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Monday, August 01, 2005

What is atheism ?

We all know what atheism is. Atheism is the lack of belief in God or gods. No excluded middle, no exception, we all agree with that. And there is implicit atheism and explicit atheism. That's all fine.

Now the question I want to raise is, what does that mean within the context of evangelizing ? Well, I already have a page about the reasons why one should be an atheist. Most of them are, inevitably, negative in nature - they illustrate what you lost when you joined a religion, not what you are gaining from atheism itself. This is natural, since atheism is purely negative in nature. Atheism is not a philosophy or a belief system, it is just one lack of belief in one imaginary construct.

So atheism is a peculiar position for an evangelist in that you don't necessarily have any answers to give. Many atheists don't have any answers and aren't as efficient at evangelizing because they don't provide a safe space for the Christian to look at and feel comfortable with before jumping away from religious indoctrination. This is not great. Ideally, there should be a safe space there, one made of the bonds of friendship, family and love, the power of science, the control and responsability brought about by individualism, the beauty of life and nature, and so on.

We don't tend to be as nurturing as we can be (if you'll pardon me the glib generalization), primarily because natural atheism is not usually correlated with attachment to other people's feelings and ideas. But individualism does not mean detachment : ideally, one should always be able to retain one's borders while sharing other people's opinions and feelings.

Atheism is not a safe space, it's opening the door. Atheism provides one with the mental freedom to regain one's personal values, and to get the tools one needs to rectify one's life, and progress within it. The safe space is on the other side of the door, if one wants to enter. Some born-again atheists just open the door, step out, and then ram their head against the door forever. You can do that too, but it's not very productive.

Since people have many collectivist constructs, not just God, atheism in itself is still not enough to be an individualist. But it is definitely the most popular aspect of it, at least in North America. In Europe, political collectivism is equally popular, so there are more targets there. Religions, communism and nazism are recognized as competing pseudo-religions, competing belief systems (not to mention cults, and some pseudo-scientific beliefs). Basically, the main thrust of any individualist, rational evangelizing is to liberate the individual's life and values from their self-imposed belief systems, so that everyone can live at peace with each other and believe whatever they want in their own private lives. That is the ultimate goal. Beyond that, someone can still be whatever he wants, as long as he has chosen it based on his own values, not based on belief. So an individualist does not have to be against religion or politics of necessity, although he will tend to be.

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8 Comments:

At 8/02/2005 7:48 AM, Blogger CADman904 declaimed...

This is not great. Ideally, there should be a safe space there, one made of the bonds of friendship, family and love, the power of science, the control and responsability brought about by individualism, the beauty of life and nature, and so on.

Yes. This is what has made my journey to atheism difficult. While atheism has allowed me greater freedom it is the relationships one attempts to develope later that are difficult for it is a time when a person puts together their new philosophical outlook. Old relationships no longer work well because values shift. There needs to be bonds of friendship - not that I don't feel a kind of bond with those that I have met here - but face to face contact.

A good example is last night. We had a b-day party for my mom and my family came over to celebrate. As soon as they stepped through the door I was ready for them to leave. I have discovered that the values that I hold and the values they hold are have diverged so much that I am having difficulty relating to them anymore. The night was hollow and empty.

 
At 8/02/2005 10:40 PM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Cadman: "This is what has made my journey to atheism difficult. While atheism has allowed me greater freedom it is the relationships one attempts to develope later that are difficult for it is a time when a person puts together their new philosophical outlook."

It's true that the recovery from the hideous ravages of religion can be a lonely experience. However, that can actually be a good thing, since you really learn to know yourself. The journey starts with being honest to oneself. Someone who is genuinely honest to himself will not remain a Christian for long. In the beginning of the journey, with respect to social relationships, the journey to non-belief can seem like a choice between loneliness on the side of atheism, or endless family on the other. However, when you realize that much of the "fellowship" with other Christians is pure fakery (persons who are dishonest with themselves all trying to hide their dishonesty from each other), the apparently lonely path is far more preferable. At least, if you have any self-respect. But, as Cadman's post showed, the teachings attributed to Jesus were intended to destroy man's self-respect. No Christian has shown otherwise.

 
At 8/03/2005 8:36 AM, Blogger vjack declaimed...

I believe that a significant problem with atheism is our lack of community compared to religious groups. Many people clearly want this, and it need not be religious to be effective. Until we can offer greater sense of community, our numbers will remain small, our influence will be limited, and our members will be less diverse.

 
At 8/03/2005 9:30 AM, Blogger CADman904 declaimed...

A couple of reasons why grouping is difficult.

1.There are far many more theists than atheists. Even the people that don't attend church around me believe in a god they just don't like church.

2.Of those that are atheists there is great diversity among them however the majority will adhere to some kind of collectivist ideology which would repulse me immediately.

 
At 8/03/2005 9:34 AM, Blogger CADman904 declaimed...

However, that can actually be a good thing, since you really learn to know yourself.

This is true. I have gotten to know myself better. As a side benefit I have also come to realize that those people who claimed to be my friends were only because we met every sunday for worship. By knowing who I am I have come to better understand who they are. Now that sunday mornings are gone so are those people who say they care about me.

 
At 8/03/2005 3:28 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"I believe that a significant problem with atheism is our lack of community compared to religious groups."

Fallacious thinking. Atheism is not a religious group, and there is nothing in atheism to be cohesive about, except a common experience (which people like me don't have anyway).

You want a group about atheism. Get a group for atheists. There are a zillion of them out there, it's called secularism. Pretty much every interest and hobby out there has secular groups. Practical atheism dominates the Western world, take advantage of it.

 
At 8/04/2005 12:15 AM, Blogger Willowsss declaimed...

good post... thanks.

Jon
my site: net iq

 
At 8/16/2010 3:25 AM, Blogger ming declaimed...

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