Quakers and nontheism

Reflecting on Loulou Williams’ comment on our Nontheism page today, I thought it might be worth repeating the following extract from Paul Bates talk of 2013:

Nontheists tend to agree with the liberal understanding of Jesus of Nazareth as a teacher from antiquity who taught a very human sort of religion based on love, tolerance, forgiveness and peace. The doctrines of incarnation, resurrection and ascension are seen as attempts by the early church to raise the human Jesus to the level of a mythical God.

The nontheist sees the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart more in terms of the spontaneous, natural inner working of the human psyche in which we meditate upon and respond to life as we presently experience it. The nontheist sees God in terms of ‘an inner light’ that is found in every human being. It is ‘that of God in everyone’.

The nontheist sees this life as the only life we will ever experience and is focussed on the living ofthis life to the full, now, and in accordance with those human principles that make for happiness and dignity for all.

9 thoughts on “Quakers and nontheism”

  1. Nicely said, thank you Trevor.
    In summary: I believe in god,
    …. but only if you allow me to spell it with two o’s.


  2. Trevor, Nontheist Friends’ Network, Nontheist Friends, Atheist Quakers, Agnostic Quakers, All,

    Am appreciative too of course of Nontheist Friends’ and Quakers interest in Human Rights.

    Cosmic Skeptic Atheist Alex, the Oxford ‘theology’ graduate student, recently pinned this Tweet at the top of his Twitter feed in these regards – “There can be no compromise on our ethical principles. How can we oppose the torture even of our enemies, but pay to inflict it on animals? Full speech –> https://youtu.be/gcVR2OVxPYwhttps://twitter.com/CosmicSkeptic/status/1199776936437960705?s=20

    NtF Cheers, Scott – https://twitter.com/HarbinBook/status/1146485420705796096?s=20

    Nontheist Friends’ #hashtag on Twitter – https://twitter.com/hashtag/NontheistFriends?src=hashtag_click

    On Sun, Jul 5, 2020 at 2:17 PM Non-theist Friends Network wrote:

    > Trevor posted: “Reflecting on Loulou Williams’ comment on our Nontheism > page today, I thought it might be worth repeating the following extract > from Paul Bates talk of 2013: Nontheists tend to agree with the liberal > understanding of Jesus of Nazareth as a teacher from a” >


  3. So, “the nontheist sees” whatever you were saying we see. Did you ask us? me? Did we vote? Seriously, internet chats have been around too long for me to need to say this to anyone, but I will say it again because you didn’t hear it the first thousand times: You do not speak for me or any other nontheist that you haven’t discussed it with. Please stop.

    A footnote: I can’t understand why it’s so important for people to make these “all” statements. Barring the creation of a universal dictionary, why does anyone need to make these flatout statements about “all” of any group? You are not adding to the sum of human knowledge. Perhaps you should discuss this with your therapist.


    1. Hi Diggit
      I have published you comment although I think it is unhelpful. This is simply an extract from a talk given by one Quaker to other Quakers in2013 on his experience of attending an NFN conference. There is no reference to ‘all’ nontheists in that extract.
      You could tell us what your views are as a nontheist?


    2. While reading your comment Diggitt I am recalling a lesson learned long before my connection to Non-Theism, or to the Quakers, for that matter.
      I see a real need to just “lighten up” and take life less seriously. Fault finding seems to be a great pastime but only if one chooses to ignore the real and more productive mission in life, that of “good finding”
      .Over the years, we come to see life as we expect it to be. We make assumptions that support how we “KNOW” that things ARE. We make expectations of others and of ourselves based on those assumptions. For example, we “KNOW” what kinds of people are “good” people and which kinds or people are “bad” people.

      Imagine what life would be like if you could forget all the past resentments and perceived offenses that color your thinking and your emotions. Buddhists call that state “beginner mind” – an opening to experience life without the jaundiced filter of past disappointments, to move past assumptions about the nature of life, and really SEE your surroundings – especially the people you interact with – with new eyes.

      Just maybe today is our day to shed the scales from your eyes.

      In deepest humility, peace profound.


  4. NFN member John Senior left this comment on the contacts page:
    ‘A Buddhist friend, invited to write something on what he believed, responded as follows: “I don’t actually ascribe to any ‘credo’: once one has settled on a belief, one is less likely to investigate and question. There’s a story (possibly apocryphal) about Mother Theresa that I like, which although it is not directly about belief nevertheless I think illustrates a similar approach:
    A journalist one asked Mother Theresa; ‘When you pray, what do you say to God ?’ The nun answered: ‘I don’t say anything, I just listen.’ ‘In that case,’ asked the journalist, ‘what does God say to you?’. ‘He doesn’t say anything,’ responded Mother Theresa, ‘He just listens’.
    If I remove the word ‘God’ and replace ‘listen’ by ‘watch’ then ‘pray’ becomes ‘meditate’, my Buddhist practice. Replacing ‘listen’ by ‘wait’ I have my Quaker ‘Worship’. How words get in the way!’


    1. Well said John….my feeling on the matter of prayer is ” it seems like nothing more than repetitious begging to a make-believe deity”.
      My decades of prayer leads me to only one conclusion:
      –Nothing fails like prayer.–

      All the best, Jules
      “Live simply so that others can simply live”


  5. Speaking of the fact that we have one life to live:
    Today’s Contemplation:
    “Quantum Science suggest the possibility of many possible futures for each moment in our lives. Each future lies in a state of rest until it is awakened by choices made in the present”. — Gregg Brad–

    Jules here, reminding myself “Nothing is written”


  6. Very nice quote Jules, it winds me up when people say “everything happens for a reason”, in truth there is a reason why things happen which can be totally beyond our fathoming, or not. What happens after an happening be it good or bad is entirely up to what we do next.


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