Architects of a New Dawn

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A while back (quite a while, actually) I read a post on some forum or other describing atheists as "devil-worshipers" and "evil".

Well, being an atheist who doesn't worship the devil either (I like to be even-handed) and I tend to be guided by what I feel is right, I simply had to respond. The subject of that response I include below but first, if only for its entertainment value, I'd like to share what happened next.

Within a week or so of posting my response, I began to receive unsolicited emails from some atheist organisation (I no longer recall the name) informing me that I am part of a growing "Atheist Community".

Well, the reason I am an atheist is because I do not have a belief system. I am fully aware that there is something far greater than I would ever be able to comprehend. I cannot deny that I am part of a cosmic process but I make no pretense of knowing what that might be.

I do not believe in a God that loves me or gets angry at me or worries about what I believe in. I do not believe in a God who is prone to such human failings as anger, jealousy, vengeance and a megalomanic obsession with being worshiped.

The "Atheist Community" struck me as just another belief system and just as evangelical as any religion I have encountered. What on earth can an atheist community actually share except not believing in God? And why is it so important to share this absence of belief? What do they do? Do they have gatherings where they don't pray together? Maybe not sing a few hymns and possibly even not have a collection afterward? Who knows?

It seems that the main objective of this evangelical atheist community is to prove there is no God.

As an atheist, I am not saying there is no God. I am saying that I do not feel within my heart that the God described to me by every religion actually exists. I didn't choose to not believe in God and I cannot choose to believe. All I can do is be true to my heart. However, it should be born in mind that, had I not seen a duck-billed platypus with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe in those either. I am too aware of my capacity to be completely wrong to say that I know there is no God.

Religions identify this force, this process that is beyond comprehension as something that fits into an explanation. To be a devout observer of any religion is to say This is what I know to be true. I cannot in all honesty make that claim. In fact, the only thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure.

I don't want to convert people to my views. I would not want a devout person to abandon their faith on the basis of anything I have said. I am not against religion. In fact religion has played a vital role in our development regardless of what one may feel about the conduct churches and religious institutions.

I just feel that I do not have to Know the forces that move me. I don't have to name it or explain it or worship it.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the vilifying or persecution of anyone because of their belief (or lack thereof). Why should I be branded as "evil" because I don't happen to believe what some people think I should believe? Would I be less "evil" if I pretended to believe? I'm afraid I put a higher value to my honesty than that.

I never responded to these emails from the Atheist Community and eventually, they stopped arriving. No doubt, they have written me off. I don't know if my name ever comes up... "Ron never got back to us, did he? Ah! He hath fallen by the wayside!"

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Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 8, 2009 at 6:11pm
A quick after-though in reply to Mel's post:
'Doing my bit for 2012 whether I realise it or not' is probably spot-on. I think that's always been the case. We 'do our bit' whether we realise it or not. I know that conscious understanding has served us well (but not without its problems) but I think we put far too much store in it.

I've heard many and varied ideas about what 2012 represents and I do sense this 'count-down' and perhaps a sense of urgency. Some theories may turn out to be right and some people may actually know by some means that certainly evades me. But I have no way of knowing and I can't prepare for it. But then, I've never prepared for anything in my life but that didn't stop it all happening anyway. That's the reassuring thing..

It happens anyway.

To me that's what Faith is. It's open and unconditional rather than attached to some idea or event.

I was once reading a book about Japanese archery... which is all very Zen. The teaching was that the archer does not release the bowstring; the archer must simply allow the bowstring to be released. It went on to explain this with the metaphor of a blossom falling from the tree: Does the blossom let go of the tree or does the tree let go of the blossom? The point it was making is that, by trying to bring about an event, we actually interfere with the process and get in the way. We need to learn to allow it to happen.
Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 8, 2009 at 5:39pm
Long, long ago, when the hippies first emerged, I decided that, although I went along with a lot of the cultural philosophy, I didn't want to conform to an idiosyncratic ideology... so I became a beatnik instead.

