Are You An Atheist?

Courtesy of Atheist Alliance International

Many of my readers/followers consider themselves to be atheists … yet some define the designation by a variety of terms and/or contexts. Still others “modify” their non-religious stance with qualifiers (“I don’t believe a god exists, but if one were to actually be revealed …”).

This variety of meanings often results in some confusion and even accusations when discussing one’s position in various blog posts. So for clarity purposes, listed below are some various definitions of atheism.

  • The doctrine or belief that there is no God
  • A lack of belief in the existence of God or gods
  • According to Wikipedia:
    • In its broadest sense an absence of belief in the existence of deities.
    • Less broadly, a rejection of the belief that any deities exist
    • In the narrower sense, specifically the position that there are no deities
  • A denial of God or of “the gods”
  • Lack of belief in a “divine being”

And further, to make sure there’s no misunderstanding, the opposite of atheism is theism, which affirms the reality of the divine (and often seeks to demonstrate its existence). 

So where do you stand? Are you hardcore? Or are you a bit of an agnostic, clinging to the idea a God might exist? Or perhaps your perspective is … “unless proven otherwise”?

Oh and one more thing. As most atheists know, atheism is NOT a “religion.” But just in case you’re ever in doubt or are in need of defending your POV, here is information to prove your point.

150 thoughts on “Are You An Atheist?

  1. I am not a theist. But I am also not anti-theist.

    Whether that makes me an atheist, depends on what you mean by that. I usually prefer to say that I am non-religious or that I am agnostic — those terms cause less confusion about where I stand.

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            • I think it’s a fair question and lends credence to those of us who don’t believe in any gods – it’s evidence that man made them up. Since there’ve been over 5000 recorded ones, I was wondering which one you believe in.

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            • Balloons. If I was good enough at keeping my thoughts together & writing essays that stay straight in the right way, I’d write a book on this topic.

              I never meant to insinuate it wasn’t a fair question. I only wondered if here was the right place for it. I’ll try to do something relatively short, but, as I said, I feel like my thoughts on this subject might not be adequately addressed in a tome.

              I actually ‘believe’ (in quotation marks, because that word can have so many varying degrees of strength, & I’m allowing all of them here) in many ‘gods’ (again, quotation marks, because that word also has so many different meaning). To go a little more in depth, my core, true belief is that Love is the greatest power in existence/reality. Thus, I hold that the Eternal One became Man, suffered & died (in union with our sufferings and death) & rose from the dead: this is not an isolated happening, but the concrete revelation of the Nature of the One who is the source of reality, and that in all we suffer & endure, that One is with us, and that that One will one day restore all things to happiness. (To digress, I don’t believe this story because I read certain facts in a particular book, but because I believe something about fundamental reality, & the story lines up with it. I don’t really have any doubts whether or not certain details are true, for various reasons – again I don’t think this is the place for that; if I go in every direction I could, this will become a very scattered, hard to read, book – but, even if they’re not, the details are not really the point: I am certain that, somewhere & sometime something similar happened or happens or will happen; tense doesn’t matter.)

              Besides this, I am relatively speaking certain of very few particulars, but I think it HIGHLY likely that many of the gods and spirits in various mythologies and stories have some reality behind them. It would not surprise me if there is a god, or gods, of lightning or rain or the sun or volcanoes – or all together. It would not surprise me if some, or even all, trees have some sort of spirit or indwelling personality or whatever. Nor does it seem to me that the discoveries about the workings of electricity or the apparent functions of atoms say anything, one way or another, about whether such things may or may not exist, just as knowing something about brain chemistry and biology does not say anything about whether or not I am a person. Matter certainly exists, but, in itself, the functions and laws under which matter operates tells us absolutely nothing about what else there may or may not be; I don’t think it’s possible for Science to prove God (as some Apologists) claim or to disprove God (as some Atheists claim). But that’s a digression from what god or gods I believe in, and I think I’ve answered that question as sufficiently as I can without writing a long post about it. But to add one final point: I think that, very, very often, when people think something, there is a reason for it. We often confuse a great many things with the little we know, which means what we end up describing may be very unlike the reality, but I think that only rarely do people have a strong idea about something that is based on absolutely nothing. Do any of us get God or the gods exactly right? I seriously doubt it. Does that mean nothing of either of those sorts exist? I doubt it. I think we have told so many stories about it because many of us feel that there is *something* that we can’t quite say.

              I’m going to quit here. Otherwise, this is going to get very scattered and aimless, and very long, and that won’t help clarity. I think this as clear as I can make it in a few minutes right now.

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            • Religion is unsurpassed in its awesome power to induce people to capitalize words that aren’t supposed to be capitalized. I guess “Eternal One”, “Nature”, etc are felt to convey more gravitas than plain old “eternal one” or “nature”?

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            • I will stop capitalizing words like that in any language or font where we don’t use upper-case letters to start off names and titles. That is about all there is to it with the instance of ‘Eternal One’.

              The situation with ‘nature’ is similar, and if we did not capitalize names or titles I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought to capitalize it, either, but ‘nature’ does have a variety of different meanings, and I meant there the ‘fundamental nature’ – as in, not this nature or that, but the nature behind all natures.

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            • Galileo put an end to things having natures. I’m sure the Catholic Church will catch up to the scientific breakthroughs of the 1600s eventually.

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            • Oh, I’m not Roman Catholic and really don’t care what the See of Rome or the Catholic Church says about anything one way or another. But ‘nature’ is a confusing word that could have lots of different meanings. To be short, though, by ‘nature’ I mean the way something is.

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            • By the way, I’m prone to capitalizing a lot, religion or no. One of the things I had to be specifically taught was which words one does and does not capitalize, and I’ve read a fair amount of older English where lots of words are capitalized!

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  2. I use “Atheist” most often. “Agnostic Atheist” is probably more correct, since I lack belief in any gods, but I cannot claim to have definitive evidence that no gods exist, especially since “god” is such a mushy badly-defined term.

    But as for all of the theistic gods of all of the human religions, my assessment of their likelihood of existing is so close to zero that I round it off to zero for everyday purposes.

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  3. A lack of belief in the existence of gods – that’s me. I also believe man made god(s), not the other way around. Makes far better sense and is logical. Anything else is belief in magic.

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  4. I’ve always been confused about those that describe themselves as, “oh, I’m not very religious”. I mean, either you believe in a God (or Gods) and conduct your life accordingly, or you don’t. It’s not something that you can be ‘not very’ about.
    And as for agnostics …. don’t get me started ….

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    • I think for some, “being religious” means going to church … reading the bible … perhaps occasionally praying. They really don’t connect it with a firm belief (or not) in a supernatural being.

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    • In many societies, being openly and bluntly non-religious is still considered a bit disreputable, even dangerous. Many people don’t want to be that blunt about it to others, or in some cases, even to themselves. So they fudge things with words.

      I think there are tens of millions of Americans who no longer believe in any meaningful way, but still aren’t quite comfortable saying so in plain language.

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      • Also, I think “going to church” is just part of our society. If a (anonymous) census were taken –and people were honest– no doubt several would admit to doubts … and even straight up non-belief.

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      • Agreed. The Christians I know, for example, are apt to hear the word “atheist” and think “Satan-worshipper,” “hedonist,” “anarchist,” “nihilist,” etc. none of which describe me. It can quickly derail the conversation.

        So I always consider my audience; if I’m unsure I tend to use “non-Christian” or “unbeliever”. I don’t use “atheist” unless I’m able to define what I mean by it, and I’m reasonably sure the other person won’t equivocate on that meaning.

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    • Why not? You can have a strong belief in God or a weak belief in God or not believe in God at all.

      You can focus every moment and thought of your daily life around a religion or you can sometimes spend time doing it only on Sunday or even just major Holidays.

