Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
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A Book for Nats

In the latest issue of Skeptic†Volume 14, No. 1 in May 2008 to be a wee bit more precise , Tim Callahan reviewed the book, What's so Great about Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza (see What's so Great about Dinesh D'Souza). He begins by saying that D'Souza creates a strawman out of all the variations of atheist perspectives and then proceeds to knock them down.

But then Callahan then begins to knock down various strawmen from the halls of fundamentalist religion. Here's the rub-- personal philosophy will always be more complex than that. Especially given that many people, who believe in God, do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and are even comfortable with evolution. People, like my wife, who gains great comfort in her belief in an after-life and a loving God… and that's about the extent of her dogma.

But let's make a division based on the belief in an after-life… and include on one side everyone from the cooky and strange to the well-adjusted and normal. On the other side are the Nats . I do think that simply having a belief in an afterlife (and not) influences your personal philosophy and your day-to-day actions.

Take this inductive case in point… My wife and I often get into… (ahem)… discussions about the dishes. I will feed the kids a snack or their third dinner and don't bother cleaning up the kitchen. She can't understand why I would leave the room as a mess.

My side of the story is that I will stay up late and feel that there is always a better time to get those dishes done. Granted, I will get them done, however, a better time is when the kids are sleeping. You see, time is very precious to me. For this is all the time I have. This is my only life. Soon the kids will be older and won't want to spend any time with their parents. It won't even be much longer before I'll be dead and can't play with them at all.

Those that believe in a heaven feel like they could get away with wasting their time, for they believe they will have an eternity with their loved ones. I'll admit, I would like to believe that, but I can't take that chance for the stakes are too high‡‡Yes, this is Pascal's Wager in reverse. . This is the time I have, so I must make the most of it.

So I leave messy bowls on one table, and deal out the cards amid laughter at another table.

Is my philosophy better? Of course, I think so or I wouldn't adhere to it. However, I am willing to change. I've been working on and changing my philosophy all my life. ;-)

One problem, however, is this "Nat Perspective" is not well described to those on the other side. Many people identify Nats as what we don't believe in-- not what we do. And books like Dawkin's God Delusion strengthen that perception.

I think we should write another book… perhaps a collection of essays. And it should tackle all the hard questions like the Meaning of Life and what not, but the only rule is that it can't mention religion or God. It should just describe how Nat's live and feel.

Think about it. If you do not believe in God, you don't think about how you don't believe in God. You've got too many other pursuits and thoughts and loves. The only time you think about how you don't believe in God is when someone else brings it up.

So, let's do it. I'm going to start collecting essays from all of you, and I'll edit them. Here is my list of chapter/essays … any of them interest you?

  • Purpose of Life
  • Death
  • Morality and Ethics
  • Politics
  • Raising Children
  • Traditions, Stories and Mythology
  • Day to Day Living
  • Evolution and Science
  • Coping with Disasters and Suffering

Any others I should add to this list?

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It should be pointed out that one can believe one lives on after death and also believe no god exists (I'm pretty sure my wife believes there is no god, but also believes in ghosts.)

I think I've asked before, but have you read Anton Robert Wilson's "Quantum Psychology" yet? It does get a little tedious in the end, but I think it an excellent opening to discussion of philosophy, reality, god, existence, belief, etc. There is a saying he uses whenever one makes statements of state of being (X is Y, Z exists) -- it being nothing more than "Making Noises". It seems we all make an implicit fatal assumption -- our individual semantics and definitions match those of everyone else. So arguments about "Who is the atheist or theist" end up as nothing more than trying to pin down the definition of a word that can not be defined because there can be no way to measure it in a real way.

Nice to read your posts now and then, BTW.

—Trent Tobler


Just finished watching another stint of Penn Says about how he takes great solace in not believing in Heaven. (See Video)

Now, I can see how one would prefer the atheist view of suffering. I mean, the Xian view that God's either is punishing you, or permits you to suffer, is quite bothersome. Blaming chance genetics or lifestyle or whatever seems easier to accept.

And I guess that after suffering, death is always a welcome relief whether you believe in an after-life or not.

—Howard, the Author