So, here we are in our nexus, discussing things that interest us and I wanted to post something about the need to not preach to the choir.  We all know that we don't believe, but how do we reach the folks who also don't believe but don't care enough about the fact they don't believe to get involved?  Does it even matter?

Of course, we all think it matters, otherwise we wouldn't be actively involved in groups that express and promote our non-belief.  We are almost all passionate about the importance of skepticism and science and critical thinking and freethought - and again, we seem to fail to connect with the general public on these issues.


Example - astrology. Most of us have known for years that astrology is bunk - not just because, well, its bunk, but also because the stars aren't even where the astrologers say they are in their charts.  Now, we seem to think this is super important. The average person who also knows astrology is bunk doesnt' understand why we seem to think it is a big deal that it is bunk.After all, who cares if the stars are out of alignment. Its all bunk anyway!

Our problem is that we aren't providing a context for why these things matter.  As I said in a talk to 102 people at a retirement community last week (only 20 of whom were Humanists), the reason it matters is because if you aren't practicing skepticism with the little things that don't matter, you won't be able to practice it on the big things that do matter.

And yes, it matters. Homeopathy isn't harmless. If people use homeopathy instead of real medicine they are putting off real medical intervention and in some cases, time is of the essense.  My mom's husband nearly died because they just caught his bladder cancer in time. Quite literally he was only a few days away from being inoperable. Had he gone to a real doctor instead of spending three months with an accupuncturist who was treating him for kidney stones, they might have figured out he had cancer a few months earilier and treated him earlier. As it was, that delay nearly cost him his life.


Why am I sharing this with you? Well, we need to do a better job of explaining how important reality based problem solving really is. Why are we skeptical about things that seem harmless?  Because they aren't harmless. The habits of mind can cause you to make bad decisions that can quite literally cost you your life.


My book - the Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom -  teaches things like critical thinking and freethought and skepticism in a way that your average person gets and understands. It isn't a book written for atheists. It is written for the average joe or jane. And they are responding. My book is now in the curricula for the Royal Military College of Canada. The UUA is in the process of adopting it for use in their youth education programs. My alumni newspaper is doing a feature story on me and my book. 


I am here to say it is completely possible to present this important information in a way that even people of faith will understand and grasp.  It can be done and I think we all need to do a better job of preaching beyond the choir.

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Comment by Jennifer Hancock on April 12, 2016 at 2:17pm

HI - AgeofAtheists - It's interesting, I find that people of faith like the idea of freethought as a problem solving tool. You can teach it to them. But as soon as you suggest using it as a tool to scrutinize religion, they do withdraw. I think that is to be expected. 

I suppose what I do is subversive. I get the ideas in there in a way that they don't recoil from. How they use the tools is up to them. I also don't proselytize in conversation with people of faith. What I do is unapologetically witness for the non-supernatural approach. I don't hide my atheism, and when asked, I explain why for me, this works so well. I'm clearly happy, well adjusted and fairly successful in what I do.  Sowing doubt, by showing a different way - yeah - it's subversive because they don't see it coming and they have let their guard down.

Comment by AgeOfAtheists14 on February 5, 2011 at 1:39pm

It's their fear or control their worried about in regards to free thought(s).

Basically 'lifestyles' are the big elephant in their places of war'ship. ?



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