North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Atheism, Semantics, and Baggage.

Atheism, Semantics, and Baggage.

A former member
Post #: 14
A recent posting from a member of a group called something similar to "North Texas Atheists" caused me to think that this particular rumination of mine (I have many) might be a relevant topic of discussion.

I would not join such a group (and maybe I would not join any group). Not because I'm not an atheist. I'm as surely an atheist as anyone that you might meet. But I bristle at the term because I'm acuallly "irreligious," which I believe your dictionary will define as "exhibiting indifference or hostility toward religion."

Firstly, I view the term "atheist" as having a very narrow connotation. Namely, it refers not to a belief, but a LACK of a belief, and a lack of a belief in a very specific thing: an anthropomorphic deity (see Theology). There is no deity of any kind, anthropomorphic, simian, canine, feline, bovine, equine, or whatever. As I understand it, many religious people, such as Budhists, are actually atheists though they are religious. The "folksy" way that I would explain this is that calling me an "atheist" is like announcing that I don't like Cadillacs when I've clearly explained that I don't like cars at all.

Secondly, and this is the fault of the Left, the term "atheist" carries Leftist baggage with it. The first problem that conservatives will cite with Communism is that it's "godless." In fact, if Communism has a virtue, that's it. Also, every time you hear about "some atheist" in the news, you'll find that he's doing some silly thing like protesting a Christmas tree in front of city hall. Makes me ashamed to be one.

And make no mistake, I don't give a d@mn what any Liberal has to say about anything, and I care a little more about what a conservative might say. But I would like to purvey correct and standard definitions, and leave the baggage behind.

---Jay

Now playing: Don Dokken, "Up from the Ashes."
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 40
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Indeed, it is rather erroneous to base any group on a non-belief. It leaves no mention of what they do believe in, which leaves the place open to wildly different (and even polar opposite) philosophies to be in the group.

Just a thought.
A former member
Post #: 15
And, Santiago, it's a great thought that I left out. I think it helps explain my point better.

I had said that I would not join such a group, but that was not my point. I think I really just wanted to express exasperation with the term "atheist" due to its popular usage, and incredulity at "atheists" as identified in any media reporting their actions.

As you say, what do they, in fact, believe?

And are they so idle in their personal and professional lives that they have time to spend on such marginal endeavors as a protest of something like Christmas celebrated by members of a government?

When I see the various and sundry governments in the U.S. subsidize religion, and begin to enact legislation in support of it, only then will I bother to spend any more time with it.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 35
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I think for many Atheists that live in the bible belt (like we all do, being in Texas), having a group like this is helpful. Sometimes having to deal with people that push God on you all day gets exasperating, and so there are some who see a chance to talk and socialize with people that are not going to keep bringing up Jesus all the time. I worked for home the last 2 years since I moved to TX, so I haven't encountered it a lot, but my husband has where he works.

That's just one reason I can think of for someone wanting to join such a group. I can see your point about the term atheist, though. I have never been to a group based on just being an atheist myself, but I can see why people may be attracted to it. Just like there are all sorts of christians, there are all sorts of atheists. If thie NTA is going to welcome people who are atheists regardless of their other philosophies, political affliation, etc., perhaps it is a the simplest term that could be used to attract people to the group?

In fact, if Communism has a virtue, that's it.
That is an interesting point. I thought of that while I was reading We The Living several weeks ago. The only thing, is that I think that was always one of the downfalls of Communism, because making religion illegal made everyone a martyr, and that just tends to make people think that since they are being persecuting they MUST have the true religion. Its too bad people rejected religion due to fear and collectivism instead of reasoning.

Also, every time you hear about "some atheist" in the news, you'll find that he's doing some silly thing like protesting a Christmas tree in front of city hall. Makes me ashamed to be one.

I can see your point here. Regarding the xmas tree, the only thing that would really bother me is if the public asked to put up a menorah as well, or another religious symbol for that time of year and was told no. If you are going to pander to one religious group, pander to all of them or none at all. And preferably don't use any tax money for any religious displays.

It is funny how so much baggage is connected to words over time, isn't it?
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 41
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The fall of communism was from the fact that men are not ants, not that it persecuted religion.

Anyway, think about it this way - would a communist enjoy being in a group with us? Would we, conversely, enjoy being in a group with a communist?

Why, then, create a group that is likely to have that very situation crop up?
A former member
Post #: 64
When I see the various and sundry governments in the U.S. subsidize religion, and begin to enact legislation in support of it, only then will I bother to spend any more time with it.

This is indeed the case.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 36
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The fall of communism was from the fact that men are not ants, not that it persecuted religion.
Anyway, think about it this way - would a communist enjoy being in a group with us? Would we, conversely, enjoy being in a group with a communist?

Why, then, create a group that is likely to have that very situation crop up?

I didn't mean to imply religious persecution was THE reason communism failed. I just think persecuting the religious didn't help its cause is all. I should have worded it better. I still think it would have fallen even if it didn't have that element to it, of course.

I see your point, though.

I think a communist going to an Objectivist meeting would not be at the right place...unless they were truly there to learn what it is about. However, if they weren't there with an open mind, no, that person probably wouldn't enjoy it at all. And, I don't really think most of the people here outside of curiousity, haha, would enjoy attending communist meetings.

I guess it all really depends on what your need is for being there, and what you expect to get out of a group. If you have kids in school and feel like they are getting religion shoved down their throats, maybe this particular group, NTA would be a good one to join. (I don't want to put words into David's mouth, but that seems to be a major goal of the group.) Perhaps, if there is a goal that specific in mind, it may not matter if you are working with someone that may be in the left wings?
Chuck
SmithChuck
Mesquite, TX
Post #: 45
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The Aspen Ideas Festival 2007 website has a recent speech by Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, that simply must be seen.

This guy is not an Objectivist but he's not too far off, and he's doing some good work. He's been on CSPAN several times, and I always enjoy his talks. He debated a theologian there a few months ago, getting ganged up on pretty badly by the moderator (also a theologian), and still came out looking like the only sane person on stage.

You can view the video at:

SAM HARRIS IN ASPEN
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