Emory Valley lies on the eastern edge of the city, and the Clinch River runs through it. It's a beautiful spot for a chapel - and here one is. It's the Emory Valley branch of
The Universal Church Triumphant.
The Apathetic Agnostic
"Of the what?" you may be asking, as well as, "if you're so apathetic, what are you doing with a web page, let alone a church?"
Fair question - and one the UCTAA gets pretty often. The answer is simple: the Founder named the church in a somewhat humorous mode, back before he realized how many people would want to join. The key is realizing that both "apathetic" and "agnostic" are adjectives here: we're apathetic to the same thing we're agnostic about: the existence of any "supreme being" (aka "god").
Is there a god? We don't know, and we don't care.
But we're most definitely not apathetic about being agnostic.
(Some people ask: aren't you really atheists? Well - probably yes, in the way they mean the question. We are atheists the way they are, we don't believe in just one god more. Is there a god of some sort somewhere? Maybe. Is there a god that's preached on this Earth out of ancient texts, a personal god that interferes in the lives of humans? No. No, there isn't.)
Why a church? As the Patriarch says:"From the start, the name of The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic has been questioned. Most often, people take great pains to point out that we are not "Apathetic," "Church" comes in second, and the rare individual tries to prove that we are not "Agnostic."I, by the way, love the "Universal" and "Trimphant" parts of our name. If we aren't "Universal" yet, we will be one day, when humanity grows out of its dependence on pie in the sky. Rationality is universal - I hope.
"Interestingly, neither "Universal" nor "Triumphant" have been questioned by anyone to date. I could probably do a reasonable job of defending the first, but might have to stretch to justify the latter.
"But why "Church?"
"This is most often queried by Christians who believe they own the word, but as the word can be traced back to the Greek of the sixth century BC, I question their exclusive ownership even though there is a long-standing relationship.
"Depending on which dictionary you use, there are various and multiple definitions of "church".
"Looking at Encarta World Dictionary (St Martin's Press 1999) we find at definition 5:"all the followers of a religion, especially the Christian religion.""While the word church is "especially" used by Christians, it is not theirs uniquely. Anyone can use it.
"So if we consider Apathetic Agnosticism a religion, then it is appropriate to consider all the followers of Apathetic Agnosticism, as a group, to be a church.
"So is Apathetic Agnosticism a religion?
"Again, looking at Encarta World Dictionary for the definition of religion:1. people's beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life; 2. a particular institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine; 3. a set of strongly held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by."In my view, Apathetic Agnosticism is consistent with all three of these definitions. There is no belief required in "the divine," just that opinions and beliefs be held about "the divine." Consequently, Apathetic Agnosticism can be considered a religion, and it is appropriate to consider all the followers of this religion to be a church."
And Triumphant? Again with the hope: We will triumph over darkness. That's why we use the lightbulb (light from science) as our symbol.
Commentary on the Articles of FaithThis section contains all that is really important. All the rest of [the church's] extensive website is mere expansion on these fundamentals. (Among them: Reflections on Ethics and Meditations on Issues of Current Concern by the Patriarch (Mind you - the UCTAA is fully egalitarian; women can be clergy, and there's absolutely no reason that we won't have a Matriarch next; some of the synods are led by matriarchs already) and others.) If you understand and accept these Articles of Faith, then you are an Apathetic Agnostic, whether or not you can be bothered to actually join the Church.
1. The existence of a Supreme Being is unknown and unknowable.To believe in the existence of a god is an act of faith. To believe in the nonexistence of a god is likewise an act of faith. There is no evidence that there is a Supreme Being nor is there evidence there is not a Supreme Being. Faith is not knowledge. We can only state with assurance that we do not know.2. If there is a Supreme Being, then that being appears to act as if apathetic to events in our universe.All events in our Universe, including its creation, can be explained with or without the existence of a Supreme Being. Thus, if there is indeed a God, then that god has had no more impact than no god at all. To all appearances, any purported Supreme Being is indifferent to our Universe and to its inhabitants.3. We are apathetic to the existence or nonexistence of a Supreme Being.If there is a God, and that God does not appear to care, then there is no reason to concern ourselves with whether or not a Supreme Being exists, nor should we have any interest in satisfying the purported needs of that Supreme Being. However, our apathy to the question of God's existence does not necessarily mean we are apathetic about promoting agnosticism.
As Clarence Darrow saidThe reasons for agnosticism are abundant and compelling. Fantastic and foolish and impossible consequences are freely claimed for the belief in religion. All the civilization of any period is put down as a result of religion. All the cruelty and error and ignorance of the period has no relation to religion.We're just beginning here in Emory Valley, but we'll grow. Come back and see us again.
The truth is that the origin of what we call civilization is not due to religion but to skepticism. So long as men accepted miracles without question, so long as they believed in original sin and the road to salvation, so long as they believed in a hell where man would be kept for eternity on account of Eve, there was no reason whatever for civilization: life was short, and eternity was long, and the business of life was preparation for eternity.
When every event was a miracle, when there was no order or system or law, there was no occasion for studying any subject, or being interested in anything excepting a religion which took care of the soul. As man doubted the primitive conceptions about religion, and no longer accepted the literal, miraculous teachings of ancient books, he set himself to understand nature. We no longer cure disease by casting out devils. Since that time, men have studied the human body, have built hospitals and treated illness in a scientific way. Science is responsible for the building of railroads and bridges, of steamships, of telegraph lines, of cities, towns, large buildings and small, plumbing and sanitation, of the food supply, and the countless thousands of useful things that we now deem necessary to life. Without skepticism and doubt, none of these things could have been given to the world.
The fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
The modern world is the child of doubt and inquiry, as the ancient world was the child of fear and faith.
And check out more Quotes on Agnosticism and Related Topics
Here are a couple of tangentially related pages:
Look here for the Center for Evolutionary Studies - you certainly don't have to not believe in a god to accept the truth of evolution, but a lot of religious types just won't do it... those whose god is deceitful, and whose faith is easily shaken by exposure to the truth.
Look here for The Atheist, an interview with Richard Dawkins, and also Darwin's Dangerous Disciple, another interview with him. Dawkins is an atheist, a position I have a lot of respect for and may even hold - I'm certainly an atheist as far as any god so far described by any religion... Both interviews go into more than atheism, especially Darwin's Dangerous Disciple, but his views on organized religion are highly entertaining, well thought out, and pertinent.
More things to read:
Look here for A statement from the Council for Secular Humanism on 'the culture of life'
Look here for Polly Toynbee's In the Name of God, an impassioned cry for a secular society in the face of religious extremism
And look here for an older, but still valid, commentary by Richard Dawkins on Religion's Misguided Missiles: Promise a young man that death is not the end and he will willingly cause disaster
Another Polly Toynbee article, Not In My Name, an angry - a very angry - commentary on the late Pope's funeral
Johann Hari looks at JPII and says History will judge the Pope far more harshly than the adoring crowds in Rome
Go here to see The View From Number 80 - James Randi calls 80 "fierce", and he is. It is 80's contention that "we live in a fascinating, beautiful and, let's face it, dangerous enough universe without complicating matters with gobbledegook." He takes on all comers - and organized religion is certainly one of them.
The Chapel | Quotes | Evolution | "Culture of Life"
Chapel | Musings | Magic | Evolution
Greenbelt | Emory Valley | Pellissippi Parkway Bear Creek Road | Key Springs Road | Snapping Turtle Pond
Ridges | Walden | Pine | Black Oak | Little Pine | Chestnut | Haw