An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of October 25, 2009
Issued from the woods edge near Natchez, Mississippi, USA

RELIGION, ATHEISM & THE MIDDLE PATH

The other day an interview on National Public Radio discussed how the atheist movement in the US has fractured into fundamentalists and progressives. The fundamentalists aggressively ridicule and attack the beliefs of religious people while progressives see this as counterproductive, recognizing history's lesson that persecution draws attention to religious groups, causing more people to join them.

It sounds about right for the atheist movement to be breaking apart, for Nature shows that all things that become big and complex, even philosophical movements, fracture into smaller, often competing parts, unless they go extinct. The Tree of Life is the model for how it's done: There's a single, simple beginning, or trunk, that branches, and then those branches branch, and those branches branch, on and on. Atheism, then, having grown enough to be a large, complex movement, must fracture the way a tree produces branches.

Both atheism and religiosity are extreme positions. Atheism is extreme because its advocates behold the Universe's enormity, complexity and mystery, yet deny that any kind of Creative Impulse is responsible and worthy of reverence, or at least recognition. Religiosity is just as extreme because it requires its adherents to accept a belief system or "faith" off the shelf, prepackaged by someone else, and blindly believe in it with heart and soul.

A Middle Path is available between these two extremes. The spiritual Middle Path requires no priests, no sacred texts, no rites, no tithing or even a name. It is something between a mood and an understanding that spontaneously arises within each of us when we reflect on the nature of Nature, and allow our insights and behavior to evolve in harmony with that ever-more-inspiriting mood-understanding.

Along this Nature-guided Middle Path "ethical behavior," enhanced sensitivity to the rest of Creation, and reverence for the Creator arise spontaneously. Facebook Icon.