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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

I started doing hospice volunteering over thirty years ago.

I wrote an essay to use for training of new volunteers (attached)

Like me, I knew they had to be prepared to deal with folks with widely varying belief systems. If they had only one thing in common, they would all die.

When we were born, it was as if we entered this life through the open outer door of a flying airplane. We have no parachute. This metaphor can be expanded in numerous ways but for now, we will focus only on this life and the three choices we have for however long it may last.

  1. We could disregard the inevitable and close our eyes. Avoidance may seem to provide peace but will thwart our view of the beautiful scenery on our journey to the splat.
  2. We could flail and cry with fear. Again, missing the scenery.
  3. Our third choice is to relax and enjoy each day, each minute of our life.

It is not the intent of this article to even begin to scratch the surface of the infinitely complex discussion of where we came from and where or if we will go somewhere after this earthly experience.

After reading my essay I would appreciate frank feedback as to how this could be improved. I want to make sure these volunteers we train are able to work with everyone who is falling regardless of their beliefs about how the fall started or what may happen after it ends.


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Thanks for the Percy article

I have not been on this site long, but am finding some great stuff, thanks.

Is it just me, or do some atheists sound like members of various fundamentalist religions and have little tolerance for other belief systems?

I have long been concerned about folks promoting their beliefs as the "right" beliefs and having little if any tolerance for different belief systems.  It seems that fundamentalist sects are trying to convert others to their belief system rather than exploring other belief systems.  

I was raised in a religious tradition that cultivated me to pity those following a different spiritual path. In later years, after extended discussions with friends raised in other traditions, I found out they recall pitying me! Like me, they had hoped and prayed that the “unfortunate ignorant others” would someday see the light and join them on the “One and Only” path to something special in the next life. We all remembered being encouraged to convert errant friends and save them from eternal damnation. The words “different” and “wrong” were synonyms when used in a sentence with religion. I don’t feel guilty nearly as often these days. I packed a lifetime of guilt into my first thirty years.
Varied paths that each claim to be the “One and Only” path is a paradox. Simple logic dictates that a diverse species will explore spiritual mysteries in diverse ways.

Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Religious dogma and ritual can be likened to a finger. Many different fingers point towards the moon. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger. The menu is not the meal.

Fingers not only represent various religious traditions in this metaphor but atheism and science have fingers also.

Percy alludes to that our senses, our experience and shared experiences of others should guide our beliefs, not dogma,

Even the insightful Tibetans are only guessing.

Just guessing I guess. Lol

Fingered Moon, I totally agree that we must always strive to be tolerant of other peoples views. But we must remember that it's the religious people around the world that persecute Atheists to the degree that many are imprisoned and even killed. 

We should also remember that religious people persecute not just atheists but also other religious people.  The Crusades was Christians vs Muslims.  Christians fight Christians (Protestant vs Catholic)  Muslims fight Muslims (Suuni vs Shia)  Millions have been killed by warriors carrying out the perceived will of God or Allah or ????.  The leaders convince the cannon fodder that they are fulfilling the will of the "supreme being"  and insure the warrior that their martyrdom will be a very rewarding experience (while the leaders hide in their secure castle/bunker).  

I have not seen the movie, but read the book "The Egyptian"

This historical novel shows how political leaders used gods to motivate the masses since at least 1400 BCE.

According the Napoleon,  "Religion was created to keep the poor people from killing the rich people."  Hence the Concordat of 1801 negotiated with Pope Paul VII

So was religion used as an excuse to increase influence and wealth?

To have a war, the leaders need an enemy

One good way to create an enemy is to convince your people 

that "those people" are bad people

one way to be bad is to follow the "wrong" god

War is the good guys

killing the bad guys

who think they are the good guys

I couldn't agree with you more FM. Even in today's democracies their leaders in order to avoid scrutiny they will point a finger at others. Trump seems to do this at almost every press briefing 


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