PDA

View Full Version : Sick of the term "atheist", is there a better alternative?


mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 09:57 AM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.

Its like calling oneself "everyoneisanidiotexceptme" and expecting to win friends and influence people.

Not only does the term extend a nasty middle finger up at the vast majority of the population, it also gives creedence to the religious majority by declaring that it is no more than whatever a theist isnt, thereby being essentially defined by religion.

I for one, do not wish to continue to indulge the religious nut bars of the planet by allowing them to define me as something that is no more than what they arent.

There HAS to be a better term for us. Enlightened? Too arrogant. Darwinians? There are probably athiests that dont accept everything Darwin taught.

If anyone can help out please do! What is a proactive, empowering word to describe those of us who are un-shackled by a religious faith, and are prepared to face reality with no predisposition?

Mangetout
09-15-2006, 09:59 AM
Well, you could go with Dawkin's daft suggestion of 'Bright'.

scr4
09-15-2006, 10:03 AM
You could just say "not religious."

...it also gives creedence to the religious majority by declaring that it is no more than whatever a theist isnt, thereby being essentially defined by religion.
How can you have a word that means "non-religious" that isn't defined by religion??

Anaamika
09-15-2006, 10:05 AM
Atheist simply means without god. But you could say secular humanist, if you are.

Antigen
09-15-2006, 10:06 AM
I've heard "non-theist" used, but I think it sounds silly.

Eonwe
09-15-2006, 10:07 AM
You could just say "not religious."


How can you have a word that means "non-religious" that isn't defined by religion??

Exactly. The whole point of having a word to describe people who don't believe in God is to indicate that they don't believe in God. There is no unifying belief of athiesm that one could use to describe the collective group of athiests except for their lack of belief in God.

I think we're stuck.

Blaster Master
09-15-2006, 10:17 AM
Now, I'm not an atheist; however, I have had my beliefs stereotyped because my opponent in a debate (or partner in a discussion) has preconceived notions about what a specific term means when I use it. Hence, I came to the conclusion that I attempt to avoid using words for which I have a differing definition from the norm without first defining it.

In your case, "atheist" tends to have an anti-religion stigma, as you stated. Any other term you use, that anyone would understand to mean the same thing, will invariably have perhaps a different but invariably undesired stigma. If you result to abstract terms like "enlightened", not only does it have more of the Eastern religious, or new-age feel to it, but it completely fails to convey your meaning that you are not necessarily anti-religion (I assume), you just don't have one. Quite frankly, if someone is worth having a conversation with, they're worth taking the extra 5 seconds here and there to specify exactly what you mean and not using a loaded word like "atheist". The same goes for similar terms like "religious", "creationist", "Darwinist", and plenty of other loaded, but non-religion related terms.

Hari Seldon
09-15-2006, 10:33 AM
You could find a euphimism of course, but, if successful, it will end up having all the negative connotations (if any) that atheist has. I have seen, in my nearly 70 years, "crippled" replaced by "handicapped", replaced by "disabled", replaced by "differently abled" and it is all BS. The problem is being crippled, not what you call it. When I was young, we called black people "negroes", then "blacks", then "Afro-Americans", now "African-Americans". The last term is absurd since we don't call people of European descent "European-Americans" and so on. We are all of African descent anyway, if you go back far enough. If I turned out to have more recent African ancestry, it would neither surprise nor appall me.

So I am an atheist and not afraid to say so. I could say I was an agnostic, but that seems like a waffle when I truly believe there is no god. As for the origin of it all, I am truly agnostic (which means not knowing without any religious connotation).

KP
09-15-2006, 10:36 AM
Well, if you mean to say "hey, if you believe in a god, more power to you, and maybe you're right, but I don't know if there is a god at all much less your god" ... then that's along the lines of "agnostic". However, simply saying that you don't believe something that someone else does --no matter how fervently they believe it-- *isn't* the same as shooting them all the middle finger. That's what the intolerant would have you believe but you don't have to buy into it.

Face it: no matter what religion a theists believes, most of the world completely disagrees with them. When I was young, it was popular to say that all the world's religions basically taught the same thing, but the more I studied, the further that seemed from the truth. There are huge differences between major Protestant sects, between Protestant and Catholic, and completely stunning differences between Christianity and Judaism. Heck, not all the "major world religions" believe in a "god" (in more than the most vaguely comparable sense) and we know, as a matter of historical fact, that neighboring congregations of the same sect in the US often recieved opposing messages (e.g. the black church vs the white church in even the smallest towns in Alabama, during the civil rights era) That's no accident: neighboring congregations often came into existence *because of* a fundamental schism

Most people don't know the details of their own church's theology and don't really care -- much less the details of any other religion. They know that the person in the next pew or family, much less the next congregqations, woul likey turn out disagree with them on fundamental theological issues, if examined closely but they don't think about it, because they don't really believe that there *is* a knowable answer, and they fully intend to come up with their own flavor of theism, as suits them. That's true on every continent and every religion I know. It's also why deep religious discussion can be so touchy, even in a church.

In my book, faith that can't declare exactly what it believes isn't faith at all, just a wish to belong, but that's just me.

I don't think that being a member of a large religious sect is any more 'respectful', just because you're showing (slightly) fewer people the finger.

If a firm belief that there is no god or gods is important to your values, then be an atheist as proudly as a Hindu is a Hindu. if you simply *doubt*, then doubt, though it makes you more of an agnostic. How insecure does someone have to be to consider that a slap at them? Frankly, those who are offended by atheists are very often equally or more offended by theists of different colors. So who's showing whom the finger?

Nic2004
09-15-2006, 10:38 AM
I've heard the term "Freethinker" thrown around but sometimes it kinda suggests that religious people are not as smart or open-minded.
I like "Saganite" or the ever popular "Pastafarian" (sp?).

I often reply (to the door-knockers mostly) that I am "a student of science and mostly agnostic with strong atheistic leanings" and watch for the expression to change.

Si Amigo
09-15-2006, 10:41 AM
How about heathens (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heathens) ?

Nic2004
09-15-2006, 10:42 AM
How about heathens (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heathens) ?
I've always liked "Heretic"

scr4
09-15-2006, 10:43 AM
How about heathens (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heathens) ?
I wouldn't mind using it to describe myself, but doesn't it also refer to people who believe in religions other than Christianity?

Mangetout
09-15-2006, 10:44 AM
:confused: I've heard the term "Freethinker" thrown around but sometimes it kinda suggests that religious people are not as smart or open-minded.I've come across at least a couple of fundie Christians who described themselves as 'freethinker' or 'freethinking'. They were about as dogmatic and locked-in as you can get, but insisted it was the right term for them.
:confused:

Contrapuntal
09-15-2006, 10:45 AM
There is no unifying belief of athiesm that one could use to describe the collective group of athiests except for their lack of belief in God.I think that is an excellent synopsis, with one caveat: change "God" to "a particular god." There is no reason for the Judeo Christian god to be the default god. As it is Judeo Christian dogma that there is only one god, all who believe so are necessarily atheists when it comes to any other god.

