Atheism and Community

There is a certain need for humans to work as groups. The needs seem to be different for the genders. Men need collaborative work, like team sports, where stubborn determination is key, but emotions need to be subdued (anyone who has seen a 9 year old throw a tantrum in the middle of a football game can attest to emotions not being helpful in sport). This is probably a psychological left-over from hunting. After all, if you’re hunting the last thing you want to consider is the possibility that Steve is distracted by his partner fancying someone else or Alan skitting out because he fears death. Women, who probably provided most of the food for the community, could afford to discuss emotions because they were gathering berries and tubers and roots. Any emotional requirements women had the community could meet. Either way, men’s stoicism and women’s emotional requirements can be met in many ways. Personally, I recommend barbecues and community halls.

Religion actually fills this niche pretty well. It gives excuses to claim part of a group, much like football teams do and creates the sensation of being loved and accepted as if by a sorority (without the hazing… except, sometime with the hazing).

Think for a moment about British life for a peasant during the Industrial Revolution. Their life was 12 hour days working, 6 days a week, in gruelling conditions. That leaves 1 day a week for socialising a building a community. And social pressures dictated that it must happen in Church.

Capitalism took away our fire gazing, gathering, farming and hunting. Religion took advantage of our need for social interaction. Now, we’ve lost the gruelling work day and, religious or not, we’ve lost the social pressure to attend Church. I think that (alongside a culture of self-entitlement and “I-know-my-rights-(but-not-my-responsibilities)”-ism) has cut us off from our sense of community.

But, I believe we can regain this without the Church and definitely without atheist Churches (because… what?!)

(1) Community halls¹

Imagine if we used community halls to have a barbecue, meet the neighbours and relax on a weekend or weekday evening. Imagine how many more people would offer to help out. I know from experience that I end up training the elder generation to get comfortable enough with their computers to email and (at a push) Skype the families. They love being able to share pictures. A friend of mine get roped into helping build a house. Consider that. Building a house on community labour.

(2) Community pets

My girlfriend wants the local old-people’s home to adopt dogs and employ a dog carer. She also wants the dog carer to be her. Her reasoning is that she loves dogs and that dogs can be demonstrated to lower morbidity and mortality.

(3) Community projects

I work with people I basically never got on with. Except, last week I (de facto) became the head of a small project to get people to use Google Docs. I pushed for my school to use Google Docs because using collaborative live documents reduces paperwork duplication, makes liaising and collaborating more time efficient and reduces the number of emails we receive. Since I have helped collaborate on this project, I have found myself getting on better with these people. And that was a 1 day project. Imagine if we ran our own town Newsletters, tried to out-do the local newspaper or ran a community library. How many friends would we develop then. These are the standard community projects. More ambitious projects, like homelessness projects are also valid and secular ideas.

(4) Free exercise classes

In Asia it is common to walk past a park and see people doing step classes or Tai Chi or yoga, free. Someone brings music and someone does yoga and people from the community join in. It is mostly stay-at-home parents; the kids get to go to the park and the parents get to do some exercise. But the hectic life of a stay-at-home parent shouldn’t mean they are outside of the community, so this is actually a great idea.

My point is that religion does not monopolise our sense of community, but we live in a society that doesn’t seem to realise how much time we have gathered since the Industrial Revolution to start rebuilding our communities around values which actually reflect us. I dare you to rent out the local community hall for a barbecue or start a book club or (as bloggers) use social media to start a local newsletter (and, in it, advertise a local barbecue). When you start doing things for community, look at how many people start to give you things for free.

1 – if you don’t have community halls, consider the local Church a community hall. Be cheeky.

Text in blue is an edit for clarity, after a short discussion with SilenceofMind.

28 thoughts on “Atheism and Community”

  1. Ahh: “Someone drinks music and someone does yoga and people from the community join in.” Notice the mistake?? Haha, I’m just following orders and being cheeky 🙂 (I’ve made far worse errors, I might add)

  2. You’ve obviously never played sports or been hunting.

    I can’t think of two more emotional activities for men.

    Men aren’t supposed to show unattenuated emotion in everyday life.

    But sports and hunting are activities that men engage in with not just emotion but with passion.

    A man can’t be good at sports or hunting or anything, for that matter, without a high level of emotion.

