Frye Lake, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

Frye Lake, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

2017 National Day of Prayer

To people of all faiths: Happy 2017 National Day of Prayer!

Enlightenment values inspired the founding of our country as an alternative to theocracy. The Enlightenment championed reason and the empirical sciences as the means to achieve freedom, prosperity, happiness, and knowledge.

 
Our current trend of secularization is evidenced by increasing numbers of "nones". Former believers are choosing to ignore myth and supernatural concepts. They are rejecting patriarchal, incoherent, contradictory, and illogical dogma and beliefs. They are opting instead for debate, open questioning, reason, science, fact, and what can be clearly proven by evidence.
 
Prayer is the action of fervently or strongly wishing or hoping for an event, condition or circumstance, or of beseeching an imaginary entity. After prayer today, examine the possible contradictions, or unverified "truths" within your faith.
 
Reason is a concept all humankind can support. Happy 2017 National Day of Reason, everyone!

--Will Walsh   ©2017
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


WELCOME

We too have grown beyond
The dark oppression of Sharia;
The plethora of impossible Hindu devas;
The Christian myths of salvation, virgin birth, resurrection, and miracle;
The countless obscure gods in arcane pantheons.

Many of us have never truly believed in a deity,
Nor outlandish concepts of judgment, heaven, and hell,
Nor incoherent dogma,
Nor coercion through fear and shame,
Nor pointless theater of ritual and ceremony,
Nor hypocrisy of clerics and believers,
Nor admonishments against looking within,
Nor themes and policies of male dominance,
Nor inferior status of women, minorities, and other faiths.

We too eased away from fear-based faith and the supernatural.
We found the freedom to define our deepest values and truths.
We evolved our own unique and relevant philosophies of life.
We found self-respect through virtue and ethics.
We found joy and fulfillment through pursuit of the greater good.
We found new awareness, reality, and enlightenment.

May you continue to assert your independence.
May you continue to seek personal truth and mutual growth.
May you continue to gain wisdom, tolerance, and understanding.
May you continue to expand circles of compassion and awareness.
May you continue to live in harmony with people of all faiths and no faith.
May you continue to express your character through good actions.

We embrace you – with love, honor, and validation.

–Will Walsh ©2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Not only is science corrosive to religion; religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence." -- Richard Dawkins on militant atheism (transcript), TED talk, 2007 

Sunday, November 27, 2016


November 30, 2016


An Open Letter to God
Dear God:

There are over six million people fleeing violent conflict today. These refugees are dying of malnutrition, disease, injury, and execution by armed groups. Such tragedy and suffering have characterized human history. We’re told you are benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent. We’re taught to have faith that you, God, can heal our human condition and reverse tragic human suffering. What is your rationale for creating and perpetuating this Hell on earth for refugees and other victims of violence?

In their quest for power, gang leaders, bullies, political strongmen/tyrants, Alt-right adherents, and warlords abuse, pre-empt, exploit, belittle, eliminate, and “disappear” others. Preachers, priests, imams, religious extremists, and rabbis speak in your name, God, but sometimes encourage hate and intolerance. They infuse religion with politics, often urging followers toward sectarian strife and violence.

We’re told you are benevolent. What, then, have been your actions to reduce torture, corruption, extrajudicial killings, gun violence, disappearances, theft, human trafficking, and arson in our world? If you can prevent human suffering and choose not to, are you truly benevolent? If you choose to prevent or rid the world of evil and suffering but cannot, are you truly omnipotent? If widespread suffering indicates that your reasoning is flawed, are you truly omniscient?

If you were omniscient, would you not understand the very root causes of violent conflict? If you’ve overlooked these causes, God, could you truly be omniscient? If you understand these causes but choose to ignore them or not resolve the ensuing conflict, could you truly be benevolent? And if you choose not to (or cannot) peacefully resolve disputes, are you genuinely benevolent or omnipotent? It appears you’ve created tyranny, wars, and mass displacement you cannot manage.

