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  •  That's Not Fundamentalism (3+ / 0-)
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    Shadan7, Ja of Anoroc, Buddha Hat

    Unfortunately, I have seen that atheists can be fundamentalists too.

    There is nothing about atheism to be "fundamentalists" about. Atheists can be intolerant, annoying, prejudices, and so forth, but those are aspects of one's personality rather than indicators of fundamentalism. After all, a fundamentalist can be perfectly kind, generous, and tolerant of others. I've even had fundamentalists write to me to agree with some of my criticisms of Christianity.

    I think it's very important not to treat "fundamentalist" as short-hand for being a jerk. Fundamentalism is a particular type of religious position which says nothing about a person's personality.

    •  fundamentalism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snout, Buffalo Girl

      While fundamentalism is often religious, it is not purely religious.  Atheists can be fundamentalist as well.  I said nothing about being jerks.

      •  Still Not Fundamentalism (2+ / 0-)

        While fundamentalism is often religious, it is not purely religious.

        I suppose that it can occur in other belief systems, but that would be an unusual usage. Normally, "fundamentalist" is restricted to religious systems.

        Atheists can be fundamentalist as well.

        No, they can't — at least not about atheism. There is simply nothing to be "fundamentalist" about. If "fundamentalism" means anything, even outside a religion, then it must indicate a desire to "return" to the "fundamentals" of a belief system. Atheism, however, isn't a belief system. It's not an ideology. It's not a religion. Atheism is just the absence of belief in gods and there's no way to construct a "fundamentalism" around that (or around mere theism, either).

        Now, an atheist who is also a communist might conceivably be a "fundamentalist" about communism and an atheist who is a Buddhist might construct some sort of "fundamentalism" around their Buddhism, but neither of them are fundamentalists about their atheism and that's what I took your statement to be about.

        •  uh (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buffalo Girl, 73rd virgin

          Talking to you is like talking to a fundamentalist christian who is not even aware of how they are fundamentalist.  Fundamentalism isn't defined by "return" to the "fundamentals", it is interpreted as meaning sticking to a "rigid interpretation" of a text, belief system, etc...  

          There are many ways to construct a fundamentalism in "the absence of belief in gods".  Any absolulte belief, the belief that there is a god, there are multiple gods, there are only goddesses, or that there are none of the above, can have fundamentalist approaches.

          I really don't get your communist argument.  Is it your belief that communism is related to belief or non-belief in God?  I realize that you do not get it because you are so fundamentally trapped in your world view.  Now you understand how diverse thinking religious folks feel when you paint them in a corner.

          •  So, What is Fundamentlist About Atheism? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bumblebums, Shadan7, Ja of Anoroc

            Fundamentalism isn't defined by "return" to the "fundamentals", it is interpreted as meaning sticking to a "rigid interpretation" of a text, belief system, etc...  

            OK, for the sake of argument let's go with that definition. Atheism isn't a text or a belief system, so a person can't be fundamentalist about it according to that definition.

            There are many ways to construct a fundamentalism in "the absence of belief in gods".  Any absolulte belief, the belief that there is a god, there are multiple gods, there are only goddesses, or that there are none of the above, can have fundamentalist approaches.

            How can you be "fundamentalist" about an absence of belief in gods according to the definition of "fundamentalism" you offer?

            I really don't get your communist argument.  Is it your belief that communism is related to belief or non-belief in God?

            No, I just used communism as a type of belief system which an atheist might have and might conceivably be fundamentalist about. I could have picked Objectivism instead.

            •  atheism (0+ / 0-)

              is a belief system.   There are many components of atheism, but believing that there are no Gods is a belief system.  Denying that doesn't make it true.

              •  You Are Mistaken (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Shadan7, Ja of Anoroc

                atheism is a belief system.

                No, you are mistaken. There is no "belief system" shared by all atheists who are Secular Humansits, Religious Humanists, Buddhists, Raelians, members of Ethical Culture, Unitarian-Universalists, communists, Nihilists, Existentialists, Objectivists, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc. The only thing shared by all such atheists is an absence of belief in gods.

                There are many components of atheism, but believing that there are no Gods is a belief system.