      1. Allt,

        Look it up?

        I’m a real man who has hunted and played sports.

        It’s all about emotion and passion.

        You really do need to get out more and mix it up with the little people.

      2. Allt,

        By watching any football or hockey game on TV anyone can see the emotion and passion that powers the excellence of athletes.

        The emotion and passion that powers any pursuit of excellence is almost obvious.

        Your post, like atheism denies the obvious and completely ignores human nature.

    1. Really, it’s just a response to the fact I think “atheist Churches” are stupid. It’s taking a community idea and making it exclusive to atheists (who, unlike the religious, have no particular central idea to make them a self-selective community).

      Glad you like it though.

      1. I’m glad you think so. I think community projects would be the most enjoyable (but that may be unique to be). Failing that, I have an Annunciation Church not far from where I live and I do love BBQs.

        Can you think of any other options?

      2. Nothing new really. Meet and enjoy a good conversation over beer and bbq. I don’t care much for location as long as we can light a fire

  3. Capitalism freed the common man from a life of bone grinding poverty and gave him access to a standard of living higher than the Ruling Class of yore.

    Star gazing, hunting and all sorts of leisure activities are bountifully available to the common man thanks to capitalism.

    The leftist complaint about capitalism rests on the absurd notion that it should have hatched itself among men fully grown and developed.

    And that is the incestuous kin to the fundamental atheist dogma that everything happened all by itself.

    1. Quite how you’ve taken the criticism that capitalism gets in the way of community to be an overarching criticism of capitalism,called that leftist and made left-leaning political views akin to atheism is alien to me.

      1. Alla,

        The “criticism that capitalism gets in the way of community” can be disproven by simply going to a supermarket.

        Cooperation, a Christian value, is the first principle upon which capitalism is based.

      2. What do you expect I will see at a supermarket? How will it support the hypothesis that capitalism does not diminish community?

        Do you really believe no one co-operated before Christianity?

      3. Alla,

        In the American supermarket one finds super-abundance and super-variety and super quality.

        Consider the humble pencil for a moment.

        Legions of different people from near and far cooperate to design, manufacture, market and distribute a single pencil.

        Adam Smith wrote about this phenomenon in his “The Wealth of Nations,” nearly 300 years ago.

        Certainly people cooperated before Christianity, but never even near to the level, depth and sophistication that such a stupendous religion endowed to man.

      4. I contest the assertion that religion lead to co-operation.
        I contest the idea that co-operation in designing a pencil is the same as having a sense of community.

      5. Alla,

        The proof that religion leads to cooperation is the fact that all the great civilizations in human history have risen up around religion.

        And the greatest civilization in human history, Western Civilization was powered by the greatest religion in human history, Christianity.

      6. The actual values of religion gave us the Dark Ages. Religious people existed, but generally ignored the values of their religion, during The Enlightenment.
        Some highly talented and influential people were religious, like Newton, but his actual achievements were secular. Newton’s theology is as much discarded as his alchemy is.
        People have nearly always had religion. The best AND the worst cultures grow around religion. However, the happiest countries in the world right now (the Scandinavian countries) are highly secular and irreligious.

      7. Alla,

        There were no “Dark Ages.” That’s just a name given to that time period by Protestant and atheist propagandists who wanted to discredit the Catholic Church.

        In fact, the Middle Ages were the result of the collapse of Greco-Roman civilization and comprise a very fertile period in human history when an entirely new civilization gestated.

      8. The words “leftist” and “propaganda” are not evidence. Those words are claims in their own right. By using those words you are making the claim that the “Dark Ages” are politically-left-leaning propaganda. Guess what! That needs to be substantiated.

      9. Alla,

        The fact is that there were no “Dark Ages.”

        That’s not my opinion. That’s an established fact.

        That the Catholic Church shepherded the rise of Western Civilization during the Middle Ages is also an established fact.

        That makes what you said about the Dark Ages, false.

      10. Alla,

        Just take a non-leftist, non-Protestant history class on the Middle Ages.

        A great book written by Dr. James Hannam, a recognized authority in the field is “The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution.”

        I recommend getting it as an audio book.

        Hannam tells the history through the legion of men and women who lived during that period and contributed to the genesis of science.

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