The Freethinker In The Mirror

Rusty, a friend of mine from our secular humanist group, wrote an interesting piece that several people think is a pretty good challenge to non-believers:

“Are you a Freethinker?

A Freethinker is a person who thinks free from delusion, deception, misperception, fantasy, fiction and religious, political, cultural and even familial bias. For the sake of this discussion we will simplify it to freedom from religious philosophy.

There are two primary Christian philosophical concepts:
1. The obsessive and debilitating fear of Yahweh and Hell.
2. The unrelenting, defensive and blind obedience to the church that created Yahweh and Hell.
The church recruits and controls its members by brainwashing, lying, deception, guilt, shame, and fear. In order to maintain the loyalty of its followers in a world filled with intelligent, rational, secular minded people, the church has to instill in the believers these philosophical and behavioral mandates: arrogance, self righteousness, closed mindedness, argumentative, anger, divisiveness and unfair judgment, name calling, disregard for logic, reason and even facts over fiction and myth.
There are probably several more destructive human vices that haven’t come to mind that have been incorporated into social philosophy for thousands of years in service of the church and undermining the progress and development of society; and many of the so-called freethinking atheists I have come to know over the past 20 months are controlled by at least some or many of these Christian-mandated self and socially destructive philosophical beliefs.
Rejecting God and religious dogma is the beginning of free thinking; recognizing this in yourself and eliminating these destructive, mind-crippling habits is the path to true freethinking, happiness and prosperity.”

I think what inspired him was some of the recent posts at our NOSHA Facebook page (and maybe some other experiences as well), but he makes some very good points. Freethinkers who accept evolution and who are skeptical of belief in a supreme being aren’t immune to other ideas that are a little on the less scientific side. I’ve met some non-believers who still believe in astrology and some who believe in fate and karma. Add to that people who support national conspiracies and you have a similar mindset who will argue for their own nonsensical flavor of the month.

I even find myself falling into the habit occasionally of thinking how some things happen “for a reason.” When I catch this thought welling up, I feel silly for a minute, but I try to analyze why it happened and what would make me consider it. I usually think this to console myself after something disappointing happens, so I think it is reasonable that we try to make life less rough on ourselves. If things happen for a reason that is beyond our control, then it’s even better that we figured that it was “meant to happen” that way. If shit just happens, however, it can happen again. And again. And we need a reason that doesn’t make us feel so damn unlucky.

So, Rusty makes a good point that we as freethinkers and non-believers need to examine our own biases and be willing to look at what we hold dear and tear it down if need be. It isn’t enough that we demand this of the religious, but we should be willing to do it ourselves.