      You might read the Bible everyday or you might only do it once a week or once a year or never.

      Just as some food is spicier than other dishes and you can objectively and subjectively measure this, why wouldn’t you be able to do this with religion or religiosity?

      Psychologists and various social scientists have a variety of ways of measuring religiosity and there are established religiosity tests that measure individuals’ religiosity that are used in peer-reviewed psychological research all the time. So some people are extremely religious, some people are little bit religious, some are not really religious, and some people are not religious at all.

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      • I can see your point, but there still seems something non-sensical about it. How can you believe in God ‘a little bit’? It seems like a fairly binary question to me – you’re either in or you’re out.
        If, for example, you believe in ghosts, you might sleep with the light on – but it probably won’t impact on your life all that much. Ghosts have little to do with everyday life, as a rule.
        But if you believe in God you are accepting an explanation for the whole of reality and that doesn’t strike me as something you can be half-hearted about. You can’t just ignore the possibility of being cast into the eternal fires of hell when you fib a bit on your income tax return.

        I think comparing the entire nature of reality and the meaning of life with the vindaloo you had with a few beers after the football is not really an apples for apples argument

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        • How can you believe in God ‘a little bit’? It seems like a fairly binary question to me – you’re either in or you’re out.

          Well, what is being measured is usually how certain you feel about your belief. For example, in the Pew Landscape survey the choices that respondents can choose from are:

          1) I believe in God: absolutely certain

          2) I believe in God: fairly certain

          3) I believe in God: not too/not at all certain

          4) Believe in God: Don’t know

          5) Do not believe in God

          6) Other/don’t know if they believe in God

          88% of Evangelical Protestants say they believe in God: absolutely certain, while only 33% of Jews say the same thing.

          So believe in God: yes or no? (although one could make the case for a “maybe”) is binary, but there is a hidden follow-up question in there: “if you answered yes, how certain are you?”

          Likewise as I noted in my first response, you could ask related things like: how often do you attend your place of worship? How often do you read your holy book? How do you interpret your holy book? How often do you prayer? How important is religion in your life? All of this combined is one’s religiosity (how religious they are).

          In other words, when some who says, “I am not very religious,” they are saying, “I still have a religion and believe in a Higher Power, but I have extremely low levels of religiosity.”

          Also, not all religions or denominations within a religion believe people are damned and cast to hell if they don’t believe in God or if others don’t believe like them. Some religions do for sure, but definitely NOT all of them.

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  5. I prefer to say I’m a rationalist – I navigate my way through life using the power of rational thought to assess evidence. I know not to jump off a cliff edge in the hope I can fly, because observation and evidence tells me I can’t. Of course, I could just take a leap of faith, after all, it’s impossible to categorical disprove the theory that I can indeed fly.
    While I agree that atheism isn’t a religion, they are both world views, and it’s important that the exponents of one shouldn’t be accorded special privileges, such as being allowed to restrict the activities of the exponents of another (through laws against abortion say, or assisted dying) or to make their beliefs exempt from criticism through so-called blasphemy laws.

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      • Sadly, though, some of those who hold the “religious” world view insist that enforcing said world view on everyone is mandated by their own world view. So…a neutral society is impossible. Or so the Dominionists and their ilk claim.

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    • Of course, I could just take a leap of faith

      But you’re wise not to. More often than not, a leap of faith ends with a messy and terminal splat on the rocks below.

      I agree that atheism isn’t a religion, they are both world views

      Are they, though? I put not believing in God in the same category as not believing in unicorns or Bigfoot. Is not believing in unicorns a “world-view”? To me, all it means is that I choose not to participate in something pointless and silly.

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      • Yes, you’re right; of course. I guess that strictly speaking, atheism just means you don’t believe there are gods. You could leave it there. From my experience atheism is usually accompanied by a world view, based on what we know and can reasonably surmise. It would have to be an incomplete world view – limited by our limited perspective of ‘the world’. This often results in criticism, or even ridicule, by the religious, but of course their world views suffer from the same limitations (god is everything, but they are told they couldn’t possibly understand god, because he/she/it is beyond their comprehension).

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        • Maybe the reason i see it differently is that I grew up without religion and never had to break free from a religion as most atheists did. To me it’s just the normal default state, like having two eyes or being surrounded by air. I would never even think about any of this religion stuff at all, except that I live in a society where a lot of other people are religious and so I’m forced to deal with it.

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          • You’re lucky. I think one of the main reasons so many atheists rail against religion is that so few people get the secular up-bringing you had – from the moment they’re born they’re conditioned into the idea that there’s a god. That doesn’t make for a good balance when it comes to assessing the validity of religions.

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          • Yes.
            Everyone is born atheist.
            Religion, hate, and prejudice are learned traits.

            “If you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics.” Saul David Alinsky.
            —Alinsky, 1972 interview with Playboy magazine
            Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch
            © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

            “Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.”
            -Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
            -Oscar Wilde, writer (16 Oct 1854-1900)

            I stand by that.

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  6. Are you hardcore? Or are you a bit of an agnostic, clinging to the idea a God might exist? Or perhaps your perspective is … “unless proven otherwise”?

    Those are good questions Nan. I’m enjoying the ongoing comments/discussions. 🙂

    As for myself, I often try to be a quiet spectator—HAH! with the exception of right now 😄 —and because I am a clear-cut Freethinking Humanist. Navigating myself in these conversations is tricky for me. Why? Because I resonate with the concept and definition of Apatheism, or possibly/probably “Practical Atheism” as well as “Practical Agnosticism & Humanism.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism#Irrelevance

    In short, given all the present, never-ending important as well as critical life and Earth problems threatening our own existence NOW and in the (very?) NEAR FUTURE, and by default our own descendants, I sometimes feel investing so much time and effort in proving/disproving Stage Magic Shows (theism) as perfectly valid, real paranormal events is a search for Shangri-La or El Dorado of the skies. In terms of afterlife/no-afterlife, it’s an obsession to factually explain what is on the other side of a Wormhole or Black Hole.

    There really are much more important, critical life-issues to address and invest invaluable, non-refundable, precious TIME! That said, it IS INDEED impossible for us Secularists/Atheist to ignore/deny that an overwhelming population on Earth want us to blindly believe in their paradigm/ideology to guide this life, our personal lives. Many theists refuse to let it go, to drop their sensationalized, time-wasting Stage Magic Show and unfounded main character. What to do, eh… with such dramatists of delusion. 🤦‍♂️ Can’t marry ’em. Can’t ignore ’em. Can’t roast ’em for BBQ’s either. 😉

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    • Very passionate and well stated position. My main disagreement is we are NOT going to solve “climate change”. There are seven billion of us. Seven billion. Even if we wanted or could go back to the kind of small scale hunter gatherer societies that were sustained for tens of thousands of years, there are too many of us. All the “Climate Action Plans” (I am a government bureaucrat :)) Priuses and solar panels and Paris Accords and vegan diets in the world won’t change the sheer forces we have unleashed.
      Passive
      So…more to the point of this post, I am an Apocalyptic Passive Misotheist who is horrified by the two largest monotheisms while recognizing that even the supposedly “eastern wisdom” faiths give use things like the BJP in India (Hinduism) and the desolation of the Rohinga in Burma (Buddhism).

      The Anthrocene Era will not end well, but the Earth will struggle on. Remember that life survived somehow during far more extreme periods. 9although what we are heading for will be a doozy).

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      • First, a Release of Liability Clause and Protective Proactive Apology to Nan. This is a response to basenjibrian’s comment/dissertation 😉 and probably agitates the blog-owner due to the comment-lengths and might teeter (a bit) off topic, off blog-post topic. If so, I request Nan to confront basenjibrian with any required discipline, up to but not excluding flogging, torture, and depravement to make said first offender beg for forgiveness.

