My atheist declaration
Over at Triangulations, Sabio Lantz has had several posts about declaring oneself. While I was definitely taken aback by the daunting philosophy declaration table (and felt too “alien” from the Christian one), I decided to take a go at the atheist one. And it seems that it’s becoming quite popular these days to put the table in new blog entries, like is done here.
So, what about my atheist positions?
I guess I should now qualify a lot of stuff.
Sabio’s original post had solid descriptions for several of the items (in case you were wondering what the different cells were aiming for), but I guess I might disagree with some of the things.
~For example, under “intellectual involvement” (or what is on the table as “Level of Affirmation”), Sabio lists two options:
- Casual Atheist= affirms no god but hasn’t thought much about it.
- Strong Atheist= not only lacks a belief in gods, but also affirms that no gods exist (AKA, positive, explicit atheist). Feels strongly justified in his disbelief.
I don’t really think this is the dichotomy.
I think the dichotomy that he’s trying to approach is “weak atheism” (or negative atheism) vs. “strong atheism”. If this is the case, then his definition of strong atheism is solid.
But his “casual” atheist doesn’t really fit. Lacking a belief in gods doesn’t necessarily mean “hasn’t really thought about it.” Really, the issue is with what the definition of atheism anyway? His definition of casual atheist is not a weak atheist, but rather a lackadaisical strong atheist. E.g., he affirms no gods, but just hasn’t thought about it.
So, for my answer, I put weak. I’ve thought about things a lot. My lack of belief in gods (and that is that…a lack of belief…a disbelief…absence of belief. Not belief there is not…belief in none. etc.,) is not something feathery.
I’d make a brief comment on passive atheism too. I like how Sabio phrased this, (though I won’t quibble on this as if it’s a technical term):
Passive atheist doesn’t believe in god but doesn’t try to influence the world in favor of atheism.
Since for me, I strongly value personal authenticity and recognize inauthenticity with both theism and atheism, I have little issue with authentic, fulfilled theists. Why should I try to “take that away” from them?
On the other hand, if I ever seem unsympathetic to religion, or if I ever seem evangelical in terms of atheism, it is not for these fulfilled theists. Rather, it is for this sense I get that some people are not fulfilled, and they don’t believe, but are compelled to lie (to themselves and others) for social reasons. And you can see it in these individuals. It’s painful.
*I had a problem with the enchantment question. Sabio describes disenchanted as such:
Disenchanted – depressed thinking that there is not purpose to the universe or yourself
Well, I think this poisons the well a bit. Disenchanted does not, in my mind, mean “depressed” at all. Although I guess it depresses some people, it doesn’t seem inherently depressing to say there is not purpose to the universe (or even to ourselves). Of course, I also happen to believe that even if there is not intrinsic, inherent purpose to us, all is not lost, because we can — even if only absurdly — work to instill purpose. I guess I really have the bone to pick with this article at Common Sense Atheism (despite all the stuff he mentioned, which is pretty handy, it’s silly to say these things are “enchanting” in the same way it’s silly to say the mundane is “divine” just to invoke a metaphor) and this other one at On The Human (boo scientism. And the entire article — unapologetically — teems with it).
+The final note goes to the belief history. Sabio describes this question as one that asks about:
Tell us if you have ever been a whole-hearted believer before. Some folks participated in religion but never with a full heart.
But I think the issue isn’t like this. Actions are different than beliefs. I can say that I participated in my religion with all diligence, in terms of I cared about my priesthood duties, about learning the gospel, etc., So, to say I did it “without a full heart” seems to cheapen my experience in a way I cannot do.
HOWEVER, I recognize that the thing called “faith,” or “true belief,” is something I just don’t have and didn’t have. To say I did would be to cheapen the faith experiences of true theists. (The tightrope I walk is in trying not to cheapen either person’s experiences…either my own or the experiences of believing friends).