23 August 2008

The Twelve Steps of Theists Anonymous

Here they are...

1. We admitted belief without evidence was powerless - that our faith had become untenable.

2. Came to realize that rational inquiry could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to return our will and our lives to ourselves instead of an imagined higher power.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of the ancient texts with which we were indoctrinated.

5. Admitted to others and ourselves the exact nature of wrongs we had committed in the name of theism.

6. Were entirely ready to remove the mythical defects from our character.

7. Boldly strive to become aware and repair your own shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons to which we had fed misinformation, and become willing to apologize and admit we were wrong.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, even if it may hurt their feelings.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through research and discussion to improve our intellect and understanding of the real world, working to improve the society we all share.

12. Having had a rational awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to theists, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Next week I'll elaborate on step one.


17 August 2008

Saddleback Religious Test

There will be a week's delay on the posting of the twelve step program because I feel the need to comment on the Saddleback Church 'Civic' Forum with the presidential candidates.

The US Constitution prohibits a religious test to hold office in article six. This forum asked both candidates live on CNN, C-span, and FOX “What does it mean to you to trust in Christ?” and "When does life begin?" Although not administered by the federal government, in the eyes of the voting public, that amounts to a religious test.

Senator McCain even repeated the common myth that the U.S. was founded on "Judeo-Christian" values when the first words of Amendment One read : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." I'll give McCain the (very generous) benefit of the doubt since he wasn't actually present for the drafting of our country's founding documents. John Adams was present however, and it was during his presidency that the Treaty of Triploli was passed unanimously by Congress. Article 11 of this congressional document begins; "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

I bring this up not only because perpetration of this myth pisses me off, but also because it highlights one of the reasons I am writing this blog. Blatent untruths like this (and 'creationism,' but that's another year) spread in the name of religion can be easily disproven by facts, but many will deny reality because their faith makes them feel better. There are some who even take reality as a personal assault on their beliefs.

In asking readers to question their beliefs rationally, objectively and fearlessly, I will likely be accused of intolerance or outright hatred. Let me sort this out now. I don't dislike anyone for the beliefs they hold, only for how they act upon them. For example, I have several friends who are great people, but they have the unfortunate affliction of being Yankees fans. I have respect for these people despite their unfortunate belief. If one of them had taken a swing at me the first time they saw me in my Red Sox hat, they would not be my friend and they would not have my respect. See the difference?

As for tolerance, I tolerate religion every day. Everytime I spend cash, sneeze in public, or listen to a pol end a speech I am reminded that most of the nation disagrees with me. I'm OK with being of a minority opinion, I just want to help my opinion be heard without distortion or discrimination. One of the things I do believe is that two factions don't fight each other if they are engaged in open dialogue.

Whew! Long.

OK. No suggestions for steps yet, but as I'm just starting I didn't expect much. The deadline has been extended, though, so feel free to submit. For extra credit, can you find me a Jewish founding father so we can figure out where McCain's "Judeo-Christian" values came from?


10 August 2008

Here I am, starting a blog on a Sunday morning. Getting out of bed is much more fun when you get to do something you want to do. I don't think they'd let me into church in my bathrobe, anyway.

Maybe blogging is my new Sunday morning ritual.

OK, here's the deal. Next week I'll post my takeoff of AA's twelve step program. We won't be kicking the booze, though, we'll be kicking religion! In the ensuing weeks, I'll go into more detail on each step, one step a week (or so.) After three months there will surely be more to discuss.

In the meantime if anyone has ideas for adapting any or all of AA's twelve steps, make some suggestions. No, I'm not trying to get you to do my 'work' for me (its already done.) I'm just curios about other ideas.


P.S. I know religion is important to many people. If you are religious, this blog may go places that may make your brain uncomfortable. Do not feel attacked. I don't know you, I am merely criticizing an idea you hold. Heroin is important to some people, too. That doesn't mean I have to think it's a good idea.