                Some atheists assert that there are no gods, but not all do and that's not the definition of atheism.

                Denying that doesn't make it true.

                I agree, simply denying it doesn't make it true. That's why I have offered arguments and links demonstrating that it isn't true.

                Just as "denying that atheism isn't a belief system" doesn't make it so, it's also the case that "simply insisting that atheism is a belief system" doesn't make it so. Do you have any actual arguments in defense of this position?

                •  what AtheismGuide is trying to say (and did say) (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Shadan7

                  is that if someone is a 'fundamentalist' that has nothing to do with their atheism. Even among people who conjecture that gods do not or can't exist, there is no 'fundamentalist' notion because there are no fundamentals. They may be arrogant and self-righteous but there is no sense in which they can focus more on some canonical tradition than others.

                  If you have seen otherwise, they may not have been atheists at all.

                  •  fundamentalism (0+ / 0-)

                    exists with many groups that do not rely on canons or traditions.

                    •  Oh? (0+ / 0-)

                      fundamentalism exists with many groups that do not rely on canons or traditions.

                      You defined fundamentalism as sticking to a "rigid interpretation" of a text, belief system, etc...

                      Isn't it difficult to do that without any canons or traditions? I don't suppose it's impossible, but it doesn't sound very easy.

                      Can you cite any examples of this? I don't mean examples which you and only you call it an instance of "fundamentalism," but examples where the fundamentalist label is used more generally.

                      •  um, no (0+ / 0-)

                        not text and belief systems.

                        text and/or belief systems.  Not all fundamentalists have formal texts they rely upon.  Atheists in fact have tombs of written canon and traditions though.  So it goes both ways.

                        •  For Example? (0+ / 0-)

                          Not all fundamentalists have formal texts they rely upon.

                          Can you cite any examples?

                          Atheists in fact have tombs of written canon and traditions though.

                          Can you cite any examples of "canon and traditions" which are common to all atheists?

                          •  duh (0+ / 0-)

                            can i cite authors and books off of the top of my head?  not precisely.  But there have been movements throughout history in the far east and europe and America.  You have humanist sects commited to this, you've had literary movements committed to it, etc..

                            Again, can you cite any examples of "canon and traditions" which are common to all religious folks?  (and don't say the Bible or you'll be ignorant on so many accounts).

                          •  answered the wrong question (0+ / 0-)

                            I was on two trains of though there.  You are asking for examples of fundamentalists who do not rely on traditions or canons?

                            What about the unibomber?  Charles Manson was a fundamentalist in his own right.  Now those two are of the more infamous variety, but the fact is fundamentalists often write their own beliefs (literally or figuratively) when the existing canon and text don't match.

                          •  So... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            bumblebums

                            I was on two trains of though there.

                            No problem; just ignore that part in my other message (which you've probably already read by now...).

                            You are asking for examples of fundamentalists who do not rely on traditions or canons? What about the unibomber?

                            What makes him a "fundamentalist"? You defined "fundamentalism" as sticking to a rigid interpretation of a text, belief system, etc. What was the text, belief system, or whatever which he rigidly interpreted?

                            Perhaps you need to expand on your definition of "fundamentalism" here to be more clear; however, I'm wonder where you came across this definition. I haven't seen in it any of the scholarly literature. Are you aware of the Fundamentalism Project? They put out a very good series of books on the nature of fundamentalism around the world and the definition they use is a bit more comprehensive than what you are using.

                            No offense, but I'm not interested in continuing if you end up using an ad hoc definition of fundamentalism which you develop in order to justify what you've said so far. That wouldn't really be a definition, it would be a rationalization. Instead, what you need is a definition which is fairly and broadly supported by the nature of fundamentalism as it exists across diverse cultures and religions.

                            Charles Manson was a fundamentalist in his own right.

                            How? In what way was he particularly "rigid" in his interpretation of anything? I include "particularly" here because it's important that this rigidness be distinguished from the rigidness of others who definitely aren't fundamentalists.

