I've been following with interest the Forum discussion that Andre M. Smith Jr. started, exploring a new definition of atheism. Everyone made good points, but it ultimately came down to a definition dependent on the ideas we reject. About a year ago, a website opened that invited people to make "claims", that were then voted on. I don't know if it survived, but I made the following claim about atheism at that time:

A new understanding of atheism is emerging - an understanding in which atheism's rejection of God as a useful construct is seen not as central but as incidental to an ethical worldview founded on three pillars: science to explain the nature and dynamics of our universe, compassion to provide our moral compass, and a sense of wonder and boundless possibility to give meaning and purpose to our lives.

I think my claim attracted a total of five responses; two agreeing and two not and one uncertain. I suspect that the responses from this group will be more interesting.

With regard,

Richard

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Richard...I like your "claim", but as others have said in the comments to the referenced post by Andre Smith Jr...the difficulty of specific definition is the possibility of incompleteness.

While I vehemently reject the classification of Atheism as a religion and I consider the possibility of the existence of a supreme being as being very remote...I also believe that the practice of worship of a god or the belief in any supernatural event or entity is detrimental to the general welfare of our planet because the advancement of any delusional perspective is counter productive...on many levels.

Therefore I think we must allow for the anti-theist classification of atheism. This would suggest that atheism is...for me and others who share this point of view... the belief that a supreme beings nonexistence IS more central than incidental to the perspective of atheism.

I am open for discussion about this...I have only stated a personal opinion.
Hear, hear! But atheism is not a complete philosophy or worldview. Rather, it is a piece of a worldview.

I think most of us are secular humanists; however, I have met atheists who believed in the supernatural.
I feel the terminology of religion is a little wrong in the first place. Religion is a sort of well, umbrella term for ethics, morals and how to view the world. But these things also fall under the category of philosophy. Personally I don't like to call my belief a religion really, I do prefer the life philosophy, because that's what it is. It 100% reflects how I view the world and my world in it. Ofc it becomes harder to redefine religion as a philosophy if people literary believe in a god... ie a personal god.
LeaT...I agree with what you have said as you have correctly, in my opinion, described "religion" as an umbrella term...therefore "religion" is one of those impossible to accurately define words. In his essay, "Defining Religion",(http://www.religioustolerance.org/jones01.htm) Kile Jones compares two general descriptions of religion. One as being inclusive as of a worldview and so (quoting from Jones' essay) "Atheism, Agnosticism, Secular Humanism, Scientism, and Buddhism can be thoroughly held to be religions." (although no belief in a supreme being is embraced)

On the other hand, there is the description that is more exclusive in nature. Quoting..."Using this method, in order for a worldview or belief to be considered a religion, it must hold to specific theological teachings."

I believe the more accurate of the two methods of description is the exclusive definition in that atheism is by definition a position without a belief in a supreme being. Atheism is the absence of theism; by itself, it isn't even a belief, much less a belief system, and as such cannot be a religion.
Well, why don't we finally split it up then since it seems it's needed? I mean, if we must, let's just call it life philosophy but in a nicer term? Biophilosophy maybe? :))

But what about paganism in "Using this method, in order for a worldview or belief to be considered a religion, it must hold to specific theological teachings"? My teachings are my own, I come to realization with my myself, I am not following a set standards of teachings. In fact, I don't practice my religion more than doing what I consider being morally correct. I am definitely not an atheist but neither do I believe in a supreme being. I think both definitions have some holes in them.

I know I have brought up my religion a lot lately, but that's because I feel it's such in a minority. It's NEVER thought of, included or even mentioned although it has existed way longer than when Jesus was ever thought of! I hope you understand that it at some point does piss me off. How can you consider yourself well-read on religion if you still ignore one of the most common religious practices in the world and then make a definition of how to define religion and you yet fail to consider one of the biggest groups?

Let's just split up the term in 2 groups, seriously. One for supreme being believers (does account a more pantheistic world view) and one who simply does not believe in a god or supreme being. That way everone would be happy right? I just personally find it a little rediculous that a religion must have teachings and practices to be accounted as a religion, or if you even want to consider yourself religious. I don't think the word spiritual works here, because I do believe most people who just feel generally spiritual believe in a spiritual world of sorts and they might even have elaborated ideas of how it would be like. Could probably say the same about deists. I just find it stupid to not account certain individuals in those groups as religious. I mean, let's talk about wannabe Christianity. I bet you know of good local examples yourself, like your grandma who claims to be a believer but seldom if ever visits a church (my grandma is like that). Just because they claim to be Christians, does it make them Christian? Does it actually make them religious just because they claim so?

I am not entirely sure for what I am arguing for, but I think we need to redefine and specify the term religion completely, and most probably, add subbranches to maybe finally correctly label whatever we need to label. I think atheism should fall under the category of religion simply because it's an antithesis if we consider religon merely as an umbrella term (it does describe your stance towards religion). It's like saying we cannot consider bad as a part of ethics, just because there really are no true bad ethical views, only personal interpretations of what is good. Still bad ethics falls under the category of ethics, although bad ethics really doesn't exist. Arguing for making a very own branch for atheism is a little of the same thing.