The trick is not to let oneself be defined by a label. I am an atheist, but that is a descriptive term, not a definitive one.

samclem
09-15-2006, 10:45 AM
Not really a General Question. Moved to IMHO.

samclem

Nic2004
09-15-2006, 10:49 AM
:confused: I've come across at least a couple of fundie Christians who described themselves as 'freethinker' or 'freethinking'. They were about as dogmatic and locked-in as you can get, but insisted it was the right term for them.
:confused:
A Fundie Freethinker!?

::head aches, eyes roll back, everthing is spinning:::

tdn
09-15-2006, 10:54 AM
You could call yourself a materialist, but that suggests that you are primarily interested in the accumulation of wealth.

You could call yourself a naturist, but that suggests that you enjoy running the the woods naked. (Hey, who doesn't?)

Myself, I just say that I'm not very religious. It gets the point across and starts very few arguments.

AHunter3
09-15-2006, 10:55 AM
Well, what is this "God" in which / in whom you disbelieve? And how is the universe as viewed by the believers different from the one you believe in?

Would "empiricist" work? (I'm aware that it would not apply to all atheists)

Danalan
09-15-2006, 10:56 AM
It is worth noting that no one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. -- Sam Harris

An Atheist Manifesto (http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/200512_an_atheist_manifesto/)

Renee
09-15-2006, 11:16 AM
I generally go with "I'm not religious" for people who I know are religious; they can take it as they like. I think a lot of them take it as "I don't attend church regularly, but don't eat babies for lunch or turn into a vampire at night." Whatever. It doesn't seem to offend people, and they're generally willing to leave it alone.

However, I love "heathen" and may start to use it among those who have a sense of humor about religion (few and far between though they are).

Contrapuntal
09-15-2006, 11:18 AM
Well, what is this "God" in which / in whom you disbelieve?There were no disbelievers until there were believers. It is the believers who define the god, not the other way around.


And how is the universe as viewed by the believers different from the one you believe in?Considerably more magic.

Sunrazor
09-15-2006, 11:41 AM
I'm an atheist, although I'm also a "priest" in the Church of Spiritual Humanism (http://www.spiritualhumanism.org/) (OK, it's a lark). But I use that word only when specifically discussing that subject with like-minded or similarly-minded people. Otherwise, I simply don't talk about what I do or don't believe. If asked, my wife (who still clings to shreds of her RomanCatholic-Episcopalian traditions) and I both just say, "We don't go to church." That pretty much ends all conversation about it.

fraglimit
09-15-2006, 11:54 AM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.

Its like calling oneself "everyoneisanidiotexceptme" and expecting to win friends and influence people.

Not only does the term extend a nasty middle finger up at the vast majority of the population, it also gives creedence to the religious majority by declaring that it is no more than whatever a theist isnt, thereby being essentially defined by religion.

I for one, do not wish to continue to indulge the religious nut bars of the planet by allowing them to define me as something that is no more than what they arent.

There HAS to be a better term for us. Enlightened? Too arrogant. Darwinians? There are probably athiests that dont accept everything Darwin taught.

If anyone can help out please do! What is a proactive, empowering word to describe those of us who are un-shackled by a religious faith, and are prepared to face reality with no predisposition?

I submit "agnostic" . You are unshackled by religious faith and prepared to face reality. What ever it may be.

:)

Marley23
09-15-2006, 12:11 PM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.
It says you don't believe in gods, and for me, at least, it's perfectly accurate. What's the problem?
Its like calling oneself "everyoneisanidiotexceptme" and expecting to win friends and influence people.
I think this is complete crap. 'Atheist' is a term that religious people came up with, as far as I know, and the atheists certainly weren't giving the church the middle finger in that scenario. I see it as a reclaimed term and the simplest and most honest description of my views on religious topics. There are other terms out there, like humanist, but for some of us that'd be intentionally soft-pedaling things and I've got no desire to confuse people about what I think.
There HAS to be a better term for us. Enlightened? Too arrogant. Darwinians? There are probably athiests that dont accept everything Darwin taught.
In addition to that, Darwinist would be a HORRIBLE idea. A lot of religious kooks are already trying to convince people that evolution is a godless idea put forth by people who want to eliminate morality. (Same goes for the Big Bang.) That'd be a perfect way to convince their audience that they're right.
What is a proactive, empowering word to describe those of us who are un-shackled by a religious faith, and are prepared to face reality with no predisposition?
So "atheist" is a middle finger to people, but you want everybody to know that you're "unshackled," and can view reality objectively, unlike religious people? By comparison, atheist is polite.

Siege
09-15-2006, 12:27 PM
I've heard some suggestions that the word "Bright" be used as alternative to "Atheist" and a Google search of the two terms turns up a bunch of websites, including atheistempire.com. On the other hand, several of them seem to be saying that "Bright" is a term they'd rather not use. I figure I should refer to a person's beliefs or attitude toward religion by whatever term he or she prefers. On the other hand, "Bright" to me suggests something a bit more nebulous and New Agey than the rationality I've come to associate with the Atheists.

Thomas Jefferson and company have often been referred to as "Deists" in that they believed a god of some sort, just not necessarily the Judeo-Christian one. "Adeist" is a possible alternative, and it would be closer to what the OP seems to be trying to convey than "Bright". On the other hand, I can't see that it has any advantage over "Atheist".

Sal Ammoniac
09-15-2006, 12:37 PM
I'm happy with "atheist." Why not? It's a simple descriptor, and if there's negative baggage attached to the term, that's not my fault. If the posters to this thread can't come up with anything better, you can be sure that's because there is nothing better.

Marley23
09-15-2006, 12:43 PM
I could swear that we had a thread debating the merits of "bright" on this board, but I can't find it. I hope that parts of my last post didn't come off too strong, but I like "atheist" as a term - it's accurate and unlike some of these other terms, non-judgmental. It says nothing beyond what it means and I don't think it's any more "middle finger"-y than the term Christian.

AHunter3
09-15-2006, 12:48 PM
Originally Posted by AHunter3
Well, what is this "God" in which / in whom you disbelieve?
There were no disbelievers until there were believers. It is the believers who define the god, not the other way around.

If some of the anthro and archeo folk are right, y'all don't necessarily predate them.



And how is the universe as viewed by the believers different from the one you believe in?
Considerably more magic. [/quote]

OK, so what's a good adjective for the kid of thinking or world-perceiving that doesn't involve magical thinking or references to magic? That would be an adjective that could define atheists without the definition being phrased in terms of what atheists aren't.

