Saturday, November 17, 2007

Atheists

Freemasonry is not now, nor has it ever been a religion. Is it improper to require a man to profess a religion or a belief in a supreme being in order to admitted to Free-Masonry? If so, why? Surely the word of a believer can be broken just as quickly as any atheists word can be broken. If we truly believe in the brotherhood of all mankind how can exclude so many for having a personal opinion about the existence or non-existence of Deity?

For it came to a question of adjectives. What is a "stupid atheist" or an "irreligious libertine"? Does this not allude to their being a smart atheist and a religious libertine?

Brandt

19 comments:

Dustin said...

An organization always reserves the right to establish its own criteria for membership.

I believe that, with the frequent overtones and reference to Diety, an athiest would not only miss out on much of the beauty of our Craft by lacking the relationship with Diety in particular, may feel uncomfortable in general.

The last thing we would need is for someone to try to change the core structure of the morality of Masonry to suit their agnostic or athiestic tastes - like the lawsuits to take "Under God" out of the pledge of allegiance.

LVX said...

Well, I suppose it depends on how one defines the word atheist.

My interpretation of a supreme being encompasses everything, from Lomas' definition, which is based on physics, to adherents of the Abrahamic faiths. Also included are the multitude of monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic systems that are out there.

In my humble view, an atheist believes in none of the above.

Thus, if one believes that the universe and the subsequent evolution of mankind is nothing more than a series of random "natural" occurrences, then I don't see how Freemasonry or membership to any esoteric organization is applicable in their lives, unless it is to emphasize the Social Club aspect of Freemasonry, which, I believe, is the major complaint about the Craft among the Traditionalists.

I always believed that Freemasonry was a system designed to bring one closer to the source of creation and brotherhood was merely one aspect of the great work.

John Galt said...

Brothers,
Both of your posts sound oddly familiar to the discussion that we had on the subject.
We decided to leave the question of atheists open and take it on a case by case basis if indeed it does come up. This is Michigan, atheists are kind of a rare breed up here.
Both of you offered some strong insights and opinions to the question. An atheist may very well miss some of the more esoteric materials involved in ritual. Then again from his viewpoint he may get some things that elude the rest of us.
As lvx pointed out, the term atheist can be king of slippery. It is that reason that we have left the question open and will address it on a case by case basis.

Brandt

LightTraveller said...

"King of Slippery!" I love it! ;-)

Congratulations, Brandt. I hope this works out well. I believe I remember you from one or more Masonic fora, although I am no longer active on any boards.

I have a couple questions. No judgments or moralizing, I'm just sincerely curious:

Are you operating, or planning to operate, under any particular obedience or jurisdiction? Such as the GWU?

Do you open any kind of VSL when Lodge is at work? On what do you obligate candidates at the altar? My own preference is for a candidate to choose his own VSL for obligation, and to otherwise make use of a "White Book." (To me, the white light reflected from its pages is representative of the whole spectrum of faiths, including that faith in the laws of physics as professed by Bro. Lomas.)

Dustin: Don't worry, buddy. At least in this case, there is nobody coming in to attempt to remove anything from the altar in your Lodge or from the principles of your GL -- or mine. In fact, rather than attempting to remove anything from their own respective Lodges, these Brothers chose instead to remove themselves, and to establish a completely new Masonic environment where they will work as they see fit, interfering with no one else's equal right to do so in their own respective Lodges.

One last thing... I think this is a very different situation even from what is happening with Halcyon Lodge in Ohio. There may be similar aspects, but overall the circumstances are not the same. There are no old-time members cut adrift, no forgotten widows. Every person involved in this newly-founded Lodge is an informed, consenting participant. Those not involved can decide for themselves whether or not to see it as any of their own concern.

John Galt said...

Brother LightTraveller,
I am glad that you understand where we are coming from. Answers to your questions:

We use as VSL a Bible. Of course we would be just as comfortable with a Quran or other book. We have discussed the white book as a strong alternative and may well be switching to that.
As to what jurisdiction we will be operating under. We are entertaining some options right now. There are some very intriguing options on the table. When the lodge makes its decision it will be announced.

Fraternally,
Brandt

Moderator said...

I discussed this same topic on my blog (www.thesquareandcompass.blogspot.com). I don't think Anderson was implying that a believe in God was even required when you examine the entire section.

Jamie

Candide said...

Dustin"The last thing we would need is for someone to try to change the core structure of the morality of Masonry to suit their agnostic or athiestic tastes - like the lawsuits to take "Under God" out of the pledge of allegiance." so how does a devout Hindi,Moslem etc. feel about the references to the St. Johns?

Chris said...

Brandt,

First of all I understand your frustration with Grand Lodge, but I think you went about proving your point in the wrong way. If you guys wanted to do long form proficiencies and you were OK with leaving the GL of Michigan to begin with, why didn't you guys just operate under your charter and wait for Grand Lodge to try to shut you down? What would be their grounds? That you had high expectations of the Brethren? It wouldn't have looked good for them.

On the issue of atheism, they are called a dumb atheist because you cannot be an atheist, you can only be an agnostic. You can't NOT believe than an infinite energy source exists, you can simply decide to not give it a name. So philosophically you are dumb if you claim that there is no keyboard in front of me, and no screen to type on. They are FACTUALLY there, its just an issue of if you think that energy is personal or impersonal.

I think you guys really screwed up here, and its very sad to see dedicated brothers who want to cut and run then fix something that is already built but simply in disrepair.

