Black Atheists : What is Freethought?

Discussion in 'Atheist Study Group' started by Omowale Jabali, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas.[citation needed] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking,"[citation needed] and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers."[1]

    Freethought may hold that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers often hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena.[2]
    Free thought can be as agreed by a consensus, but above all, to each their own. Many people can form for themselves things that have been integrated by personal significance that may not be available to an outsider perspective on ones own experience of the world. This is apparently rare.
    A line from "Clifford's Credo" by the 19th Century British mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford perhaps best describes the premise of freethought: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The following is from the same Wikipedia article.

    In Buddhism a type of freethought was advocated by Gautama Buddha, most notably in the Kalama Sutta:
    "It is proper for you, Kalamas [the people of the village of Kesaputta], to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blameable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them. "...Do not accept anything by mere tradition... Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures... Do not accept anything merely because it agrees with your pre-conceived notions... But when you know for yourselves—these things are moral, these things are blameless, these things are praised by the wise, these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to well-being and happiness—then do you live acting accordingly."​
    However, Bhikkhu Bodhi (b. 1944 - ) argues against the idea that "the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify",[4] saying this interpretation
    forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been put into brackets.​
    Bhikkhu Bodhi's interpretation is by no means universal to Buddhists or even to Theravada Buddhism, the tradition in which he is ordained. For example, Ven. Soma Thera, a Theravada monk from Sri Lanka, called the Kalama Sutta "The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry".[5]
    The web of transmissions and re-inventions of critical thought meanders from the Hellenistic Mediterranean, through repositories of knowledge and wisdom in Ireland and the Iranian civilizations (e.g. Khayyam and his unorthodox sufi Rubaiyat poems), and in other civilizations, as the Chinese, (e.g. the seafaring Southern Sòng's renaissance),[6] and on through heretical thinkers of esoteric alchemy or astrology, to the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.
    French physician and writer Rabelais celebrated "rabelaisian" freedom as well as good feasting and drinking (an expression and a symbol of freedom of the mind) in defiance of the hypocrisies of conformist orthodoxy in his utopian Thelema Abbey (from θέλημα: free "will"), the devise of which was Do What Thou Wilt:
    "So had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed, Do What Thou Wilt; because free people ... act virtuously and avoid vice. They call this honor."​
    When the hero of his book, Pantagruel, journeys to the "Oracle of The Div(in)e Bottle", he learns the lesson of life in one simple word: "Trinch!", Drink! Enjoy the simple life, learn wisdom and knowledge, as a free human. Beyond puns, irony, and satire, Gargantua's prologue metaphor instructs the reader to "break the bone and suck out the substance-full marrow" ("la substantifique moëlle"), the core of wisdom.
     
  3. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The following is a listing of Famous Black Freethinkers. It includes some of our most Honored Black Historians whose videos are often the topic of discussion here at Destee.com.

    Suggested Listening:

    Black Freethought in the early 1900's to 1950's. - Mike Estes
    Belief in the Black Community - Norm Allen Jr.
    TOP
    Hubert Henry Harrison - The Black Socrates
    A. Philip Randolph - "We consider prayer as nothing more than a fervent wish; consequently the merit and worth of a prayer depend upon what the fervent wish is."
    Bayard Rustin - Principal organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. He was openly gay, anti-communistic, a socialist, a civil rights activist and also a freethinker
    J. A. Rogers - "The slogan of the Negro devotee is: Take the world but give me Jesus, and the white man strikes an eager bargain with him."
    George S. Schuyler - "On the horizon loom a growing number of iconoclasts and Atheists, young black [sic] men and women who can read, think, and ask questions, and who impertinently demand to know why Negroes should revere a God who permits them to be lynched, jim-crowed and disfranchised."
    John G. Jackson - The family minister once asked John G. Jackson when he was small, "Who made you?" After some thought he replied from his own realization, "I don’t know."
    John Henrik Clarke - "As a grade school child in Columbus, Georgia, Clarke recalled inventing notes from local white people to allow his access to library books in his quest for knowledge."
    Yosef ben-Jochannan - "The churches can’t help the people when the chips are down because their interest is with the power structure."
    Bobby E. Wright - "Guess what you talk about when you go to church? Everything but what to do, you talk about some God that nobody ever did find."
    John Ragland - Chauncey Bell Herbert Brown Ken Hamblin Walter E. Hawkins
    James Forman - Civil Rights Activist
    Lorraine Hansberry - Playwright known for her drama, "A Raisin in The Sun". FFRF Mention
    Butterfly McQueen - Maid in MGM's 1939's Gone with The Wind.“As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oct. 8, 1989
    Charlie "Bird" Parker - was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker is widely considered one of the most influential of jazz musicians, along with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. A PBS special on the life of "Bird" (i.e., Charlie Parker) quoted his widow as criticizing Parker's family for giving him a Christian funeral even though they knew "he was irreligious".