Jews, Muslims, and Christians tell me you are the God of love and mercy. Why, then, does human conflict exist under your all-encompassing benevolence? Can you moderate the egos of men? Can you help Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and nonbelievers rise above xenophobic fear, revenge, hate, and violence? Are you willing and able to help us coexist in compassion and mutual tolerance?

I'm frequently told you have a plan, God. Can you reveal your plan for management of humanity? Can you help us live in harmony?

Sincerely, Will Walsh

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

 NONES
 
We are millions of religiously-unaffiliated “nones,” comprising both believers and nonbelievers. We surf the tsunami of secularization. We’ve become skeptical, ambivalent, or indifferent toward religion because we’ve woken up.

We find paternalistic church, mosque and temple dogma to be repressive and exploitive (if not irrelevant) in today’s world. We can be moral and ethical without the dictates and unfilled promises of religion. We tolerate all peaceful faiths, and no faith. We live in harmony with friends, neighbors, and loved ones of diverse views. Not needing the social inclusion of a religious community, we don’t fear social alienation or abandonment.

Many of us find belief in the supernatural to be irrational, delusional, and possibly pathological. Many also feel that deities, miracles, superpowers, and myths are vestigial relics of folk tales and primitive belief systems. We cannot find evidence for spirits, salvation, faith healing, or eternal damnation. It is our right and obligation to seek valid, evidence-based truths through science. Not believing in a “final reward,” our hope is that we’ve made the world a better place today. These stances may affiliate, alienate, anger, or comfort you.

Look deep within yourself whenever possible, and explore your gifts of creativity and logic. On your wondrous journey through secular and religious realms, discover truths that are uniquely yours. Lead an ethical life of personal fulfillment that aspires to the greater good of humanity: a more just and peaceful world.

–Will Walsh  ©2016


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ENLIGHTENMENT


Believe in reason,
in development of the mind,
in accumulation of intellectual wealth,
and in freedom from superstitious fear.

Affirm your ability and responsibility to lead an ethical life
of personal fulfillment that aspires to the greater good of humanity.

Let the world be your nation.
Let all humankind be your family.
Let truth, justice, nonviolence, and doing good be your religion.


--Will Walsh  ©2015

Monday, June 29, 2015


FREEDOM
 
People are discovering their own truths, and losing faith in patriarchal mythologies.
 
They are rejecting the credibility and validity of clerics, shamans, faith healers, gurus, mystics, and spiritual leaders who claim a connection with the supernatural. They are rejecting hypocrisy and old assumptions, and seeking evidence-based truth. They no longer require a “faith” to be moral, compassionate, tolerant of beliefs, or logical; to love humanity, or have peace of mind.
 
Are you programmed to need religious faith and social acceptance? 
 
Or are you a realistic, independent thinker, truly enlightened and free?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ah, the incoherence of religion.

Question: Which is true?
Dogs do go to heaven.
Dogs don't go to heaven.


Answer:
Just love them for all you're worth, while you can.
Just love them for all they're worth, while you can.


-Will Walsh, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two World Voices

Mine is the one true path.
I’m a true believer, programmed by faith.
I’m committed to my Lord and my religion.
My faith promotes myth, patriarchy, terrorism, and genocide.
I can love and support those approved by my faith community.
I have no responsibility for my previous sins – they are forgiven.
Do I fear social rejection? Yes – I seek and welcome attention.
I‘ve found social acceptance and the promise of another life.
I feel free.

Mine is the one true path.
I’m a freethinker, atheist, agnostic, apatheist, apostate, or infidel.
I’m committed to evidence-based truth.
My nonfaith promotes reason, wisdom, tolerance, and understanding.
I can love and support all of humanity.
I take responsibility for my actions, and must help or heal those whom I’ve hurt.
Do I fear social rejection? No – I seek and welcome solitude.
I’ve found transcendence and fulfillment in this, my only life.
I am free.

