X-Message-Number: 20063
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2002 21:48:00 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: Religion and Secularism

David Stodolski, #20037, wrote:

[Mike Perry wrote:]
> >
> > any good properties are borrowings from secular philosophies. However,
> > I do
> > think that historically religions accomplished one positive thing that
> > secular philosophies did not, which was to give people a sense of
> > meaning
> > and purpose in life that otherwise was lacking. How? By providing
> > assurance
> >
>According to Terror Management Theory, any cultural framework must do
>this. For example, Communism provides meaning thru the concept of
>"history" and its inevitable stages, and the role an individual can play
>in history.

But communism, I think, has failed at a critical task that religions have 
succeeded at. To extend the quotation from me that is interrupted in 

>By providing assurance of immortality or an afterlife, along with an 
>associated cosmic order in which good would prevail in a way that was 
>impossible if one's life simply ended after running its brief, natural course.

Secular movements in general have failed to do this, and that was the point 
I was trying to make. Different forms of "providing meaning" are not on an 
equal footing, and the way religions have done it has an appeal that so far 
is unmatched by other, often more rational movements.

>The Nazis funded an expedition to find the Silver Challis. They also
>claimed to have the "Spear of Destiny," which used to pierce the body of
>Christ on the cross. The ownership on this Spear, the top leadership was
>convinced, made them invincible in war.
>They also promoted the Nordic Gods as an alternative to Christianity,
>when this seemed expedient.

"when this seemed expedient," yes. But Nazism was at heart a secular 
movement--I think that is a fair assessment based on all I've heard about 
it--and read, from Mein Kampf, for instance, and Speer's, Shirer's, and 
Toland's books. (I did look up *The Spear of Destiny*, a book by Trevor 
Ravenscroft which deals with a relic in Nazi hands that was allegedly the 
weapon that pierced the side of Christ. The book gets very mixed reviews at 
Amazon and I doubt it's taken very seriously by most historians. A book 
with apparently more credibility is *The Occult Roots of Nazism* by 
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. It makes the case that there were indeed various 
occult movements and ideas that influenced the Nazis but, I think, stops 
short of branding Nazism itself as a system of supernatural or occult 
beliefs.) Maybe someone with more direct experience would like to comment.

>Subject: Why People Don't Give Up Religion
>From: Joesph A Zarka <>, #20044
>Hello All:
>I found this interesting:

And so did I. I think the author (Frank R. Zindler, editor of *American 
Atheist*) makes some insightful points. Religion basically serves the 
function of uniting individuals into societies which then compete with 
other societies for resources. It's the old Darwinian imperative again, in 
one more of its many guises (though not directly recognized as such, the 
way the basically secular movement of Nazism tried to do). Zindler also 
completely misses the point I made above, that religions provide assurances 
of a life beyond our brief existence here--this issue isn't addressed at 
all in the article, and is certainly an important one, to go along with 
what else he says. I also found interesting such comments as:

>The need to find a cure for religiosity is pressing. The world cannot 
>survive much longer if problem-solvers' minds are clouded by the opium of 
>religion. We must perceive reality as accurately as Heisenberg's 
>uncertainty principle will allow! We cannot afford illusions. The games 
>our species is playing with us and with our environment are of 
>life-and-death importance.

This crusader, it appears, would save a world now in dire danger by 
"curing" religiosity, getting rid of religious beliefs. He is not an 
immortalist, however (so far as I am aware), so his alternative has nothing 
to offer in the way of hopes for life beyond the natural limits. In my 
estimation it is doomed to failure--as it stands at least--just as other 
mortalist attempts to supplant religion.

Jeff Dee's posting at 
http://www.atheist-community.org/library/wtc_gathering.htm is a good one. 
We are indeed in a "war against senselessness"--but I for one think that 
immortalist thinking and philosophies can offer something vital that is 
otherwise lacking and whose absence may well doom the effort.

Regarding the "godless march" (Joseph Zarka, #20043), the Venturists do, of 
course, support free inquiry and most of us are atheists or agnostics. We 
encourage participation in the march, for those who feel so inclined, yet 
don't require such expressions of support from our members, nor do we 
require the world views that correspond, that is to say, we don't require 
that our members be atheists or agnostics. We leave it to the individual 
conscience whether to attend an event based on one's convictions and 

On the personal level, with due respects to those who plan to go, and 
hoping it's a success, I find myself with somewhat mixed feelings. (I am 
"godless," yes, but, I would say, not at all lacking a "concept of 
divinity"--you can read about it in my book, ch. 10. I am also an 
immortalist, of course, not a death-accepter, in contrast to most who call 
themselves atheists. So far, with a few exceptions, they have not seemed 
much interested in cryonics or radical life extension.) I plan to attend 
Alcor's conference in November, and that will probably be the extent of my 
travels for awhile. If there were a "secular immortalist" march or 
gathering I would be more interested. This is probably a long way off, but 
might be something to think about in the future.

Mike Perry

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