Saturday, June 04, 2005

Improve Your Atheist Education and Morale

My friend Lydia points this link out to me:

How to Educate an Atheist

Particularly pique-ish to the Pedantic Protestant was the following excerpt:
Singing atheistic songs is a powerful but usually overlooked educational tool. Music brings people together by creating community spirit, stirring the emotions and educating the heart not just the head. Religious leaders understand this lesson very well and use music as an essential part of religions training. Unfortunately, few atheists' leaders have provided moving songs for their groups. However, there is no reason why atheists cannot create new words to the stirring music of hymns. Indeed, this is precisely what Barbara Stocker did in writing new words for the best known of all American hymn tunes, Amazing Grace, which she called Amazing Place (copyright 1998 Barbara Hamill Stocker).

Amazing place, this world I find,
No gods nor creed need be.
I once believed, but now my mind
Unbound, at last is free.

A mind that's free to plan and build
For all humanity
Will find its life and dreams fulfilled
In true eupraxophy

I need not strive for heaven above
Nor fear no hell below.
So free to live in peace and love
In kinship I will grow.

No prayer of mine need e're be heard,
Just rationality,
For reason reigns o'er holy word
For all humanity.


PP Commentary:

(1) The lyric "No gods nor creed need be" is a bit, shall we say, creedal? It reminds me of an ad that I saw for a liberal church once that proudly stated something to the effect that their creed was to be creedless. The lyric probably means no religious creed. But even then, atheism presents itself as a type of negation of Christianity. It is just as "religious" to deny Christianity as it is to affirm it, as the negation of a religious proposition X is itself a religious proposition.

(2) Singing atheist songs, for whatever reason, reminds the PP of communists and collectivsts singing the Internationale. [Scroll to the bottom of that page to see the lyrics.] It just doesn't seem natural.

(3) "A mind that's free to plan and build; For all humanity; Will find its life and dreams fulfilled; In true eupraxophy" sounds rather collectivist, doesn't it? This reminds the PP of some of the great sweeping claims regarding "humanity" in the abstract made by communist intellectuals that he's seen over the years!

(4) The appeal to "rationality" is standard fare for the atheist mindset. They're the rational ones, rah rah rah.

(5) One would think that the atheist, free of the shackles of superstition, blessed with the superrational mind that allows him to see through religion and oppression [not to mention sexism, racism, homophobia, nonecosustainability, logocentrism, etc], would already have a very high morale. After all, you've come a long way, baby, in leaving behind those dead guys who wrote those silly things in the Bible.
Shouldn't you already have a high morale? And as for the idea that songs stir the emotions, isn't emotionalism a charge that the atheist side lobbies relentlessly at Christians? The same comments go as for "educating the heart" above.

(6) For all of the self-congratulatory praises and self-justifications that freethinkers and atheists apply to themselves, some of them sure seem like they want the outward trappings of our Christian superstition. Why not divorce completely from we troglodytic primitives who probably think that there are little angels behind the light switch to make it work?

I've seen the same phenomenon when an atheist eulogizes another atheist. The deceased is spoken of in grand metaphysical terms that are absolutely meaningless [apart from emotional effect] if everything can be explained in terms of matter, energy, space, and time. The man who weeps over his parent and offers grand sweeping spiritual praise, say, should stop weeping. Doesn't he know that his weeping has no ontological basis since his parent, being dead, is no more, and anyway the universe will collapse in a heat death under certain cosmological models, hence no more space, time, etc? The parent really is worthless [as is everybody]. Also, the weeping should stop: it is doubtless explainable as something that conferred some survival advantage to homo sapiens long, long ago.

4 Comments:

Blogger centuri0n said...

Yes: the problem of loving someone after they are dead is a pretty steep drop off for the atheist. A CARMie atheist lost his best friend about 18 months ago and I asked him, after he confessed his humanistic love for this man, what exactly he was loving?

It was, of course, mean to ask this question as many other atheists pointed out. But you make the same point here and I say bully for you.

Saturday, June 04, 2005 8:26:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

It is a merely a matter of facing the implications of one's dogmatics. The Darwinist who filters the development of speech, intelligence, etc, through, say, a conferred survival advantage framework, must, to be consistent view any of his reactions to art, a loved one, a good piece of music, etc, as a phenomenon rooted in something to allow his predecessors to survive, and this is neither good nor bad, merely a state of affairs, and a quantification of the present state of chemicals in his brain.

PP

Saturday, June 04, 2005 8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

As I said to my husband and oldest daughter about this hymn, "Wouldn't any teenage kid think this was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard?" And my friend Max said this would be just the thing for driving atheist teenagers to backslide into Christianity, so maybe we should _encourage_ silly atheist songs. :-)

On the subject of death and atheism: At one of our local parks, there is an eerie non-Christian substitute for prayers for the dead. On the park benches, there are little plaques that say, "Sit here a while, remembering So-And-So." So instead of buying masses for the person's soul, some relative made a donation to the city of Portage, Michigan for a plaque that calls on people to "remember" him while sitting on a bench. One of my husband's atheist friends suggested he write a letter to a beloved former professor after the professor's death. I wanted to ask, "Should he put it on a helium balloon and release it so it will go to the guy in Heaven?" It's childish and unnerving. Next thing they'll be recommending seances as part of grief counseling, at which point they might come in "contact" with more than they bargained for!

Sunday, June 05, 2005 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Ah, Lydia! I'm honored beyond words!

I appreciate the double generosity: you provide thread material and you grace my comment boxes with your inimitable wisdom. =D

On your comments, I agree with the "sheesh!" factor within them. After some atheists lecture us about the cold cruel universe that we might as well enjoy in the here and now, they spiritualize in order to wring some meaning from their existence.

PP

Sunday, June 05, 2005 1:56:00 PM  

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