Religion & Philosophy

The Sunday Assembly: a weird idea, but a compelling one

When thinking about why churches thrive, understand that religion is far from the most important factor.

Did you see the recent story floating around on the growth of the “atheist megachurch,” the Sunday Assembly? I’m really interested in the concept. Churches have three main draws: religion, community and professional networking. The first of the three is probably the least important to the maintenance of most congregations and community is easily the most important. I’m keenly aware of my lack of a tribe here in my new city, so a community built around some of my values would definitely be worth exploring.

Still, the whole concept is a weird one, and one of my old profs, Dr. Stewart Hoover, explains why in a new post. And if anybody would know it would be him. Stewart is probably the world’s top authority on religion and media, and here he rather quickly gets to the nut of the issue.

Categories: Religion & Philosophy

6 replies »

  1. Absolutely agreed Sam, the human need for tribe/community draws us together. S&R is a tribe and I remember coming here not very long ago as a stranger and being regarded with distrust and suspicion. But I wanted in bad enough to stand for the ceremonial intellectual hazing and pretty soon I (sort of) passed the sniff test and gained at least novitiate entrance to this tribe of the mind.

    Religions are tribes of the mind and one dishonest thing I notice about some atheists, or at the least a logical inconsistency, is the claim that atheism is not a religion. Dr. Hoover even dances around it. “Belief defines American culture, and the absence of belief is very hard to maintain. Many atheists find themselves having to portray their atheism as a kind of belief, not as a rejection of belief.”

    If we accept religions as belief systems defining the universe’s origins and humanity’s place therein, atheism absolutely fits, not as an absence of belief, but as a firm credo that man created god in his own image. Humans have an innate need to believe in something, even if it’s just ourselves.

  2. OK, just to be fair, it wasn’t actually hazing as much as it was tribal insularity. We were trying to figure out if you were serious a couple of times. Once we decided you were (and smart and interesting) you were in. Now that didn’t mean we treated you nicely (I remember calling one of your positions “despicable.”) but it did mean we did (and do) take you seriously and respect your arguments.

    • When you first walk into a place people have no context for you. Once we got to know Frank a bit it became clear that we should interpret was he was saying in one way instead of another. I think people are probably routinely baffled by me, because I write here with the assumption that people has really me, whether they have or not. I say things that, if you don’t know me, probably make me seem like a complete bastard. Once you get to know me it becomes clear that I only a partial bastard.

    • I felt the love brother. I made it through Parris Island unscathed so a pack of cranially carnivorous PhD’s and other assorted mental Houdini’s doesn’t faze me. I wanted in, I like the conversations and I love the brain food…I miss your contributions by the way but I understand work interferes grievously with our hobbies. Now, back to “Is Atheism a Religion”…god only knows (G)

  3. The first response was por mi pince amigo Otherwise, this is little brain contusion is for Sam…Agreed, ASCII text communication is an art unto itself. Our first few go rounds were confusing as hell, for both of us I imagine. Once I figured out you’re not particularly partisan, you just like to shred stupidity then I warmed up to you and meeting in person clinched the deal.

    Brothers from another mother, I’m the happy chirpy tardy (relatively) one and you’re the dark cranky intellectual one. Almost reversed mirror images which makes for most interesting idea exchanges. This is a good place and I am glad to be here.

    Back to the subject line, there should be a middle ground of Semitheism. The Church of “Yeah Somebody Lit the Fuse On This Big Bitch of a Universe But It’s Just Us Chickens Here Now.” I still wouldn’t go to meetings, but I might wear a silver question mark on a chain in support of the faith.