        May god, or no god, have mercy on your soul basenjibrian. 😈 🤭

        ———————

        basenjibrian,

        Thank you. 🙂 Regarding our probable demise or near extinction by ‘Catastrophic Climate Change’ and/or another global pandemic where national leaderships blatantly ignore the science, snuff off urgent, effective counter-measures for purely political and self-aggrandizing reasons, I will not argue your well considered point(s).

        In the past regarding this subject and its imperative response by 7.8 billion humans and their governments, I often turn to a respected, world renown entomologist and Naturalist, Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University:

        Exclusion makes us suffer. Inclusion makes us thrive.

        Having spent his life’s work studying Earth’s insects, Dr. Wilson teaches us how brilliantly well-adapted and superbly collaborative many insects survive and have survived many, many calamities over millions of years living on this planet. Thirteen animal species who have been practicing Superorganism behavior and Eusociality. These are two systemic coping tactics insects such as bees and ants have employed successfully, some biologists would claim brilliantly, to continue life through their descendants. Sadly, the most dominate species on Earth, the primates called Homo sapiens, are quite weak in performing such an ingenious life-sustaining, descendant-saving response. In fact, history shows we primates are utterly horrible on such levels of cooperation. :/

        The next question we must ask ourselves is “Can we, the supposedly supreme species on Earth, CHANGE this lack of collaboration in order to not just survive, but thrive?” And the longer we do nothing, or do too little, or keep fighting amongst ourselves, then we all know the grim answer to that question.

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  7. I do not believe in any of the God claims out there. There is not sufficient evidence to believe, in my opinion. An atheist? I guess technically you could call me that. But I don’t label myself as anything. I don’t refer to myself as an atheist in the same way that I don’t call myself an a-sasquatch-ist, an a-lochness-monster-ist or an a-ghost-ist. God is just another thing to add to the list of things I don’t believe in. It’s easier to say what I do believe than to list all of the things I do not believe in.

    As far as specific God claims from specific religions, yes I do consider myself an atheist. It’s not merely that I’m not convinced that those gods might possibly exist, I am actually quite convinced that they do not. Some sort of deistic type of creator? I see no evidence of one but I can’t 100% say that one doesn’t exist. But even if one did, so what? An impersonal, uninterested God is the same as a non-existent one. Who cares?

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  8. I definitely describe myself as an atheist and not an agnostic. I put gods in the same category as unicorns or leprechauns. We can’t absolutely prove they don’t exist, but it’s so unlikely that it’s not worth spending any time or mental energy on them. I don’t consider it an open question in any meaningful sense. Nor even an interesting one. Gods are a silly concept left over from the infancy of our species, and they have no significance beyond that.

    The doctrine or belief that there is no God

    I don’t consider it a “doctrine”. My belief that unicorns don’t exist isn’t a “doctrine”. A rational society would not even need the word “atheist”, any more than we need a special word for people who don’t believe unicorns exist.

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  9. I am all those and more, depending on who is asking.
    No god claims have been sufficiently demonstrated to be true. One can safely say there are no gods. In fact, what gods are have not been properly defined.

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    • Well, gods have been defined for milenia, but as to whether or not such definitions could be considered “proper”, I think that’s subjective and depends entirely on the believer, or non-believer.

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      • that good bishop from your great Island nation said god represents the highest of our aspirations or something close. some one will disagree because such doesn’t answer prayers or perform miracles. that is why i remain an igtheist but it generally depends on who is asking

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        • I think you’re referring to The Reverend Sir Lloyd Geering. He was dean of the (Presbyterian Church) Knox Theological College here in NZ for a number of years before he became the Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

          He was an ordained minister, but being Presbyterian, a rank of bishop or an equivalent does not exist. However there are bishops here who hold similar concepts to Geering, and his re-interpretation of the Christian tradition has a wide following across many denominations in this country.

          He’s held in high regard here as his being awarded the Order of New Zealand in 2007 attests to. It’s awarded for life and can be held only by 20 living NZers at any given time.

          He’s described God in several ways, but principally as a metaphor for, or a personification of, those values one holds most dearly. Like him, I identify as a nontheist but not an atheist.

          I sometimes joke that I’m an igtheist or ignostic because both theists and atheists scoff at the concept of God as a metaphor. They typically argue about the existence (theists) or non-existence or lack of evidence (atheists) of God/gods, whereas from my perspective any notion(s) we have of deities are entirely human constructs, and they exist in our minds independently of whether or not such deities exist outside our minds.

          While I’m not convinced deities exist, I see little point in arguing one way or the other as it’s neither testable nor falsifiable. On the other hand, our concepts of God/gods are human constructs and as such do merit discussion. Unfortunately I’ve found that many theists and atheists alike seem to be unable to separate the concept of God/gods (a human construct) from the existence or non-existence of said God/gods and argue from their religious or philosophical perspective along the existence/non-existence paradigm instead of the human construct paradigm. Such discussions are not very fruitful.

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          • Yes him. I could not recall his name and I was too lazy to search though I have the links you shared of his many speeches on my blog.

            I like the idea of a metaphor and between us, this doesn’t present a problem. It is when people are killed for said metaphor that I get really disturbed.

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            • Shhh, don’t tell anyone else that god as a metaphor doesn’t present a problem to you. I can point you to several blog posts by avowed atheists who have vented their displeasure st me for holding such a view.

              As for killing for such a metaphor, that makes as much sense as going to war over which end of a soft boiled egg is the correct end to open. Yet here we are in the twenty first century and still members of humanity continue to kill for such trivial nonsense. You would think that we should know better by now, but tolerance doesn’t appear to be very common within our species.

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            • And we will find some nonsense to kill for.

              As we have discussed before, many people’s experience with religion and its parsons is not of the Liberal kind espoused by Lord Geering and others. If I told my JW neighbour god is just a metaphor, you and I know the amount of pamphlets I will receive to point me to the light.

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          • Great post, Barry. Despite my frequently (repeatedly?) expressed hostility to religion, I cannot deny that it arose for a purpose…and not JUST for social control by elites, but to meet human needs of our social species. And, as harsh and punitive as religious doctrines can be (hence my hostility) they do represent an attempt to explain things, understand things, and they can be, like you say, very aspirational!

            Given this, I also dislike the common “internet atheist” meme (we all do it) that religion only represents the thought and philosophy of “primitive” people. Are we so sure that modern man is REALLY superior to our ancestors? (See a typical Trump rally…or go to the pre-Covid mall). So I hate the “goat herder” argument, even though I catch myself using it, too. 🙂

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  10. Atheist. There are no superbeings, supreme beings, creators, gods, god, or one true god. There is only life.
    Spiritual atheist. There are things in life that cannot be measured, seen, commonly experienced, but nothing that is omni-present, omiscient, or all-knowing.
    Spiritual Evolutionist. There is that within all life that exists prior to earthly or third dimensional birth, and lives on after earthly or third dimensional death. I call that spirit as the English word closest to my belief. Further, through reincarnation to earthly or third dimensional life, our spirits evolve as we gain experience–if we allow our spirits to evolve. However, there is no such thing as Karma, or any way of keeping score of how we live our serial lives. No debts for us to repay, or to be repaid to us.
    Earthly or third dimensional evolutionist. All life is connected. All life is equal. The true living being is one cell in size. Muliple-celled beings are just collections of single-celled beings working in unison, with different cells specialized to perform certain tasks that allow the muliple-celled beings to do more and better things than single-cell beings are able to do on their own. What we now see as different species are up-to-now successful evolutionary attempts that have not yet failed to sustain and reproduce. Starting from the building blocks of actual living beings, all and every living being has a spark of life in it that moves through the reincarnational process. Physical reproduction cannot happen without spiritual reproduction.
    ??What we call sentience is inherent in every instance of life. Nothing that lives can live without that spark of life, but no spark is better or more important or superior to any other living being.
    Sorry for the dissertation, Nan, but I find it impossible to talk about any one aspect of life as I live it without looking at all the parts that are involved in making life that we experience as life today, especially intelligent life, which is no more important than non-intelligent life, individual, species, or all-collectively.
    In two words: life is. The rest is mere elaboration…

