"No such thing as atheists."
Finally remembered what this reminded me of. Read your Hacking:
And you, too, are a strange loop.
Oh, I like Hacking. I had felt that before, at some level I'd never really articlated, but he puts it so clearly. How labeling people allows us to position them... to use them, fix them, help them.
I think I'd only heard anything really similar when talking specifically about words used to dehumanize others. but not really in this classification sense. Thanks. rereading.
In effect, once you create the category (say, "atheists") for whatever reason, it becomes its own world. It takes on a life of it's own and people start forming atheist clubs, and having atheists meetings, and being out and proud in their "atheism".
It's just so wierd to me. Identifying yourself by something someone else has labled you. "You do not believe in my Bible, so you are a heathen" is in effect what is said with "you do not beleive in my god, you are an atheist", cept that atheist is a good word. or something.
I would never tell someone I'm an "a-birtherist", or an "a-elvenist". Saying I don't believe that Obama was born in Kenya, or that Elves exist is so obvious to most of us, I don't need to justify it. Why do I need to justify my lack of belief in a deitiy that is equally obviously not existing? And what would I have in common with a room full of other people who happen to not believe in elves, or in gods, or in Kenyabirth? Making an "it" out of it, does serve a political end, sure... but it's such a strange power to give Christianity and their god (to me).
I'm still sorta torn on whether he is saying we have invented illnesses (which I've heard befor), or just sayign that people say it's "ok to be this, to have this" therefore it's a more common diagnosis?
Arguably you have the same thing with "homoseuxality" as an identity. And the same thing with "religious (as opposed to heathen non-believer)" as an identity. Hell, "male" and "female" as an identity can be brought under the same scrutiny. What is it about anything that makes it an "it" worth defining. "Gay" is hardly a nice homogenised group, certainly no more than "atheist" is nice and homogenised as a group. I don't think the core problem is even when you create a group based on a "lack of" a belief. It's more than once you well-known and nicely accepted identities have had their pick at the human race, you're left with some mixed leftovers. And leftovers are rarely homogenous, and usually a bit crappy - you have you bits of burned potato mixed with the ice-cream you didn't scrap off the plate mixed in with the breadcrumbs from the starter and all sat in the remains of some gravy and the vegetables you forgot to serve up along with the slightly overdone scrapings from the pan. Making a club for these left overs - to torture the food analogy further - is like taking them all, putting them in a blender and declaring "look, it's all one food!" I think this is where your awkward feeling stems from (it's at least where my awkward feeling stems from when using the term "atheist") far more than it being a "lack of" anything.
That is a huge part of it, but i most definitely stand with the absurdity of the whole "atheist" position. That is, for my entire life, i've not believed in a god. My father is a minister and my brother is actually pretty fundamentalist (ack). And on sunday, they went to church and i didn't. Dad and I talked at length about history of xianity, what parts of the Bible have any historical validity, if the myths were influenced by other myths - the same kinds of things I did in school when I went. The only time I said to myself or anyone "I don't believe in god" is when asked. The only time I thought about the concept of a god, is in these kinds of discussions. It never did then, nor now, permeate my life the way a belief in a god would permeate a believer's life.
I don't walk around staring at the sun, 8 light minutes away and saying "wow, a god didn't do that'. I don't talk to a dying person and say "wow, a god isn't going to be waiting for you". I don't walk up to people and say "Happy non god day". Simply because a god not existing is fully irrelevant to my entire life. I don't like religions that decide they are all into framing my life - but that's not "god" or even "religion" is politics and power.
I've never once felt a reason to argue with anyone that a god or god like thing does or does not exist. I've never thought there was value in saying "you are stupid/ignorant/irrelevant cause you believe in something that is clearly not real".
and in that sense, i have a very hard time understanding the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, and even PZ who is more tame than the others, feels his position is superior, he just doesn't see a reason to challenge others who are "believers".
So yeah, i am bothered that there is a label, but I'm more bothered what that label represents and says about me, and you, and any other who is an "atheist".
To quote Liz Feldman "It's very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it: 'marriage.' You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn't gay park it."
Now, the thing about atheism that does set it apart is that "what religion are you?" often comes before "are you religious?" when conversation sparks. Regardless whether you are constantly thinking about it - and with Religious Right news constantly filling out Facebook feeds and WIGO pages, we probably have little choice in that matter - you're still an explicit atheist in a broad sense. There's nothing you can do to really change that - even if, indeed, you don't go around constantly applying this non-belief to things. It may well be "atheism is to religion as as bald is to hair colour", but what if a) everyone assumed you weren't bald until you pointed it out or b) if people didn't treat it like hair colour, but skin colour, which doesn't posses the "don't have one" as an option. That's really the sort of world the "atheist" label has grown up in.