That's where I was trying to go with "empiricist". Not sure it would be applicable to all atheists though.

pravnik
09-15-2006, 12:56 PM
It doesn't exactly fit, but I've always thought "apostate" had a nice ring to it.

Marley23
09-15-2006, 01:13 PM
It doesn't exactly fit, but I've always thought "apostate" had a nice ring to it.
That one's gotten kind of loaded, though. It's big with the militant Muslim terrorist crowd.

pravnik
09-15-2006, 01:18 PM
That one's gotten kind of loaded, though. It's big with the militant Muslim terrorist crowd.Oh, didn't realize that. I just kind of visualized an exchange like:

"So, where do you go to church?"
"Me? I'm an apostate."
"Oh, that's...nice. Do they go on Sundays too?"

Slypork
09-15-2006, 01:37 PM
So if you are agnostic are you a Lite-Bright?

Contrapuntal
09-15-2006, 01:53 PM
If some of the anthro and archeo folk are right, y'all don't necessarily predate them.Can you elaborate? It seems incomprehensible to me that the concept of "atheist," meaning "without god," could exist before the concept of "god" existed.

OK, so what's a good adjective for the kid of thinking or world-perceiving that doesn't involve magical thinking or references to magic? That would be an adjective that could define atheists without the definition being phrased in terms of what atheists aren't.I don't know. That wasn't what you asked. The prefix "a" makes "without" necessarily a part of the definiton. It is essential to the description of an atheist that he not be a believer in god. An atheist is defined by what he is not.

Kalhoun
09-15-2006, 02:00 PM
It is what it is. I disagree that we're flipping off the rest of the world. Just flipping off the concept of god. Huge difference. Atheist works for me.

August West
09-15-2006, 02:09 PM
"So, where do you go to church?"
"Me? I'm an apostate."
"Oh, that's...nice. Do they go on Sundays too?"


One of my very good friend's uses "Apathetic" when queried about what religion he is, and I had the opportunity to use it when some Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door. It was a mom and 2 daughters and the exchange went like this:

JW: So may I ask what religion you belong to?
Me: I'm Apathetic
JW: (furrows brow) I don't think I know that one (while her daughter rolls her eyes)


I loved it and even though I'm a stronger atheist than what it connotes, it's now my stock answer.

AHunter3
09-15-2006, 02:10 PM
Originally Posted by AHunter3
If some of the anthro and archeo folk are right, y'all don't necessarily predate them.
Can you elaborate? It seems incomprehensible to me that the concept of "atheist," meaning "without god," could exist before the concept of "god" existed.

Sorry, I must've misread. I thought you were saying the atheists came first. (Not that they would have been called atheists, but harkening back to a time before religious beliefs)

mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 02:25 PM
Well..I had been starting to read about Epicurious (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurian) in Stanley's history of Philosophy.

An "Epicurian" sort of sounds sophisticated and worldly, and makes absolutely no reference to religious people. I have a Lucretious book as well, once I get around to reading that I might go for "Lucretian".

The only problem is it seems a bit difficult to pronounce. But then, that mabey adds to the mystique.

mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 02:26 PM
sorry thats Epicurus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurian)

Marley23
09-15-2006, 02:30 PM
sorry thats Epicurus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurian)
None of those beliefs are common to all atheists, and your link makes it clear that Epicureanism is theistic!

Eve
09-15-2006, 02:30 PM
Silent movie actress Florence La Badie (http://www.silentsaregolden.com/photos/florencelabadiephoto.html), when questioned on this subject, called herself an "indifferentist"--she just didn't care.

mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 02:37 PM
None of those beliefs are common to all atheists, and your link makes it clear that Epicureanism is theistic!
you might want to read it a little more carefully:

Some would interpret this doctrine of the gods as really a disguised atheism. Fully aware of the fate of Socrates when brought up on a charge of impiety, Epicurus avoided expressing an overt atheism. Instead, he reduced the gods to mere physical beings and shut them up in a distant part of the cosmos, without a thought or care for what happens to mankind. This renders his philosophy atheistic on the practical level, but avoids the charge of atheism on the theoretical level.

Marley23
09-15-2006, 03:46 PM
you might want to read it a little more carefully:
No, I think I got it. It's Deism, after a fashion, and I'm not a Deist. I'm not interested in avoiding atheism on a theoretical level- that's what I actually am.

RaftPeople
09-15-2006, 03:53 PM
It is worth noting that no one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. -- Sam Harris


IANAA, but ...

mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 06:59 PM
No, I think I got it. It's Deism, after a fashion, and I'm not a Deist. I'm not interested in avoiding atheism on a theoretical level- that's what I actually am.
Hey, if thats what you want more power to ya.

What I am trying to point out is that the context provided a hefty price for someone claiming to be an athiest in Epicurus' day. Today in our nice country, you dont have to worry about being killed for saying you are an athiest.

It seems to me that a totally irrelevant god is, for all intents and purposes, non existant.
The thing I like, and perhaps the point of this thread, is that he teaches there is a lot more to life without god than simply life without god.

Marley23
09-15-2006, 07:05 PM
It seems to me that a totally irrelevant god is, for all intents and purposes, non existant.
The thing I like, and perhaps the point of this thread, is that he teaches there is a lot more to life without god than simply life without god.
It still strikes me as a weasel-y way of stating your convictions, as if you don't want people to know what they actually are. It's dishonest on two levels: you'd be employing the term because you know people don't know what it means, and because you're implying belief in an irrelevant god when you don't think one actually exists. This sounds like way more trouble than it's worth.

mrrealtime
09-15-2006, 10:49 PM
hey, 2300 years ago it was an important part, but Im not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The gods were there in context to appease the powers of the times, and their treatement was evidence. IANAE but I bet you CAN be a full fledged card carrying athiest AND identify with the majority of Epicurus and his ilk.

Besides, how do you know some super intelligent, powerful being isnt living on some planet 50,000 light years away minding their own business? The point is, its irrelevant either way.

panache45
09-15-2006, 10:51 PM
Silent movie actress Florence La Badie (http://www.silentsaregolden.com/photos/florencelabadiephoto.html), when questioned on this subject, called herself an "indifferentist"--she just didn't care.
I've been using the term "shrugnostic," meaning that the whole God-issue is irrelevant to my life.

xash
09-16-2006, 12:38 AM
I recently came across the term ignostic (not agnositc). Although not an entry in the dictionary, it has a wiki page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

Annie
09-16-2006, 01:24 AM
Godfreyist.

Har har. But if anyone is pushed to enquire I just say Jesus and I have a mutual non-interference pact. Then while they work through the syllables I run to the buffet table. (I have no problem with 'atheist' and use the term for myself.)

