way that increases the good of humanity. 1 person liked this
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Both religious and political beliefs are compromised by intermingling. The two arenas should remain separate for the good of all people.
Has 9/11 had any impact on your thoughts about religion? Are you more/less interested in learning about other religions? Do you feel more/less comfortable expressing your religious beliefs? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator 9/11 definitely did influence my views on religion. I came to the conclusion that we cannot simply live and let live with radicalism. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were performed by a radical minority of people acting on largely *political* motivations. But the *character* of their actions was informed at least partially by a religious belief in life after martyrdom. I am convinced that as long as we treat religious belief as a subject entirely beyond criticism in deference to the sensitivities of moderates we allow extremist views to go unchallenged. I don't begrudge anyone a religious belief of their own. But I do begrudge people the unreasonable belief that they are justified in any sense the ability to abuse or kill others either for that belief or using it as a shield against criticism.
2 people liked this

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Published October 11, 2010

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