--Will Walsh ©2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014


REALITY

Look deeply within yourself whenever possible, and discover truths that are uniquely yours.  Explore your gifts of both reason and creativity. Allow yourself to discover, celebrate, and promote reality and the logic of evidence.  Challenge cultural assumptions.  Develop your own capacities for meditation and coping.  Explore your ability to be moral and ethical without spirituality, mysticism, religion, or worship.  Discover your compassion, and those quiet, effective actions which contribute both to your well-being and a better world.  On your wondrous journey through reality, find health and contentment.  Without expectation of reward, promote virtue, development of individual capacities, and social harmony.  Promote stable relationships and free societies which encourage the sharing of resources, opportunity, power, and influence, so that people may grow toward their potential. 

Will Walsh, June, 2014 

Friday, March 7, 2014

SPIRIT, HEART, and SOUL

I am free.  

Free of superstition, belief in the supernatural, mythical vengeful beings, an afterlife, ghosts, divine creator, angels or spirits.

All is natural, thus I reject the very concept of supernatural.  I have no spirit, spirituality, heart or soul in the nonmaterial sense. I cannot be saved, but I am far from lost.  Since I embrace determinism as the driver of all processes in the universe, I consider the concept of free will delusional.  My brain receives, stores and organizes sense data; neurochemical processes initiate my feelings, thoughts and actions. 

My joy and sadness come from my secular mind, not an inner "spirit", "heart" or "soul".  These terms are mythical, archaic, and misleading vestiges of organized religion. (The terms are also useful for romantic song lyrics, poetry and scripture.)  My religious friends use these terms to reinforce acceptance, approval or inclusion in their religious community; to ingratiate themselves with peers, or possibly to mask their own doubt.  If friends are aware of my nonbelief, they unselfishly (or judgementally) assure me, "We will pray for you," and I simply thank them. 

I reject the credibility and validity of clerics, shamans, faith healers, gurus, mystics and spiritual leaders who claim a connection with the supernatural.  I am not a believer, nor motivated by "spirit", "heart" or "soul".  Love does not flow from my heart: my feelings, thoughts and actions originate in my brain.  Although absent of spirit, heart and soul, I possess compassion, tolerance of beliefs, contentment, love of humanity, and peace of mind.  I will forever seek evidence-based truth.

I am enlightened, and free!


Will Walsh      © 2014   

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

NATURE EVOLVES MAN; MAN EVOLVES MYTH

I am fascinated by the continuum of beliefs and nonbeliefs, and respect all worldviews.  Religions and communities of faith have tended to benefit humankind by rewarding and reinforcing virtuous and ethical behavior.  However, our value of human life, and sense of ethics, has a biological (not theological) basis.  Virtue is not guided by a supreme being, mythical figure, or supernatural entity. 
 
Good (moral, ethical, and altruistic) behavior has evolved as part of the evolutionary process which perpetuates the species.  The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.  I affirm our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.  I will confront unjust power structures and challenge oppressive policies.  I act to advance human rights and social justice in our world.  I envision a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.  I value and strive for empirical truth and human achievement.

I am a philosophical Taoist, atheist and humanist.  My worldview and philosophy of life is secular, and free of supernatural and mystical elements.  I believe in determinism (all effects have natural causes), and empiricism (evidence-based truth), thus I do not believe in a creator, intelligent design or free will.  I reject notions of a theistic God and associated beliefs in an afterlife, a cosmic destiny, a supernatural origin of the universe, an immortal soul, the revealed nature of the Bible and the Koran, and a religious foundation for morality. 
 
Will Walsh    © 2014 

Monday, February 24, 2014

THERE IS ONLY YOUR WAY - FOR NOW

Religion loses relevance as secular society evolves - so why waste time and creative energy criticizing it?  I live in Florida, in a peaceful neighborhood of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians and atheists.  Although within the "bible belt", we are a blend of harmonious, tolerant neighbors.  None of us feel marginalized, angry, militant, or the need to defend our faith/nonfaith.  Krishnamurti said, "The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear."  I submit that the constant asssertion of nonbelief is also an indication of fear. 

