Sep 132011

I started this blog exactly 7 weeks ago. I wasn’t sure then what I would want to say, so initial choices of Categories and so on were guesses. I’ve gradually adapted the blog to align better with experience so far.

I have a sort of wistful desire for a fancy name, perhaps a bit esoteric. Examples include: “Pharyngula“; “Butterflies and wheels“; “Lacrimae Rerum“. But I don’t have that sort of imagination. So I started with “Barry Pearson’s blog”, then because that was too formal, settled on “Barry’s blog” until I can find a better name. (I don’t appear to be the sort of person who gets referred to by their last name!)

The original sub-header was “Gods and religions; photography, and miscellaneous observation from England“. I’ve scrapped “miscellaneous”, which was  redundant, but the key change is to “Gods and religions”. The blog is only about those in a negative way, sometimes arguing against them. I want to emphasise a more positive position.

Rather than a generalised opposition to religion, for about 3 years I’ve advocated that everyone concerned should act according to “Religions are hobbies“. If religions and religious people act like that, we can coexist happily. I only need to consider cases where religions try to gain or retain more privilege than that, or where religious people behave in ways that other hobbyists wouldn’t get away with.

Where belief in a god is private, or exists within a religion practiced as a hobby, it is of little concern to me. It becomes a concern when believers criticise non-believers using arguments about morality, or claim that “non-belief” is intellectually wrong, and “belief” is the only intellectually valid position. I’ve covered the morality argument in “Religions are incompetent at morality“, and provided believers with the tools they need to justify their intellectual claims in “How to convert an atheist“. These identify the hurdles that religious people need to overcome before I need take them seriously on these matters. (Obviously one of the hurdles is the fact that, across the world in the 21st Century, 1000s of gods are worshiped, and 1000s of religions are practiced).

So where religions and gods stay within bounds, I am more interested in the positive aspects of atheism. Someone who self-identifies as an atheist has probably thought about the implications of being in an identified category of people. That probably includes thinking about the relationship with people in other categories, and any differences in respective privileges. “Secular humanism” is a natural position for atheism, although not everyone has got there yet.

But merely being atheists is only one measure of people, and often not the most important. I tried about 3 years ago to identify a more general measure of which atheism is just an aspect. Hence my “Dimensions of enlightenment“. I have now blogged a few times about enlightenment. As far as I am concerned, atheism and enlightenment are the positive things I want to talk about. So they have replaced “gods and religions” in the sub-header and the relevant Category. Arguably “enlightenment” is sufficient, and perhaps “atheism” will become less prominent here.

I will still write “observations” when I think influential people are seriously wrong about something. (So plenty of scope there!) And still chat about “photography” in general. So those Categories remain.

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