                            It's interesting that the only examples you offer are bad people. Once again, I'm getting the impression that fundamentalism is being equated with Bad Things — if it's not equated with simply being a jerk, it's equated with evil and violence. I don't accept that. Fundamentalism doesn't make a person annoying, arrogant, or evil.

                            There are lots of liberals who are arguably rather "rigid" when it comes to their opposition to the war in Iraq and/or George W. Bush generally. Would they be examples of "fundamentalists" who are not relying on traditions or canons? They seem to fit, based upon what you said, but if that's so then most people are fundamentalist about something. I think that would empty the term of any real usefulness.

                          •  Well? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Shadan7

                            can i cite authors and books off of the top of my head? not precisely.

                            That's fine. I'm just looking for any examples of fundamentalist movements that "stick to a rigid interpretation of a text, belief system, etc.," and do not rely on any canons or traditions. You say they exist and while I'm not denying that it's possible, I do think that it would be difficult for such a thing to exist. Surely when you said that they exist you must have had something in mind, right?

                            Again, can you cite any examples of "canon and traditions" which are common to all religious folks?

                            I can't cite any canons or traditions common to all religious folk, but I also don't claim that there is any sort of fundamentalism for "religion in general." Religion is not a belief system, it's a type of belief system — religion is a category in which multiple belief systems can be found. There are fundamentalisms for particular religions and in those religions, there are "canon and traditions" upon which a fundamentalism can be based. Hindu fundamentalism is based around the Vedas, for example, and Mormon fundamentalists will base their fundamentalism on Joseph Smith's texts.

                            being common to "all atheists" has nothing to do with fundamentalism.

                            Sorry, I think that I was unclear in my phrasing. For a person to be a "fundamentalist" about atheism, their fundamentalism must be based on something inherent in atheism — something that is common to all atheists, even if not all atheists are fundamentalist about it. A Christian fundamentalist, for example, will base their fundamentalism (in part) on a particular interpretation of the Bible. While not all Christians share that interpretation of the Bible, all Christians do share the Bible itself.

                            I don't think that there is any defining characteristic of any example of religious fundamentalism which does not involve something basic to that religion generally. Fundamentalists don't base their fundamentalism on anything that comes from completely outside their religious system entirely.

                            So, if there are atheist fundamentalists, their fundamentalism must involve some "rigid interpretation of a text, belief system," or something else that is inherent to atheism and/or common to all atheists. Otherwise, they are being a fundamentalist about something outside of atheism.

                            What is it?

                          •  false comparison (0+ / 0-)

                            Again, can you cite any examples of "canon and traditions" which are common to all religious folks?

                            A relevant comparison is a specific religion, not the entire concept of religions, which are of course competing.  And of course one could then cite canon and traditions. Actually you are making AG's point in your confusion. Like the category of atheist the category of "all religious folks" cannot itself have canon or fundamentalism.

                            Also nobody said canon = formal text.  

                          •  Thanks... (0+ / 0-)

                            Like the category of atheist the category of "all religious folks" cannot itself have canon or fundamentalism.

                            Thanks, I should have thought it put it in those terms. I had that in the back of my mind, but it didn't come out as clearly and simply as you put it.

                            One interesting point to add is the fact that "all religious folk" includes both atheists and theists, just as the category "all irreligious folk" includes both atheists and theists.

                          •  and to expand (0+ / 0-)

                            being common to "all atheists" has nothing to do with fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism doesn't exist among all of any group.  They are a subset and often there are dueling fundamentalists groups with their own belief systems that differ from the larger groups they are common to and the other fundamentalists.

                          •  btw (0+ / 0-)

                            why do you care so much?  Is there something about the idea that there can be (and are) fundamentalist atheists bug you?  I don't know that you are one of them, though your string of denials do suggest a tendency in that direction.  But does the existence of some fundamentalists compromise the larger group?  Or is that inevitable?

                            btw, the lack of a formal structure does not mean there isn't one.  This is a typical trap that folks fall into, but life doesn't work that way.  In fact, the structureless are often the most insidious of institutions (and the most fascist if you ask me though this depends on the particular group).  In any case, I have to log off.  It was fun talking atheism with ya!

