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Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey
November 06
Publisher, CEO
The Good Men Project
Part of The Good Men Project. CEO of Good Men Media. I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public & become a part of the culture.

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FEBRUARY 21, 2012 11:41PM

How an Atheist Learned to Think About Spirituality

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I found something I can believe in. And it has everything to do with "good" and much to do with "men".

I was raised a Catholic, a “good” Catholic – baptized, communioned, confirmed, confessed. I slowly decided I didn’t like the organized part of organized religion, so I stopped going to Church, stopped participating in the rituals. Started to think of myself as more of a Christian, and then gradually slipped towards agnostic. And then I decided I didn’t like the religious part of organized religion either, and I had a “Spiritual De-Awakening”. I describe the moment when I turned, unequivocally atheist, in my post “On 9/11, Atheism, Buttons and Bowling for Jesus”.

But if an Atheist describes what he or she is NOT, I’m here now to tell you what I am. And why, in the scheme of things, my spirituality depends on what I think about men.


It was a year or so after I was feeling comfortable with my new, self-proclaimed label of “Atheist”, when a colleague of mine called me over to her computer and whispered conspiratorially “Here, take this test. It’s great – it’s called The Belief-O-Matic quiz."

“Right” I answered. I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled. “No really,” she said convincingly. “It tells you what religion you would be if you didn’t know what religion you were. Don’t you want to know?”

So I took it. And was told I was not an atheist but actually a “secular humanist”---the belief that it is “the connective goodness of mankind that moves the world forward.” And that I had a “naturalistic worldview and a positive ethical outlook.”

I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. (Just kidding, that was an atheist joke.) But truly---“secular humanist”---if there is anyone that believes that it’s the “connective goodness of mankind that moves the world forward,” that would be me. I felt as if I had been holding my breath for years and could finally let it out. YES. That is what I believed.


To me---The Good Men Project---that’s part of why it feel so much like home. Like such a part of me. Because I've come to see that it's part of my "system of beliefs". What are we forming if not connection points that believe in the goodness of mankind? A positive ethical outlook? Yeah, that, too.

I’ve mentioned before that for much of my life, I’ve been quite scared of men. My relationships with men didn’t get off to such a great start, and the systematic portrayal of men by the media didn’t help matters. At all. Men were scary because they were portrayed as villains. It’s hard to trust any individual man if you’re always wondering when the dark side is going to show up.

And so, for a secular humanist to not believe that one-half the population is “good”---it doesn’t work. To not be able to connect with half the people in the world spiritually---that’s a problem. It’s kind of like being half-alive.

But learning to believe in men as good---all men, as good  first---that was a spiritual awakening of the very best kind.


photo: aturkus / flickr

This post first appeared on The Good Men Project. 

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You are a good person, that much is evident. Does all the other nonsense really matter? I do think I'm gonna take that Belief-O-Matic test tho...
I would normally make like a baker's dozen sarcastic comments after reading something like that, but I just can't do it. I gotta get you started off on the men are OK and fundamentally decent as a group, even of some of them, like me, completely suck.

Secular Humanism is Atheism, though, so you're still safe on a number of fronts. There is no deity in whom to place faith in this philosophy, so you are not a theist, and thus still an Atheist.

I call this particular symptom of recovering Catholics, much like my mother, New Age Catholicism. You yearn for all the things a Theist religion has to offer, but you can't get yourself to have faith in any God.

Deism tends to work for people like this as well. There is a God, but he did his thing and is not an ever present force in the world. He exists, but He is not lingering to dominate your life, because he cares little about the individual lives and actions of his creations, only the species and planet as a whole.

I don't know...I think a God you can stomach as real is what you really want. Or, maybe I just read way too much into that. Anyway, good luck. It's a long journey, no matter which path you follow.
Have you read any Kurt Vonnegut? Or heard anyone interview him? I was lucky enough to hear him speak once almost 20 years ago. He was the king of secular humanists.