Roger Ebert Has Died

Roger Ebert, who died today, earned so much admiration when his life turned darkest. Here is his personal account of his religious biography and how he came to be a secular humanist. Though he disclaimed the label atheism for various reasons,  the following qualifies him as one under my definition at least:

Let me rule out at once any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issued instructions to men. That some men believe they have been spoken to by God, I am certain. I do not believe Moses came down from the mountain with any tablets he did not go up with. I believe mankind in general evidently has a need to believe in higher powers and an existence not limited to the physical duration of the body. But these needs are hopes, and believing them doesn’t make them true. I believe mankind feels a need to gather in churches, whether physical or social.

I’ve spent hours and hours in churches all over the world. I sit in them not to pray, but to gently nudge my thoughts toward wonder and awe. I am aware of the generations there before me. The reassurance of tradition. At a midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the village church in Tring in the Chilterns, I felt unalloyed elevation. My favorite service is Evensong. I subscribe to Annie Dilliard, who says that in an unfamiliar area, she seeks out the church of the oldest established religion she can find, because it has the most experience in not bring struck by lightning.

Read the whole thing.

Your Reminiscences and Other Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • The Vicar

    You probably meant “disclaim”, not “declaim” there. “Declaim” means “speak with passion as if to an audience”. (Feel free to remove this comment. It just caught my eye.)

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/ Daniel Fincke

      Thanks! I will go fix it but leave the lesson for others to learn!

  • DoctorD
  • Einsamkeitslehre

    Hey! That was the guy whose articles helped me pick my movies at Redbox. I had no idea he was also known for being a humanist. No wonder his reviews were always spot on. I will look up his other works, perhaps he can illuminate me in other, less trivial matters.


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