If you question scripture, if verses conflict, if you doubt your religion you are on the way to freethought-- and that is real freedom of mind and body


Advice to the troubled

The road you are approaching is extremely stressful, posing questions without end. That is natural, science, the creative and productive, evolving human mind in action. You should find the road more intriguing than fearsome.

Be prepared to suffer indignities from the religious people all around you, but please avoid becoming paranoid about their incursions into your personal philosophy of life. You can always ask, "How do you really KNOW that???"

One small step you might try is to attend some Unitarian-Universalist Church programs. With them any religion or no religion is acceptable. These will help ease you into your freethought mode and still maintain your moral stamina. Discuss your views with others, especially on the internet. Look up discussion groups and websites related to Atheism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Humanism, and Materialism. You might start with a general encyclopedia and dictionary to clearly visualize these terms, their meaning, and their significance.

"Neither I nor you, nor anyone else has all the answers..." That is the first step in science; it claims to have hypotheses and theories, and its answers are based on the PROBABILITY of truth or fact. Religions claim to have all the answers and bases their proclamations and dogma on pure faith and questionable scripture. The open mind is the free mind, it probes the frontiers of knowledge in the pursuit of truth and fact, at times fearfully for the truth sometimes can be painful.

An example of the pain of truth is that we as human beings are nothing
special. We are not "the Chosen People" that religions proclaim for their
followers. We are not capable of eternal life in a hereafter, when we are
dead, our atoms and molecules are reintegrated and spread throughout the
earth, eventually to be used by other beings and materials. The "souls" we
have is our very breath, as the old Greek term defines it. The ghosts,
goblins, gods, angels, and fairies are all wishful creations of the human
mind to elevate its inflated ego.

With this in mind, the only chance we have of achievement is to make life a
little less miserable for others on this planet we call home. We create
our own heaven or hell right here. The distinguishing factors begin with
whether we live closer to nature from which we came, and live a HEALTHFUL life (some would say virtuous or free of sin), we can enjoy the increased probability that we will have a healthier and more contented life. If we live an unhealthy life (or sinful in some peoples' minds) we are quite likely to have a miserable life and to make life miserable for others.

To question ideas of supernatural....
You are embarking on a courageous journey toward freedom, and that freedom entails free will. Free will is little more than the release we enjoy from the command of instinct. Our freedom of choice is practiced moment by moment throughout our lives: We choose between sleeping and eating now or later, to go to the movies or stay home, to spend time with our children or go out carousing, to visit the children's teachers or to screw the neighbor's spouse. The choices we make help direct the paths we follow. We can't blame the Devil, we can't say God's grace helped guide us, we can only say that we made a choice and that we believed it to be the healthiest (least sinful).

I could suggest that you look up Robert Ingersoll, John Dewey, Albert Einstein, and Mahatma Gandhi on the internet and at your local library. Much sound advice can be found with people like them. They were real, not fictions, not illusions, not spirits, but human beings who lived healthy lives to a great extent. You will also find that being human they made some unhealthy choices. They had the faculty of judgment, and free choice, and great minds to evaluate conditions, circumstances, objects, and events, yet they did in fact make mistakes. This is a basic problem in humanity.

I always advised young people, "You are young, you must experiment in the world to learn of it, you will make mistakes; but please remember 3 things: don't repeat the mistakes, learn from them, and, most important, don't make the mistake that will ruin you life or end it.

I found my contentment (not happiness or heaven or nirvana) by helping
others to find healthy contented lives. Of course, you must also be alert
to others who will take advantage of you, so you cannot be naive about
other's designs, especially if they proclaim to "be a good Christian". As
you read into Robert Ingersoll, you will find that this is the very cement
of his philosophy: helping others to be happy.

I will say that my "religious inclinations" have nothing to do with the blind religious faith and following that surrounds us. Neither does it have anything to do with spooks, spirits, and ghosts of various types.

Dr. Carl F. Selnes (MSgt Ret.)