                          •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lightiris

                            why do you care so much? Is there something about the idea that there can be (and are) fundamentalist atheists bug you?

                            Actually, the broader question is whether atheism is a belief system. Yes, it does bug me when people misdefine atheism. Why? Because the truth is easy to find and understand, but for some reason non-atheists insist that they already know all they need and, in fact, understand atheism better than atheists do.

                            Funny, but I'm pretty sure I've read where Christians get annoyed at atheists who act like they understand Christianity better than Christians do...

                            I am also bothered — and perhaps more so — but the apparent inclination to equate fundamentalism with everything bad. That misdefines and misrepresents fundamentalism grossly.

                            Both of the above errors ultimately lead to sloppy thinking and prevents people from dealing with the real issues in a substantive manner.

                            I don't know that you are one of them, though your string of denials do suggest a tendency in that direction.

                            I've provided links and arguments explaining why atheism isn't a belief system; none of which you have substantively addressed. Let's assume that you are correct, however: once again we find you defining fundamentalism in a negative fashion.

                            But does the existence of some fundamentalists compromise the larger group? Or is that inevitable?

                            Once again we have a negative image of fundamentalism. No, I don't think that fundamentalists compromise a larger group because I don't regard fundamentalism as inherently bad. I've encountered far more annoying fundamentalists than pleasant ones, but that doesn't change the fact that fundamentalism is a neutral category about a certain type of belief system and a way those beliefs are held.

                          •  fundamentalism is bad (0+ / 0-)

                            it always leads to folks with the inability to understand others.

                            (yeah i know i said i was leaving, but stupid me checked in one last time.  won't be able to address everything though).

                            take your post.  Apparently you think that I don't understand atheism because I cannot relate.  But then, anyone who knows me well would have laughed their asses off at that.  Like many people, my views and faith has evolved.  I used to agree wth a lot of what you are saying, but since I have been able to step back and take a more objective look.  

                            These days I'm a recovering Catholic, but for years I rejected christianity and the idea that there could be a God.  I've also been involved in a number of socialmovements and have observed a lot of personal dynamics and interactions.

                            Of course there is gray in the definition of any belief system.  I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is.  In fact, the fact that you would want so badly for it not to be says a lot about your belief system itself.  And I can relate.  Debating with you is simply challening myself at a different time, so it is easy to understand where you are coming from.  

                            There is most definitely some merit in what you believe.  I'm not going to try and change that.  But sociologically, denying the existence of a belief system and sects of fundamentalism i have trouble with.  It is the belief in infallability that disturbs me in Christians and Atheists alike.

                          •  sigh... (0+ / 0-)

                            fundamentalism is bad it always leads to folks with the inability to understand others.

                            OK, prove it — but without assuming the truth of your definition of fundamentalism as necessarily bad, for that would be a logical fallacy.

                            Apparently you think that I don't understand atheism because I cannot relate.

                            No, that's incorrect. I don't know whether you can "understand" atheism or not (though there's no reason why you shouldn't because it's such a simple concept) and I have no thoughts on whether you can "relate." The idea of "relating" never occurred to me. I'm simply pointing out to you that you have made an error and that you define atheism incorrectly.

                            I used to agree wth a lot of what you are saying, but since I have been able to step back and take a more objective look.  

                            Oh? I'd be curious to learn what of the things I am saying — things I have actually said here — which you used to agree with but don't anymore.

                            These days I'm a recovering Catholic, but for years I rejected christianity and the idea that there could be a God.

                            I should point out that I haven't said anything about Catholicism, Christianity, or the existence of gods here.

                            I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is.

                            You still don't get it. Atheism isn't the belief in the absence of something, it the absence of a belief in something. There is a difference.

                            I do not currently have the belief that you are wearing a green shirt. I do not, however, believe that you aren't wearing a green shirt. I do not currently believe that you do own a Honda. I do not, however, believe that you don't own a Honda.

                            In fact, the fact that you would want so badly for it not to be says a lot about your belief system itself.