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  11. I am………drum roll………….the most atheist of atheists that you can possibly get with bells on. I am more committed to atheism than Richard Dawkins 🙂

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  12. As the lone theist on this thread, I feel the need to qualify my own position as well. I’d at least like to consider myself an open-minded theist; that is, despite my Catholic roots I am very interested in arguments presented in the comment section here. In fact, I rather enjoy an argument that forces me to consider and reconsider my beliefs.
    Nan, I think just as there is nuance to atheism in description, so too is there in theism. I might be Catholic, but that’s not how I define myself. I’d rather be characterized by my words and actions than my beliefs; I think that we can all agree there have been atrocious abuses of humanity in the name of Christianity, and of religion in general. If I’m volunteering at the food bank to fulfill my religious duty alongside a non-theist who is driven by different purpose, does the difference really matter so long as people are being fed?

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    • Something that puzzles me is why you feel inclined to describe yourself as “Catholic”? I recognize that particular arm of faith has some rather “different” ideas about worship (beads, icons, confession, etc.), but at its center, Jesus is the savior, correct?

      So, in essence aren’t you at your core simply “a Christian” since you believe in the death and resurrection of a Hebrew named Yeshua?

      Definitely agree that WORKS always speak louder than words!

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      • That’s correct – Jesus as savior is central to Christianity, and Catholicism is just one sect within. Some Catholics are more territorial about those differences, but it isn’t important in this context.

        Now, I realize I’m a bit hypocritical to tell you I don’t want to be characterized by certain beliefs and then swiftly identify myself as Catholic – *facepalm*. I think Catholicism just helps as a backdrop for how I was raised, why I believe some of the things I do, etc. It also helps me identify how my viewpoints have shifted over time from that jumping-off point.

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        • You probably missed the lengthy, rather heated argument here? I believe…or maybe Maka’s place, whether one can be called a “Christian” and not believe these rather…central beliefs. (Barry was firmly arguing against the centrality of this belief). 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing this, Raz; I find that commendable. I have a list of specific things that would change my mind. Too often when I talk to Christians, they will say confidently, “NOTHING could change my mind! I’m absolutely certain.” I don’t find that an effective or wise approach to discovering truth.

      One’s beliefs should be able to hold up in the face of analysis and contrary views. It was in fact “an argument that force[d] me to consider and reconsider my beliefs” that started me on the path that led to my deconversion. Keep asking questions.

      Also: “If I’m volunteering at the food bank to fulfill my religious duty alongside a non-theist who is driven by different purpose, does the difference really matter so long as people are being fed?” YES! Agreed 100%. I am eager to partner with people where we share the same values, even if we don’t share the same beliefs. There might be situations where Christian charity comes with “strings attached” that harm people, in which I could not participate in good conscience… but I think there are lots of unexploited opportunities for people of different beliefs to do good together, side by side. And those become occasions for understanding each other better too.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks, Brent – valuable insight, too. I love the notion of “partner[ing] with people where we share the same values, even if we don’t share the same beliefs.” I understand there are limitations brought on by harmful extremism in the name of “charity” but embrace the idea that humanity should be the dominant trait with which we identify. So long as we use that humanity to lift others up!

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    • Yes, my understanding of “agnostic” is similar to Ehrman’s.

      I’m agnostic, because I cannot answer questions such as “Why is there something, rather than nothing.” I don’t think it those questions are answerable. And I don’t think it is knowable as to whether there is some kind of god involved.

      As for the gods of human religions — they are all made up, as best I can tell. Yes, I tentatively believe that Jesus existed, but as an ordinary human. People are story tellers, and much of what is in the Bible is story telling.

      So, sure, I’m also an atheist. And I have never taken offense when people have said that I am an atheist. But, if asked, I prefer to say that I am agnostic. That works better, perhaps because people are confused by “agnostic” but often have strong opinions about “atheist”. They are probably as confused about “atheist” as they are about “agnostic”, but they don’t recognize that confusion. They usually know that they are confused about “agnostic.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • This gets at the main thing I wanted to say: You don’t have to be “completely atheist” or “completely agnostic”. You can be one or the other on different issues.

        On issues like cosmology and whether or not there exists one or more deities, I’m agnostic. I don’t know the answer, and in some cases the answer may not be knowable or discoverable. Some things like abiogenesis, science can probably reveal in time. Other things like why the universe exists (and what existed before it did) we may never know. With regard to deities, maybe the Deists were right: Some deity (or group of them) created everything, “wound up the clock” and walked away, without ever intervening supernaturally or revealing themselves in any way. How could we ever tell the difference between that, and no deities?

        But on other issues like whether the Christian God exists… I’m atheist, in the sense of “lacking belief in the existence of that particular god”. Same with supernatural events, the resurrection from the dead, etc. Here Christians have the burden of proof, and they haven’t met it. I don’t have good reasons or evidence to believe that their narrative is true (accords with the reality we observe). If and when such reasons and evidence come along, I could be convinced — but the chance of that is so low, in my estimation, that I’m comfortable saying I’m an atheist on that issue.

        Someone once said you can define truth as “knowledge certain enough to confidently act as if it was true”. Gravity has long since proved itself to me; I don’t spend even a second worrying about whether it will suddenly stop or change. Theoretically, it might start to weaken tomorrow — in this sense, all truth is provisional, and I must always be willing to reconsider. But at some point after careful investigation and long experience, you reach a conclusion about what’s true and then you don’t worry about it day to day. That’s how I feel about Yahweh/J.C./H.S. — not to mention Allah, Zeus, and Thor.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not big on videos so I didn’t watch/listen to this one right away. However, now that I have, Ehrman said one thing that really stood out to me. He said he was interested in getting people to be more thoughtful about what they believe or don’t believe.

      IMO, this, in essence, should be the goal of any non-believer. Attacks, criticism, brow-beating is never going to do the job. BUT … asking probing questions, pointing out obvious fallacies, requesting definitive proof of so-called healings (and other “miracles’), etc., etc. … seems to me a much more effective way to get believers to actually consider their “godly” beliefs.

      As for agnosticism? It seems a bit wishy-washy to me. However, I do feel we each have to find our own place when it comes to belief in the supernatural … or not.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. The fact that heaven is a creation of human minds, there is no place outside of the human mind for immaterial entities to exist. The natural and the supernatural are incompatible. If the supernatural existed and if anything of the supernatural interacted with the natural world it would be a miracle. Religions depend on magic. GROG

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    • Grogalot commented, “If the supernatural existed and if anything of the supernatural interacted with the natural world…” there would be evidence independent of belief of that interaction. Ipso facto.

      Liked by 1 person

            • All good here in Nova Scotia, grog. (Our daughter-in-law is a Public Health nurse – and on the Covid team – so we’ve followed all the measures to the letter)
              The virus is raising hell with visits to our daughter and granddaughters in Australia, though. Thank goodness for FaceTime! All is well with you, I hope. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • For a fascinating trip down the wormhole of human imagination, just take a dip into “KABBALAH” on Wikipedia. I have always been fond of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and there is not a writer out there who has created such a structure of fantastic imagination as the Jewish intellectuals who created kabbalah!

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        • Not sure who your comment is directed to ??? Certainly not me as my postings are definitely current.