Anyway, here's Mr Universe himself on the subject. Though notably I differ on his opinion about agnosticism: I think "atheist" is the more useful term than "agnostic" because I don't posses that belief, so "atheist" describes that, whereas "agnostic" conveys too much faux open-mindedness. But the point about the label conveying too much extra baggage is spot on. But that's the issue with all labels. We label people gay; does that mean they're going to be well-groomed and into fashion and dancing the YMCA?
Ok. I'll have to set aside my crush on Cox, for this man. :-)
That is exactly how I feel, 90% of the time, unless i want to be in a political argument about it, or I'm discussing the power churches have, etc.
But he's a much better thinking and speaker, so I'll let him speak for me in the future. heh.
The problem with "agnostic" or "lack of belief" is that I take the position of strong atheism (8 on the Dawkins scale, that weak-kneed pansy) toward any logically contradictory, and thus by definition, non-existent, gods, much like I don't believe square circles exist. (But can god microwave a burrito so hot that he can't eat it? Hurr!) Once you get into deism, or Harvard Divinity School stuff like process theology or philosophical tomfoolery like Last Thursdayism, then I can't "deny" god(s), which would make "agnosticism"/"lack of belief" more accurate in those cases. And 99.9% of people are going to say "WTF is that?" if you call yourself an ignostic, though "you haven't even agreed on what you're discussing" is a pretty apt description of my position on any pseudo-problem/pseudo-question, including "do you believe in god?"
I have and will continually state that if your god is the god of the bible, and you hold any sense of literalism, then you are wrong and your god does not and cannot exist, cause the bible is a walking contradiction. And while a god might be all powerful, I agree that a god cannot be square and circle at the same time, nor can he make a dry thing that is also wet by standard definition.
So I will and do argue with anyone who wants to challenge me (hi my brother!) that your limited god cannot exist.
but that doesn't work for the diests, or the - what was teh term iestism or something, the "I think something is there but don't knwo what" ists.
My problem with declaring ignosticism is that I view it as lazy, it's like you're not trying hard enough. It's like trying to vote on an issue and perpetually putting it off to deal with it later. It feels like saying "well, there could be a God, but I'm not going to bother figuring out all these properties that God is supposed to have apart from the name God".
And don't get me started on the version of agnosticism that outright states that "we can never know" - what the fuck sort of belief system is that?
Whole rich and vibrant parts of the greek religion and greek Christian gnosticism were based on "we don't know, and can't know."
I don't worry about the view of "i think there's something, but don't know", cause it's followed by "and don't care". Kinda the way I feel about lots of things. That's not really lazy it me, as much as it is relavence. Is it lazy to not care about calculus when you'll never use it?
I really don't take issue with the "and I don't care" part. If more people did that, the world would be better. It's the "we can't be sure there's a God, and there's no way for Science to prove it either way, but He definitely doesn't want gay people to marry" thought-process that really needs a good hard slap.
OHHHH, those idiots. ;-) I have not done much reading on gnosticism, but i knew it was more complex than something dismissible. But yeah, modern "we cannot know and it's an insult to God to put him to the test" piss me off. Cause they never follow with "and i don't care". they greatly care.
I also find it funny when people say "but you can prove he exists. I have a liver. That's scientific proof" for the very same reason. it's not just bad science, it's actually bad religion. I don't think a god that made man "in his image" would want people to NOT think about said god, or contemplate its morals, or wonder at its nature. I would think, following their logic, that if we were "given" brains, god would be more pissed that we trusted hucksters instead of what we could see and test with our own eyes.
If there was a God, however you want to describe it, I think it would be painfully obvious. So, if anything, only really "Spinoza's God" is anywhere near real.
But there is the whole fideism thing, about faith being superior to everything else at all (as if the universe is one big lucid dream that gives a crap what we think). But my issue with that is that it's indistinguishable from the equally probable and equally valid approach of "making shit up".
Pretty much. I'd like to say it's new; something that was a reaction to a few hundred years of science challenging religion. But Jesus himself chastizes ummm.. thomas? for doubting him, and asking for proof.
I'd like to think humans are moving more and more towards spinoza (if they must have something). But every time I say it, i think "nah... people will always turn to a parental god, or a dogmatic religion based on something else, cause it's too hard to think for yourself"
while i know nothing of the relationship to jews, never shall the words "unwanted" and "ice-cream" be linked, coming from my mouth. !!
I'm pretty sure he also called gays "burned potatoes."