In one recent discussion, a good lady, Dogly, said this about me:

“It is just that Madhukar seems to be trying to find a common set of beliefs or opinions among us all. I'm trying to convince him that that is impossible.”

Earlier, she had hardly participated in the several discussions posted by me but seems to have observed me from distance, because her observation is accurate.

My reply was obvious:

“I do not, cannot and will not deny that I would be very happy to evolve some commonalities in atheist character,”

I feel most annoyed when an atheist says that ‘atheism is nothing more and nothing less than not believing in god.’ I also find some opposition to me when I say that atheism is an ideal. This may be a result of a fear that calling atheism an ideal will turn it into an ideology, which, indeed, is to be feared! However, there is some difference between an ideal and ideology. To me, atheism is an ideal that every intellectual should try to achieve. Attaining this ideal would be the best proof of an intellectual’s intellectualism. This is supported by the result of a recent discussion that finally seems to have established that atheism is based on knowledge and not on ignorence.

Likewise, I strongly believe that there should be something like an “Atheist Identity” that should distinguish an atheist from the rest of the people, by his character. The religious faithful often try to say that being an atheist is being immoral. Why should anyone try to attach such labels to us? Why should it not be obvious to others that being an atheist gives some good attributes to one’s personality?

Aren’t there enough good qualities that all atheists can posses and that can be attributed to atheism? Whatever be the answer, it will not deter me from finding such a common character.

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Replies to This Discussion

"My mom taught me how to swear when I was a kid.  She felt that if I am going to use the words it should be done properly."

I'm torn between going the gender conspiracy theory route and/or asking for an expert demonstration of profanity done properly

I'm pretty sure I learned to cuss at school, …there's something strangely comforting about that.

George Carlin offends me no end and I can't stop laughing and saying, "Yes, he is right!"

Politeness is sometimes the best option, or the worst, there is also a grey area.

Polite comes in several forms;

1. polite to one's face and disrespectful behind one's back; 

2. polite to manipulate and exploit ... the brown nose kind of polite;

3. polite because one cares about another and doesn't want to offend;

4. polite because one wants to make a good impression ... i.e. on a first date. 

5. polite to make a conversation go more openly; 

6. polite in order to understand someone with whom you disagree;

7. polite in order to get your point of view across to someone with whom you disagree.

Why is it good to not be polite:  

Joan,

Have you noticed that I was able to say something meaningful after you entered the discussion? The discussion seems to have turned to the main thread only after some 90 replies. Neverthe less I am happy that it has atheast happened. I want those persons who give characterlesss replies to understand  that they only strengthen the thought that atheists have to have character.

Madhukar, this has been an interesting thought experiment for me, as I have had to make so many changes in my way of thinking and my values over the years. I am quite comfortable with changing my mind or determining what my values are and how to fulfill them. 
For example, as a young mother, I thought my most important job was to teach my children obedience. I have come to believe obedience is one of the worst things to expect from children if it causes them to look outside themselves and follow direction of others  who may or may not be worthy models. 

I have come to believe self-respect that comes from achieving something that comes from them, not my expectations, leads to happier individuals and citizens. Care, cooperation and compassion come to the top of my list, as well as a sense of being part of something very much bigger than any of us. To be able to perceive oneself as part of the cosmos, stardust, as Neil deGrasse Tyson calls it, or star stuff as Carl Sagan describes us. We are not nothing. That awareness comes from self-awareness and awareness of life and beauty and valuing others, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, bright and dull, handsome and ugly, strong and weak, able and disabled. 
Not everyone or every thing has a hierarchical position in value, but all things are part of everything. 

I like listening and participating in conversations with people who hold different ideas than I; I cannot tolerate being told what to think. 

I like being given a reason to change my mind and find it very easy to do. I eschew acquiescence, obedience, and submission. 

Joan,

 To be able to perceive oneself as part of the cosmos, stardust, as Neil deGrasse Tyson calls it, or star stuff as Carl Sagan describes us. We are not nothing. That awareness comes from self-awareness

What a beautiful thought Joan, how great it feels to be a part of this wonderful cosmos, even merely as stardust, which science has thrown open to us. Such a thought only makes me feel more responsible towards my infinitessimally small position in the universe. No human being, having been endowed with power to think, should think that he/she does not carry any responsibility on him or her. 

"Why is it good to not be polite:"

Loaded question. I don't think any have advocated the position "it's good to be impolite", rather; "sometimes, politeness is ineffective and certain forms of impoliteness (i.e. ridicule, satire, polemicism, mockery, logically valid ad hominems, etc) are more effective. I would further add to this the reality that this can be accomplished without resorting to intellectual dishonesty. Perhaps a more accurate question to this position would be:

"When is it good to be impolite?" 

Examples for this are countless...

Richard ∑wald

"When is it good to be impolite?"

Examples for this are countless...

If there are countless examples of when it is not good to be polite, thre will be amny more examples when someone becomes bad even though it would have been sufficient to be good. I am talking of atheist character and I think atheist need to consider that restraint too is a good and useful device.

"If there are countless examples of when it is not good to be polite, thre will be amny more examples when someone becomes bad even though it would have been sufficient to be good." 

"Becomes bad"?

"To be good"?  

The great Christopher Hitchens was not a paragon of tact, far from it, he was often abrasive, blunt and unrepentantly rude...


…for good reason and with good cause.

"I am talking of atheist character and I think atheist need to consider that restraint too is a good and useful device"

Disrespect, like respect …is also something that can be earned. There are some things that are even more offensive when cast in a polite light with sanitized language and a whispered delivery.

There is no such thing as "good atheist character", there is no template, archetype, etc. even though one may wish there to be one (some of us find this idea very offensive, see "tone trolling").

It is only incumbent upon those who hold an atheist position to have just a single data-point/position in common, aside from this, diversity and dissent are not only "okay" …they're inevitable.

"I think atheist need to consider that restraint too is a good and useful device."

Be assured, you are witnessing restraint at this very moment.

There are aspects to many of your presuppositions that; no amount of profanity and invective could make any more offensive than they already are...

 

Richard ∑wald

Taking a contrarian position is easy and you have turned it in to an art. You keep asking for prooof while your own arguments are without proof and many times are illogical too. What can be achived in such a discussion? Nothing.

Let me start off saying, thank you for this thoughtful, provoking, and self reflecting topic. My opinion will be my take on "Athiest Identity", that is to say, different from everybody elses. But that is the beauty and the ugliness of being human. Maybe it is the word itself, atheist. Literally, a-without, theism-god, i.e. "without a god". Maybe someone can coin a better word for it. I can't seeem to think of one.

 

I identify as many things in life, as we all do, not just atheism. Sometimes seems kind of unimportant with some of the other things going on in my life. The fires nearest to me get stomped on first, the others as I can get to them.

So what is an atheist identity? Why, a human identity, just as are all things. I try to remember in my interactions with others this above all. My actions toward them, my community, work, humanity at large, whether they know or not, reflect upon me, and upon that part of me that is an athiest. As my dad used to say, lead by example. I think very applicable here.

It would be nice if we had more of an ideal to steer toward, that others could see and say "He's an atheist" and think nothing more about it than saying "He's a Hindu" "He's a Christian" "He's a Baptist" etc.

So what I' trying to say is that your good qualities will define you, just as your bad qualities. Only hope your good heavily outweighs your bad, as I'm sure they do. Then you will shine by example, and that will be attributed to atheism.

Thank you for letting me contribute in some small way. Peace and long life, my friend.

 

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