In which I take a stab at returning to the blog

It has been a long time since I added anything to the blog other than links to videos we have watched at our monthly meeting. I’m not entirely sure why I found it less appealing. Perhaps it was feeling overwhelmed with the ability of people like Jerry Coyne to produce a mammoth volume of well written and interesting posts on a daily basis while I struggled to do any kind of post more than once a week. Guess I should approach it more the way I do learning to play the guitar. I’ll never be all that great, it’s just fun to be able to do it at all.

So what is happening now? Well, next week I will meet with a guy named Jerry Nagel who is involved in a project with the Blandin Foundation in which some people (I don’t know who), will receive training (I don’t know what) to be influential in leading groups to achieve a broader understanding of their world views and how those views act as a lens through which they perceive the world…or something. It was suggested that he meet with me as a “leader” of a group with a “world view” and as someone who had entered into a discussion with others holding different world views, i.e. the CPC group now known as World Views Uniting.

My initial response after agreeing to meet was to take a look at the website for his consulting business which is It seemed the best place to gain an understanding of whether this was mostly woo or something more substantive. It looked like woo through much of what I read. Lots of stuff about world views driving us hither and thither via an unconscious channel. While I suppose you can demonstrate an unconscious channel in various situations, I’ve never been overly fond of the idea that we are walking around clueless to our real thoughts, emotions, brain events, etc. I’ve known plenty of clueless people, but I’m not sure they were clueless because they were unconscious. I think they were clueless because they lacked an interest in developing and nurturing a self-examined life. I for one don’t really think I stumbled into a secular/humanist perspective and remain unaware of how it colors my view of the world. I spend the better part of my life examining and evaluating that perspective.

So what will I discuss with Nagel? I’m actually supposing that he will take responsibility for aiming the conversation in one way or another, but have been making guesses as is my style. So here are some thoughts.

GRAF as a group does represent a world view of sorts, but what we share is mostly discomfort with the idea of a g*d and after that things get a bit messy. A fair number of us value a scientific view of the nature of reality and how to learn more about it, but that isn’t a dominant feature of the thinking process of everyone in the group. We also have a pretty strong skeptical orientation and avoid buying into other ideologies without evidence or reason and logic, but there again, we have different levels of skepticism in the group. The list of differences that exist within our group and between members is substantial after you get through the shared stuff.

So what I think is that I will have less to say about our world view and more about how the larger community is clueless about us, assigns qualities to us that aren’t accurate and often views us a threatening presence. I am reminded of that almost daily as I read the scary stories being presented by the religious announcing that the coming election may be the last one if they don’t shove a g*dly candidate down our throats (an image they seem overly fond of for some reason). Cruz will save the world by finally bringing the theocracy into being. Or maybe it will be Rubio or even Jeb!. Trump won’t save us at all even though he now claims to be as g*dly as anyone else. They don’t seem to realize he is a religious pretender. He certainly isn’t one of us. Just a sociopath who says whatever he thinks might make the con work. The “take our country back” meme is prominent in this political season, but I wonder if it reflects a dim awareness that religion is losing on a lot of fronts.

With these thoughts in mind, I returned to the World Views Intelligence website and then did a short search for videos to get a bit less of the woo and more of an explanation of what they are up to. It seems to come down to helping people overcome their prejudices, the use of stereotypes and other sorts of clouded thinking. Could such problems exist in this community?

If that works to include us along with all the other loathed, hated, despised and feared minority groups, maybe that is a good thing. I suspect that as we have found in our conversations with the CPC group, it may be a revelation of sorts to him to discover that atheists actually exist in rural America and can be the object of unconscious or conscious fear. He may also be surprised that there are enough of us to raise a stink with the help of the FFRF in a tiny town like Grand Rapids. Might be fun shaking his World View. More to come after next week….

3 thoughts on “In which I take a stab at returning to the blog

  1. Thanks for the link to the TEDx talk. I hadn’t seen that one, but then I didn’t spend much time looking once I had the general idea. This talk is more concrete and focused than others I found or than the website for Nagel’s consulting business.

    So the idea is that people can be full of prejudices, biases and exhibit a lot of narrow views on cultural matters including religion. That’s not exactly news I suppose, but I can understand someone trying to “fix” things by helping people discover that they are operating from a world view they haven’t really examined critically. I think those of us in GRAF are less prone to that than others. We have enough disagreement about the details of many issues to suggest this, but maybe I’m blind to reality too.

    I’m not sure what Nagel will be seeking in talking to me. He may have been surprised that we were participating in any kind of examination of world views at all or surprised that there were enough atheists in this small town to have formed a group. His talk in the link you provided made it clear he understood religion could be a fundamental point of disagreement, but didn’t say much beyond that.

    His idea that informing or educating people about the influence their world view can have via prejudices, stereotypes, etc. can help them overcome those things seemed a bit idealistic to me. The most significant change in world view on a large scale in this country seems to me to be the acceptance of LGBT rights. I don’t think this came about because of workshops, lectures or other small group activities. It seems it was mostly a younger generation rejecting on a massive scale the prejudices of the old folks. They had enough exposure to LGBT peers to reject the whole notion that they weren’t just as human as everyone else. At best, the old folks didn’t go into conniptions when this started to happen. Eventually, they were shamed into accepting gay rights by the kids. Maybe I have that all wrong or oversimplified, but the dramatic change on such a scale in the past 10 years was surprising at a minimum.

    So we’ll see what Nagel wants. It would be interesting if he wants atheists to participate in some activity he is planning. I’m not sure there would be a lot of takers unless the others involved can be certified as not likely to attack us as the last minority group you can hate without too many repercussions.

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