Sunday is often a day for thinking about religion. Well, for some people at least. But for many people who attend church regularly on Sunday, no thinking is required - just put your bum in a pew, perhaps sing, chant or exclaim an occasional "Amen" or "Hallelujah". Or, if church isn't your thing, maybe the boob tube is the answer. After all, there's sports aplenty, lots of news, many mind-numbing commercials - all designed to help you avoid the big questions. Among the non-church-attending, there are even those who gather their sweat pants and T-shirts, iPods, and heart monitors, get in the car, and drive to their local gym to lift weights or do aerobics. Now those people truly are crazy!
But for those, like myself, that John Spong calls the Church Alumni Association, thinking about the role of religion in society, the place of the divine in one's personal life, and all the theistic and nontheistic variants - this is something often best done on a lazy Sunday morning. In my case, it is enhanced by ready access to the Internet, especially Amazon.com, Wikipedia, YouTube, the Google search engine, and other assorted portals, and close access to coffee, a microwave oven, and the downstairs washroom.
So, as I began my meandering through the hallowed halls of Internet portals, I came across a couple YouTube samplings that got the ball rolling. The first was Paula Zahn's excuse for journalism in which she asks the question "Are atheists really discriminated against in the United States?" Then there was the inevitable response, "Why do atheists care about religion?" At least the response made more sense than the Paula Zahn debate, something that would have been better suited for broadcast on the Fox network than CNN. Pulllleeeeease!
But overall, if you're looking for intelligent content, YouTube isn't the place to go. True, there were some good bullet points in the second video:
* atheist boys cannot be members of the Boy Scouts of America
* 7 states do not allow atheists to run for office or testify in court
* many founding fathers in the United States were not Christians (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin)
But if you want to think this Sunday and you want to watch a video, get Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth instead.
I then mosied over to Wikipedia where things are much, much better. Several noteworthy articles are well worth reading:
Weak and strong atheism
...and many, many links and references.
And then the links circled round back to YouTube at nontheism.org. Unfortunately, most of the YouTube videos are no longer available. But the final video with Richard Dawkins, "Why Are We Here?" is available and it's a dandy. Much of it is about Charles Darwin and evolutionary science.
If there is one fact of science that all 'isms have to address, it is evolution. If your pet belief doesn't do so using evidence, then it isn't worth the, uhm, paper it's written on. Even if I don't reach all the same conclusions as Richard Dawkins, we do share some similar perspectives; namely, ask the questions, follow the evidence, make your conclusions boldly but provisionally.
Next week, on Darwin Day, I think I'll get ready for my Sunday thinking about religion by attending a Saturday evening event at the University of Waterloo all about the evolution of medicine. Donations will go to the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre. I hope to see you there. Maybe you can share with me what you do on a lazy Sunday morning.