“Milk” and parallels to the Secular Movement

We saw “Milk” last night.  I found the story especially interesting because I am personally seeing many parallels with the “rights” fights.  Persecution throughout American history seems to be fought against in very similar ways.  You have the extremists and the pacifists that get very little accomplished due to the opposing majority drowning out their words and actions.  Then there are people like Harvey Milk who know you have to give the people you represent a unified voice, it has to be loud, but not too aggressive and never violent.

More and more, I find myself looking at the current Secular movement in our country in the light of the other minority movements.   In 1978 a proposition was proposed in California which would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California’s public school system.  Harvey Milk and his group sent out the message for the LGBT community to stand up for who they were and show that they were an integral part of everything in our society.  It is as important for atheists to feel they can be forthright about who they are, as it was for those in the LGBT movement against Prop 6 in 1978.

We Seculars have to come out about our beliefs and our feelings.   We have to be honest with ourselves and others.  We have to educate the opposing majority, show them that we are nothing to be feared.  Then and only then, will we feel more accepted in this great country.  Then and only then will other non-believers feel that they too can express who they are without condemnation.

For more information you can check out groups like:

The Out CampaignThe Secular Coalition of AmericaFirst Freedom First Foundation

Or search out a local Secular, Humanist, Freethinking or Atheist group in your area.

Meet Kibibi, the National Zoo’s baby gorilla

Isn’t she cute… Although I am not a big fan of zoos, they’re better than research facilities. For animals that can’t make it in the wild, a modern zoo that approximates a habitat is probably the next best thing. We could be doing so much to ensure that our closest genetic cousins are never endangered so I am going to stump for the Great Ape Project here. The text below is paraphrased from their site where you can sign a declaration promoting basic rights to the great apes…
The Great Ape Project

The idea is founded upon undeniable scientific proof that non-human great apes share more than genetically similar DNA with their human counterparts. They enjoy a rich emotional and cultural existence in which they experience emotions such as fear, anxiety and happiness. They share the intellectual capacity to create and use tools, learn and teach other languages… The Great Ape Project seeks to end the unconscionable treatment of our nearest living relatives by obtaining for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture.

This I believe…

I am a secular humanist, one who believes that we can be good and further humanity while we are here and do not need any supernatural sugar daddy waiting to party for eternity with us (thank you Bill Maher)…  Life is what you make of it, if gaining some special salvation at the end is what YOU need to motivate YOU to do good, then go for it, but don’t hang your need for a eternal severance package on me, your children or anyone else.  Humans should do good for the sake of good and the sake of humanity, not for some “deal”.  If there is a reason for existence it is that we exist and strive to continue to exist so that those that come after us can continue to exist…

I hope humanity is moving towards a post-theological existence.  It has caused enough grief.  Our need for the supernatural is inversely proportional to our universal knowledge.  We’ve basically gone from many gods to one.  As we learn to explain life and the universe’s processes better, I believe we will become less reliant on our need to say “it’s God’s will” and therefore “it be done”.  The last vestiges of a primal need to use the supernatural to explain how things work can then fall away, without ramification.  We just have to let them… good bye Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, angels, demons and God…

My faith is in humanity and it’s potential to overcome it’s own animal nature.  We are a product of nature.  Our animal tendencies are exhibited on a daily basis through greed and the battle for power, the devouring of other species, the waste of resources and rampant procreation are visible at every level of life on this planet, including our own.  We should use our ability to rise above those animal tendencies, with NO hope of reward.  We should strive to become the caretakers of this world.  That should be the true goal of humanity… and if you need a purpose for human life, well there ya go…

My Letter to da Pope

I was reading about Pope Benedict’s recent speech to a group of UN delegates sent to Italy for a conference on the impending global food crisis. He stated that technology should find a way to fix the crisis. I think that population, which begets poverty, which begets famine, which begets disease (like that Bible bit?) is a much more important topic, and something that the all powerful church could impact. So I told them they should condone contraception…

I am not an elegant or eloquent man, so writing to the Pope was initially a daunting idea. Of course, the probability that he will ever actually read my letter is somewhere in the infinitesimally small percentage range, so I went ahead and did it for piece of mind.

Letter follows:

Dear Pope Benedict,

In your recent statement to the UN delegates in Italy you stated “hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which, in reality, has sufficient production levels, the resources, and the know-how to put an end to these tragedies and their consequences.”

Humanity’s technological prowess should be able to conquer hunger and malnutrition. But hunger and malnutrition will always be predominant in countries with high population and high birth rates. Even Thomas Malthus said that population will outstrip any increase in the food supply. Would it not be prudent for the church to endorse contraceptive techniques in order to slow world population growth? Abstinence from sexual relations would be preferable to the church I am sure, but my own country the United States, has shown that abstinence programs do not work better than contraception and safe sex education.

In this day and age, I am sure Jesus would have understood that the health of humanity is of the greatest importance. The church has been reinterpreting the words of Jesus and the Bible for two-thousand years. I do not think literal policy derived from the Bible is possible here. In times past the command “be fruitful and multiply” had a direct correlation to the survival of a community and society. It does not have that impetus any longer. In fact, I would argue that the opposite has become the norm. The survival of humanity may rest in our ability to curb population growth. As you may know, the Earth is already at more than twice the human capacity it can handle naturally. It is only though our technology that many of us survive in the first place.

The fact that the population grows exponentially will eventually lead to far worse problems than hunger. Poverty is directly linked to overpopulation. Disease and pestilence are also on the heels of the hunger problem. I am not a member of your church, but I implore you to consider my words. The church and it’s massive resources could lead the charge in reversing this crisis on a different front than technology. Abstinence and alternatives to personal childbirth like adoption help, but could never out pace education about human sexuality and contraception. It is of paramount importance to our survival.

Christopher Moran