    Other Famous Black Freethinkers, Agnostics & Atheists
    Help participate by submitting your short bio's about these other great freethinkers and also recommending names to the list.
    Deborah Clark
    James Baldwin
    W. E. B. DuBois
    Richard Wright
    Gregory Gross
    Zora Neale Hurston
    Alice Walker - The Color Purple -
    Interview with Beliefnet. Calls God "Mama". :)
    Frederick Douglas
    Dr. Carter G. Woodson - Negro History Week was started by him.
    Gwendolyn Brooks
    Langston Hughes

    [​IMG]
    http://www.infidelguy.com/article75.html
     
  4. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    One of the most prolific Atheists from the Messenger group was Joel Augustus Rogers. Biographers give different years for Rogers' date of birth, either 1880 or 1883, in Negril, Jamaica. He came to the U.S. in 1906. He worked as a train porter and studied art in Chicago. Coming to New York he wrote for the Amsterdam News and in the 1920s became contributing editor on the Messenger staff. He attended the coronation of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in 1930 as correspondent for Amsterdam News. He had a long career writing for the Pittsburgh Courier, including an assignment as correspondent during the Ethiopian-Italian war in 1935 — the war in which Pope Pius XI placidly blessed Italian planes on mission to bomb Ethiopia. He contributed to magazines including Crisis, American Mercury, Survey Graphic, and Journal of Negro History. Among his book-length works are: From "Superman" to Man; Your History; Sex and Race; World's Great Men of Color; and Nature Knows No Color Line.
    A typical expression of Rogers' Atheistic sentiments comes from his first book From "Superman" to Man. This short book follows a prolonged conversation on skin color prejudice between a white senator from the South and his widely traveled, well-read Black porter. Rogers himself worked as a Chicago porter and was largely self-educated. Toward the end of the book, Dixon, the porter, is asked if Christianity has not been a solace to mistreated Black people. Dixon echoes the feelings of his creator:
    To enslave a man, then dope him to make him content! Do you call THAT a solace? . . . The honest fact is that the greatest hindrance to the progress of the Negro is that same dope that was shot into him during slavery. . . . The slogan of the Negro devotee is: Take the world but give me Jesus, and the white man strikes an eager bargain with him. . . . Another fact — there are far too many Negro preachers. Religion is the most fruitful medium for exploiting this already exploited group. As I said, the majority of the sharpers, who among the whites would go into other fields, go, in this case, to the ministry.
    The 1975 volume of The Black Scholar reprinted an important biographical paper by W. Burghardt Turner entitled "J. A. Rogers: Portrait of an Afro-American Historian." Turner examines the two major trends in Rogers' works: the first, biographical research into historical figures of African ancestry, and the second, genealogical research into ethnic intermixture. While writing for the Messenger, George Schuyler encouraged Rogers to start a feature with biographical sketches of Black notables. Rogers later collected these to form a book and followed that with a series of illustrated biographies for the Pittsburgh Courier, which also were collected as the book Your History. Rogers made many visits to museums, galleries, libraries, and cathedrals throughout Europe and Africa to verify his studies. He made good use of his art training and reproduced rare and obscure prints, paintings, sculpture, and other artifacts in his books. He was also multilingual; he knew Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German.
    During an era of segregation, Rogers fearlessly produced documented works on the dreaded practice of miscegenation. In fact, his master work in three volumes Sex and Race investigated exogamy "in the Old World, the New World and the future world." Sex and Race continuously returns the reader to the rhetorical question, "Who is a Negro?" His book Nature Knows No Color Line elaborated upon the ultimate blasphemy for white supremacists: "Research into the Negro ancestry in the white race." As may be guessed, the mainstream scholarly community neglected Rogers' works as well as their social and historical ramifications. Lacking formal college degrees and publishing his own books (out of necessity, that is), he found established historians (Black and white) disavowing his evidence out of hand. If strict historians could not find fault with his journalistic flavor, then they could challenge his right to investigate dubious genealogies. Actually, on occasion, Rogers did use a sensational, Ripley's-believe-it-or-not approach to this material. His books frequently contained folklore, superstitions, and rumors; this material he identified as such and often used it as commentary on human behavior. Ultimately, mainstream educators did not admit the existing void regarding African peoples and their history. It was not politically expedient to do so.
    Rogers scorned both the scientists and the theists for using the Bible as a political football. In Sex and Race, vol. 3, he denounces this gamesmanship:
    The fight both for and against slavery in the United States was waged first along scriptural lines. . . . There was also the theory of the descent from Ham which attained great vogue and still does in certain quarters. . . . With the superseding of religion by science the battle of inequality shifted from a scriptural wording to a scientific one. Now it was no longer what "God had said" but what color, hair, and skull showed. . . . In other words, the pro-slavery faction and the antislavery one had entered the stage in new costumes. Underneath were the same bodies.
    Ignored by established scholars, Rogers, nevertheless, was acclaimed within certain circles. The Society of Anthropology in Paris elected him to membership in 1930. In the following year, he spoke before the International Congress of Anthropology. Although himself an artistic, cosmopolitan person, Rogers was highly critical of the pretended advances of Western civilization. He never lived to see the recognition due his research. After the Black culture revival in the 1960s, new publishers began to reprint his works. One of these, World's Great Men of Color, vols. I and 2, was updated and edited by John Henrik Clarke, a professor of history, in 1972. Before his demise, Rogers received the following tribute from William E. B. Du Bois in The World and Africa:
    I have learned much from James [sic] A. Rogers. Rogers is an untrained American Negro writer who has done his work under great difficulty without funds and at much personal sacrifice. But no man living has revealed so many important facts about the Negro race as has Rogers. His mistakes are many and his background narrow, but he is a true historical student.
     
