Quaker Universalist Conversations

Coming by non-theism honesty

On November 10th, we shared excerpts from Secret Quaker’s blog post, ‘Theists’ and ‘Non-Theists’ – Can we get on together? There were several interesting comments, and Steven Schwartz has allowed us to republish his in the following post.

What happens if someone comes by their non-theism honestly? What I mean by “honestly” is that one gets to a non-theistic conclusion as one is reconciling the inner still clear voice and the objective knowledge that civilization provides.

Reconciling the still clear voice with objective knowledge is a reasonable and honest endeavor if one finds oneself respecting both of these sources, especially when the stakes are high!

The question facing Friends today is: What happens if one is honestly led to a non-theistic view? Does that person belong in a religious group? I sense that’s what many individual non-theists are asking themselves! One may ask what does “religion” even mean to such a person?

May I propose a leading? Religion is nowadays more about a shared experience of the awesomeness of “being here.”

The Milky Way in Stars and Dust, Credit & Copyright: Serge Brunier, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, 10/4/2005
If one has this view, not having a god, or even a God, in one’s thinking makes the experience of existence orders of magnitude more intense, more mysterious, and the stakes much higher, because there is no “backup plan.” No god is going to fix anything, or even punish the guilty or reward the virtuous, as if running the planet like a high school will make any difference.

Religion has changed throughout the millenia. Thousands of years ago it was about feeling one’s response to screams as humans were sacrificed to the sun-god.

Now I propose religion is about feeling one’s response to being.

Image Source

The Milky Way in Stars and Dust. Credit & Copyright: Serge Brunier. NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (2005 October 4).

Explanation: The disk of our Milky Way Galaxy is home to hot nebulae, cold dust, and billions of stars. This disk can be seen from a dark location on Earth as a band of diffuse light across the sky. This band crosses the sky in dramatic fashion in the above series of wide angle sky exposures from Chile.

The deepness of the exposures also brings to light a vast network of complex dust filaments. Dust is so plentiful that it obscures our Galaxy’s center in visible light, hiding its true direction until discovered by other means early last century.

The Galactic Center, though, is visible above as the thickest part of the disk. The diffuse glow comes from billions of older, fainter stars like our Sun, which are typically much older than the dust or any of the nebulae.

One particularly photogenic area of darkness is the Pipe Nebula visible above the Galactic Center. Dark dust is not the dark matter than dominates our Galaxy — that dark matter remains in a form yet unknown.


Psalm 130:6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more then the watchmen wait for the morning. Every Quaker has a personal calling and is just trying to discern it whether it is from the self or from the Lord, and act accordingly. In British quakerism there is no creed and testimonies are very personal. This is very different to those who are looking at the unknown for some sort of universal truth.
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