I tried to post a comment on someone’s blog a minute ago and received an error message. Then I realized that it might make a decent short post all on its own. The post, entitled “Atheist by Default“, was on the The BitterSweet End.
For me personally, when I think of my non-belief in a formal fashion and think of all the different -isms out there, I have to be honest. I can relate to all of them, and to a degree they all define me.
I am all the above skeptic, atheist, agnostic, free-thinker. humanist. Ignostic, non-theist, anti theist. I am all of the above by definition, but no one defines me.
It reminded me of another post I came across recently, the link for which I do not have at the moment and, being more spontaneous, for which I will not look. The other post also had a list of the names associated with atheism, however it went through them in a table.
It was an interesting way of breaking it down.
-Agnostic; By definition of epistemology I am an agnostic, because I don’t know if God exist or does not exist. This is more of scientific and academic stance. It would be ignorant of us to say I know for sure that God does not exist. Even Dawkins admits of this.
Of course the ideological concept of God is not solely based on the… parameters of Christianity But that does not mean a deistic God does not God, (even thought is no empirical evidence supporting this viewpoint.) It could just mean, that I have wrong the wrong concept of God. And that is why I don’t know either way. But I typically like to stay away from agnosticism because it comes off to some evangelicals as I am confused, and don’t know what to think and that I simply need to do is just accept Jesus into my life. The issue I have with agnosticism, is that we can prove a Type of God does not exist. For example, If Religion A, says their God created the world on the back of a turtle. We can improve empirically that that type of God probably does not exist. (And yes, that is a real creation story.) Or that a God, with two conflicting characteristics, like God is Love and God is Wrath, then we could assume that that God probably does not exist.
I have the same understanding of the word Agnostic and used it for a long time, until I realized that it meant to many people that I was “undecided.” It wasn’t “evangelicals” who gave me a problem, however. In fact, the biggest pushes towards “would you like to come to my church with me this Sunday” were from Episcopalians. They actually thought they were being helpful and would have never been so pushy if I had said atheist. I realized this when one friend introduced me to another describing me as a “seeker.” I was suddenly taken aback saying, “Yo! Wait! No!” as the other person was making the usual offer to take me to her church on Sunday. That was the evening I became an “atheist.” Ironically, in retrospect I suspect that those mild-mannered, politically progressive, Protestants with a Platonic notion of God probably thought that I was an escapee from a fire-and-brimstone sect. In other words, the people most eager to convert me were those who least identified with the word “evangelical.”
My biggest difference with M. Rodriguez would be where he says, “I truly do lack a belief in god. But this focus is more surrounding Christianity in that I am an atheist because I have rejected and come to the conclusion that the Christian God of the Bible does not exist. And from there, why should I believe in any other god.” Since I grew up in a pluralistic society that was not dominated by Christianity, the existence of the Christian God was something that I never even considered with any seriousness. It seems just as obvious that it is not true as the fact that the world wasn’t created on the back of a turtle, a story I also heard at a young age. I gave them both the same degree of consideration, which is none at all. What I had to reject was all the more abstract and vague definitions of divinity. God is Love. God is Energy. God is the “creative force” in the Universe. By the time I was thirty, I was as likely to be invited to a sweat lodge ceremony or a Wiccan ritual as I was to be invited to church. Oddly, because I don’t identify with the word “skeptic” much, it was probably the position of skepticism that brought me to where I am today. At some point, I realized that even this abstract notion of a divine presence led inexorably to magical thinking that I see as very detrimental in people’s lives, and it was widespread.
Finally, I began to realize that I was a “materialist.” There’s no spirits, no ghosts, no magic, no witchcraft.
It was online dating that made realize that I, as I rejected non-material world views, had become utterly incompatible with the religious of any stripe. Since online dating involves filling out forms, I had to identify my religion, which I did as “atheist”, and I had identify whom I was willing to date. At first, I only nixed people who identified themselves as devout. A great many men who contacted me, the majority by far, called themselves “spiritual but not religious.” At first, I though it was okay. Eventually, I found that they were wedded to woo, a term I would not learn for a few years but which I have since found useful. Frequently, they would spout something on the order of the power of positive thinking, which I started conceiving as “the power of magical thinking.” “Good vibes” and complicated diets will not cure cancer, unfortunately.
I really liked what M. Rodriguez had to say about ignosticism.
-Ignostic; Ignostic is really the position that all conversations about God are meaningless unless is first defined. And to a degree I agree with this, because my definition & perception of God will be different than someone else’s perception of God. Therefore I would I rather not jump into the conversation of if God exist, until God is accurately defined. Because if you say God is love, than I agree..God is an emotion, and emotions exist. But if you say God is a celestial all loving and all powerful being who wants to have a personal relationship with me, but can’t physically talk to me, than I would say you are loco.
The only reason I don’t use Ignostic more often, is that I would probably spend half the time explaining Ignosticism, because most people are not familiar with it.
Maybe, I’ll comment on some of these other terms at a later date and explain why I don’t call myself a Humanist.