Many people believe that religion is required in order for an individual, family, community or nation to be ethical. That´s one way of looking at it. However, for those who have abandoned religion in favour of Freethinking, the next step is not to head down to the local pub and get wasted day and night, or to figure out how to cheat on their partners or their next year’s income tax, or to find a way to lie like a sidewalk and never get caught.
Instead, Ethical Freethinkers are as committed to “The Good Life” as any religious person. And this “Good Life” is not only for the individual, but for everybody around them. This is called “The Common Good”, “Good Life” for everyone.
The context for this is Mother Nature. Ethical Freethinkers have no gods, no beliefs in spirits or the paranormal/supernatural. Instead we base their lives on Reality, Mother Nature, the Cosmos. Anything else, in their minds, is simply guesswork. Thus, Ethical Freethinkers have great sympathy for Naturalism and efforts to preserve the habitat that supports the existence of our human species.
Ethical Freethinkers realise that religion is making a comeback in many nations, after years of securalisation. In God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, a book by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, the authors describe how religion fills a great role in society, and in their case study, American society. They claim that the less the government offers in terms of social services, the more churches have to step in to fill the gap. Thus, with less government support for communities, families and individuals, religion in the US end up playing a greater role. The same goes for other nations where governments are leaving their citizens to fend for themselves. Conversely, Western Europe and Canada have in recent years been less religious precisely because their governments provide more social support. Micklethwait and Wooldridge state that, for better or for worse, the American Model of less government, more church support, and along with that, a revival of religion, is becoming the norm in many countries. The government pulls out, the churches step in.
Whether the hypothesis of God is Back is true, Freethinkers need to figure out how we can contribute to the Common Good rather than simply sitting on their hands. Of course, within many secular and even religious organisations, Freethinkers are working tirelessly to help others and the environment. Some are pressuring governments to follow more Western European models of social support. However, while waiting for the government to be more responsible with our tax dollars, what do we do in the meanwhile? Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and other religious entities are stepping up to the plate to help out their communities, and at the same time increase their membership. They are teaching their flocks to be ethical, to work for their communities, to seek to live healthier lives, to build their social network among the faithful. Those without a religion are left out.
Ethical Freethinkers are those who think with both mind and heart, brain and conscience. Instead of bitching about religion, we see the good the churches do, and applaud them. At the same time, we believe in freedom and social justice, which means that we don’t enjoy seeing people being roped into a new religion simply because they have an unmet need that a church can fill.
Ethical Freethinkers need to self-identify and not be shy in announcing what we believe and think about the world. Instead of allowing others to view us as a bunch of people AGAINST something (“nons” and “a-~~~~s”: atheists, agnostics, etc., skeptics), we need to more loudly proclaim what we stand FOR. If you do not accept any religious worldview, what is your alternative? Vice? Anarchy? Using non-belief as an excuse for non-action?
Truth, justice, freedom, compassion: these are invisible values that we cannot taste, touch, hear, smell or see, but they are nevertheless central to the cosmos. Apart from metaphysics, where to we find, describe and apply these values? We have no religion. Fine.
But in a sense, truth, justice, freedom, compassion, along with consciousness, time, etc. are elements beyond our material world, and thus seem to have a ¨spiritual¨ aspect. These are what drives us. These are our religion.
The Ethical Freethinker is someone of high values, someone who acts.
Not a complainer, but a doer.
Is anyone out there up for the challenge?
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