                            Oh, I have a belief system. Atheism, however, is not that belief system. I have challenged you to explain what "belief system" — a system of multiple, interrelated beliefs — is shared by all atheists. The fact that you have not done so speaks volumes; the fact that you haven't even tried says even more. If you were serious about making a case for your proposition that atheism is a belief system, you would have at least tried to explain what the relevant beliefs are, how they constitute a system, and how it is that atheists with such divergent and even contradictory beliefs can all adhere to it.

                            Debating with you is simply challening myself at a different time, so it is easy to understand where you are coming from.

                            Don't you suspect that maybe it's a bit arrogant for you to assume that you know me and were once like me? You have never met me and simply don't know me well enough to make such an assertion. I will further insist that it's wrong for you to do so because by imaging that I am now like you once were, you commit two errors: first, you adopt an arrogant attitude that imagines yourself as being more "advanced" than me and, second, it prevents you from dealing with me as me — you just keep seeing yourself and as a consequence fail to realize that I am my own person with very different experiences, history, and ideas from you.

                            I used to be Christian myself, but I don't presume to look at Christians like you as if you are just an earlier version of myself that I've moved beyond. I'll thank you to treat me with that same respect and consideration, if you can.

                            There is most definitely some merit in what you believe.

                            You don't know what I believe, you just presume to know — that's one of the errors involved with assuming that I am now like you once were. You seem to keep thinking of what you used to believe and then attribute those beliefs to me.

                            You're not having this discussion with yourself, you're having it with me.

                            But sociologically, denying the existence of a belief system and sects of fundamentalism i have trouble with.

                            Sociologically, misusing the term "fundamentalism" and applying it willy-nilly is something I have trouble with.

                            It is the belief in infallability that disturbs me in Christians and Atheists alike.

                            The belief that one is infallible is not a marker of fundamentalism — at least, not any scholarly or academic examination of fundamentalism. Perhaps it's a marker commonly used by people who simply use the label "fundamentalism" for anything they don't like, but I'm not such a person. I prefer to deal with people and belief systems on their own terms rather than invest their terminology with my own prejudices and assumptions about them.

                            Try it some time.

                          •  i really need to stop reading these posts (0+ / 0-)

                            You keep arguing the same nonsensical things:

                            1. that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)
                            1. that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria
                            1. that you haven't said that things you've said
                            1. that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

                            Infallibility is not what makes someone fundamentalist, but it is a common sympton of fundamentalism.  Do you understand a little better?

                            This conversation is typical of all conversations with fundamentalists.  The unwillingness to look critically, or even objectively, at your own belief system is typical.  I understand why you are defensive, and drew the assumptions about me and others that disagree with you that you did.  But don't pawn off you insecurity off as someone elses problem.

                          •  No, You Need to Make an Argument, Not Just Claims (0+ / 0-)

                            1.  that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)

                            Well, at least you finally acknowledge that I have been arguing this instead of simply asserting it. The problem is, you haven't addressed by my argument and you haven't offered any argument for why I am wrong.

                            that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria

                            I didn't say that all atheists have to agree on what it is — not all Christians agree on what Christianity is. However, there is a belief system which we can all Christainity and point out the interrelated beliefs which Christians have in common. If you can't do the same for atheism, you have no right to insist that it is a belief system.

                            Or to put it another way: you have made the claim that atheism is a belief system, but you haven't even tried to make an argument in defense of that claim. You haven't cited what these beliefs are or how they are a system, much less that atheists all share it.

                            that you haven't said that things you've said

                            This sounds very much like an accusation that I have lied about what I have said. That's a serious charge to make and I think you should have the decency of backing it up with specific citations or apologize and withdraw it.

                            that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

                            I never said that. Of course you can have multiple belief systems, though I don't think that you can have multiple belief systems unless those belief systems share a few things in common. At the very least they must be compatible, but sharing a few elements makes compatibility easier.

                            Infallibility is not what makes someone fundamentalist, but it is a common sympton of fundamentalism.

                            Is it? Can you prove this?

                            This conversation is typical of all conversations with fundamentalists.

                            Now you are coming the fallacy of Begging the Question — and in multiple ways, which is quite a feat. You are begging the question about the definition of atheism (I can't count the number of times I have asked you to support it), you are begging the question about the definition of fundamentalism (also thus far unsupported) and you are begging the question that you know anything about me.