We create these labels so we can band together under them and feel part of a community. I think, at best, this is well intentioned madness because all it does is create a sense of separation from the other labels. At worst, it creates enmity. I've been giving this some thought since I started this post and having taken in the responses. Not believing in the traditional sense of God is hardly subscribing to a philosophy so why call it anything? Calling it 'atheism' or 'agnosticism' is giving it some kind of official label which serves only to set me up in opposition to those who do believe in the traditional sense of God.

I'm not opposed to them so why do I wear a badge that implies that I am.

From this day forward, I no longer call myself an atheist.

I toyed with the idea of calling myself an "I'm-not-going-to-call-myself-anythingist" but I think that might be clutching at straws. Time to stop clinging to the flotsam of an ideology and surrender to the ocean.
Comment by Jeanne on July 8, 2009 at 4:11pm
I agree, avoidism is best...
Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 8, 2009 at 3:26pm
Mel, I thought I was pedantic but I think I've met my match. It's enough to drive me to drink! Is alcoholism a prerequisite for a recovering atheist? I don't know.

It doesn't really matter anyway. My description of myself as an atheist is not so much something to identify with as an indication of what I don't identify with. Maybe it's an inner yearning to be part of a community. Maybe I should dig out those old emails and get back to the Atheist Community. I can already hear them gloating "Hah! We knew you'd come crawling to us eventually". They'll probably make me do penance and send me out on an evangelistic mission to undo God's work. What do I say when I knock on doors? "Hello.... I bring bad news......"

Maybe agnosticism is the way to go..... or, better still, avoid 'isms' altogether.
Comment by Melanie Worman on July 8, 2009 at 11:43am
'THEM UPSTAIRS ' continually remind us that our aim is to exist without fear, in a place of joy and laughter. After I'd got up from the floor, having fallen off my chair with screams of laughter upon reading your comments, I can now see that you're already doing your 'bit' in preparation for 2012 - whether you realise it or not.

I'm now re-categorising you from 'atheist friend' to 'agnostic friend' so does that mean your Blog becomes defunct? XXX
Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 7, 2009 at 7:20pm
Hey! You spoilin' for a fight? Did I say I want to challenge your belief system? Eh? Did I? Eh?
As for God: Yep. That's exactly where I got this idea that God is an entity with an opinion about good and evil. Started in Sunday school. However, as I said... I don't actually believe that (remember the atheism thing?).

I don't really have any views about 2012 but I'll fall off that bridge when I come to it.

Now you're saying my higher self is clumsy, smashing mirrors and stuff!

You're spoilin' for a fight. Go on, admit it. Y'know, you're lucky I'm a pacifist!
Comment by Melanie Worman on July 7, 2009 at 5:57pm
Seeing and feeling the broken mirror isn't a gender thing, it's a Ron thing. Your mirror breaking was a gift of learning for you, Ron style. Can you see how your Higher Self set this up for you?

Right, a couple of points I have to challenge. Firstly, where did you get this idea that god is an entity with an opinion about good and evil, punishment and reward etc. These ideas of polarities were introduced by humankind (mankind to be more precise......sorry couldn't help myself) and helped to obscure the true messages that lie at the core of every religion. And of course these ideas were introduced as a form of oppression and control. Like Jeanne, I was drawn to Buddhism, firstly because it's more a philosophy than a religion and secondly because it has been less interfered with down the ages.

Throughout the many channelings I've participated in, it's always been made clear to us that polarities only exist in the 3rd Dimension (here) and that when the shift in consciousness occurs in 2012, we shall shift into another dimension which does not contain polarities.

Secondly, I have a belief system but it most certainly is not fixed. It constantly evolves with me as I evolve on my path. I don't need to defend my belief system but if you care to challenge me I'm happy to play along!
Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 7, 2009 at 3:38pm
I thought I'd finished but, obviously, I hadn't (that's another belief out the window).

I'd been struggling with this concept of Oneness. I'm aware of myself as an individual and I know that I am one of many individuals who, in turn, are part of the many life-forms of our planet, which, in turn..... need I go on? I think not. You get the picture.

I also sensed that we are all connected but I couldn't get a grasp on how.

Now a broken mirror might mean 7 years bad luck to some but, to me, it was an 'AHAH!' moment. Picking up the pieces, it occurred to me that a mirror is holographic. Each piece reflects everything that the 'whole' mirror did.