As a Marine and atheist for 24 years, I personally benefited from the empathy and compassion I received from chaplains.  The anxiety of wounded troops was also significantly alleviated by the calming, comforting presence of clergy. 

As a hospice patient/family counselor (LCSW) for 13 years, I worked with clergy who validated and supported the faith and beliefs of dying patients.  This was of immense comfort to patients, and respectful of their diverse values and cultures.  Indeed, clergy support was an essential aspect of pain management.  We hospice staff (along the entire belief continuum) respected and supported the religious beliefs of dying patients and their families. 
 
In my 73 years, I've watched church attendance dwindle, and churches, mosques and temples sold.  I'm not smug, nor do I gloat about this.  It simply means that people are discovering their own truths, and losing faith in their old mythologies.  I'm a fascinated observer of the process.
 
 
Will Walsh    © 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

TO EACH MUSLIM YOUTH

I challenge you – not your faith.

You’re a devout believer seeking meaning and acceptance. You will be promised great rewards for terrorizing or taking the lives of others. You will be promised rewards, and told that a terrorist act is true expression of your Islamic faith.

History would regard your violent act as misguided, committed by a naïve, impressionable person out of touch with reality. If terrorism is righteous and unselfish, why is it condemned by Muslims and the family of nations? Jihadi leaders would strap explosives to you, but not themselves. Dying for your religious beliefs, while irreparably harming innocent others, would serve only the personal political aims of tyrants.

There is no glory in terrorizing and killing others. Reward, fulfillment and contentment come only through actions of benevolence and compassion. Islam will permit you to enter Jannah by simply living a peaceful, moral life.

Do you choose a selfish act that causes deaths, suffering and misery? Or do you choose a lifetime of actions which benefit humankind?

Will Walsh    ©2017
 
 
 
 





HIGHER POWER THOUGHTS

One must simply believe in something "larger than one’s self," according to twelve-step program believers.  But the term "larger" implies size or quantity, while the term "higher" implies an elevation or direction.  "Higher" is then combined with "power" to form a yet more ambiguous, incomprehensible term open to thousands of interpretations.  

For example, the book Alcoholics Anonymous contains a chapter entitled "We Agnostics."  It variously describes a higher power as (all caps are AA’s): Creator; God; Power; Supreme Being; He; Him; Himself; Creative Intelligence; Spirit of the Universe; Realm of Spirit; All-Powerful; Guiding and Creative Intelligence; Great Reality; Presence of God; Presence of Infinite Power and Love; Maker.  Believers are "Spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation", in whose lives the "Presence of God" is the most important "fact".  AA in one passage decries the "God of Reason", but later states, "On the Broad Highway, we walk the Bridge of Reason towards the desired shore of faith."  It concludes with, "He has come to all who have honestly sought Him.  When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!"

The higher power concept implies that I must be submissive or humble before a deity or supernatural entity.  The kind of object is not as important as the requirement that I see myself as lower than something.  I am composed of atomic particles composed of yet smaller subatomic particles composed of yet-undiscovered subatomic particles.  On a continuum, the mass of objects ranges from zero (in a hypothetical microcosm), through infinite (in the macrocosmos of the universe).  Where do humans fall on this continuum?  We know not.  Surrounded by the vastness of space, we and our egos are but minute specks on the minute speck of planet earth on the minute speck of the Milky Way Galaxy, within the minute speck that is the sea of infinite numbers of galaxies.  If I’m standing on my head, would my higher power become my lower power?  If space surrounds me, in what direction is "above?"  The only entity that could be above me would be the product of humankind’s fertile imagination.

The higher power concept is used as subtle, shame-based coercion into a state of submission.  To what?  To the control of a mythical, typically male, anthropomorphic "spiritual" entity.  Ostensibly to compensate for our ignorance, God creates and guides all.  The holy spirit idea conveniently explains the unknown.  "Worship" is the vestigial remnant of ritual intended to appease imaginary forces. 