                            Here we can finally see why your misdefinition of fundamentalism leads to sloppy thinking: by defining it way that makes it necessarily negative, it allows you to attach it as a smear to anyone who disagrees with your or whom you simply find disagreeable. No longer is "fundamentalism" a label which actually informs us about what a person believes; instead, it's just a smear that informs about your perception of that person.

                            Actually, your use of "fundamentalism" shares a lot in common with how some conservatives use the label "godless" to apply to any liberals they don't like.

                            The unwillingness to look critically, or even objectively, at your own belief system is typical.

                            We haven't discussed my belief system yet.

                            But don't pawn off you insecurity off as someone elses problem.

                            Poisoning the Well fallacy. It's not a sign of "insecurity" to persist in disagreeing with you and, what's more, having the temerity to point out that you have thus far not actually offered any arguments on behalf of your claims. You've made assertions about the nature of concepts without supporting those assertions. You've made quite a few personal insults without those insults having anything to do with the subject. More than once you've made inappropriate assumptions about me despite the fact that this isn't about me, but about ideas.

                            I'd be curious to learn if you even understand what an argument really is? This isn't a Monty Python sketch, you know.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:18:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One more thing... (0+ / 0-)

                            I should have commented on this...

                            basically you don't like to be categorized

                            That is absolutely not true — I have no problem with categorization so long as the categories are accurate. I'm an atheist because I don't happen to believe in any gods. I'm an agnostic because I don't claim to know for sure whether any gods definitely do or do not exist. For varying reasons, I can also be categorized as: freethinker, liberal, secular humanist, skeptic, male, American, computer literate, Pennsylvanian, Mac user, cat owner, etc.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  yes...a buch of typical fundamentalists (0+ / 0-)

                              1.  that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)

                            Atheists don't mind being categorized in some logically consistent fashion. The category is of people who do not have a belief in god(s). They may have beliefs too, but that is irrelevant to the broader category. They might be fundamentalists in those beliefs, but that is irrelevant to the broader category. Nothing you have said explains how you can be a 'fundamentalist' without some reference point.

                              2. that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria

                            No group with a belief system agrees on what the belief system is?  You have defined "groups with a belief system" in a way that is not very useful to the discussion of fundamentalism, because it would be impossible to distinguish between fundamentalists and others within the group. If two people do things in ways that have no shared positive characteristics at all, to say that they share a "system" is at best confusing since it implies consistency by definition.

                            ..i'll ignore the claim that AG is 'in denial'

                              4. that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

                            'Atheist' is a dichotomous concept, in this case a residual category. Within that category, obviously, infinite comptatible belief systems may be present (which, you guessed it, may be actually have tenets and fundamentalism). I'm not aware of any claim to the contrary. I certainly did not see such a claim in AG's comments.

                          •  And thank you, (0+ / 0-)

                            marvinolasky, for your contributions here, as well.  Both you and AtheismGuide have done a wonderful job debunking the ill-conceived notions and misconceptions that swirl around atheism whenever it is discussed.  Terrific stuff!

                            It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

                            by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:21:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you thank you. (0+ / 0-)

                            Your comments on this thread are a breath of fresh air.  You have articulated these points so clearly and so succinctly, that I feel compelled to bookmark this diary for future reference.  Bravo/a!  

                            It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

                            by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:19:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                            You have articulated these points so clearly and so succinctly, that I feel compelled to bookmark this diary for future reference.

                            At this point, I can't tell what post is responding to what other post — it's all on the same level. Just in case you're responding to me, since I wrote so many of the posts at this level... thanks! You'll find regular writings of the same sort on my site, too.

                            If you weren't addressing me... oops. Sorry. Just ignore me.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:22:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, I was addressing you. (0+ / 0-)

                            I found your website, too, by clicking on your name.  Outstanding job!  

                            It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

                            by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:26:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You wrote, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lightiris

                            "I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is." Atheism is the absence of belief, not the belief in absence. There is a distinction.