More to the point, each piece behaves as if the mirror was never broken in the first place. I realised that the mirror cannot be broken. Only the glass can be broken but the very quality that makes it a mirror is indivisible.

I'd considered the drops-in-the-ocean concept and the Light-that-is-one-though-the-lamps-be-many which kind of acted as useful metaphors on a poetic level but didn't help in the understanding. Light diminishes as lamps are extinguished and, theoretically, at least, even the ocean could be drained drop-by-drop.

A mirror's reflection doesn't reduce as bits are broken off and every bit can reflect the whole (albeit with a bit of waggling about).

That's it. We are the pieces of the mirror that was never separated in the first place.

It took me a while. I told you I was bloody pedantic... I can split hairs on a gnat's arse with my eyes closed. But I got there in the end. Maybe it's a gender thing but I had to be able to see it to feel it.
Comment by Ron Tocknell on July 7, 2009 at 2:49pm
Mel: I wouldn't deny that there's a greater power than myself (in fact, I married her) and possibly a power greater even than Anne. Joking aside, all I know is that there is more than I can ever know. I gave it some very serious thought and decided against blazing a trail around the globe in search of a recovering alcoholic atheist just so I could say: "See? SEE? I WAS RIGHT!!! HA! HA!". I know it's a small step but, for a man... and me in particular, that's progress. I would agree that to be able to let go of any addiction one has to see that there is something greater. Perhaps discovering that is not so much a part of the process of recovery as recovery is part of the process of finding your centre within the Whole (notice the way I cunningly avoided saying "God". We of the atheist community are good at that).

Jeanne: I don't feel as though I'm on the fence about the existence of a God (and by a "God", I mean an entity with an opinion about good and evil, who punishes and rewards and so on). I'm quite clear in my mind and heart that such an entity does not exist. I won't argue the point with those who are clear in their minds and hearts that such a God does exist because it would serve no purpose. What we feel in our hearts isn't the result of a conscious decision but an instinctive sense of what seems to us to be the truth. That we are true to the Truth that lies in our hearts is more important than what that Truth may be. Essentially, that's of no more importance that the ongoing argument between the 'Big Enders' and the "Little Enders' in Gulliver's Travels.

We might just be getting caught up in semantics here as I suggested to Mel earlier. Of course there are things I believe but what I mean by a 'belief system' is the kind of simplified explanation with which we tend to define the vast complexity of everything. The doctrines and the theologies. They strike me as a form of convenient packaging to contain the uncontainable so we can at least tell ourselves that we understand. My beliefs are transient. I'm not attached to them so I continually amend and adjust these beliefs according new concepts that I had not previously considered. Belief systems, on the other hand are fixed and those who hold them tend to have too much invested in them to allow them to be challenged. They have to be defended. Beliefs in the true sense do not have to be defended. If something shakes a hitherto held belief, we can examine and question our beliefs and, if it so happens, change them.

I don't have any beliefs that I'm not prepared to challenge myself because I'm all too aware of my capacity for being wrong.

I got it totally wrong about Jim Carey being the next President:o)
Comment by Jeanne on July 7, 2009 at 9:41am
I thought that folks who are on the fence about existence of a god are called agnostics. ...and I'll bet that you, Ron, do have a "belief system." ...though not a traditional mainstream dogmatic system. You apparently value honesty, compassion and truth seeking... and, no doubt, a longer list of values you "believe" to be of value to humanity's evolution.
Never been the 12 step route, but know many who have... I believe that the acknowledgement of a "power greater than self" might seem like a "separateness", but is actually a "togetherness". We are part of that wholeness... inseparable, yet distinct and individual. Like a cell in my body is part of the body... yet distinctly unique from other cells.
I believe we are part of the body of god... therefore we are god. I found my belief niche fits well in Buddhism... and so I have adopted much of it... and much of indigenous systems that look to nature to understand the meaning of life.
I am so with you on the matter of "vilifying or persecution of anyone because of their belief." ...yet, that has been a point of contention since time immemoriaI. Its as if some feel that their righteousness must be approved by all or they are not in good stead.
Great subject Ron... one that will spark debate until "kingdom come"... whatever that means.

        

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