Annie
09-16-2006, 01:27 AM
I recently came across the term ignostic (not agnositc). Although not an entry in the dictionary, it has a wiki page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

And upon seeing this term, I think I like it more.

yesanything
09-30-2016, 07:50 AM
I've always liked "Heretic"

I recently thought of possibly a new word: MEPTIC

a combination materialist and skeptic

jtur88
09-30-2016, 08:50 AM
Aha. So it's your fault. Sick of "school", so you say "attendance center". Sick of "hospital" so you say "Health care facility". Sick of "jail", so you say "correctional institution". Sick of "gay" so you say "LGBT".

Knowed Out
09-30-2016, 09:36 AM
"Non-religious" or "Non-believer" probably sound the least egregious, so as to not single out the Christian god, but any god.

I once had a co-worker, with long white hair & beard and in his 70s, tell me he told visiting JWs that he was a druid. He invited them in and told them all about druidism, which on the surface sounds more quaintly fun than sacrilegious.

Dan Simmons had one of his characters say "Waiting to believe" when asked if he believed in God. I've used that a few times.

"Nihilist" maybe, to express a deeper cynicism than atheism, but that would just lead to more questions, so it's not worth it.

Channing Idaho Banks
09-30-2016, 10:55 AM
Whatever it is, make sure it's easier to spell.

Der Trihs
09-30-2016, 11:11 AM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.I'd just like to point out that atheist just means not believing in gods. Antitheist (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antitheism) would be being against belief in gods, and misotheist (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misotheism) means hating gods. And deicide means killing a god; can't get much more anti-god than that (http://www.theonion.com/article/nasa-completes-52-year-mission-to-find-kill-god-19263).

Maggie the Ocelot
09-30-2016, 11:28 AM
I've always liked apatheist myself. I don't know if there's a god or many gods or no god, and I don't particularly care.

That said, "heathen" is a term used by several groups of neo-Pagans - I personally associate it with the nordic reconstructionist groups, who while generally okay on purely theological terms, tend to attract the white-power crowd, so are generally looked at askance.

Edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathenry_(new_religious_movement)

LSLGuy
09-30-2016, 11:34 AM
The nice(?) thing about these arguments is that a decade later they're still not old. Very tired, yet not old.

Amateur Barbarian
09-30-2016, 12:47 PM
The nice(?) thing about these arguments is that a decade later they're still not old. Very tired, yet not old.
And it's still a provocation to call yourself an "atheist."

I tend to use "non-religious" on first take. That's either understood or leads to a discussion of "atheist," which I will concede is a synonym.

LSLGuy
09-30-2016, 12:53 PM
Agreed. I'm one too and the word has acquired(When? Discuss.) an antagonistic aura that's, strictly speaking, inappropriate.

The antagonistic label is not one I'm eager to wear in public. Though I'd dearly love to live in a society where "agnostic" or better yet "disinterested" was the cultural norm and safe cultural assumption about other people.

panache45
09-30-2016, 02:28 PM
"Shrugnostic," meaning I no longer care whether or not there's a God.

LSLGuy
09-30-2016, 02:35 PM
Bravo!! You win.

Did you come up with that yourself? May I use it?

Amateur Barbarian
09-30-2016, 02:41 PM
That's almost as good as my Southie cousin's general purpose "Nunny."

As in nunny yafuggin bizness.

LSLGuy
09-30-2016, 03:00 PM
I usually tell the clueless-but-non-pushy Christians who just assume everybody they meet is one of their own that I'm a "devout heathen." I say it with a big smile and a welcoming tone. Confuses the heck out of 'em it does. :)

Trinopus
09-30-2016, 05:03 PM
My sister fills in "Independent" on forms that ask for her religion.

TwiSpark
09-30-2016, 05:18 PM
I just go with "agnostic". It's probably not 100% perfectly accurate, but as I understand it atheist = there is definitely no god. Agnostic = I haven't a frickin' clue, and prefer to keep my mind open without picking a "there definitely is" or "there definitely isn't" hard and fast belief. To me, "there definitely isn't" has a bit of closed-mindedness to it that is just as 'bad' (albeit not as harmful to the world) as religion.

More accurately, I definitely don't think there's the bearded guy in the sky and that just doesn't make any logical sense with many of the original ideas (flat earth etc) being actually disproven, but I'm not ruling out a higher power of a very different type, or the idea that went around earlier in the year that we're a simulation. We can't figure out entirely how the universe works, so I think there's a lot of room for... pretty much anything.

shunpiker
09-30-2016, 05:59 PM
I go with "Buddhist".

Snowboarder Bo
09-30-2016, 09:28 PM
Unafflicted? Still in default mode?

Trinopus
09-30-2016, 09:34 PM
TwiSpark: I agree with your reasoning and conclusions. I'm a hard-atheist with regard to the Abrahamic "omni" God...but respectfully agnostic regarding other possibilities, most definitely including those I've never even thought of. The "we're in a sim" possibility is one that is impossible to disprove; it perfectly explains all that we observe!

kanicbird
09-30-2016, 09:35 PM
...

In your case, "atheist" tends to have an anti-religion stigma, as you stated. ....

That is a big bone of contention as religion does not equal spirituality which spans both belief in God and non-such silly stuff.

Voyager
09-30-2016, 11:57 PM
And it's still a provocation to call yourself an "atheist."

I tend to use "non-religious" on first take. That's either understood or leads to a discussion of "atheist," which I will concede is a synonym.

Non-religious is fine when you want to drop the subject, but it is kind of like the old days when gay men called themselves "confirmed bachelors" - true, but incomplete. Of course that was before marriage was an option.

The reaction to calling oneself an atheist without attacking religion makes me think that lots of religious people are very insecure in their belief.

panache45
10-01-2016, 12:37 AM
Bravo!! You win.

Did you come up with that yourself? May I use it?

Yes. And yes.

tomndebb
10-01-2016, 01:54 AM
How about heathens (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heathens) ?Heathen is directly parallel to pagan. Pagan meant the "country" people living in the boondocks, too uneducated to accept Christianity and heathen seems to have come from a Gothic word of similar meaning: uneducated sods living out in the heath who did not accept Christianity.
With the general ignorance of etymology in the world, you are free to use the word, but it may not be the one you really want.

I've always liked "Heretic"That certainly works on an etymological level, meaning a person who chooses a different opinion or path, (although it carried a connotation of factionalism). However, it suffers the historical insult of having been used by Irenaeus in the second century to identify the Christians who chose to not accept the beliefs of the mainstream church, lending the implication that one's beliefs may actually coincide, to some extent, with those of the Christians.

tomndebb
10-01-2016, 01:55 AM
"Shrugnostic," meaning I no longer care whether or not there's a God.
Apatheistic has been around for a while.

Czarcasm
10-01-2016, 09:11 AM
Why does it need a name? There are theists(or maybe religionists), then there are those that aren't.

