• The Feminine Side of Atheism

    As I pondered my belief system, I happened to catch the actor Jim Carey on a talk show discussing a book he’d read on dark matter. I hadn’t heard about this until then, and it piqued my interest. I researched the subject and found books relating to dark matter and cosmology. This is when I began reading books written by Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, and other scientists.

    It was then that I finally came to terms with my spirituality and realized that science was what I needed in my life to explain the world and the universe we live in. I knew I had finally found something that made sense to me, and I began to feel the wonderment and awe about life I had felt as a child on those churchless Sunday mornings. I no longer needed a belief in the unexplainable to make me feel this way.

    – Emma Graham

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    Emma Graham was raised in the Lutheran faith. It was science that finally made her turn away. She is one of 22 authors who wrote an essay about her journey away from religion that Karen L. Garst, Ph.D. has compiled into a new book entitled Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion. Dr. Garst became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. “Will we never end the fight for women’s reproductive rights?” Garst stated. Once again, religion has influenced the laws of our land. Politicians cite their religion in supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues that are against women.

    The first leaders of the “New Atheism” movement that arose after 9/11 were men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. They came with backgrounds of science and philosophy and launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon an Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time.

    Dr. Garst wants to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. She states that “Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.” More and more women atheists are speaking out. And as we all know, if women leave the churches, they will collapse.

    She has received support with reviews by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other prominent authors.

    I encourage you to check out Dr. Garst’s blog at www.faithlessfeminist.com and to order this excellent book.

    Category: FeaturedReligionSecularism


    Article by: Caleb Lack

    Caleb Lack is the author of "Great Plains Skeptic" on SIN, as well as a clinical psychologist, professor, and researcher. His website contains many more exciting details, visit it at www.caleblack.com

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    • Emma Graham must’ve been foreordained for rationalism, if a nudge from Jim Carey set her down the path. ?

    • Brenda Weber

      “Religion is the best cultural barrier to gender equality.”

      I don’t know what I think about this statement. I do know I’ve observed gender bias among those who profess no religious belief. Not as often as those who do, granted, and I think it is true that much of the cultural biases regarding gender is indeed rooted in religious teachings. And at this point in history I suppose it is probably true that religious belief is the “best barrier” to gender equality.

      But I find it a little difficult to believe that prehistoric man, absent formalized religion, viewed females as equals. I imagine physical size and strength played a much larger role in that calculation.

      • Karen Gorder Garst

        I said that religion is one of the last cultural barriers to gender equality. That doesn’t imply that there were not differences before religion but that if we do not eliminate religion today, I don’t think we can get to gender equality because religion’s memes subordinate women. That said, as much as I have read about the goddess (from Paleolithic forward), I’m not sure there was not some envy of the female – her cycles matched the moon’s cycles, she gave birth, etc. Most of the figurines that are found in caves are of women. Plus there is evidence of the worship of a goddess throughout history. If you want to read more, I have a free ebook on this issue if you subscribe to my blog at http://www.faithlessfeminist.com. Thanks for your comment!

    • Karen Gorder Garst

      Caleb – Thanks so much for posting!

    • Shatterface

      I’m glad she heard Jim Carey talking about dark matter and not Jim Carrey talking about the MRR vaccine-autism ‘link’ and visualisation or she’d have just swapped one bunch of brain-wrongs for another.

    • Clare45

      Why do you think more women attend churches than men, given that they are put in a subordinate position by those same churches? It isn’t logical.

      • Christine Garam

        Its internalized misogyny. And the paternalistic patriarchy. And the community aspect. Woman is subjugated by man, church assures woman she is precious and loved by God, woman cleaves to church, church turns around and subjugates her further by insisting she can only be loved by god if she adheres to biblical ideology on what and how women are supposed to be. The church is very alluring. You don’t go to church and hear about how you’re scum as a woman, you’re placed on a pedestal. You’re special, practically magical, holy, with the caveat that you are only these things if you bear children for a man and be a help meet for a man. They nab you with the pedestal, and then they fucking chain you to it. But you can understand, given how women are treated by men in the world, religious and otherwise, why they would see the church as being so wonderful. The church would never treat them that way. The church doesn’t take them and their hard work for granted. The church supports their desire to be protected and made safe and provided for by a man (since men in the world only pay them 3/4 what they take for themselves). God knows they are deserving and worthy of near worship because babies. It’s a trade really I think. When a woman sees how she is treated in the regular secular world, and doesn’t get any benefits or praise from that world for doing what it asked her to, like having a career, it can be so easy to turn to the church, who WILL praise and benefit her if she only gives in to a few simple rules. Why wouldn’t she choose religion? From religion, she feels like shes gaining something, and she only has to give up some agency. From the world, she feels like she is gaining less, being treated as lesser (she is), but there isn’t the community of folk praising her like their is in the church. The stereotypical middle aged divorcee is a good example. Real life men fucked her over, stole her youth, took her for granted. But Jesus would never do that. Jesus may not cure her loneliness, or the pains that were inflicted on her, but at least he really appreciates her. At least he will always love her and never hurt her, so long as she trades her agency and surrenders to some bronze age rules about what she is supposed to be. You’re half right, it doesn’t seem logical, because we know it isn’t, because we know there is no god behind it. But its logical in the more realistic sense, if not an academic one. Safety is gained, always, by surrendering certain freedoms. If a woman wants safety enough, she will surrender her freedom and agency to gain it. Most people will, man woman or non binary. She feels like she’s gaining safety when she really isnt, but it doesn’t matter if you are safe. The feeling of safety is enough. Cars are the most dangerous things we use on the daily. But we sure FEEL safe, so we don’t actually care. The church makes women feel safe and protected and cherished. Even though that’s not what it’s really doing. And it takes a monumental crime against a woman in the church to make her realize that sometimes. Or in a more liberal church, it takes a very strategic balance between robbing her of agency and providing the feeling of protection, so that she never wises up.

      • Lucy Splendid

        Church/Temple/Mosques give women a support network and are easy to take children to. I visited a mosque on an open day. The women were in their own area and the children just played while the women chatted and supported each other. I also was brought up a Christian and at church the women would gather and talk and exchange information as well as advice. Women can go to church without being questioned as to their motives, so it is an easy place to escape to and find some peace and alone time. Sunday schools provide free childcare and the congregation a chance to meet others outside of the family home.

        The idea that it is to do with oppression and patriarchy is too simplistic and does not take into account the personal benefits for women. If we had more secular family friendly spaces that provided women with a chance to meet others and take their children you would find a lot more women would go to these spaces.

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