Tbh, reading through my post, I feel we need to consider the word "religion" different too. Instead of defining some sort of faith in a god, power or supreme being, it simply just should explain your stance towards the spiritual. That way atheism easily falls into the category without really asying that you believe in a god.
LeaT...You said this..."I am not entirely sure for what I am arguing for, but I think we need to redefine and specify the term religion completely, and most probably, add subbranches to maybe finally correctly label whatever we need to label." I think you DO know what you are "arguing for"...you've done an admirable job of defining your position.

As Richard Blumberg states in the comment following yours..."Of course any brief definition (of religion) is incomplete." I provided two (brief) points of view about the definition of religion and sided with one... specifically the one in which atheism is excluded as a religion. You do not agree and you said this about your personal beliefs..."Personally I don't like to call my belief a religion really, I do prefer the life philosophy, because that's what it is."

So may I offer the same opinion about my beliefs? May I say, "Personally I don't like to call my NON-belief a religion really, I do prefer the life philosophy, because that's what it is."

(By the way..you also refer to your beliefs as a religion although you have said you do not like that label..."I know I have brought up my religion a lot lately....")

You also said this, "I feel we need to consider the word "religion" different too. Instead of defining some sort of faith in a god, power or supreme being, it simply just should explain your stance towards the spiritual. That way atheism easily falls into the category without really saying that you believe in a god."

That atheism, "easily falls into the category (of a stance towards spirituality) without really saying that you believe in a god" is not accurate...in my opinion...at least not as far as my personal view in that I am not "spiritual". Although many atheists ARE spiritual...many are not.

Clearly, the definition of "religion" can be very subjective and I honor your position...I simply don't agree with you.

Also, I don't really "consider (my)yourself well-read on religion". this is an assumption made by you. I have some knowledge about religion and I have a great deal of interest in the subject...but well read...hardly. My neophyte or novice level of education about religion is beside the point however...my opinions about the topic are valid only as my personal view and I claim no other authority.
All good points. Of course any brief definition is incomplete. And I agree that my rational rejection of the idea that there is some supernatural being that has any sort of objective existence is an important consequence of my acceptance of science as an adequate guide to objective truth. And I feel compassion for those poor beings who are still flagellating themselves because of some perceived failure to live up to the expectations and whimsical rules of such a delusional being.

Still, when I read Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, et. al., what strikes me is not so much the denial of the existence of God, but the denial of the necessity of God's existence. I don't want to fight with anyone about whether or not God exists, but I am willing to argue till the cows come home and marshall a quite considerable body of evidence to justify my claim that we can explain what we know of our world without having to call in a god to provide a mechanism for making that world or keeping it in motion, and we can behave ethically for motives that have nothing to do with pleasing a god who's established rules of behavior, and we can feel rich purpose in our lives without any need for rewards and punishment in an afterlife or any sense that our purpose depends on knowing a god's will for us.

That's all positive. The negative claim that no god(s) (probably) exist follows from that, but it's really inconsequential, especially when there's a rich and complex world to understand, and a difficult practice of ethical living to master, and so much potential to learn and create.

With regard,

Richard
Richard....I agree 100% with this statement..."Still, when I read Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, et. al., what strikes me is not so much the denial of the existence of God, but the denial of the necessity of God's existence."

This is the crux of the matter of my opposition to those belief systems which include a supreme being and this specifically defines my effort as a vocal atheist. (This is the central feature of my opposition, but by no means my entire objection.) The dependence upon a belief system that necessitates the existence of a god or a maker or a creator is delusional behavior in that the substitution of superstition for fact is not a rational thought process and it is counter productive to the search for the real answers.

I have far less objection to those who practice "spiritual inquiry" or at least understand that the hope or belief that a god exists does not make his presence real.
Michael Ham : The dependence upon a belief system that necessitates the existence of a god or a maker or a creator is delusional behavior in that the substitution of superstition for fact is not a rational thought process and it is counter productive to the search for the real answers.

This is all well and good, but you must also seriously consider the semantecs / semiotics employed in the methodologies of delivering "bad thinking". This is an invaluable resource, written in a way that even a child could understand.

A nuclear warhead is a terrible thing, but it is nothing without the rocket that gets it there.

The big guns of Atheism touch on the concept of memes, but not nearly as much as they should. It should be considered on par with natural selection.
felch grogan...As I understand the meaning of the first part of your comment...I have failed the "bad thinking" test of logic in/with my statement which you have quoted. I would be interested if you could further explain your objections to what I have said or the method by which I have delivered my opinion. My thought was pronounced by you to be "well and good" as you inferred that it was also an example of "bad thinking".

May I comment about this statement you have made? "A nuclear warhead is a terrible thing, but it is nothing without the rocket that gets it there."
Assuming that a rocket is the only method by which a nuclear warhead can be delivered (it is not of course)...the fact that a nuclear warhead is a "terrible thing" is subject to the perspective of those who own the warhead vs those who are threatened by the nuclear warhead. If the owners of the nuclear warhead employ the warhead as a deterrent to war, for example, and they are successful.. then perhaps the resulting peace can be considered as reason to refer to the warhead a "good thing".

It is interesting that you have made this statement "The big guns of Atheism touch on the concept of memes, but not nearly as much as they should. It should be considered on par with natural selection.". the word "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins who most consider to be one of the "big guns" of atheism. Additionally, memes are considered to be a PART of natural selection. Your reference seems contradictory. What did you mean? (Remember to answer in terms that even a child can understand.)
No, I wasn't criticising you. I was talking about how perverted communication delivers and implants warped belief systems into virginal minds.

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