TwiSpark
10-01-2016, 09:25 AM
The reaction to calling oneself an atheist without attacking religion makes me think that lots of religious people are very insecure in their belief.

I've noticed (admittedly partly because I have a close friend who's very religious, so there's natural bias) that almost everyone I've seen self-identifying as atheist does a LOT of attacking of religion.

But there are people who 'just are' atheists, and those who use it as an identity and a mission in life.

Czarcasm
10-01-2016, 09:38 AM
I've noticed (admittedly partly because I have a close friend who's very religious, so there's natural bias) that almost everyone I've seen self-identifying as atheist does a LOT of attacking of religion.

But there are people who 'just are' atheists, and those who use it as an identity and a mission in life.Just as there are many more religionists who do the same. Do you feel the same way about your friend as you do about those who self-identify as atheist?

Amateur Barbarian
10-01-2016, 10:42 AM
Non-religious is fine when you want to drop the subject, but it is kind of like the old days when gay men called themselves "confirmed bachelors" - true, but incomplete. Of course that was before marriage was an option.
I'm not sure I'd agree. I'm old enough to have had closeted gay men as friends and acquaintances - my mother worked in the theater industry and knew a dozen in the 1950s. "Confirmed bachelor" was a slippery term and did not mean gay 100% of the time, but someone who had chosen to never marry for a variety of reasons. (For a while, war injuries was a not-uncommon one.)

I think "non-religious" is the most sweeping and accurate term you can use. It unambiguously states you have no religion in your life, at all.

The problem with "atheist," besides being provoking to too many people on both sides of the argument, is that it feeds into the idea of "no-godism" being just another religion, to be debated and argued on a religious basis. That leads to tiresome and pointless arguments on top of the basic issue of religiosity.

Peremensoe
10-01-2016, 11:32 AM
I think "non-religious" is the most sweeping and accurate term you can use. It unambiguously states you have no religion in your life, at all.

Which is not what "atheist" really means; there are several traditions, commonly understood as religions, which are atheist, or can be atheist depending on interpretations.

Amateur Barbarian
10-01-2016, 02:48 PM
Which is not what "atheist" really means; there are several traditions, commonly understood as religions, which are atheist, or can be atheist depending on interpretations.
Well, and there you have it: the meaning of the word is disputed even among fellow travelers. Does it mean "I am not religious in any way" or "I am spiritual/religious but do not believe in god/s" or "I am a tyrant who thinks no one should have a religion" or... what?

I equate atheist with a-religious; I don't draw much distinction between faith with or without a god or gods at the head of it. Yes, I regard Buddhism as a religion.

So the search for a new word continues, I guess.

LSLGuy
10-01-2016, 02:53 PM
I'd say the search for new words for each of your categories continues.

Trying to replace the current catch-all with a fresh catch-all is IMO mostly pointless as it'll have the same shortcomings as the current word. And will quickly grow similar baggage.

Wesley Clark
10-01-2016, 03:27 PM
Post-theist is fun.

Trinopus
10-01-2016, 05:06 PM
Well, and there you have it: the meaning of the word is disputed even among fellow travelers. Does it mean "I am not religious in any way" or "I am spiritual/religious but do not believe in god/s" or "I am a tyrant who thinks no one should have a religion" or... what?

I equate atheist with a-religious; I don't draw much distinction between faith with or without a god or gods at the head of it. Yes, I regard Buddhism as a religion. . . .

In my opinion, any necessary appeal to the supernatural is definitional of a religion. If someone believes in a place we go after death (or reincarnation,) spirits or ghosts, laws of karma, etc., then they are engaging in religious thought.

There are some varieties of Buddhism that are so austere that they can be called "philosophies" and not religions, but since most Buddhism calls for reincarnation, it's mostly religious.

Peremensoe
10-01-2016, 06:06 PM
I see both "atheist" and "nonreligious" as useful (partly overlapping) terms.

In my opinion, any necessary appeal to the supernatural is definitional of a religion.

You think atheists who don't appeal to the supernatural are wrong to identify as religious? Some of them attend (UU) church every week.

Trinopus
10-01-2016, 06:56 PM
. . . You think atheists who don't appeal to the supernatural are wrong to identify as religious? Some of them attend (UU) church every week.

Yeah, pretty much. If they're only there for good feelings and community and the snacks, then they aren't actually "religious." If the specific UU church in question doesn't make any appeal to the supernatural, then it isn't a religious church at all, just a fellowship of some sort.

Without some sort of god, spirit, karmic force, wish-fulfillment mechanism, or Star Wars "Force" is ain't a religion. Ya gotta have a mythos.

(Just to be complete, I don't hold that the inverse is true. You can have some supernatural belief without being religious. I know people who think they can influence the outcome of dice-rolls. That's a supernatural idea, but not a religious one.)

bengangmo
10-02-2016, 05:05 AM
I've heard the term "Freethinker" thrown around but sometimes it kinda suggests that religious people are not as smart or open-minded.
I like "Saganite" or the ever popular "Pastafarian" (sp?).

I often reply (to the door-knockers mostly) that I am "a student of science and mostly agnostic with strong atheistic leanings" and watch for the expression to change.

Freethinker is the one we use when we don't subscribe to A religion, but instead amalgams of all religions - it kinda has elements of agnosticism thrown in...

It's how I like to think of myself, believing in the idea of "cosmic power" but not one of an omniscient god figure...

LSLGuy
10-02-2016, 08:20 AM
Yeah, pretty much. If they're only there for good feelings and community and the snacks, then they aren't actually "religious." If the specific UU church in question doesn't make any appeal to the supernatural, then it isn't a religious church at all, just a fellowship of some sort.

Without some sort of god, spirit, karmic force, wish-fulfillment mechanism, or Star Wars "Force" is ain't a religion. Ya gotta have a mythos.

(Just to be complete, I don't hold that the inverse is true. You can have some supernatural belief without being religious. I know people who think they can influence the outcome of dice-rolls. That's a supernatural idea, but not a religious one.)This is pretty much my attitude as well.

I'm not real familiar with all that UU really stands for. Time for a wiki voyage of discovery.

But there is a group called "Sunday Assembly" (http://www.sundayassembly.com/) that is explicitly affirmatively non-mythos, whose purpose is to duplicate the communitarian aspects of conventional Western Protestant congregations. I've not attended my local chapter, but they look like they have a good idea for providing what I see as the good part of conventional churching without the irredeemably bad=religious part.

GrumpyBunny
10-02-2016, 08:39 AM
But there is a group called "Sunday Assembly" (http://www.sundayassembly.com/) that is explicitly affirmatively non-mythos, whose purpose is to duplicate the communitarian aspects of conventional Western Protestant congregations. I've not attended my local chapter, but they look like they have a good idea for providing what I see as the good part of conventional churching without the irredeemably bad=religious part.