          Nevertheless, I’ll answer your question. Things are going well … considering the fact that we have a stinkin’ virus trying to invade our lives!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I was trying to reply to tilneb. I’m not accustomed to working an a laptop. The stinking virus: It certainly is raising hell all over the world. The vaccine is our great hope, but getting it to everyone is proving a difficult task. Stay safe. GROG

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, I’m actually more of a morally-lacking cannibal than anything else, and I find atheists to be very accepting of this fact about me as well as being some of the best damned cannibal cooks I’ve EVER met. Now, when theists finally figure out how tasty their fellow man actually is, if cooked right, I’ll consider becoming one. Until then, count my morals as missing and my belief as atheist! $Amen$

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, no, no. It’s the orthodox Catholics who are the cannibals. They believe in the Real Presence — that once the presiding child molester recites certain phrases in Latin over the holy crackers, they literally transubstantiate into the flesh of Jesus. Which they then eat. It’s pretty gross if you think about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. It’s actually quite a luxury to be able to live in an environment where people do not have to demonstrate the stark identity choice as either a believer in a specific religious ideology or condemned apostate. It’s also a luxury to be able to consider that religious ideology somewhere between factual and metaphorical. I would argue a system of government that can tolerate these luxuries and legally protect them so that citizens can make those choices free of punishment is of a higher moral value than those that cannot or will not.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Hopefully, good points that can be recalled when someone claims all governing systems are morally equivalent.

        We forget these points – the liberal waters of tolerance we swim in all the time – at our peril in this mad rush to condemn all things Western and liberal!

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s all a matter of luck. Lucky to be “alive”. What is made of that is ultimately just a matter of luck, some good and some not so good. A system of government to protect and ensure these luxuries, rather than just tolerate, I think. Thanks for commenting. GROG

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  16. I would like to add one to your list–atheists are simply those who do not accept claims that a god or god exists. Technically we cannot believe or disbelieve in a god that is not evident. What we can do though, is assess the claims made for the existence of a god or gods.

    The theists are the ones pushing their god out front when it is they who are “out front.” we reject the theist’s claim, not the god, the god is not making the claim.

    But what about those that insist that their god is making the claim through them (they are being divinely inspired). I reject their claim that a god or god is speaking to them privately. Obviously if this god or gods could do that, they could speak to me in the same way. So, their *argument* sucks big time.

    At our root, atheists deny god claims, not gods per se.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Did you see the amazing YouTube video by Holy Koolaid in which he shows the amazing craziness of the New Apostolic Revelation kooks trying to either hedge their “Gawd told me personally Trump would win”: or make even more outlandish, goalposts ever moving, claims that “February 6 He will act. No March 6. No He acted and Trump is President in the Spiritual Realm!

      Just amazing.

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  17. Are you a theist or an atheist? Are you a person who believes in the existence of a god or gods or are you not? These are not difficult questions about your current state of belief. Knowledge – gnosticism – has nothing to do with it, and introducing it as a means to evade answering the question I think is cop out. So the reason why I tend to hold a fair bit of disdain for those who prevaricate to the point of never taking a position between admitting belief or admitting they don’t about some god or gods is that this serves only those who wish to impose their religious beliefs on others. After all, the agnostic has magically created a middle ground that neither believes nor doesn’t believe. POOF!. Middle ground created. See how easy that is?

    Why hasn’t someone defined this mysterious state of neither/both belief with a good term?

    I suggest Belinonever?

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    • —Are you a person who believes in the existence of a god or gods or are you not? These are not difficult questions about your current state of belief.—
      The question is easy, and so is the answer. But does it make sense to ask it? Does it tell you anything about a person when he tells you that he believes in a god? It oesn’t mean anything to me. What matters is what people do with that belief. My wife, our offspring – among them, a granddaughter who is a Roman Catholic nun – and many relatives and friends believe in the Christian God exclusively because of what we know as the god gap…..
      I regret that firmness, and the inexplicable consequences of believing in immaculate conception, resurrection eucaristy and trinity nonsense. But then I see their daily way of life, being literally at any moment ready to help people in need, and I say here is the bright side of religion.
      As for the dark side, I cannot help sympathizing with the eloquence of Stephen Fry, to name just one.
      .-

      Liked by 2 people

        • Sir (or Madam?) tildeb, I respect your opinion but I’m afraid I do not share it.
          Believers are persons who since their childhood have been taught to do so. They simply cannot act otherwise. Because of that upbringing – which is purely accidental – do you disqualify their way of thinking? If so, do you then approve of the thinking process that unbelievers follow?
          Excuse me if I did not understand your statement.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It makes sense to ask because allowing for faith-based thinking (necessary to believing in a god or gods) means that that person is not wedded to a method that judges based on evidence and likelihood. How one thinks determines what one thinks, so knowing the how allows for the manipulation of the what for that person. This is how population wide algorithms work and are then used on behalf of those who wish to manipulate populations. Such a person is a target.

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            • Agreed! I don’t know much about the use of masses; however, manipulation is powerful, and I’am sure that many judgements based on plausibility and evidence are also being convinced by thos techniques.
              .-.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Apparently not. I listened to the whistleblower of the Canadian company that had provided significant analytic data to the Leave side of Brexit illegally. He spoke at length about how the analytics were run and why they were aimed at directing those susceptible to the messaging of what to think. The next guest was a mathematician who had written a book on how the algorithms were used throughout the public domain without the public realizing just how common was this tool. For critical thinkers who require legitimate evidence and recognize fallacious reasoning, the algorithms don’t work to accurately predict what is thought because the patterning of establishing likelihood is completely different.

              When one requires compelling evidence to inform increased levels of likelihood, one’s opinions are on a sliding scale and not firmly attached to one end or the other. This is entirely a different method of thinking, and I recall the analytics guy calling it learned binary thinking. He specifically mentioned religious believers as the most pliable. My takeaway from these interviews was that the more kinds of thinking one can bring to an issue or claim, the less effective are predictive algorithms.

              One of the examples used was targeting advertisement/news on Facebook and the financial results. It is far more lucrative to target those whose thinking is binary, and the binary model is religious thinking in a nutshell. Advertising is far less lucrative when targeted at those whose thinking is skeptical and who recognize fallacious reasoning. The same is true for political advertising, as this fellow explained, teaching people what to think and how to defend and protect the delivered and packaged beliefs rom legitimate criticism. (Sound familiar?) It’s very difficult to capture votes and justify the cost of targeted investment when the target is moving, so to speak, where issues are thought about not in a binary fashion but with depth of different considerations.

              There is a third group, however, and this is usually key especially for political targeting. This group consists of those who are able to categorize areas of belief and non belief into different subsets of thinking – like religious scientists must do to avoid cognitive disruption. They learn how to stay inside these boundaries depending on what is being examined. The takeaway I had was that these people are more susceptible to the targeting algorithms than the critical but less extreme than the binary.

              Anyway, all this aside, we know from long experience that the less developed the mind, the easier to manipulate into beliefs. That’s why children are the primary targets of religious indoctrination: they have yet to develop the critical skills necessary to honestly examine religious claims but are fully equipped by biology to accept parental authority. Parents who rely on binary thinking in their own lives are the least likely to provide the education necessary – or even see why such education would be beneficial – for the development of critical thinking skills of their children. And if the parents don’t or define the attempt as hostile, then who will? Well, usually teachers in a public education (which is why critical thinking skills is throughout the curriculum). Hence, the importance of the question, to determine what a person thinks by recognizing how they think, and trying to work with achieving curriculum goals in a carefully navigated way to reduce/eliminate the hostile home response.

