We celebrated the NTCOF's 23rd birthday at our service this month with birthday cake and other goodies brought by our members. It was February 5th of 1995 when we held our very very church service after getting organized and making plans for it in late 1994. We revisited some of the ideas we presented at that very first church service from the writings of the 19th Century scientist-naturalist Thomas Henry Huxley who also just happened to coin the word “Agnosticism.”
NTCOF member and videographer John Gauthier then presented the second in his series of three planned presentations on logical fallacies. This is an important subject for Freethinkers who try to live their lives by facts and reason. John presented some interesting examples of formal and informal erors in reasoning, examples of which can also be easily found in the media and current events. John plans to present the third part of this series at our April 1st service.
We noted the death of fantasy and science-fiction writer Ursula K. LeGuin this past January. Author of the EarthSea series and of the classic novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, we considered some excerpts of her writings relating to her ideas about religion and, especially, superstitious religious traditions as well as a mention of her by a Christian writer/apologist who said that he learned from her that, contrary to the usual insistence of believers, atheists can live completely satisfied, happy and fulfilled lives without any belief in deities.
It being only ten more days until Valentine's Day, Pastor Tim then presented a lot of material on how people have thought about the subject of love over the centuries going back to the ancient Greeks. It was observed that, despite assertions by traditional religions that their “God is Love” and that Christianity in particular is all about selfless and unconditional love, these claims just don't square with facts and reason. Beginning with Plato hundreds of years before the Gospels were ever dreamed of, the Greeks had much better developed ideas about the nature of love and how it could be analyzed and understood depending on its character and effects. The rise of science and, especially, neuroscience and the sciences of mental health and human behavior more recently, have given us insights into what is going on in our bodes and brains when people say that they feel love or loved. Of course, this gets us no closer to what it actually feels like subjectively, but that is why love is very arguably a matter of religion and a religious feeling, religion being properly understood not as any sort of supernaturalism but as how we understand the world from the personal, private and subjective point of view. In this connection, we also discussed what the ancoient Greeks called philautia, or self-love, which ties into modern ideas about self-esteem and having compassion for ourselves so that we may then love others. And, again, it is be noted that religious doctrines that hold that people should love others as themselves and then also tell people to hate themselves for being unworthy sinners deserving only of eternal torture in “hell” but for the “free gift” of salvation – that really comes at the cost of one's critical faculties – do little to help people love one another!
Please add your comments on these subjects below.
Postings about each monthly service includes topics discussed and an open forum to further discuss those topics.
1 post • Page 1 of 1