Why do we always talk about "atheism" and not "materialism"?

I mean, of course, “materialism” as in the philosophical viewpoint, not the greed for cash definition.

It seems to me that in most of the threads talking about religion vs. atheism, it would be MUCH more accurate to replace “atheism” with “materialism.” It seems to me that the two are basically the same anyway, in that I don’t see how an atheist can’t already be a materialist. Or even if they’re not, most atheists (at least around here, maybe even in general) ARE materialists anyway. So why do we continue to sling around the word “atheism,” which doesn’t cover all the ground that “materialism” does?

I don’t accept that atheism = materialsim, though it could for some, for others it could be atheisism = anti-religion or anti-God, for others it means that our life is meaningless, for still others is means something else.

Materialists are atheists by definition, but atheists aren’t materialists by definition ( I am, however). For example, one can believe in spirits, psychic powers, magic, chakras, morphogenic fields, crystal energy, luck/fate, souls, and any number of non-material things; as long as none of them is a god, you’re still an atheist.

Because they’re not the same thing, and aren’t intended to describe the same thing. There’s overlap and people do tend to confuse them, but being an atheist doesn’t make you a materialist.

I think you may have answered your own question, there. Materialism covers more ground, thus it is not the same thing as atheism. If there’s a noticeable difference in the areas and beliefs the two concepts cover, then they can’t be correlated as exactly as you appear to be hoping.

Looking up to find a definition of Materialism, I’d say it’s definetly not going to be correlated that highly among atheists to be used as a synonym. As Der Trihs points out, athiesm just rules out deities - materialism rules out all of the supernatural.

I myself am agnostic, so i’m as potentially materialistic as I am any other concept of belief. I’d tend to move towards it more than a supernatural view, though. While it probably isn’t the case that all athiests are materialistic, we can say all theists are not, and all agnostics accept it as possible.

Atheist here. There are a gazillion non-material things whose existence I don’t deny. Intelligence, love, freedom, integrity, as well as hatred, fear, ignorance, etc. These are just as real as material objects.

Those don’t necessary qualify as “non-material”. If you believe that mental states are simply the subjective experience of the brain’s physical states, you can be a materialist and still believe in the life of mind ( since we all know ourselves to have an inner life, you rather need to ).

Materialism is itself a little old fashioned a term, IMO. Energy, fundamental forces, spacetime, and even the temporal arrangement of ‘material’ particles are not strictly material themselves. I prefer the term physicalism.

Some atheists are not physicalists/materialists, since they posit a fundamental dualism of material and mental (but not necessarily supernatral). They are panpsychists. I assume Gyan still counts himself amongst this number.

Materialism tends to imply strict material determinism… as noted above, many people who deny the existence of deities nevertheless believe in extra-material forces which can shape our actions.

Some panpsychists are not dualists, per the article you cite. They say existence is fundamentally a mental phenomenon.

And there are atheists who are agnostic about the issue of materialism or panpsychism. They insist that we do not know enough, save that the evidence of strict determinism seems to be contrary to fact, and something of a relic of a Newtonian point of view.

Might I suggest “naturalism” to replace “materialism” in the OP? I think that this is a more accurate characterization of what might be called the “anti-religious” position.

That’s precisely the problem. Most people are going to assume you mean the latter unless you expend a good chunk of the audience’s patience explaining that you mean the former, and the difference between the two. There’s a considerable risk that someone arguing against “materialism” will be erroneously perceived as a hippy-dippy pinko, which would greatly chagrin the average conservative opponent of atheism/materialism/whateveryoucallit.

As I’ve said, more than once, panpsychism is a better fit than physicalism, but I’m not sure that panpsychism is the final truth.

And there are those who hold that the intrinsic nature of reality is neither mental nor physical. I highly recommend this very long article. Liberal, in particular, would appreciate the radical critiques of physicalism presented, though leading toward a different end than his.

Maybe it is just the people I know and have known over the years, but the religious people I know are just as materialistic if not more so than the Atheists.
Monavis

I believe you are thinking of definition 2 or 3, while this discussion is about definition 1.

It seems like rationalism would be a closer fit, though the correlation is modern.

I’ll accept that I’m a “materialist” just as soon as anyone can give me a proper definition of the alternative. How can I refer to the sorts of objects around me as “material” when I have no real conception of what characteristics a a “non-material” thing would have? All the definitions are either trivial (i.e. rock/material vs. smoke/immaterial or physical object/material vs. mental concept/immaterial) or unintelligible.

In the meantime, I’ll just go on considering myself to be “some guy” who is capable of percieving “some stuff” about which we can discuss the characteristics and nature of. If anyone comes up with a good characteristic over which to define the “some stuff” into two or more groups material/immaterial, or can explain any useful point to this division, please let me know.