What are their teenagers going to say to get out of getting up on Sunday mornings to go to assembly?

LSLGuy
10-02-2016, 09:42 AM
Same as religious ones do: "I don't wanna. Waaah!!! Mom, you're ruining my life!"

Amateur Barbarian
10-02-2016, 10:41 AM
The historical meaning of freethinker is one who was religious (Christian) but not bound by the doctrine of a particular church or sect - more polite than "heretic." So saying "freethinker" as a synonym for atheist or nonreligious might backfire with someone from one of the traditional sects who uses it to describe those who think outside doctrine.

But yeah, we need at least three words here to complete the whole set -


A person who has no religious or spiritual beliefs at all, nor need of them. ("atheist" or "non-religious")
A person who has generalized spiritual beliefs but not god/gods centric. (?)
A person who accepts spirituality as a real and necessary thing but has no completely formed or organized notions on the topic. ("agnostic")

TwiSpark
10-02-2016, 01:46 PM
I don't even think spirituality is necessary as an agnostic, just consider completely ruling out any kind of higher power or afterlife etc to be a belief in itself.

Just as there are many more religionists who do the same. Do you feel the same way about your friend as you do about those who self-identify as atheist?

Hmm, fair point there! Unfair generalisation on my part. Certainly not, he prides himself in not shoving his religion on others or using it as a tool of hate, so gets nothing but respect from me.

Voyager
10-02-2016, 06:14 PM
I've noticed (admittedly partly because I have a close friend who's very religious, so there's natural bias) that almost everyone I've seen self-identifying as atheist does a LOT of attacking of religion.

But there are people who 'just are' atheists, and those who use it as an identity and a mission in life.

Maybe the only atheists you see are ones in the news who do have atheism as a job. I've never noticed atheists in the real world attacking religion - in some parts of the country it could be hazardous to your health.
Now, if you consider a Darwin symbol on a car an attack on religion that's something else. But my observation has been that some religious people find the existence of atheists an attack on their religion.
A JW came to my door once, and reacted in total shock when I told her I was an atheist - with a smile.

Voyager
10-02-2016, 06:19 PM
I'm not sure I'd agree. I'm old enough to have had closeted gay men as friends and acquaintances - my mother worked in the theater industry and knew a dozen in the 1950s. "Confirmed bachelor" was a slippery term and did not mean gay 100% of the time, but someone who had chosen to never marry for a variety of reasons. (For a while, war injuries was a not-uncommon one.)

That's why it worked - because there were straight "confirmed bachelors" too.
My father ran his battalion's veterans group, and the guy who edited their newsletter (and who was a real editor) was explained to me as a "confirmed bachelor." Which shows that we won WWII with gays in the military.

Voyager
10-02-2016, 06:24 PM
A person who has no religious or spiritual beliefs at all, nor need of them. ("atheist" or "non-religious")


But I think that a person with a personal god belief who does not participate in any organized religion can be considered to be non-religious also. Deists, of whom we have many on the Dope, fall into this class.
I've never gotten a negative reaction from a theist when I call myself non-religious - it does not seem to be a threatening position.

Novelty Bobble
10-03-2016, 05:30 AM
I think about it like this.

"atheist" merely means you don't have a belief in a god or gods. That is it. It is the "ground state" of belief. You were born an atheist and had to construct (or be instructed in) any gods you now do have.

As such, it is an accurate description of anyone that has no belief in god. It also is a very poor descriptor of a persons worldview. You could also be agnostic and an atheist. It also tells you pretty much nothing about the way in which a person may behave in a given situation.

So if you ask me what my position on gods are I will tell you, quite correctly, that I'm an atheist. If you want to know how I view the world you'll have to dig a little deeper.

garygnu
10-03-2016, 08:59 AM
I'll use "atheist" in conversation if needed (I avoid the topic). It has a mostly understood definition, even if most American Christians don't grasp its true meaning.

Privately, I see it and terms like "non-religious" as being to not-something, kinda like Anti-Federalist. I do believe in science, observational conclusion, reproducible results, reliable knowledge, and such. I call myself a science-ist, because scientist is taken by the profession.

Amateur Barbarian
10-03-2016, 09:27 AM
A path to clarity might be thinking of it in other terms. For example, I don't follow soccer/futbol. At all. Ever. The only two names I can list are Pele, Brandy Chastain and Hi Opal. (No, none of my kids ever played, which may make me unique in the western hemisphere.)

So if soccer is a zeroth part of my intellectual continuum, how do I say that?

Substitute any field of human involvement that you have zero connection to/with.

easternshore
11-20-2016, 07:24 AM
I have always found the term "athiest" to be offensive on a fundamental level, as ugly as "infidel" is to Muslims. So I have coined a new term: Verumbian - a believer in that which is true. Derivation: Latin word "verum" or true.

This is much more positive in its characterization, as it immediately expresses belief in something. I would welcome your comments or opinions.

Clothahump
11-20-2016, 10:08 AM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.

Its like calling oneself "everyoneisanidiotexceptme" and expecting to win friends and influence people.
Do you actively advocate that there is no god, or are you like me and say that no one knows if a god of any kind exists? If you are, the correct term is agnostic.

Czarcasm
11-20-2016, 10:11 AM
Do you actively advocate that there is no god, or are you like me and say that no one knows if a god of any kind exists? If you are, the correct term is agnostic.You might as well pray for a response-The OP posted that back in 2006, and he left the board in 2012.

Mangetout
11-20-2016, 10:26 AM
I have always found the term "athiest" to be offensive on a fundamental level, as ugly as "infidel" is to Muslims. So I have coined a new term: Verumbian - a believer in that which is true. Derivation: Latin word "verum" or true.

This is much more positive in its characterization, as it immediately expresses belief in something. I would welcome your comments or opinions.

How often do you find yourself needing to explain what that means?

jtur88
11-20-2016, 10:28 AM
Keep it up.

Sick if the term "school"? Attendance center.
Sick of the term "hospital"? Health sciences facility.
Sick of the term "jail"? Correctional institution.
Sick of the term "soldier"? Men and women of the armed forces.
Sick of the term "gay"? GLBT
Sick of the term "retarded"? Special.
Sick of the term "genius"? Special.
Sick of the term "crippled"? Special.

Hey, I got it. I'm not an atheist, I'm Special. If you don't want to call me that, you'll need a mandatory course in sensitivity training.

The Great Unwashed
11-20-2016, 10:30 AM
Do you actively advocate that there is no god, or are you like me and say that no one knows if a god of any kind exists? If you are, the correct term is agnostic.
The degree of certainty to which one can claim for the non-existence of a god is exactly the same degree of certainty that one can claim for the non-existence of TFSM, or Russell's teapot, and a plethora of other pseudo-entities for which there are no good reasons to believe.

