Personal Thoughts > What do you believe? - Jed King
As the first contribution in our "Personal Thoughts" series, what follows is a personal reflection from Jed King, one our members. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the group.
What do you believe?
At the AGM in June I confided that, in my 25 years of membership and association with the Birmingham Humanist Group, I've never really got to know anyone sufficiently well to feel that I truly belong in a real sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a staunch Humanist and proud to be a supporter of Birmingham Humanists, sharing our core values and standing strong against the spread of superstition, injustice and all the other evils of the religious world. However, I have over the years experienced a certain aloofness among some members (I stress not all) and occasionally an over-exuberance of intellectual one-upmanship. I don’t doubt that, at times, I too have been guilty of such failings. Perhaps a bit more humility and a more determined observance of the basic social graces would not go amiss amongst us when we meet. Sometimes all it takes is a sincere and friendly handshake, a cordial greeting and not least, don’t be afraid to accept an occasional hug when offered. I think we all too often forget the truism – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
I truly hope I've not caused offence to anyone with my rant and would dearly appreciate the views of others on these matters, but back at the AGM in June I suggested that perhaps we could get to know each other a bit more by sharing some of our thoughts and cherished beliefs with one another, thus stimulating all sorts of discussion and interest (hopefully). Anyway, as it was I who stuck his head up above the parapet on this one, the onus is on me to start the ball rolling. Here goes then, and no apologies for my limited literary prowess, my sometimes flowery language or my gratuitous irreverence.
A (tiny) selection of my thoughts and beliefs
I am an atheist, a very proud and committed atheist, and to be recognised by my peers as such is one of the greatest compliments anyone could possibly pay me. However, that says very little about me as an individual sentient being other than the fact I don't believe in gods, goddesses, holy ghosts, devils, demons or their various Abrahamic derivatives.
Let me elaborate a bit more.
I am honoured to base my whole philosophy of life on reason, personal experience and common sense. My emotional and moral stance to life broadly embraces the finer virtues and aspirations of secular Humanism – virtues which I believe to be the best means of achieving the highest standards of human understanding, advancement and coexistence. That is to say, I strive to be a good and fair-minded person at all times to my fellows and take full responsibility for my actions in life. I also defend the rights of all other animal species to share my planet and that, where exploitation of such is deemed necessary, it will be carried out with care, respect and with the minimum of suffering.
I have no interest in the egos of 'so called' omniscient, omnipotent god/s or demons, nor interest in the egos of the men who create them. I live by no superstition whatsoever, whether ancient or modern. As a free member of our species, I hold that the idea of God is the greatest con trick we ever perpetrated on ourselves and that religion exclusively the very pinnacle of human folly. I believe that both history and the horrors of today committed in the name of monotheism show that religion stands alone as the most virulent and pernicious cancer ever to threaten the peace and harmony of our world.
Nature of God/s
I have always given religionists a fair crack at explaining themselves and the nature of their God or Gods and, as is their forte, they go to great lengths to proclaim the wonderful attributes and achievements of these things but they never let on what a God actually is. I'm sure you've all experienced the same exasperations as I and found their conveyer-belt platitudes unconvincing and overwhelmingly hideous. The same can be said of the Bible and Koran having read them extensively and as objectively as I dare. Within these pages, the levels of 'adoration overkill' and snivelling submission to these imaginary ghosts is staggering to say the least. I am horrified as to how the welfare of humankind has been so tragically side-lined in favour of mass and gratuitous sycophancy to the whole gamut of Gods so skilfully rehashed and re-packaged from the cruel and jealous god Yahweh of the Old Testament.
I have never quite understood why an all-powerful God would create billions of imperfect human beings solely to procure flattery and praise from them. I'm not particularly proud of myself but I cringe with disbelief when witnessing the extraordinary performances of church congregations during their devotions. My only emotion towards a God whose craving was in fact for constant worship and subjugation could only ever be one of total pity.
Truth and destiny
I believe there is no such thing as 'Certainty' or 'Ultimate Truth', and that, Purpose and Meaning in Life are wholly subjective to the individual, - in my case I find that the love, comfort and respect of Family, friends and others are all the meaning I require and that, good and moral actions will in the main be reciprocated.
Culture and tradition
I am confident I understand how whole nations and cultures succumb to particular religious doctrines and dogma through the process of 'units of cultural transmission' (Dawkins' memes), and I witness every day of my life how 'viruses of the mind' in their many forms are spread. I have nothing against people pursuing religions or other mythologies as their conscience guides them providing they pose no harm to others and provided they do not influence State Politics or are given special privileges and Tax Exemptions as they are at present. I would strongly request of those who wish to champion eccentric ideas of supernatural intervention in the universe that they present hard and irrefutable evidence in support of those claims. It is not for sceptics to prove the contrary because the concept is already in the negative.
This is a huge deception cooked up by the hierarchical power-bases of all major world religions. Blind faith in anything and the promotion of it (especially the supernatural) without the slightest evidence encourages self-delusion, dishonesty and all manner of kidology. People who constantly brandish the 'Faith' card only demonstrate their bone-idleness to think their way out of the box. Try this… Ask a religionist to explain the nuts and bolts of 'faith' and they won't have a single suggestion that transcends the ridiculous.
I have agonised long and hard for years and can only conclude that the idea of a 'soul' (in the religious sense) is pie in the sky. However, I believe we all possess some sort of strange 'essence' of self or being that emanates from our consciousness, thus enabling us to experience things like wonder, awe, grandeur, love, compassion and all the other amazing things that stimulate our emotions and enhance our lives as unique individuals. I see no evidence of an 'immortal soul' that somehow slopes off from the body after death, forever to become the play-thing of a supernatural funster in the sky. If it is recognised by my peers that I have a goodness of 'essence' and a thirst for wonderment and knowledge then I ascribe these things entirely to myself and they are not to be prostituted for celestial reward at the end of my days, nor farmed out to any other competing external authority.
Life on earth is a history of mass extinctions throughout geological time and the evidence from the fossil record is crushingly conclusive at every stage. 'The Origin of Species by Natural Selection demonstrates that the natural world is truly red in tooth and claw and a cycle of untold carnage throughout the long ages. The whole process makes a mockery of 'Intelligent Design' and the supposed intervention of a merciful God.
I don't fear the inevitability of my death. However, I hope to meet my final day with courage and my dignity intact and as little pain and distress as possible, (billions will not have such fortune). Naturally, not believing in an afterlife I am resigned to the reality that, as the very last spark of my consciousness expires, I will never know I once existed. And! - I don't mind.
Future of humankind
If we are to have a future at all, we have to wise-up and grow up and resign all forms of religious absurdities and superstitions to the middle ages from whence they came. The 'Mind' is the greatest and most precious thing we have, if we don't use it ourselves, there will be no shortage of Imams, Priests, charlatans and politicians eager to sneak in and use it on our behalf.
Well I've kicked things off with a wee smattering of my thoughts (if anyone is interested) and I do hope others will join me in having a go at baring their souls (sorry essence). There's lots more of course but I've just broached the metaphysical for now.
I claim my rights to be offended by the beliefs of others providing I do them no harm. Likewise, I reciprocate the same rights to others who are offended by my beliefs, providing they do no harm to me.
Peace and Friendship to all.
Jed King, July 2014
This page was up to date on 21/08/2014.