About the Title
The White Bull (Le Taureau blanc) is a story by Voltaire (1649-1778). The tale mixes Greek mythology (Europa and the bull) with Bible mythology. Such a juxtaposition places the Bible’s talking snake, magical fruit, Balaam’s talking ass, and Jesus’ magic tricks alongside ancient Greek myths, which many in the modern world now consider childish fairy tales or Disney-esque cartoons (though don’t tell that to a Greek/Classics professor!). Voltaire’s critique was particularly pointed at religion’s opposition to reason.
This blog may, at times, be just as critical. My intent though, is not solely to criticize religion.
About the Blog
I have degrees in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. Whether one is atheist or theist, it is my intent to 1) show the value of studying religion, though I do not mean “study” as in searching for cosmic Truths and 2) to create a greater awareness of what atheists actually think, believe, and value.
The first purpose is aimed at atheists. Atheists feel they have plenty of valid reasons to be critical of religion, and while I agree with them in my criticism and disbelief, I hope to show fellow atheists why Religious Studies is still an important field.
The second purpose is aimed at believers. Many people hold to negative stereotypes of atheists/agnostics. Some don’t understand how atheists disbelieve or perhaps mistakenly think atheists lack morals. Many polls have indicated that people do not trust atheists, even though the Sociological data often indicates a higher degree of morality and happiness among atheists and among predominately atheist countries. While atheists are a minority in America, we are a growing minority. You may know or work with an atheist and not even know it. It is increasingly important to know what atheism is really about.
I do not speak for all atheists, but I hope to dispel many common misnomers about us by making one (me) available to you.
One final note
I am asked why, as an atheist and religious studies scholar, I “study things I don’t believe in.” I answer as my colleagues do in Classics departments or in Archaeology – studying dead languages and dead cultures has value for those living today. One does not have to believe Zeus is god to study ancient Homeric manuscripts. One does not have to believe the Mayan religion to excavate Mayan temples. While I find religion “dead” in offering morality or Truth, or consider it outdated, unnecessary, or even harmful in this day and age, I still find it valuable to study as a cultural phenomena.
It must not be understated that 40% of Seminary/Theology students become atheists by graduation. These are not “liberal schools,” these are religious seminaries. While I became an atheist long before attending college, I still chose religious studies as my focus. I did not do so to “disprove religion,” for I am convinced that few people are ever persuaded to believe/disbelieve by another person – such a thing often occurs by careful and unbiased self-reflection. I chose this field because it fascinates me. The information in the field though often challenges belief. If you are uncomfortable with the facts and information (again, which convinces 40% of seminary grads to become atheists), perhaps this blog is not for you (one of many disclaimers).
Also, nearly every conflict, political ideology, group/personal identity, work of art/literature, or other aspect of culture is in some way and to some degree influenced by religion (for the better, or as I believe more often in the modern world, for the worse). Religion is ubiquitous. It is unavoidable.
A Blog for Everybody
If you’re a believer and you’d like to know why your friend, co-worker, neighbor, or daughter (or 40% of seminary graduates) is an atheist, you may find some answers here. I hope it helps you understand and relate better with your unbelieving friends and family.
If you’re an atheist and you’d like to know what experts and religious scholars say about religion, you may find some interesting posts here.
Regardless of whether you believe or not, I hope to entertain, educate, and hopefully show us all why we need to understand one another better.
Feel free to post comments, but be aware that in past blogs I have been threatened by Jews (even rabbis!), Christians (including grandmothers, house wives, and ministers!), Muslims, Hindus, and even Buddhists. The purpose of this blog is to show 1) “the other side,” the perspective of atheists, in an attempt to foster greater understanding and 2) information from the field of Religious Studies that may challenge belief. Be aware that your vulgar hostility reflects poorly not just on yourself.
If your faith is so weak as to feel threatened by a blog, perhaps you should avoid reading, and/or commenting, on this one… especially if you use foul language or threats.
If your posts do not contribute on an informational level or ask thought provoking questions, and instead are meant to be insulting or attempt to convert others, they will likely be deleted. The internet is a big place. If this site is not for you, click elsewhere and find what appeals to you.