John Galt said...

Brother Chris,
This has nothing to do with proficiencies. There is something that everyone seems to be mising in this farce.

Brandt

Chris said...

I'm just going off of what I read Brother Brandt. I know you guys think you are doing this wonderful thing for your Lodge, but you are hurting the fraternity overall. This has an awful smell of dislike for Grand Lodge officers and recent Grand Lodge happenings.

My point on atheism stands, and if you truly, deeply consider the philosophical and intellectual dishonesty it takes to take an solemn obligation without the presence of Deity then I am very sad to lose a MOTIVATED Lodge and Brothers who could have made a difference in this state instead of cutting and running.

Candide said...

"On the issue of atheism, they are called a dumb atheist because you cannot be an atheist, you can only be an agnostic. You can't NOT believe than an infinite energy source exists, you can simply decide to not give it a name. So philosophically you are dumb if you claim that there is no keyboard in front of me, and no screen to type on. They are FACTUALLY there, its just an issue of if you think that energy is personal or impersonal."-Chris. Not sure I understand,God=nuclear Power?Santa is real? Maybe I'm just a dumb Christian.Religion is a belief,the same as being an Atheist is a belief."Common sense is not so common!"

John Galt said...

Brother Chris,
I am sorry Brother, I may be missing your point. It seems that you are saying that one cannot be an atheist because one cannot be an atheist? That appears to be a circular arguement that holds very little weight here. I assume that you were rushed and did not have time to explain yourself in greater detail.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Fraternally,
Brandt

K.N.O. 4 skull said...

I understand if someone is an atheist. Actually, I'm certain some might consider me one if they knew what I thought. There was even a time when Christians were called atheists. In general, I find some atheists are vehement and ill-informed as any religious person. Take for example those who try to prove the non-existence of God based on the evidence for evolution. I never understood why these two concepts are mutually exclusive, either from a Christian or an atheist. I also see quite often that atheists can be some of the biggest religious bigots out there, though this is obviously not necessarily always, or even usually, the case. As a Pantheist who leans toward Panentheist, I feel that the atheist conception is the easiest one to fit into my view of God. If God is everything, then nothing readily fits into the ground of all being.

John, it is I who am anonymous on the BT site. I am posting as anonymous there for other reasons not directly related to the discussion, but I would be pleased to discuss further the concepts of objectivist philosophy.

John Galt said...

Personally, I believe it is ignorant to hold the idea that there is no Creative Force or Prime Cause.
That being said, as in your situation, I too and many other Masons would be considered atheists by some lodges.

Perhaps Brother I can start a thread strictly on various points of objectivist philosophy and you and I can discuss them for a long time to come.

Fraternally,
Brandt

K.N.O. 4 skull said...

I would not mind a discussion on objectivist philosophy. I think it would be fun! As to what the GLs think is atheist, it's not up to them as the question posed (at least in our jurisdiction) is only 'do you believe in a Supreme Being'.

The dictates of the petitioner's conscience are the only ones of consequence. Only he, even if he goes to church regularly, can prove he is not an atheist. If you lie on your application and truly do not believe there is some sort of motivating consciousness to the universe, then that lacks integrity. If you think you are an atheist, you should not lie just to 'get in'. Many like myself think an agnostic can believe in a supreme being. Of course, I now lean towards gnosticism more, but that is my personal path.

John Galt said...

I too am more inclined to the gnostic path. There is something there/here that is both inside and outside of creation.

My only qualm is that the term "atheist" is not as clearly defined as we would like.

Brandt

K.N.O. 4 skull said...

I agree the term is ill-defined. On the other hand, someone approaching the portals can lay claim to it if he so wishes. Still, atheism does function in a large field that even some atheists balk at recognizing.

I considered myself an atheist at one point, but when I thought about how blessed I am and often extraordinarily, I couldn't buy it. I've always thought something looked out for me. I understand if someone doesn't have that feeling, but in our country we have the uncanny ability to feel destitute when we often have so much more than people in other countries.

Anagram Anonymous said...

Just a note; the words in our work do not say 'stupid' athiest. There is a distinct difference between an 'irreligious' libertine, and I would consider myself a bit of a libertine, at least.

dametri said...

This post is probably forever lost in the archives of the web, but here goes. First, an atheist is someone who does not believe there is God. It's not an assertion that God does not exist. I interpret 'stupid atheist' as someone who actively asserts that there is no God.

This sort of person would have most likely been a believer at one time, but due to some tragedy expresses hatred toward a God who could allow it (like the Indian tsunami or the Holocaust). I would question that person's beliefs as much as I would someone who was absolutely certain that a God exists.

While there may be Atheists who use the Theory of Evolution as a way to "disprove" God, this is rare, and I have more often seen evangelical Christians misinterpret scientific acceptance of that theory as the Atheists' "God substitute" (perhaps oblivious to the fact that there are Agnostic, Deistic, and yes even Christian scientists who verify it). Neverthless, such a person would most certainly be, in my opinion, a stupid Atheist. There are also stupid Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, (insert religious or cult adherent here).

A belief is just that, a belief. A conclusion based upon conviction, emotion, and may or may not be based on fact. Furthermore, it tells nothing of the character of a person. If anything, philosophical rather than spiritual beliefs should be closely monitored. In particular, Nihilism, Fundamentalism, or any philosophy that denies the need for man to treat ALL his brethren as equal.