“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

Jesus and MoneyAt church on Sunday, an atheist stood up and talked about what our community (not the LGBT community but the Unitarian community) meant to him. They call this section of the service the pulpit editorial. I love a church that grants an atheist airtime.

At times I struggle with the notion of God, although I’m not quite ready to come out as an atheist. However, I’m comfortable sharing my current beliefs: I think humans should focus on the here and now, because this quite possibly could be the scope of our existence. If there is an afterlife, then lovely… that’s like getting a gift with purchase at the department store. But I’m not counting on it.

The minister then gave her lecture (it would be unfitting to call it a sermon) and the theme was: we are responsible for heaven on earth. What does this mean? Well, the blogger at Plonkee Monkey wrote a post last week called: Atheists Should Tithe that explains this perfectly.

He writes, “Actually I don’t mean that atheists should tithe at all, I mean that humanists should donate a reasonable proportion of their income to charities, but it wasn’t as catchy.”

“An atheist is strictly speaking, a person who doesn’t have a belief in God. This statement implies that atheism says nothing about morality or how one should live one’s life. However, many atheists would also consider themselves humanists. Humanists basically believe that humans are on our own in the world and that we need to make the best of it. This means that humanists specifically rule out appeals to deities of any kind. This is why I really mean that humanists should be doing something.”

“If you are a humanist, this existence is all of the life and experience you are going to get. It also means that:

  • Nothing is going to improve the lives of the poor and suffering, if nobody, anywhere does anything about it.
  • Nobody is going to save the environment if some humans don’t do it.
  • People are going to die early from disease and accidents unless some people do something. And when they die, that’s it.”

So what’s the point? Independent of whether we believe in an afterlife or not, we should spend our money to make the world a better place now. Jeanine and I were embarrassed when our accountant asked for the amount of our charitable donations last year. So we have a goal to be more generous in 2007. I’ll write more about this in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, feel free to read some of my other thoughts about this business of God.