MHA Newsletter: Issue 4

Who We Are

The Morganton Humanist Alliance is a secular support and community action group for those who value compassion, rationality, and critical thinking.

Family Hiking Trip

On a spring-like Sunday in February, Humanists of all ages geared up and made the trek to South Mountains State Park to tackle the 2.7 mile High Shoals Falls loop.

Oldsters and youngsters huffed and puffed to the top for an amazing view of Jacob Creek’s 80-foot waterfall.

The trail following the creek was lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron. Pools above the falls teamed with schools of tiny trout.

Some folks watched birds and tried to identify wildlife. Others just soaked up the weather and the scenery. Children laughed, screamed, made friends, and collected bits of nature.

Participants engaged in conversations about past nature hikes, life, the universe, and future MHA plans. The experience provided a sense of connection to one another and to the natural wonders of Western North Carolina.

Reach for the Stars

On February 19, the Morganton Humanist Alliance sponsored a fundraiser with the good folks at Wisteria Gastropub to benefit the astronomy program at Freedom High School.

Half of all proceeds from beer sales were donated to the cause.

Humanists and other generous community members were treated to the music of The Running Club (Sean Olds and Harry Harrison) while enjoying Wisteria’s superior food and spirits.

Making Morganton Beautiful

In spite of a sudden drop in outside temperatures, an army of humanists showed up to take care of our adopted highway.

It was a day for orange vests, trash bags, garbage stickers, and good hearted people. Sanford Drive is once again spic and span.

When the cleanup was finished the crew headed to Food Matters Market for their weekly cookout. Many thanks to all who participated!

Five Questions Christians Ask Nonbelievers

By Rusty Harrison, MHA Newsletter Editor

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Morganton Humanist Alliance

  1. “Can you prove that there is no god?”

The burden of proof is on the one who makes the assertion. If I say I have a gold coin in my pocket and you don’t believe me, it is up to me to show you the coin. It is not your responsibility to prove I’m lying.

No one can prove that there are no pixies, leprechauns, or other inventions of the human imagination and no one should have to. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” ~Carl Sagan.

  1.  “Are you angry at god? Are you rebelling?”

Are you rebelling against Odin?Areyouangry at Zeus? Do you not believe in Hera because you are angry with her?

  1.  “How can you see a sunset and not believe in god?”

The sunset is evidence that sunsets exist. It is not evidence for the existence of gods, devils, angels, or any other invisible creatures. How can you see a sunset and not believe in Apollo? After all, he is responsible for pulling the sun across the sky. Is not believing in Apollo difficult for you? Because that is exactly how difficult it is for me to not believe in your god. The scientific explanation for sunsets makes perfect sense to me. An absence of superstition in no way reduces the wonder and appreciation one feels when experiencing a beautiful sunset.

  1.  “If you experienced what I have experienced, would you believe?”

I was raised as a Christian and religion was at the center of my life for many years. I experienced religious ecstasy, speaking in tongues, and healing. I was born again and had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I got goose bumps and had prayers answered, just like every member of every religious cult in history. Religious ecstasy is only evidence that humans experience a wide range of cognitive and emotional states. Emotions are not evidence.

I have experienced Christian life. Have you experienced life without superstition? Have you ever had the courage to objectively evaluate the validity of your beliefs? Have you ever experienced the power and the uncertainty of being 100% responsible for your life?

  1.  “What if you are wrong? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?”

Staying on the safe side would mean trying to appease all 4000-odd gods and goddesses that humans have loved and worshiped across history. Pleasing one deity usually means angering the others. Chances are, I only believe in one less god than you do. Put 4000 gods in a hat and randomly pull one out (By chance, you were born into, and probably accept, the religious beliefs of your culture). The odds that you picked the right god are 3999 to 1. In other words, I have 4000 gods and goddesses angry at me, but you have 3999.

What if YOU are wrong? Reality demonstrates its true nature every minute of every day. You don’t need a humanist to inform you that snakes can’t talk, death is permanent, and the physical laws of nature remain in effect regardless. Living one life as a true human adult is an incredible opportunity! Thinking, emoting, moving, changing, learning, and being are the real miracles.

Conclusion:

The human experience is rich and bathed in wonder. Superstition is not required to enjoy the awe and amazement of being alive. Being responsible for your own life is a heavy burden, but it defines what it means to be an adult. Developing the emotional maturity to deal with the realities of death, unanswered questions, and all of the other uncertainties of human life without resorting to magic and superstition requires courage and unyielding integrity. One must be committed to all truths regardless of how scary or difficult. This path may be difficult, but the rewards are myriad.

I have no issue with privately held superstitious beliefs. If you believe that walking under ladders is bad luck, I think that is pretty harmless. But, when walking under ladders is made a crime, superstition becomes malevolent. When folks who avoid walking under ladders are given a tax break, superstition causes unfairness. When monuments and texts dedicated to the avoidance of walking under ladders are displayed and sponsored by the government, superstition becomes exclusionary. When bad luck from walking under ladders is taught in public schools, superstition becomes a force for ignorance.

MHA MEETINGS AND INFORMATION:

Regular meetings are held the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 pm, usually at Western Piedmont Community College, JBH 160

Social gatherings are held the second Thursday of every month. Locations will be announced as events are posted.

Family gatherings are held monthly, alternating between a Saturday and a Sunday. Dates and locations will be announced when the events are posted.

For more information about the Morganton Humanist Alliance, check out our facebook page or email morgantonhumanistalliance@gmail.com

For information about the American Humanist Association, visit their website.