The Rise of Atheism, The Rise of Spirituality and the Uplifting of Religion

Having been a student of beliefs over the last seven years, I have been interested in asking what is behind the atheistic movement.  I have watched Sam Harris present his work “The End of Faith,” a book that I have along with other atheists’ works in my library.  As a subscriber to Free Inquiry and the Skeptical Inquirer, I have read works by Paul Kurtz and comments by many other writers.  I have also heard many contemporary spiritual leaders speak such as Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston and have several of their publications.  I am pleased to see their recent debate about GOD and other commentary that is occurring because this is the most important issue facing the world today.The rise of atheism in many ways can be more accurately described as a rise in secular humanism.  Atheism often connotes cultural biases and mental images of evil, but the leaders are anything but this.  They are deeply concerned human beings who recognize the failure of organized and exclusivist religions to establish a common set of values within human society that can lead to a peaceful world.  But the secular human movement is struggling because they too are searching for a common set of values that will work for and be accepted by the world.  But what are values?

As quantum physicists continue to try to build the bridge between the manifested and the unmanifested worlds of energy, thoughts are emerging as powerful forces.  In fact I am of strong opinion that grouped thoughts or beliefs are the most powerful forces in the world. It is the creative process of moving from the unmanifested to the manifested through the sequence of thought, word action that has resulted in the world as we experience it today. Becoming aware of this process is becoming enlightened about consciousness and the importance of reason.  Reason is essential to success of both the secular humanists and spiritualists, for what good is awareness without the use of logical reasoning? They need each other like a fish needs water.    What would Thomas Jefferson be without both enlightenment and reason?  Public awareness of the real forces of creativity within each individual that drives the evolution of all human society is one of the first steps that will advance the needed discussion between contemporary spiritual leaders and atheists from just debate to an actual uplifting of humanity.

Organized religions represent the largest groups of organized beliefs and therefore have the most impact on the manifested, physical world.  In this regard, a huge part of the condition of our world, the good and the bad, is a result of the successes and failures of their belief systems.  The underlying theme of most atheism movements is the push to stop the “bad” that occurs from the failures of organized religion.  Too often religious beliefs have led to divisions, intolerance and decreased reason within society breeding all sorts of destructive behaviors. The justifiable actions of the atheists to counter the negative impacts of organized religion, is also their unintnetional public recognition of the power of the unmanifested, of thoughts and beliefs.  Spirituality attempts to achieve the same effect, but not through a direct frontal assault on religion, but by reaching individuals who are searching for something more that can only be personally experienced.  They understand that all events, even group experiences, can only be experienced at the individual level, where all lasting change in behaviors must occur.  This is where organized religion has gone amiss, relying too heavily on imbedding infelxible dogmas and rituals on its mass of followers, at the expense of ignoring and in many ways discouraging personal experiences because it could lead to inquisitiveness.  Rather than seeing questioning as an opportunity for teaching, it is often feared for not being able to provide logical answers. Questioning and logical reasoning are the backbone of the secular movements, but reasoning not reinforced by the processing of personal experiences can be just as ineffective in creating, lasting changes in behaviors which is the goal of having societal values. And values trully become common cultural values when they become living values as demonstrated through personal behaviors.

The common sense discussion on the human creative process and the importance of beliefs and living values on human behaviors is best described in my opinion by the work of Neil Donald Walsch in his Conversations with God series. New Revelations in particular examines the importance of uplifting beliefs.  In this effort, organized religion needs to transcend beyond its current level of beliefs about both Life and God.  To do this, it will require a very difficult process of letting go or pehaps an uplifting of some theologically imbedded traditions and dogmas. But it can be done, by focusing on the core message of “loving one another” which has always been the essence of the message from their founders and spiritual masters.  Not only can this be done, but it must be done soon.  The world is already waisting trillions of dollars of its resources enforcing the Rule of Law to address the destructive local, national and international behaviors of crime, corruption and conflict. This is happening at a time when resources are desperately needed for investing in education, infrastructure, polution control, water and energy consevation, food production and other critically important human endeavors.  Without it, unemployment, poverty, pollution, desperation, crime, war and terrorism will only increase.  The world will never be able to pass or enforce enough laws regardless of how much it spends on lawyers, judges, policemen, prisons or the military to make up for the lack of common values that serve as guiding principles for each person to live by at all levels of society.  Humanity must begin making the transition from depending upon the Rule of Law to teaching the Rule of Love, if it is to survive. This is the role of true religion. For it is the lack of love that the world is suffering from.  This is particularly where organized religion has failed, unable to graduate from their churches, synogues, mosque and other places of worship followers who know how to love and live by common values where everyone naturally does what is naturally right without the need for enforcement and threat of potential punishment to comply.  For Love is God’s Law which if followed, needs no other human laws to control behaviors.

Feelings of love, the sacred, feelings from faith resulting in lack of fear, higher consciousness, etc. can only be experienced.  A personal sense of divinity can only be experienced.  They can never be scientifically proven, but their cause and effect are self evident and irrefutably immense.  This is why poetry, story, art exists.  They all try to express the scientifically unprovable, the unmanifested or the infinite and to invoke personal feeling that can only be personally experienced in the finite.

The debate about religion and atheists is really about the need for beliefs that will lead to greater love in society.  If Love is the guiding principle, then reason is the implementing arm, educated through honest awareness of what is working and not working in society.   Addressing this need is humanity’s biggest challenge and the burden to meet the challenge especially falls on organized religion and all secular movements concerned about the world’s direction.  Greater love between all people will lead to the establishment of common, living values and new societal systems that can provide the foundation to build a new peaceful and sustainable world.

Have a Wonderful Day!   –   Mike

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