It's the same degree of certainty that one can have when one says that the sun shall rise tomorrow, or that the world continues to exist even when one has closed one's eyes, or that any interaction one has with the world is real (as opposed to "brain-in-a-jar/Matrix/Cartesian Demon -induced delusions).

That word agnostic, when used by a person to describe themselves, I find to be cloying, presumptious and arrogant -- to think oneself above it all, capable of cold, hard, super-rationalism, in the face of a mass of evidence against that position. It is ultimately of no value -- if one were to treat all human experience with the same degree of agnosticism one could never believe in anything at all.

CatandMouse
11-20-2016, 10:31 AM
No wonder no one likes athiests, the very word basically says I am anti-god.

Its like calling oneself "everyoneisanidiotexceptme" and expecting to win friends and influence people.

Not only does the term extend a nasty middle finger up at the vast majority of the population, it also gives creedence to the religious majority by declaring that it is no more than whatever a theist isnt, thereby being essentially defined by religion.

I for one, do not wish to continue to indulge the religious nut bars of the planet by allowing them to define me as something that is no more than what they arent.

There HAS to be a better term for us. Enlightened? Too arrogant. Darwinians? There are probably athiests that dont accept everything Darwin taught.

If anyone can help out please do! What is a proactive, empowering word to describe those of us who are un-shackled by a religious faith, and are prepared to face reality with no predisposition?



You could refer to yourself as a naturalist, that way you're not defining yourself on religious terms.

Riemann
11-20-2016, 10:38 AM
I have always found the term "athiest" to be offensive on a fundamental level, as ugly as "infidel" is to Muslims. So I have coined a new term: Verumbian - a believer in that which is true. Derivation: Latin word "verum" or true.

This is much more positive in its characterization, as it immediately expresses belief in something. I would welcome your comments or opinions.

I like this idea.

In principle, the word "skeptic" captures the idea, but unfortunately it's a word like "theory" that has a technical meaning and a colloquial meaning, and the colloquial meaning entails negativism rather than just empiricism.

It would be nice to have a word that captures the essence of seeking truth through rational enquiry and empiricism; that entails being positive and open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains fall out.

Until the word Verumbian catches on, I will just have to rely on my sunny disposition to get the message across that I'm a positive and open-minded skeptic.

ETA: welcome to SDMB. You will find many fellow Verumbians here.

Riemann
11-20-2016, 10:48 AM
...That word agnostic, when used by a person to describe themselves, I find to be cloying, presumptious and arrogant -- to think oneself above it all, capable of cold, hard, super-rationalism, in the face of a mass of evidence against that position. It is ultimately of no value -- if one were to treat all human experience with the same degree of agnosticism one could never believe in anything at all.

Exactly. It's trivial that all belief is technically provisional and probabilistic. Repeatedly asserting that there is a technical difference between 99.999999999% certainty and 100% certainty does not make you smart, it makes you tedious.

Agnosticism may be a useful word, but it should be reserved for those who genuinely believe that there is a significant probability that god exists.

John Mace
11-20-2016, 11:35 AM
Exactly. It's trivial that all belief is technically provisional and probabilistic. Repeatedly asserting that there is a technical difference between 99.999999999% certainty and 100% certainty does not make you smart, it makes you tedious.

Agnosticism may be a useful word, but it should be reserved for those who genuinely believe that there is a significant probability that god exists.

If one limits oneself to the "The Abrahamic God" (or any other specific God), I'd agree with you. But "God" can have so many different definitions that I think the term agnostic is much better. I find the existence of a "God" to be unnecessary to explain the universe; that it adds an extra layer of complexity without explaining anything. But I also accept that it is highly unlikely that our puny ape-brains are even equipped to actually understand the universe in its entirety. The term agnostic also recognizes that science is not a tool that is designed to deal with issues of a supernatural nature.

Having said that, I find "not religious" to be the best term to use with most people. I have no interest in getting into philosophical debates about the existence of God with every Tom, Dick and Harry that I meet, so it's a convenient way of removing myself from the fold without getting them all worked up about trying save my soul or some other tedious thing. And if my fellow travelers prefer atheist over agnostic, more power to them. Whatever works.

Siam Sam
11-20-2016, 12:54 PM
Anaamika earlier in this thread suggested "secular humanist." I like radio host Jim Bohannon" "born-again secular humanist." I'd use this if "agnostic" doesn't really fit the bill.

correlophus
11-20-2016, 03:57 PM
The fact that the majority of the earth's population is still religious necessitates a negative term for anyone who does not believe. How otherwise could someone who does not believe be described? Atheist means without god, not necessarily anti-god, and I find the term empowering. I don't care if I agitate the religious nuts or whatever. The term "atheist" gives a sense of being down to earth, with no one imaginary watching you from above.

Dragwyr
11-21-2016, 10:26 AM
Just because the religious vilify the term, "Atheist", doesn't mean we have to accept that they do so. I think the best way to remove the stigma of the term, "Atheist", is to be open about it. Show people that those of us who don't believe in any kind of a god are not evil, baby-eating psychopaths. I don't think we need to use a different label at all.

For myself, for the sake of completeness, I like using Matt Dillahunty's definitions:

"Gnosticism" has to do with what you know.
"Theism" has to do with what you believe.

Therefore, I describe myself as an, "Agnostic Atheist"; I don't know that any kind of a god exists and I don't believe that one exists.

kanicbird
11-21-2016, 10:44 AM
My term for most Atheist as the OP defines is 'non-religious and non spiritual', though there are 'spiritual but not-religious' Atheists (belief in an afterlife or spirit realm without a God), there are also religious but not spiritual atheists as well (those holding to a set of hard and fast ideals about how one should be - a set of (sometimes unwritten) codes that should always be followed for the best of all)

You could just say "not religious."


How can you have a word that means "non-religious" that isn't defined by religion??

I define myself as non-religious, though I know God, the longer term is spiritual but not religious. I can move from different religion services to typical atheists gatherings (some are termed 'sceptics groups', but many other such exists ) and know and see God's hand guiding humanity in all.

Clothahump
11-21-2016, 10:52 AM
The degree of certainty to which one can claim for the non-existence of a god is exactly the same degree of certainty that one can claim for the non-existence of TFSM, or Russell's teapot, and a plethora of other pseudo-entities for which there are no good reasons to believe.

It's the same degree of certainty that one can have when one says that the sun shall rise tomorrow, or that the world continues to exist even when one has closed one's eyes, or that any interaction one has with the world is real (as opposed to "brain-in-a-jar/Matrix/Cartesian Demon -induced delusions).

That word agnostic, when used by a person to describe themselves, I find to be cloying, presumptious and arrogant -- to think oneself above it all, capable of cold, hard, super-rationalism, in the face of a mass of evidence against that position. It is ultimately of no value -- if one were to treat all human experience with the same degree of agnosticism one could never believe in anything at all.

