My Humanist group, “Humanists & Freethinkers of Cape Fear,” has invited me to be their speaker at the regular monthly meeting on Sunday afternoon, May 8th at 5 PM. I was going to be in town anyway, and they could get me cheap, so they decided to take another chance and let me address them again. The last time I spoke there was two years ago, when I addressed the question of whether or not America was founded to be a Christian nation. With everything that’s happened in the last two years, it seems like a minor point, almost a moot question. Anyhow, as I have to write another paper for the group, I thought I might as well serialize it here on this blog as I haven’t used it for months. The first part, presented here, is the abstract for the talk. There will be more material here, over the weeks to come, then I will have time to present to the group in May.
If some modern “Rip Van Winkle” went to sleep two years ago, just after I made my last presentation to you on the “Christian Nation” question, what do you think would be their impression of the world we wake up to now? All that “hopey, changey” stuff is long gone, for most of us, replaced with fear, outrage, and uncertainty. Not only in the halls of Congress, but in State Houses all over the country, it seems that the bulwarks of democracy are being torn down, and with them, our First Amendment protections are being stripped by politicians eager to pander to their right-wing religious base.
Or are they? Who is it they are really pandering to? Is it the Religious Right, or is the Corporate Oligarchy who put them where they are, and does it make a difference as far as we’re concerned as Humanists? When you’re on the rack, does it matter who’s turning the screw and why? I would like to investigate the possibility that what’s going on in Congress and in the various States, is nothing but another diversion, as was the Astroturf, big business-funded “Tea Party,” designed to further divide us as Americans, and make us less likely to unite against those who would steal our remaining liberties.
I would like to discuss what we, as Humanists, can do to counter some of these efforts, given that there are two factors that can weigh quite heavily in our influence in the outcome of this struggle. Firstly, polls show that our numbers are growing almost exponentially, especially among those under thirty, the next generation, and we should be taking advantage of this growth, by spreading the Humanist message through every means possible. Secondly, our message is one of inclusion, not exclusion; of harmony, not divisiveness; and, most importantly, of reason and evidence, not fear and delusion.
If there IS a solution to the multiple problems we face as a species, from global warming to dwindling resources, it’s not to be found in maximizing corporate profits, finding Jesus, destroying the middle class while enriching the top 1%, or any of the other directions in which we seem to be headed. In my opinion, the solution lies in the principles of Humanism, and in our ability to disseminate them to the widest possible audience in the shortest possible time. In fact, I believe it is our ONLY possible solution.
Beginning with a brief introduction and overview of the American political situation, I’ll continue with a discussion of present and growing rift between what’s referred to as the “New Atheist” community and the rest of the various types of non-believers which is beginning to make it very difficult for us to all work together towards what should be common goals. What is an Atheist? What is an Agnostic, and is there such a thing anymore? Who are these pushy, in-your-face “New Atheists,” where did they come from and what do they want? Who are these people the new atheists call “Accommodationists,” and where do they fit? In the end, does it really matter what we call ourselves, and do all of these different “categories” of non-believers fit under the Humanist umbrella?
Given the seriousness of our problems on this planet, can we find a way to work together for the betterment of the human race? I think this is an important question, and one that we need to carefully consider no matter how we view the world, or how we think of ourselves. The world is going to become even a more dangerous place over the next generation then it is now. There will be energy shortages, food shortages, and massive relocations due to the effects of climate change.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the corporate oligarchy we’re living under wants to turn at least this nation, if not the entire world, into a theocratic idiocracy, why else would they be funding the attacks on education at all levels, and the sudden surge of social issue legislation? The more religious a population, the better they respond to autocracy, as every ruler since Charlemagne has recognized and exploited.
This talk is about exploring a Humanist antidote, or at least mitigation of these possibilities, and proposing means by which the entire non-theist community can learn to work together.
Pete Soderman was an early member of the Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear, a several-time board member, former Vice President, and has presented before the group on two prior occasions. He is a student of Humanism, and well-versed in Constitutional principles, Religious origins (especially Christian), and U.S. Politics. He currently makes his home in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, on the Northern shore of Lake Chapala, and is working on a book about recovery from addiction. http://powerlessnolonger.com