              That being said, the situation today is almost reversed: far, FAR too many teachers who are trained to think in binary fashion are now heading up classrooms and are not held professionally accountable for not teaching critical thinking skills but rewarded handsomely and with promotions and tenure for successfully promoting (by their students demonstrating) particular binary ideology. And it is rampant at colleges and universities to the point that students capable of critical thinking self censor to avoid hostile confrontation with the binary thinkers.

              Anyway, it’s all very interesting.

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            • I’m sorry. It was several years back for the whistleblower, and the mathematician – a woman, I recall – had just written a book about the role of such algorithms but I can’t think of the title. I’ll see what I can find and get back to you. I think the radio program I heard might have been on Spark, a CBC show about digital technology.

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            • From Wiki regarding Wylie’s 2019 book The Great Hack:

              “SCL Group was a private research and strategic communications company interested in studying and influencing mass behavior. With alleged expertise in psychological operations (psyops), the company worked in military and political operations around the world in the late 1990s, including electioneering in the developing world throughout the early 2000s. To do business involving US elections, the subsidiary Cambridge Analytica was formed in 2012.

              In 2015, Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consulting firm, began working on behalf of Ted Cruz’s campaign to win the 2016 US Republican nomination. It used Facebook as a means for “political-voter surveillance” through the collection of user data points. Independent investigations into data mining, along with whistle-blower accounts of the firm’s impact on Brexit, led to a scandal over the influence of social media in political elections.

              Cambridge Analytica, the firm responsible for the scandal, was dedicated to big data. The data which was collected was meant to be used as part of a sales strategy that involved creating massive campaigns that approached users in a personal manner. The results of this campaign ended up disrupting US and UK politics and led to claims of complicity of social media enterprises such as Facebook.

              The illicit harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica was first reported in December 2015 by Harry Davies, a journalist for The Guardian. He reported that Cambridge Analytica was working for United States Senator Ted Cruz and used data harvested from millions of people’s Facebook accounts without their consent.[5] Facebook refused to comment on the story other than to say it was investigating. Further reports followed in the Swiss publication Das Magazin by Hannes Grasseger and Mikael Krogerus (December 2016), (later translated and published by Vice), Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian (starting in February 2017) and Mattathias Schwartz in The Intercept (March 2017). Brittany Kaiser, former director of Business Development at Cambridge Analytica, revealed that everything published involving Cambridge Analytica in the Brexit campaign and Ted Cruz’s campaign was true.

              The scandal reached a point where even Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, had to testify officially in front of several committees of the United States Congress.”

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  18. Someone who doesn’t believe in God or a divine being.

    For some people this is a tiny part of their larger identity and barely something they think about (someone like my wife, for example), for others it seems to function as a crucial part of their self-identity and worldview and functions as a group identity for them. There is also an in-between I suppose. It depends on the individual person.

    Generally the issue is that after one answers: “God: yes or no or maybe?” There are follow-up questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s probably too much a part of my identity. Partly because I react with hostility to crazy claims and actions and beliefs. Which makes me an outlier, actually, on some liberal sacred truths as well. (I still sympathize with some of tiledb’s arguments, for FSM’s sake!. Some. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve definitely felt hostility to ideas, actions, and behaviors that I found crazy, but I always try to remember that responding with hostility will likely turn the person off from listening to whatever I have to say before I’ve even gotten started. Although like any fallible human being I fail at this sometimes. I try to remember disagreement, even with some extremely crazy ideas, doesn’t have to take the form of outright hostility.

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Well, in my first year at school one of the other kiddies asked our teacher why is it, that I do not have to say a prayer before eating lunch, the teacher explained to them, that it is because I am a “pagan”. That was the only word she had for people who are not Christian. (By the way, she was otherwise an absolutely lovely teacher.) That evening I asked my dad, what is a pagan, because I had never before heard the word, and he explained to me what is a pagan and what is an atheist. I guess I have been an atheist ever since. Even though, I grew up in a fairly secular society, one of the most secular in the world, but even here in Finland we have a cross in our flag and religion (Lutheran Christianity) taught in our schools as a particular subject, as if it was as important as mathematics, reading and writing and such.

    Perhaps I was an atheist before that evening I mentioned. I never believed in any gods. It is and has always been an absurd suggestion to me as I am an atheist in the third generation. All of my family and most of my friends are atheists. It was on that evening, though, when I first identified as an atheist. Do I have a sense of tribalism in the grand tribe of atheists? No, not really. It is simply one single issue we agree about to an extent enough for us to discuss on the same level, without having to bring into the discussion gods, boogeymen or other imaginary nonsense. With religious people bringing up their gods to any discussion subject, it is all too often like discussing with little children, with whom you have to respect, that they still believe in Santa, or like a discussion with folio hat conspiracy theorists who have their own “alternative facts” about the reality we unfortunately share.

    Atheism is only a descriptive fraction of my identity. Of course it affects my values, but I do not expect it to have the exactly same effect in the values of other atheists. Indeed, you might find an otherwise perfectly rational religious person, or a flatearther, who simply have allowed themselves a liberty to not rely on any evidence on the one subject (or they have been presented with some very bad information as evidence) – yet, more than often, the reasons why people believe in all sorts of nonsense affect their views on other things, not just the one. Same applies to atheists, who may have the weirdest beliefs and views on some other issues. Reckoning wether there is a god or not is a “no-brainer”, if one bothers to do the work. It is one of the easiest questions in the world and at the same time the end result of any honest evaluation of the question seems to be one of the hardest to accept, because so many people feel like they have to give up on their identity to recognize the truth. Perhaps, that is why most people choose never to even ask themselves the question?

    The world is full of wild claims and superstition, that the reasonable person simply has no time to investigate thoroughly and refute. Is this god true and that one false? How to find out? One simply has to go with what is reasonably reliable. How to discern reasonable from nonsense? Through the scientific method. It sounds awfully grand, but it is rather simple everyday life. Claims are verifiable only when sufficient evidence is put forward on their behalf and more wild claims do not constitute as evidence. Occams razor is a good method to start with: Is it more likely, that people came up with the idea of supernatural, or that supernatural came up with the idea of people? Since there is no evidence anything supernatural ever existed anywhere – apart from (frankly put, silly) hearsay stories – there is little competition between the two possibilities, since we all know people come up with the wildest of ideas all the time.

    Religions are simply slightly more organized forms of superstition and many of them harbour the wildest conspiracy theories – like that the entire scientific community is in league against divine scripture in accepting the theory of evolution. Religions are much like many other organized forms of superstition also in the form of being obvious pyramid schemes. They collect money to do the things people recognize as being good, but do not recognize, that their gods are unable or unwilling to achieve any of those good things without the money, and somehow most of that money is kept for the upkeep of the working crew of the pyramid scheme. The higher in the hierarchy a person is, the bigger seems to be the share of the loot.

    No gods, spirits or anything supernatural never ever appear anywhere in the natural universe. Absolutely anywhere at all, yet people take their existance for granted. Why? Because they would very much want the promises of eternal life after death to be true? Because they would like to believe in a handle to things they have no power to influence? Because they do not understand, that there is no magic involved in things they do not understand – that those things we do not understand are simply things we do not understand and nothing more?

    As for personal experience, no gods have ever appeared to me and I remain as disinterrested in them as they are about me.

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    • I think for many people there is this curiosity, a real desire to know a creator if He is real. For me, I can’t imagine being disinterested to want to know our creator, the maker of the entire cosmos. For me, this is apart from eternal life or anything else at all.

      I had this interest and yearning even as a very young child. It was not simply due to indoctrination.

      Why do some people have this real desire to know and to “seek” while others could care less either way and are apathetic to the whole issue, or even disdain it? I’m not entirely certain.