Nice, but wrong. Agnostics don't claim either way. They simply state the fact that no one knows if a god exists.

Slypork
11-21-2016, 10:54 AM
You might as well pray for a response-The OP posted that back in 2006, and he left the board in 2012.

I'm still around but haven't been active because of lots of personal issues.

Cyros
11-21-2016, 11:19 AM
Nice, but wrong. Agnostics don't claim either way. They simply state the fact that no one knows if a god exists.

I'm an agnostic in that I don't know that a god exists. I'm an atheist in that I don't believe that one does.

The Great Unwashed
11-21-2016, 11:31 AM
Nice, but wrong. Agnostics don't claim either way. They simply state the fact that no one knows if a god exists.
Can they read?

CatandMouse
11-21-2016, 11:46 AM
It's nice to see that there are a few atheists on this forum.

I normally advise people that I'm not religious if the topic comes up.

LSLGuy
11-21-2016, 11:49 AM
My term for most Atheist as the OP defines is 'non-religious and non spiritual', though there are 'spiritual but not-religious' Atheists (belief in an afterlife or spirit realm without a God), there are also religious but not spiritual atheists as well (those holding to a set of hard and fast ideals about how one should be - a set of (sometimes unwritten) codes that should always be followed for the best of all)
...Bolding mine.

And here you've confused religiosity with ethics. Holding to a set of ideals is ethical behavior. It isn't moral behavior nor is is religious behavior.

Many conventional religionists confuse things and think religion equals morality and it's impossible to be moral without belief in some god, and most especially in their own god.

Where ethics differs from morals is what it's in service of. IMO good ethics are in service of good morals. A "warrior's creed" can be ethically fine. Until it's in service of, e.g., Hitler. Such a situation remains ethical, but ceases to be moral.

I'd suggest ethics, morality, and religion are, strictly speaking, orthogonal ideas. It's sloppy thinking and sloppy language to conflate them.

kanicbird
11-21-2016, 12:27 PM
Bolding mine.

And here you've confused religiosity with ethics. Holding to a set of ideals is ethical behavior. It isn't moral behavior nor is is religious behavior.

Many conventional religionists confuse things and think religion equals morality and it's impossible to be moral without belief in some god, and most especially in their own god.

Where ethics differs from morals is what it's in service of. IMO good ethics are in service of good morals. A "warrior's creed" can be ethically fine. Until it's in service of, e.g., Hitler. Such a situation remains ethical, but ceases to be moral.

I'd suggest ethics, morality, and religion are, strictly speaking, orthogonal ideas. It's sloppy thinking and sloppy language to conflate them.

Thanks, good counterpoint, but can you define the difference between ethics and religiosity? Also note not all religions have a 'God' Buddhism is a prime example, but many others exist.

LSLGuy
11-21-2016, 06:50 PM
As I define it for my purposes, religiosity is about belief in some supernatural something or other. It may be a god or gods. It may be more amorphous, like the Force, karma, etc. It's belief in stuff that's not obviously real.

Ethics is a functional form of community. Humans can't live well alone on an island. We live better in groups. We live best in groups that mutually support us all as well as practicable.

What behavior standards followed by each of us makes that group work best? That is the essence of ethics. I also hold that believing something like "what works best is for me to be a wolf and everyone else to be a sheep" is fundamentally dishonest. If you wouldn't be willing to take the opposite side in a deal you just made, well it wasn't an ethical deal.


As you can see, there's just about zero overlap between these two ideas. Where I get muddy is trying to define a clean dimensional difference between ethics and morals. They ought to be orthogonal, but they aren't really.

Riemann
11-21-2016, 07:07 PM
...As you can see, there's just about zero overlap between these two ideas. Where I get muddy is trying to define a clean dimensional difference between ethics and morals. They ought to be orthogonal, but they aren't really.

I don't see them as orthogonal. Morality informs ethics. And religion makes dogmatic assertions on the principles of both, to a point where many people mistakenly believe that the only possible source of morality and ethics is by diktat from God; refusing to accept that morality or ethical principles could ever derive from our evolved nature, or from rational enquiry and reflection.

Trinopus
11-21-2016, 08:18 PM
It's nice to see that there are a few atheists on this forum.

I normally advise people that I'm not religious if the topic comes up.

When asked, my sister says she's "Independent."

kanicbird
11-21-2016, 08:45 PM
As I define it for my purposes, religiosity is about belief in some supernatural something or other. It may be a god or gods. It may be more amorphous, like the Force, karma, etc. It's belief in stuff that's not obviously real.

Ethics is a functional form of community. Humans can't live well alone on an island. We live better in groups. We live best in groups that mutually support us all as well as practicable.

What behavior standards followed by each of us makes that group work best? That is the essence of ethics. I also hold that believing something like "what works best is for me to be a wolf and everyone else to be a sheep" is fundamentally dishonest. If you wouldn't be willing to take the opposite side in a deal you just made, well it wasn't an ethical deal.


As you can see, there's just about zero overlap between these two ideas. Where I get muddy is trying to define a clean dimensional difference between ethics and morals. They ought to be orthogonal, but they aren't really.


To me religion is a subset of ethics, a written code of behaviour for the best of humanity. Religion often implies it is based on divine or supernaturally inspired wisdom.

Morals, to me, is the doing of what is right regardless of a written code of conduct.

In Won Buddhism 'belief' is defined as a 'motive force' that quiets the mind. In other words belief allows us to define things beyond what we can directly sense, and be OK with that.

That type of belief is equally defined by religion or ethics as we both pose them here, they are identical. They allow us to act outside our own limited sphere and fall back on a set of standards. Standards one believes that are based on some form of wisdom.

LSLGuy
11-21-2016, 09:01 PM
When asked, my sister says she's "Independent."I use "devout heathen." It's not strictly accurate, but the "Huh???" reaction it provokes in mainstream Xians is great.

Waxwinged
11-22-2016, 09:07 AM
I go with the term 'spiritual'. While I'm not a fan of organized religions and do not believe in existence of higher powers, I do hold to a few little superstitions that are personally comforting and are not hurting anyone.

Ludovic
11-22-2016, 09:16 AM
I find "not religious" to be the best term to use with most people. I have no interest in getting into philosophical debates about the existence of God with every Tom, Dick and Harry that I meet, so it's a convenient way of removing myself from the fold without getting them all worked up about trying save my soul or some other tedious thing. And if my fellow travelers prefer atheist over agnostic, more power to them. Whatever works.My thoughts and attitude exactly. I'm afraid though that I may run into someone who would consider a "not religious" person to be someone ripe for conversion, the cartoon person who goes wide-eyed when the Message of Christ is finally Explained to them as if no one in America had heard it before. But thankfully few people ask about my religiosity so that hasn't happened yet.