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Greetings Everyone
Rathpig
I use the nom de plume, Rathpig, for most of my online chatter, so some of us may have crossed paths along the way. I am a lifelong atheist, but atheism as a concept means very little to me. I do not define myself by my lack of belief, and I certainly do not make a religion from it.

It is the latter concept which brought me here to comment on a specific thread, but now that I am registered, I will try to post something on occasion.
 
neilmarr
And greetings to you, too, Rathpig. Good to have your company.

I agree with you that atheism should not be considered a defining factor. On the other hand, it's a facet of life that suggests points of mutual interest at a place like AtheistsToday in reality and the admiration of reason.

On your second point, the consensus here seems to be that atheism is a religion in exactly the same way that not playing golf is a sport.

Looking forward to your posts. Best Wishes. Neil
 
catman
Rathpig: I think I said hello on another thread, but at the risk of redundancy, hello. (It never stopped me before.) As Neil stated, I don't see how the absence of belief can be a religion.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Skeeve
Good to see you Rathpig, welcome. Is there a story behind your nickname?
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
RayvenAlandria
Glad you made it over here Rathpig.
 
seeker
Good to see you here Rathpig. I take in then that you won't be participating in any of our atheist masses, bake sales, 12 step-programs or bible studies;naughtydevil;
 
Rathpig
On your second point, the consensus here seems to be that atheism is a religion in exactly the same way that not playing golf is a sport.


I am glad to hear this.


The point that has become increasingly frustrating in the U.S. over the past several years with far too many evangelical atheists making every little issue into an us-versus-them battle with Richard Dawkins as the Messiah. I once thought it was an internet spawned viewpoint, but it seems an increasing number of irl groups have been lured to doctrine, dogma, and ideological exclusion based on what is the philosophical equivalent of not playing golf.

It was shocking to me because I am quite the iconoclast. I never thought I would need to attack the idols of atheism.

I am hoping it is a passing phase.
 
Rathpig
seeker wrote:
Good to see you here Rathpig. I take in then that you won't be participating in any of our atheist masses, bake sales, 12 step-programs or bible studies;naughtydevil;


I'll hold out for the keggers, orgies, and barbecue.

(As long as we aren't overly ritualistic about it.)
 
seeker
Cool, those are on tuesdays
 
catman
Just once a week?
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
Yeah, its kind of a ritual.
 
Hypatia
Greetings Rathpig.

 
neilmarr
Perhaps the danger of organised atheism, Rathpig, is that dogmas will develop and the same kind of schisms that make various religions even more silly than the beliefs on which they are founded.

I've always felt that the voice of those whose judgement and principles are not clouded by faith should be heard but that visible grouping refocuses the subject at hand and confuses all issues by moving to the 'atheist point of view' rather than just the 'rational poin of view'.

For instance, we now have 'Dawkinsian' evolutionary biology, with its popular focus on one man's anti-religious leanings, rather than merely 'modern' evolutionary biology which should be secular and depersonalised to the point that not even non-belief is considered a factor. Enlightening results speak louder than atheism itself.

It's important that forums like this exist for many reasons, of course, but what I like most about the community here is its largely social function. We have a healthy lack of belief in common, but not to the extent that it defines the group or any individual within it.

As a group have no constitution, spokesman or declared mission: we share interest in the reasoned exploration of our world and friendship. Emphasis often appears to be on the latter.

Someone here (I think it was me) once said "we're not here to fight religion but to make religion irrelevant." Sure the atheist voice must be heard to achieve this. But that can be more effective if whispered through science, scholarship and education than if shouted in militant anger.

And it's encouraging to know that for each one of us willing and able to admit our atheism, there are probably 100 others who can't, won't, or don't think it necessary because to them religion is already redundant. We're an effective minority already in all important fields of human endeavour, backed by a silent mass of like-minded people and agnostics and lip-service 'theists', secreted like a fifth column in areas overrun by the religiously blinkered.

I'm an optimist. Atheism's most powerful weapons aren't its own version of the pulpit and organised militancy ... they are sweet reason and patience.

Cheers. Neil

PS: None of the above, of course, precludes a little religion-bashing here in our own forums when we think it's desrved or just for plain ol' fun. N
Edited by neilmarr on 08/28/2008 01:56
 
seeker
Unfortunately the larger a movement becomes the more it attracts people who are just followers. I don't think that all atheists really think about atheism all that much and, much like their Christian counterparts, are simply following the crowd and reciting the dogma.
 
catman
I'm sure that some "atheists" are simply following because they think it's "cool" and/or as a measure of rebellion, like intentionally listening to music that one's parents hate. But fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon one's viewpoint, atheism isn't popular enough yet to have a huge contingent of camp followers.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
10% of 300,000,000 is 30,000,000 and that's just the US
 
Rathpig
neilmarr wrote:

"we're not here to fight religion but to make religion irrelevant."

...

PS: None of the above, of course, precludes a little religion-bashing here in our own forums when we think it's desrved or just for plain ol' fun. N


This is a very important point to consider. Actively fighting a crusade against religion benefits only religion. Of course it is often necessary to actively fight for certain issues such as church-state separation, reproductive rights, and other specific "causes", but going to war against religion itself only empowers religion. It is much better to move forward with a positive humanistic philosophy which does respect true freedom of thought. These means the freedom to be religious within religion's defined role. One should not force their theism into secular society, nor should one force their atheism.

Of course this doesn't preclude having an opinion and voicing it. I am a strong iconoclast, and something like Scientology or Mormonism couldn't possible exist without someone making fun of them. It is inherent in their contrived irrationality.

To understand Scientology is to "bash" Scientology. And on, and on, and on.
 
neilmarr
Right you are, Rathpig. There's great truth in the old wives' tale: it won't go away if you pick it. Neil
 
catman
Much religion is constructed in such a way that fighting it ("persecuting it") will only create martyrs, making it more fanatical. Making it irrelevant has a much better potential for success.

I have a psychological need to bash it here on occasion, since I have few other outlets in which to do so. And it pisses me off so fucking much!;banghead;
Edited by catman on 08/29/2008 04:43
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
neilmarr
There's a superb line in the 60s movie version of Ben Hur (it's not in the book, as far as I can remember).

The Roman tribune, Marsalla, is trying to convince Judah Ben Hur of the folly of his religion ...

Marsalla says: "There's only one way to fight an idea -- that's with a better idea."

Atheism will be a widespread side effect of better ideas in science and scholarship and the general enlightenment that's bound to result.

Neil
 
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