  5. Corvo

    Corvo navigator of live MEMBER

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    "Many people can form for themselves things that have been integrated by personal significance that may not be available to an outsider perspective on ones own experience of the world."

    I see this as the natural way of human development. If we were to live our life's with out all the interference of dogmas. We can see things the way they really are. Some thing that was not mention was intuition or the sixth sense of awareness, as if these don't play in our ability to know our reality.
     
  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Excellent points brother Corvo. As far as intuition is concerned, freethought can become dogmatic against the notion of using emotion and intuition to form opinions and it downplays the importance of cultural knowledge in reaching Truth.

    Freethought tends to emphasize Thinking, just as Gnosticism emphasizes Knowing. The Rational Mind as opposed to Feeling. As with all things, I believe that we need to develop a sense of balance, without denigrating one or the other.

    Peace!
     
  7. Corvo

    Corvo navigator of live MEMBER

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    I do agree, Having a balance with all the parts. Here in the west, people simply over look or don't understand the full scope of what it is to be human. They act as if we are to become some perfect machine w/o an inner spirit. As if we are just a brain with only a body to live with. Western science will not even see/feel this.

    Deprogramming oneself of most western notions can be a life long journey.

    AXE
     
  8. RAPTOR

    RAPTOR Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    ....Life long and several generations even.
     
  9. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Ase!
     
  10. Gorilla

    Gorilla Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I think free thought emphasizes both rational thinking and knowledge. To develop this kind of mind requires an exposure to knowledge, a solid epistemology framework, and the exercise of this mind in practice.

    Why should emotion and intuition get as much emphasis as the above? Free thought doesn't mean never feel something, it just highlights the failings of using the emotion and intuition as your only means of understanding things and the world around you. I think the balance comes from the above, instead of being ruled by emotion or intuition. It's an attempt to understand that the very tools you're working with tamper with reality all the time.