The Importance of Atheist Community

This is a post I wrote in my blog on the Think Atheist website. It is my answer to the question “Why do atheists meet together?” and a bit of my own personal experience.

In the interest of full disclosure, I decided to post this on Think Atheist in reach of a bigger audience :)

Why Do Atheists Meet Together?

Things I’ve Learned about Atheism

There is a Barns and Noble bookstore within a couple minutes drive of my office, so from time to time I hang out there during my lunch break. Last Wednesday I went in and sat by the section in Philosophy with the books of atheism and reflected on some of the things I have learned about atheism in my 7 years of considering myself an atheist. Things I didn’t realize when I started out of this path. Continue reading

Who get to decide what ‘faith’ means?

Faith and religion are different things to different people. I’ve come to the conclusion that dictionary definitions are pretty useless to define faith, god, religion. The dictionary definition is only, at best, a snapshot of different ways people use a word at a particular point in time. And at worst, it shows the biases of the editing committee, or whoever writes those definitions. Therefore the dictionary is a useful guide, but not an authority.

And words like faith and religion, which are highly emotionally charged, have many different (possibly even contradictory) meanings to different people. Continue reading

What Meditation Means to Me

When I meditate, this is what I do. I listen.

That’s probably too obscure, so I’ll explain what I mean. Think about a situation when you are listening to another person talk.  If you don’t stop talking yourself, and stop thinking about what you want to say next, you can’t really be listening to what they are saying. When I first started meditating a few years ago, I noticed how noisy my mind was. When I stopped to observe what was going on in my head, I found it was like a never-ending cacophony. One thought after another, without end. No wonder I was so distracted so much of the time.

Now I am a firm believer in reason, and I was concerned about the idea that it is ever good to stop thinking, even for a little while. Stop thinking? That is how you get drawn in to irrationality and woo-woo. Never check your brain at the door!

But meditation is not “checking your mind at the door.” Stopping thinking is more like stopping talking for a while so that you can hear what is going on around you. So you can really listen. And I find that when I have stopped the incessent internal conversation, and really listened to what is going on, both inside and outside myself, I am prepared to be even more rational than ever.  

With all the noise in my life, I really do enjoy the silence.