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      • Indeed Becky, I have met, several times to be exact, with this idea of curiosity towards the idea of supernatural being some sort of evidence, that it actually exists. I have to admit, I do not get it. Perhaps you can explain it to me?

        I am curious about space travel and I have always been. Or, at least as long as I can remember. Had I been born 600 years ago, I would not have been very likely curious about space travel. It was not in our culture to think about such things. Most people are apathetic about space travel even today. Where did my desire to seek while others could care less came from? Could it have been from my dad, who was a keen admirer of space exploration? I do not think he indoctrinated me in any way toward this subject.

        To what we are indoctrinated, is sometimes difficult to determine. For example, my co-worker once made a claim, that the binary division between men and women is not so much a cultural as it is genetical, as his infant son is naturally inclined toward male things, he had reached this conclusion because the little boy who could not even speak yet had started to play with a matchbox as if it were a car and made motor-like sounds. I asked him, if the boy had started to play with it as if it were a horse, would that then have been a proof of the opposite, as horses are – in our day and age – in the field of feminine hobbies, but have been for several millenia a strictly male cultural thing. In reality of course, little babies are open to cultural influence even before they even learn how to speak and we have a tendency to recognize phenomena, that confirms our expectations. Is cultural influence indoctrination? I guess it sometimes is, but even if it strictly speaking was not, it affects us from the very get go of our birth. Adulthood is mostly about the ability to take responsibility not only over one self, but of others. It is also about recognizing our motives and the reasons why we have them and then making the choise to either accept reality as it is, or not.

        Curiosity is a very, very natural evolutionary survival trait. It is one of the most primitive urges that drive us and all other animals. That is how we and other animals find nourishment, shelter, mating companion and new environments free of competition.

        Towards what each and every individual becomes curious about and at what age is formed through very complex mostly cultural influence. Yet, we know that a person growing up in a religious environment is more likely to become religiously curious, than a person growing up in a non-religious environment just like a person growing up in a violent environment is more likely to become violent than a person growing up in a non-violent environment. What we do not know is, if there are super-, or otherwise unnatural entities, that affect our curiosity (or our lives in the first place) in any way and what that might be.

        If I put the two suggestions to the Occams Razor: Is curiosity toward claims about the supernatural a cultural product often imbued while very young from the surrounding culture? Or, is curiosity toward the claims about the supernatural imbedded in some persons by some unknown supernatural entity, that never really appears anywhere in the natural, real space-time universe – exept in hearsay stories? Wich one would you find more likely and why? I find the first suggestion (quite a lot) more likely, simply because it is more simple and it actually explains what happened and why and it does not need any of the natural laws of the actual natural universe around us to be broken in any way.

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    • rautakyy, you wrote a couple of things that really stood out to me.

      One was at the end of your second paragraph: “With religious people bringing up their gods to any discussion subject, it is all too often like discussing with little children … that they still believe in Santa …” So very true.

      And I especially liked this one: “Is it more likely, that people came up with the idea of supernatural, or that supernatural came up with the idea of people?” The question of the ages.

      Plus this one: “No gods, spirits or anything supernatural never ever appear anywhere in the natural universe.” I found this remark especially intriguing because it’s been proven the “natural universe” is made up of planets, suns, comets, asteroids, etc. — none of which is “supernatural.” Yet, as you say, people are certain there is something more “out there.”

      Thanks for an interesting and intriguing comment.

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  20. I would agree that there is diversity among atheists and that in general, atheism is not a religion.

    But, I am able to see many parallels between anti-theism and religious fundamentalism. Looking from the outside, In some ways, it seems to me like the opposing side of the same coin, really.

    I wonder if this might be part of the reason why it’s more unusual for people from mainline church backgrounds if they do deconvert to become anti-theists. It is more common for people coming from fundamentalist religious backgrounds.

    But, I would be interested to hear other’s ideas about this? What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • But, I am able to see many parallels between anti-theism and religious fundamentalism. Looking from the outside, In some ways, it seems to me like the opposing side of the same coin, really.

      Yep. This goes for any kind of strong belief really. If a person really believes they possess the Truth and all those poor benighted souls are deluded/racist/blind/indoctrinated/stupid/ignorant etc. (Pick your negative descriptor) who can’t see the Truth and it should be their mission in life to help them see the Truth (whatever the truth might be), well you ain’t going to get too far with such people and it’s probably not going to be a pleasant experience for anybody involved.

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  21. Because the comments have slowed here, I offer my dissertation on why I hold agnosticism with such disdain. I think it’s an approach that guarantees more misery and suffering because, in a medical analogy, only treats the excessive symptoms and never the root disease. I understand those who take the TL;DR pass on this comment of mine but for those who honestly see nothing wrong with agnosticism, nothing to be criticized for those who avoid answering the question if one is either a theist or atheist, you might find this of some consideration.

    The position of agnosticism as equally pernicious to theism might not appear evident at first, and so it’s not uncommon for those disdainful of this prevarication to be met with the label of being intolerant and therefore militant when disdain is shown. It may appear reasonable that anyone who holds such disdain for the agnostic must be somehow less moral or ethical than those who are more tolerant, less disdainful, of the justification used by those who wish to impose their religious beliefs on others. Rarely do such people phrase their higher tolerance this way: an abdication of a principled stand that ends up aiding and abetting the religious fundamentalist. The agnostics I have read and listened to argue strenuously that their version of what they are offering – their nuanced state of some middle-ground-between-belief-and-non-belief, between theism and atheism – demonstrates a virtue of holding some greater measure of tolerance and respect. This depends, of course, on a more benign version of some god, perhaps even a metaphor. Yes, as if belief or non belief in gods or a god can be reshaped into equivalency with belief or non belief in a harmless religious metaphor! Many a believer I am almost sure espouses that his or her faith-based belief in a god or gods is directed… at a metaphor. Just because I haven’t yet met one doesn’t mean one might not exist.

    So.

    To these agnostic folk, I’m not sure if they truly grasp that in the view of those whose religious views on principle they are tolerating and respecting without criticism – to the degree that they cannot state their opposition as non belief (clutch the pearls, Gertie!) – themselves hold these tolerant and respectful agnostic folk to be unequivocal non believers. Yup. Lots of believers have told me exactly this: simply put, if you don’t believe, you’re by definition a non believer. Lots of words for this deplorable condition of not believing, too: apostates, blasphemers, pagans, broken and hateful people worthy of less-than-human status in the eyes of their religiously approved legal framework, often worthy of not just contempt but death. Real world death handed down as a real world sentence condemning someone for non belief is not a pie-in-the-sky metaphor! It’s real. The god or gods of believers, of theists, is directed at something believed to be the case in reality.

    Mind you, there is less contempt for agnostics and agnosticism from the more moderate religious believers, of course, but still the agnostic is held in higher regard than those atheists. The agnostic, if my sense relates to a more general population, seems to seen as a more likely future believer, a potential recruit, you see. The atheist? Usually, a lost cause, but a real feather in the cap if one can be convinced to join the ranks of religious believers.

    Being agnostic and not criticizing the basis of religious belief on principle does not help fight the incursion of religious belief imposed and inserted into areas of fully human concerns by action. The unwillingness to take a position either as believer or a non believer on principle, a theist or atheist, simply allows religious belief as a motivation for actions free passage on principle no matter how pernicious a particular religious belief may be acted upon… even if such people might argue certain actions are excessive or shouldn’t be done or whatever. Once you accept the religious principle itself is justified and therefore tolerated without criticism to remain virtuous, then the use of faith-based belief to inform theistic claims about reality, and justify any actions the agnostic might disagree with, is simply criticizing and/or addressing a symptom and not the disease by the agnostic. That’s why agnosticism aids ONLY the religious and abets its never-ending attempts to dominate human life. It only criticizes particular symptoms. Agnosticism in the matter of belief or non belief is an eternal position of appeasement because such a middle ground has no principles (except this weird notion of virtue by avoiding any and all responsibility for any principled position of either belief or non belief) upon which to take a principled stand! This should be an obvious and fatal blow to the associated assumption of virtue for agnosticism.