Humility needs no higher power.  My morality and virtue need no higher power.  How could I be somehow "lower" than a vague concept, and why must I submit myself to it?  I need only be rational, ethical, compassionate, and charitable.

 
Will Walsh    © 2014
THEISTIC TERMS, WITH SECULAR INTERPRETATIONS
(These interpretations are simplistic and subjective.)

 

Blessed: Privileged.

Blessed with: Endowed; manifested with; fate has enabled with. 

Coincidences: Are precisely those. Events (all are predetermined) can and do occur simultaneously.

Creator: Nonbelievers typically spell creator with a lower case "c", and define their creator as nature.        

Creation by divine creator (supreme being): Myth. There is no universal agreement upon a theory of origin of the universe. Most cosmologists simply ignore creationist ideas, and espouse either a Big Bang or Steady State theory.  

Creation science: Based on Christian or other religious myth, not science.              

Divine guidance: A special communication of knowledge, or influence on the minds of human beings, attributed by clerics to a supernatural agency.

Divine providence and divine intervention: Only the good consequences of coincidence and predetermination.       

Evangelicalism: Proclaims that accepting Jesus Christ as one's personal savior (being “saved”) absolves a person of all previous wrongdoing. Evangelical networks are (to me) analogous to multilevel marketing: they exploit Christian beliefs, and provide rewards for recruitment. Appears to be a form of social programming which values outward declarations of faith over scientific, logical, and free thought, or acts of humanity. Evangelicalism is losing adherents, and has been declining as a religious faith in the 2000s. Article:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html

Free will: According to people with a deterministic perspective, free will is an illusion; a fallacy, because all is predetermined. So it would follow that humans never act “freely”. From Britannica: Arguments for free will are based on the subjective experience of freedom, on sentiments of guilt, on revealed religion, and on the universal supposition of responsibility for personal actions that underlies the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and incentive. (Free Will. [2013]. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.) An analogous problem obtains regarding God's omniscience: if God, being omniscient, has foreknowledge of every choice that humans make, how can humans choose other than what God knows they will choose? (Moral Responsibility, Problem of. [2013]. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.) A nonbeliever’s possible response to the statement “God gave me free will” might be: If God is the prime mover—the first cause of all things and events in the universe, including human actions, how can humans do other than what God has caused them to do? How then can humans be morally responsible for their actions?

God: There is no universally accepted definition of this term.  This blog finds "Nature" and "God" to be synonymous terms in describing our beautiful and profoundly mysterious universe. The Christian anthropomorphic god was created by man in the image of man.

God's will, or Karma: Nature, determinism, cause-effect, coincidence, predetermination, or fate.            

Heaven: Ideal and imaginary perfect place, with equivalents in many religions. Fear-based reward for good behavior (or bad behavior which has been forgiven); alternative to Hell. It may be attained if a person is “saved,” or if forgiveness is granted by clergy performing last rites (regardless of crimes committed in life). The idea of life simply ending at death is too fearful for many to contemplate. Heaven is a convenient avoidance concept - avoidance of responsibility for all wrongdoing, and avoidance of thoughts of decomposition of one's mind and body. We are simply born, transmit our DNA, and die. 

Hell: In most religious traditions, the opposite of heaven.

Higher power: Usually an imaginary, anthropomorphic entity (see God). To satisfy others who insist I must select a higher power, I respond that my higher power is a truth, obtained through clear, unrestricted and logical thought. (Of course, I am aware that there is no absolute truth, only varying degrees of ambiguity, perception and understanding. And an individual’s truth will differ from truth as perceived by others.) 

Holy spirit: Imaginary presence of the “spirit” of God, or Christ. No evidence for holy spirit exists, nor does faith require there to be.

