Several weeks ago, a dear friend of mine told me, “I thought I could handle being an atheist. But I just can’t. The world is too terrifying without a religious structure. So I’ve chosen to go back to church, and go back to believing.” He said it with a downcast look of shame as if he was confessing something terrible. I didn’t think he was. I appreciated his honesty.Continue reading “The Ravenous Need For Religious Order”
Religious Language For Nonbelievers
Last week’s article The Nontheistic Experience of God provoked some good discussion within my community about meditation, spiritual experiences, and the use of the word “god”.Continue reading “Religious Language For Nonbelievers”
Mysticism Is Like Sex
Mysticism is like sex. Let me explain.
I don’t believe in god or gods. I have no belief in an afterlife or supernatural beings. I’m not saying that they don’t exist. I’m open to being wrong. I just have an absence of belief in them. I’m what could be described as a “soft atheist”.
And yet, I also have a lifelong fascination with altered states of consciousness and the experience and practice of mystical self-transcendence. This fascination started when I was a child growing up in a charismatic family.Continue reading “Mysticism Is Like Sex”
The Bound and the Unbound: Religion and Transcendence
I recently listened to a fascinating conversation between the Catholic writer Arthur Brooks and the atheist Sam Harris about the role of spirituality and religion in a healthy life. You will need to get a subscription to either the Waking Up app or to Harris’s private feed to listen to the section in question. I leave your support of Harris up to your own discretion.
For the time being, let’s set aside the political and ideological differences I have with both these men. I’d like to focus on a fascinating difference between Brooks and Harris.Continue reading “The Bound and the Unbound: Religion and Transcendence”
Reactions to Satanism: A Field Guide
I’ve been a Satanist long enough now to notice some patterns in how people react to the news that I’m a Satanist.
What I find most fascinating about these reactions is how inflexible they are. They seem to be manifestations of buried beliefs that are incredibly resistant to change. With very rare exceptions, I haven’t seen any of these attitudes shift in response to new information or perspectives.
Without further ado, here is my field guide to reactions to Satanism.Continue reading “Reactions to Satanism: A Field Guide”
Sacred Tension: Atheist Revolt with Aron Ra
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with famed atheist activist and youtuber Aron Ra. We discuss the battle against encroaching theocracy in his home state of Texas, his coming out as a Satanist, whether Satanism qualifies as a religion, and much more.Continue reading “Sacred Tension: Atheist Revolt with Aron Ra”
Sacred Tension: Remembering Christopher Hitchens with Ben Burgis
In this episode of Sacred Tension, socialist author, podcaster, and professor Ben Burgis returns to discuss his new book on the late Christopher Hitchens.Continue reading “Sacred Tension: Remembering Christopher Hitchens with Ben Burgis”
Sacredness in a Godless World
Theists often struggle to understand how I can maintain a deep sense of sacred awe without believing in the supernatural. They seem to assume that a life without God is a dry, artless, wonderless existence. As I discussed with Matt Langston in a recent episode of Sacred Tension, my personal experience is much the opposite. I feel like nontheism has ripped away the veil between me and the fundamental mysteries of reality. The utter inexplicability of being, without a God to rely on as an answer, is the most sacred and mysterious thing I have ever experienced.Continue reading “Sacredness in a Godless World”
Sacred Tension: Black Nonbelievers with Mandisa Thomas
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with Mandisa Thomas, founder and president of Black Nonbelievers. We discuss the experience of being a black atheist, the black church in America, racism in the atheist community, and much more.
Find Black Nonbelievers hereContinue reading “Sacred Tension: Black Nonbelievers with Mandisa Thomas”
On Atheistic Mysticism
I consider myself a mystic, and yet I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God, gods, the afterlife, or the supernatural. How is this not a contradiction in terms? Isn’t supernaturalism and woo central to the experience of mysticism?Continue reading “On Atheistic Mysticism”