Tag Archives: humanism

Thanksgiving is more meaningful for atheists

You know of course I’m biased, but I really think Thanksgiving is more meaningful for non-theists. Since I’ve abandoned giving thanks to a god, 100% of my gratitude is now directed towards those who can actually receive my thanks.

And so I’m going to go directly thank anyone I can think of to whom I owe my thanks. If I have more time, maybe I’ll also make a list of non-human things for which I’m grateful. It’s not that those things care if I’m thankful for them, of course; being thankful for them would be for my own well-being. Of course if you’re spending all day cooking your turkey and stuffing with kids running around, it may be more of a challenge to do this kind of thing, I guess. But I’d think it’s still possible, right?

You may say I have too much time on my hands, but as a humanist who wants to raise the well-being of living beings, I would think doing this exercise once a year (at least!) would raise a lot of people’s well-being – both the giver and the receivers of the thanks. Wouldn’t it?

For instance, thank you to you who have read my very occasional posts, and a special thank you to SJA, Cynthia and whoever else has taken the time to offer thoughtful comments. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Oh, before any theists jump on me, yes, I agree, you can do the same exercise even if you believe in a god. 🙂

Struggling with your beliefs? This should help.

Great news!  If you’re struggling with your beliefs, with that voice in the back of your head saying things like, “What if I’m wrong?” or “How do I know if what I’ve been taught is true?” the problem may be you don’t even know how to go about deciding what to believe. I say that from experience, as we are not typically given these tools in school. In fact, not only are we not given the tools that would help us arrive at true beliefs, we are often taught methods that make us less likely to arrive at true beliefs.

For instance, we may be taught “We have a tradition that this is true, going back many generations, and so therefore it must be true,” or “The Rambam (Maimonides) was smarter than you, and he knew all your questions, and yet he still believed this, and so therefore it must be true,” yet we now know that neither of these methods are good ways to determine what is true.

The stupendous news is there are actually really good tools we can use to ensure, or at least make it a lot more likely, that we end up believing what it is true and not believing what is false, whether it be on matters of faith, science, politics, health news, GMOs, or any other area of knowledge.

And the even better news is that you and I will be able to learn these skills for free from two experts in the field in a 12-week online course beginning August 25th. Duke University will present “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue” through Coursera. For more information and to sign up, go here.

A few of us freethinking Jews are hoping to get together online after each class to discuss what we learned and talk about how it affects our beliefs. If you want to join, please comment below or email me at freethinkingjew (gmail).

Had I only learned this stuff many years ago, I wouldn’t have had to struggle psychologically for so many years, stressing out over whether the beliefs I was taught in school were reasonable or whether my doubts were valid. Fortunately I’ve been able to learn some critical thinking skills in my adulthood, and I’ve found the feeling quite freeing, because these skills give me so much more confidence that I am making the right decisions about what to believe and what not to believe. But I’m looking forward to learning much more beginning August 25.

Note: I do not work for Coursera, and I gain no financial benefit from recommending this course. I just like to share the gospel.

Is Freethinking Jew or Jewish atheist an oxymoron?

I’m so excited; I finally got my first “interesting” E-mail from a reader!  Now I know my blog is legit. 🙂

Enjoy!

I don’t really know who you are but your site is very curious.  I am wondering if you are who you say you are.
I am puzzled how anyone could use the word Jew and skeptic or atheist in the same sentence.
That Bible bull shit was invented by someone and who ever it was should be embarrassed after finding the truth.  Calling ones self a “Jew” is like calling ones self a hillbilly from Jerusalem in my mind. I just can not get my head wrapped around this concept.  It is like now that I am not a fundamentalist Christian anymore why would I want anything to do with let alone call myself a Christian?
Please help me.  I personally can not see how those who believe in a multi-ethnic congomeration insist on mentioning and whispering that “he or she is Jewish” don’t you know.  Why oh Why?  Are you not a Caucasoid white man?  I just don’t understand.  Enlighten me.
Also because a bunch of lemmings choose such and such why do we have to bless it with the Michael Shermer Kosher blessing as truth without any factual evidence or investigation of our own.

This is extremely puzzling to me.  Please help me!!!

Since the man was kind enough to take the time to write, I shall respond:

a) I use “Jew” in Freethinking Jew following Merriam Webster’s definitions 1b, 2, and, especially, 3, below:

Full Definition of JEW

1a :  a member of the tribe of Judah
  b :israelite
2:  a member of a nation existing in Palestine from the sixth century b.c. to the first century a.d.
3:  a person belonging to a continuation through descent or conversion of the ancient Jewish people
4:  one whose religion is Judaism

b) Wouldn’t the world be so much more boring if we all completely abandon our respective cultural heritages and just call ourselves “Caucasoid white men?”
c) After all the *#@! we Jews have been through together as a family, I’m not going to turn my back on my family, even if I no longer believe in the God we all used to worship.

What do you think, thoughtful readers?  Do you think Jewish atheist is an oxymoron?  Is the name “Freethinking Jew” misleading?