The instinct to understand our world can be traced to the Stone Age, when people told stories about natural events they did not understand. Evolution of the mind indicates we no longer need made-up-stories and can rely on science and critical thinking for our sense of wonder. Although science often fails to feed our need of community, that, too, can be dealt with through thought and action.

The wonder of it all

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Joan, I couldn't agree with you more.  In one of my previous lives I was a conflict coach for a federal agency.  The model used worked the client through a series of questions that established several things like ownership of the problem, mutuality with the other person and articulation of a desired outcome.  Those questioning techniques can be quite useful and productive. I just wish I was better at it.  Like many others, I want to "share stories."  I hope it is just a stage and that someday, when I am more confident and comfortable with myself, I can try those techniques out.

Another part of the atheist community that I greatly respect and admire is courage.  I'm not referring to the here and now courage necessary for confrontation with the theist crowd.  I'm referring to the courage to say,  I don't know what is coming next but I have the courage not to make up a fairy tale that will make me feel better.  That virtue is very appealing to me.    I think this is closely related to that ultimate responsibility you referred to. 

Being a conflict coach is tough, so many hidden strings attached to feelings and hidden agendas. I like the process you describe when you worked with conflicted people. 

Telling your story is important for others, but the real benefactor is the one telling the stories until he/she hears and understands the meaning behind the words. This group listened to pages of my rants until I boiled off my excess steam. That dedication to hang in with me was a real gift and I am eternally grateful for their friendship and acceptance of my hurt and pain. The nice part of this is I just don't feel angry or hurt any more. It just went the way of fire into smoke that dissipated. I'm not saying this process works for everyone, but it surely did for me. I hope you find safety and trust in this group so that you feel strong and competent in your thoughts and actions. 

I love your statement, "I have the courage not to make up a fairy tale that will make me feel better." That is courage in the truest sense of the word. Thank you for sharing.

And thank you for this enlightening exchange. 

Seconded. This is a great discussion.

One of my coworkers retired a couple years ago and she and I used to have these sorts of discussions (she was more Unitarian than anything, and had nary a care what other people were). She and I still keep in touch, but she moved half a country away, so it's hard to have those every day sorts of chats with her. The person who took her job is a chatty christian who thanks the lord at least once a day within my hearing. She doesn't know I'm atheist and I don't really care to inform her. Topics of conversation run from her children (she has lots), her grandchildren (also, lots), her health issues, and the weather. It saddens me that that is what I get to talk about now at work. Other than worky stuff.

So again, thank you for this discussion!

Regina, it is a pleasure to share ideas with you. 

I was in a conservative environment until I retired.  I tried to stay in contact with many of my former co-workers and friends.  After our current president was elected,  I started receiving some offensive e-mails.  Usually it had to do with religion.   I've called them on it a number of times saying that if he was a Muslim I'd be all for it if it saved one American life.  I said that in this country, religion should be a personal matter.  I concluded that I hoped our discussions would be about more important and intelligent things than religion.  I guess I kinda tipped my hand about my beliefs or lack thereof because I don't receive the same volume of e-mails.

I can handle the separation from my old associates.  But it does leave a void and I'm grateful for the chance to "socialize" with folks like yourself.   The added bonus is the conversations are a whole lot more intelligent.  

irony:
http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/stoked-two-planets-seem-...

indeed. w/advent of online communities; the testament is rise of freethought... through tech.?

peacecyalater!

http://raisingaskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/atheism-is-lonely/

Good article addressing the need for Atheists to connect with each other

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