Holy trinity: Father, son, and holy ghost (or holy spirit). Is God God, or is God Jesus? Who or what is the holy spirit or the holy ghost? Why is God sometimes referred to as Lord God, and Jesus is referrred to as Lord Jesus? These inconsistencies and incongruencies seem incoherent to the nonbeliever.  

Immaculate conception: Myth of virgin birth.  

Intelligent design theory: "Intelligent design is not a testable theory in any sense, and as such it is not accepted by the scientific community." –Kenneth Miller, PhD., Brown University faculty.

Miracle: Either a myth arising from the embellished retelling of an ordinary event, or an actual natural event misinterpreted and stressed for moral effect or to support belief in divine power (the supernatural).

Mother of God: Mary, as recited in the Catholic Rosary.

Omnipotence and Omniscience: Epicurus (330 BC) opined: Either God can prevent evil and chooses not to (and therefore is not good) or chooses to prevent it and cannot (and therefore is not all-powerful.) David Hume, in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) wrote, "If God cannot rid the world of evil and suffering, he is not all-powerful; if he could, but he won't, then he isn't all-good; if he is powerful and good but not all-wise, then, even though he is trying his best, there are bound to be disasters." Averroes (1126-1198) also examined an omnipotence paradox: "Could (God) create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it? If he could lift the rock, then it seems that he would not have been omnipotent to begin with, in that he would have been incapable of creating a heavy enough stone. If he could not lift the stone, then he would never have been omnipotent to begin with, or would have ceased to be omnipotent upon his creation of the stone." (Omnipotence paradox. [2013, June 9]. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:04, July 6, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omnipotence_paradox&oldid=559126790 )

Prayer: The action of fervently or strongly wishing or hoping for an event, condition or circumstance, or of beseeching an imaginary entity.

Preordained: Fate (the logical consequences of predetermined events). 

Prophecy:  Knowledge of the future, usually attributed to a divine source.

Salvation (being “saved”): Required before entry into heaven. Forgiveness of all “sins” and wrongdoing, no matter how inhuman. Implies a fear of death. I believe individual humans must take legal and moral responsibility for the consequences of all their actions in the past, present and future.

Sin: Acts which are in conflict with written or implied religious teachings.

Spirit: No evidence for spirit exists.       

Spiritual and spirituality: Misused terms of convenience, at times used indiscriminately, to explain gods, ghosts, unexplainable or apparently supernatural/paranormal mysteries, or used as metaphor for profound thought. False concepts, because the supernatural cannot exist. "Spiritual" people claim access to supernatural beings, states or realms. The "holy spirit" or "holy ghost" is a Christian mythical construct. 

Truth: There are countless differing opinions on what constitutes truth - how to define and identify it; the roles that faith-based and empirically-based knowledge play, and whether truth is subjective, objective, relative, or absolute. For most secularists, God and heaven are nonexistent; the universe is deterministic, infinite, eternal, harmonious, and systematic. Truth-seeking must oppose flawed, illogical, erroneous, delusional, or fallacious thinking. There is value in the very act of searching for truths that may ever remain elusive. The search alone may reveal the incoherence and hypocrisy of traditional belief systems. Contemplation, introspection, critical thinking, and valid, empirical research are essential processes in the evolution of evidence-based truth. The truth one discovers is his or hers alone; it need only be supported by evidence one deems sufficient. One who continues to value and seek truth is continually rewarded with new wisdom. As one's deepest truths are found, one must live them.

Worship: 1. Culturally-defined rituals, obeisance to a mythical being, and/or beliefs in the supernatural. 2. (Britannica): Broadly defined, the response to the appearance of that which is accepted as holy - that is, to a sacred, transcendent power or being. Characteristic modes of response to the holy include cultic acts of all kinds: ritual drama, prayers of many sorts, ecstatic speech, veneration of various persons and objects, sermons, silent meditation, and sacred music and song. Also included in worship are acts of private response: spoken or unspoken prayers, silence, the assumption of particular postures, ritual acts and gestures, and individual acts of veneration of persons or objects. (worship. [2013]. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica)

Will Walsh © 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017