    The position of not being able or unwilling to articulate either belief or non belief in the reality of a theistic agency only aids the religious incursion. This position does not address the disease from which pernicious symptoms caused by religiously motivated actions arise. It offers us nothing of value to the incursion into, say, women’s health care and reproductive issues, incursion into education and the use of public money to endorse certain religious ideologies that are themselves the poster child of intolerance in action. It offers us no principle on which to criticize withholding healthcare from minors leading by the dozens every year to unnecessary suffering and death. Of children. Agnosticism has nothing to say about the principle of criminalizing into capital crimes any criticism of religious ideas and claims or why blasphemy shouldn’t be legally upheld and enforced. Telling the Pakistani judges sentencing a blogger to death for questioning a claim made in the Koran that their god should be treated like a metaphor and so criticizing a metaphor is hardly a justification for a brutal death carries exactly zero weight. There are real life victims when the basis of the religious belief on principle is accepted without criticism as somehow justified… and, to add insult to injury, withholding principled criticism is then presented by the agnostic as a higher virtue than criticizing it!

    These ordered deaths, this unnecessary suffering, supported by religious belief and acted upon as if justified on principle are ongoing. They aren’t metaphorical. Why should we presume the gods these actions represent in real life supposedly honour are to be accepted as ‘metaphorical representations of man’s highest ideals’? Peace in our time!

    Telling a pharmacist in Michigan that having religious convictions or none is fine and dandy in principle because, you know, the God he worships can be viewed as a metaphor, while he refuses to fill out a prescriptions for RU486 in action (well, inaction in this case) doesn’t change the fact that that prescription goes unfilled for a real person in real life. There are real life consequences to real life actions that derive from accepting the principle that belief in some god is just as legitimate as not. Telling a woman she has to travel across state lines and following various invasive procedures to get an abortion because the local law makers and religiously funded hospitals are mistaking their religiously inspired convictions ‘improperly’ according to the agnostic – who has no means or ability to describe on what divinely inspired basis this ‘proper’ description rests – seems to me to be just another in a never-ending line of examples where religious incursion causes real life victims in action while the agnostic can do nothing and remain virtuous, remain tolerant, remain respectful. Agnosticism in action and held to be virtuous on its scope of tolerance for any and all religious beliefs in principle cuts the branch out from under legitimate criticism necessary to stop the pernicious religious creep into any and all areas of human concerns. Treating only symptoms with criticism makes the agnostic the kind of doctor who can never, ever cure anything ever because he or she presumes it is more virtuous to tolerate and respect the disease to keep on presenting. What kind of doctor is that?

    Prevaricating and playing word games about belief and non belief seems to me to always be coming down on the side of supporting religious belief in principle and therefore allow the prevaricator the means to evade any responsibility for the victims that are regularly produced by religious principles in action. Agnosticism gives all religious impulses the wiggle room they need to breathe without criticism while, at the same time, making the job of criticizing them on principle harder to do when the criticizers are often vilified by religionists and agnostics alike as intolerant and militant jerks. The much needed blanket condemnation of the faith-based principles upon which these actions are justified – no matter how many victims they produce – the agnostic will gladly leave to the ‘less tolerant’ and more ‘militant’ atheists on the one hand while feeling morally virtuous if not downright superior to them on the other as they prevaricate about their own state of belief or non belief and so evade responsibility for the entire mess but, in effect, enable wider acceptance of the principles that regularly produce these religious excesses.

    That’s why I am so disdainful of agnostics: they are part of the religious problem and not a solution to it.

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    • I disagree that the comments had slowed before your dissertation … but I feel certain they will now! Sheesh, tildeb! You take things oh-so-seriously! Now always a negative, but sometimes … 😋

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s a very serious issue.

        Maybe having spent time in Muslim countries has jaded me to the extent of the inhumanity and relative indifference so much of the world pays to those Muslims who suffer the most under its totalitarian rule but it’s the same root problem with large gathering during a pandemic to be ‘washed in the blood of Christ’ or those who think believing Trump’s lies have no connection to the storming of the Capital. Same root problem; not enough criticism of it. Faith-based beliefs articulated by actions… met by not enough condemnation of the ‘faith’ part but hardly enough attention on the ‘actions’ part, too. I just want the disease treated, meaning solutions offered, and that doesn’t start until the problem itself is correctly identified and widely condemned.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Agnostic just means a person says they honestly don’t know whether a god exists or not. That’s not an unreasonable position. It’s not the position I take, but it’s a position a person reasonably could take. It doesn’t inherently imply any particular stance toward the taboos of any specific religion. It’s perfectly possible to be an agnostic (or even an outright theist) and strongly oppose, for example, the Catholic Church’s taboo on contraception. People do.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It avoids answering the question about the current state of belief. And this carries a cost when evaluating the actions derived NOT from some state of knowledge but purely from the state of belief! That’s why it’s fine to describe one’s self as, say, an agnostic atheist (I don’t know about all this goddy stuff but I don’t believe in some god or gods). But it’s not fine to pretend to answer the belief question by inserting the knowledge uncertainty. And it’s far, FAR worse to then presume a higher state of moral authority fictitiously based on a tolerance scale and deride or criticize those non believers who, unlike they, actually ANSWER THE QUESTION HONESTLY and take responsibility for it. The belief agnostic avoids all this messy fuss but very often presents themselves as if more virtuous, which is EXACTLY backwards yet many people who are atheists and admit as much go along with the charade not because it’s true but I think to avoid the smearing.

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  22. Yes. I use the term atheist to describe me.

    I have concluded that there is not a god. I use atheist to define that conclusion. However, it is confusing and the term is not helpful for many reasons. I wish I could be more specific. Sometimes, I like to say, “there are no gods” just to see what happens. 🙂 I’m not sure if I’m “hard core.” Probably.

    I think agnostic relates to knowledge. Since I don’t know if a god exists, I’m that too. In my opinion, everyone is agnostic, since no one knows. That makes the term useless for differentiating the existence or not position.

    I think religion is pointless, except for controlling people. But I don’t deny the good (or the bad) members of religions do because of what they believe and the influence of religion.

    It is impossible to keep this simple, but I try. But damn, Sam! Just look at the comments here. OMFG!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to go along with much of what you just wrote.

      What would make the discussion moot is if we could just do away with the whole idea of religion! Who’s up for that? 😈

      Liked by 2 people

        • Basing any beliefs about reality on faith is always pernicious because reality is not allowed to play any part in evaluating it’s claims. When those claims are about reality, then they become nothing more and nothing less than sanctified and permitted ignorance. To enforce this ignorance requires totalitarianism.

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      • I’m sorry I found this so late, Nan. I was cleaning out my mailbox.

        Very good, Nan. Timely. Relevant.

        I liked your last post in the discussion. Getting rid of religion would make the conversation moot but would do the world so much good.

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  23. I am an atheist. As you said atheism is not a religion and therefore not all atheist are/believe/act the same…all it means to me is that we share a lack of belief in god. A point I’ve had to discuss too many times, just because I say I am an atheist doesn’t mean I’m a Marxist or anarchist etc. As I like to say, “Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles.” And as for those who equate atheist to satan worshipers that has never made any sense to me…if i do not believe in god how can i believe in satan?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Just realized how late I am commenting on this post so I will not reply to and/or comment on above comments but wanted to say I enjoyed reading the discourse.

    AND Infidel753 if you see this what do you have against Unicorns?!!! …and yes I capitalized it just for you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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