Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nature, Atheism, and Me

Here's an excerpt from an email I received from a woman named Amy today:

..."I'm curious how you reconcile your unbelief in God with your spiritual connection with nature."

Dear Amy:

Basically, it's quite simple. I believe the greatest harm we can do is to objectify someone or something. This strips the life from it, the individuation from it, the very spirit that makes it so powerful and unique. This is what religion and belief in God does to people and nature. It takes a living organism like a tree and defines it as a thing separate from us, as an object created by an invisible force outside of ourselves. That makes it easier to cut down because it becomes "lumber" rather than  "part of ourselves," just as it becomes easier to perpetuate hatred and harm on human beings we perceive as being "not us."

Our official enemies never look, talk or act like us. They can't because then it would be harder to make enemies of our fellow human beings. And they always have different religious beliefs because that's a handy way to create the "us" and "them" so even the most uneducated, ignorant moron can understand these ain't godly folks and so we can abuse, torture and kill them in our God's name with no repercussions.

We do this on all levels of existence: my wife, my husband, my dog, my cat, my house. We do not see this as placing limits on what those living organisms can be, but merely as assigning personal ownership or belongingness to them. By objectifying someone or something, we make a place for them and keep them there.

I see such behavior as a destructive force. I see it as stunting the growth of things we perceive as existing outside ourselves. I see deifying a person or thing as the first step towards destroying it.

There is a big difference between saying "my spouse" and saying "part of me."  It is the same with trees in the forest. If I see them as something God made, then they cease to exist as living, breathing organisms that are an integral part of the whole. But if I see them as part of me, then they are me as my arm is me and as my heart is me.

We both still exist in the same moment in time, but our existence is not separate nor created by an external force.  If a tree in the forest is equal to my arm, then it requires thought, awareness, and an ability to understand my actions have consequences before I go blithely removing either a tree or my arm.

There are those who will and have argued with me that God made both the trees and me, without thinking for a moment that we might have vastly different opinions on how me and tree came to be. This is the blindness of religion. It operates by reducing things down to small pieces that can then be controlled, manipulated, and defined to suit personal biases and bigotry. That I might believe differently is automatically perceived as wrong and needing to be changed. That is ego gone wild and is never a good thing.

Our planet is being destroyed by this kind of limited eo thinking. By assigning God credit for the oceans, then we give them an artificial vastness that allows our corporate garbage creators to pollute and destroy them because, well, they are just so vast and can't possibly have a limit if God created them. We apply this same wrong thinking to the air, the soil, and every single resource on the earth.

But if we don't believe God created the oceans or the trees or the air, and instead believe they grew out of a natural scientific process that unlike religion, retains the same truth generation after generation, then they become a finite body of water, a forest that will not renew itself for decades beyond our lives, and air that will choke instead of giving us life, if we do not protect them and start treating them as an integral part of ourselves.

We must step outside the artificial excuse of God-created and realize that our planet must be protected by us, by real human beings who have the power to do or not do this,  or these essential resources will no longer be a source of life, nourishment, and spiritual replenishment.

That is why the increase in destruction of our natural resources has risen equally with the rise of claiming that God made everything and everyone believes in God. I'm willing to bet the corporate thugs that donated to the Republican party pushed religion as a political platform to help them take what they wanted without oversight.

Throughout time criminals and the most corrupt of politicians have used God as a partner in their crimes.  I suspect many of the most ardent of God-pushers don't believe half the crap they shovel towards the masses because if they did, then surely they wouldn't destroy the planet with God watching their every move.

So yes, I can reconcile my Atheism with the spiritual sense of self and belongingness I feel when I'm out in Nature because I never separated myself from the natural world with something as artificial as religion. I accept personal responsbility for anything I do to Nature. I do not blame an outside force like God for a tree I cut down, a stream I damn, or a species I wipe out because I like how it tastes on my dinner plate. I am as it is and we all are. Once we as human beings understand that, then maybe we can stop killing each other and live in harmony for a change. After all, when is the last time you heard about a tree taking out another tree because of their religious differences? It takes human beings to come up with something so ridiculous and disconnected from each other.

Tired of that silly Jesus fish? Are you a freethinker too smart to believe dinosaurs were on the ark? Amuse yourself and other with two dinosaurs munching down on ribs of Jesus fish over a campfire. Magnet may be purchased at The Godless Heathen, a shop for Atheists, Freethinkers, Agnostics, and Unbelievers.

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