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Dr. Anthony ADRIAN

Getting along with no boundaries...

  • Here is a nice story I read that might shed some light to some…

    I’m not claiming that non-believers and believers always get along, but I do know that they can get along.  I know this for many reasons.    How this could possibly be true?  Here’s a bit of background. I previously wrote about a church in my neighborhood.
    After I wrote that post, the Pastor (let’s call him Bob) of the church, invited me join him for lunch.  We’ve had two lunches now, and we’ve traded quite a few e-mails and phone calls. I now considered this pastor to be a friend.  We have many interests in common.  He’s also an intelligent, curious, sensitive church leader who is an exquisite reader of people and who has an undying commitment to funnel the energy of his congregation toward improving his community.  Like most friends, Bob and I have differences of opinion on topics we consider to be important. Like all friends of mine, however, we both realize that we have far more in common than those things on which we disagree.
    About two months ago, Bob asked whether he could interview me on videotape and then play portions of my interview for his congregation. I agreed and I sat for an interview of almost an hour, talking about Dangerous Intersection, my family, my concerns about my community, my beliefs and my opinions regarding religion.  Bob has already played portions of my interview (and the interviews of other skeptics) during church services to illustrate various types of skepticism and to promote a willingness to interact with skeptics. This church has also sponsored several Tuesday night discussion groups at which members of the church further consider the role of skepticism in the lives of members of the church.
    A few days after, Bob called to ask whether I would appear live at one of the church services. I readily agreed. That night, after 15 minutes of music, we walked together to the front of the church, where we sat down on stools and talk about my thoughts on religious belief.  Again, this extended discussion was included as part of a church service.
    I started off by speaking of my admiration for Bob.  I noted how extraordinary it was that a church leader would invite one who does not believe in God to sit at the front of the church to talk to the congregation about his lack of belief in something they hold dear. I didn’t pull any punches.  I told the congregation that, in my opinion, the God of Christianity was no more likely to exist than Zeus.  It was an awkward thing to hear in a church, I’m sure, even though all people have had doubts along the way (yes, you too!).
    As part of my introduction, I mentioned that I sometimes go to empty churches to meditate and write.  Sometimes I go to live church services, to see what they are like.  Much of my talk focused on the many things all of us have in common.
    I spoke of the continuum of belief that ties us all together. In my view, all believers have doubts that they can’t resolve and all skeptics have beliefs that they cannot ultimately justify (at least they can’t justify them through rigorous scientific forms of proof). I periodically write about of these unproven beliefs of nonbelievers.  My favorite example of this sort of believe is free will, to which many die-hard non-believers cling despite the total lack of evidence supporting it (despite that “feeling” that we are “free.”).  Though I didn’t have time to mention it in church, I would have liked to mention recent research regarding such feelings of certainty.  This research strongly backs up our common sense that being “certain” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being right.
    All of us grapple with meaning.  Even though we intellectually articulate this grappling differently, all honest people experience awe, humility, and an inability to fully come to grips with our own existence on planet Earth.
    I urged the people in the congregation that they not lump together all nonbelievers. There are many types of nonbelievers.  We are not all as harsh toward religious moderates as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  It is equally important that non-believers don’t lump together all believers.  Not all believers are right-wing fundamentalists.  Most believers and non-believers have many things in common, and relatively few things that divide us. We live in communities full of serious challenges and we desperately need to work together. Furthermore, we can work together, as long as fundamentalists aren’t running around vilifying nonbelievers–telling them that they’re all going to hell; and as long as shrill nonbelievers aren’t running around making sport of calling kind, decent and sincere religious people “stupid.”
    So as I always end my stories...Food for thought for the ones who crave information to make sense where there is a void.
    Peace be with you...
1 comment
  • <i>Deleted Member</i>
    Deleted Member DR. A:
    Once again, thank you very much for showing that everything is not always black & white or even gray...the RAINBOW was a promise...that we would never BLOCK EACH OTHER again, right?
    November 18, 2009 - delete