                          •  that is not true (0+ / 0-)

                            Believing that there is not Gods is a belief.  Just as I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

                            The problem with the definition that you want to attribute to atheists is that not all people who have an absence of belief are atheists.  In fact, most aren't.  What sets aside atheists is that they believe in the absence of God or Gods.  If you don't believe in that absence you are not an atheist.

                            Basically, the distinction you are trying to draw is a false distinction.

                          •  Are You a Fundamentalist? (0+ / 0-)

                            Believing that there is not Gods is a belief.

                            You're right, that is a belief. However:

                            • It is not a belief system
                            • It is not a belief shared by all atheists.

                            The problem with the definition that you want to attribute to atheists is that not all people who have an absence of belief are atheists.

                            It's not generally an "absence of belief" which marks one as an atheist (not that such a state sounds possible), it's an absence of belief in gods which marks one as an atheist. If it is your assertion that there are people who lack a belief in gods and who aren't atheists, please explain how and cite examples.

                            Before you go much further, though, you might want to consider the fact that most dictionaries and other specialized references define atheism in the broad manner that I an other atheists do.

                            What sets aside atheists is that they believe in the absence of God or Gods.

                            Why do you think you understand atheism better than atheists? You act like you are "infallible" with regards to the definition of atheism — a problem you assert is characteristic of fundamentalists.

                            Are you a fundamentalist?

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:24:29 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  probably (0+ / 0-)

                            the most ridiculous part of this whole discussion is that your "definition" link references atheism as a belief system.  oops.

                          •  Definitely (0+ / 0-)

                            the most ridiculous part of this whole discussion is that your "definition" link references atheism as a belief system.  oops.

                            No, it doesn't.

                            I'm not honestly sure what the most ridiculous part of this discussion is. Could it be your apparent presumption that you understand atheism better than atheists? Or maybe it's your insistence on continually repeating the same assertions without every even trying to support them — and despite significant evidence to the contrary of what you claim?

                            Perhaps it's just the fact that you have adopted an ad hoc definition of fundamentalism for the purpose of attacking fundamentalists and, in the end, it turns out that it applies to you as much as anyone.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 02:59:46 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  btw (0+ / 0-)

                            i don't pretend to understand atheism better.  I pretend to understand definitions are not subjective terms that you change at will to fit your need not to be categorized.  None of us likes to be categorized and I've been in many debates where I have resisted categorization just like you are.

                          •  sheesh (0+ / 0-)

                            i don't pretend to understand atheism better. I pretend to understand definitions are not subjective terms that you change at will to fit your need not to be categorized.

                            First, it's incorrect that I have a need not to be categorized. I've already written a post to you refuting that bit of arrogant arm-chair psychologizing.

                            Second, I didn't provide a subjective definition that I change at will. I provided a definition which is supported by most comprehensive dictionaries. Even that aside, it's the definition you'll consistently find atheists using to describe themselves — and so long as you insist that atheists are wrong in how they define atheism, you are effectively pretending that you understand atheism better than atheistgs.

                            None of us likes to be categorized and I've been in many debates where I have resisted categorization just like you are.

                            So, it appears that your presumption that I don't like to be categorized is, once again, merely an example of you seeing yourself rather than seeing me. That's why I told you it's wrong to do this: you end up making one mistake after another. Stop trying to have conversations with yourself and instead approach others as their own, independent selves.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:03:21 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  go and read your 'definition' that you cited (0+ / 0-)

                            it comes down to a disbelief in Gods (with lots of attempts to project and define theists subjectively).

                            The categorization comment comes from reading the definition you cite.  It spends paragraphs and paragraphs trying to explain why there should be a broader definition, only to allow what the dictionaries already state - that what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods (note that the writer acknowledges that absence of belief is not what defines an atheist).

                            It also comes from observations of social groups and education.  This includes observation of myself - it is not based solely on my experience.  I'm using myself as an example to make it clear that we all do this ( I still do it) and it is not unusual or something to be defensive about.

                          •  Uhh.... I wrote it (0+ / 0-)

                            go and read your 'definition' that you cited it comes down to a disbelief in Gods

                            Yes, atheism is disbelief in gods. Go read the cited dictionary definitions on the meaning of disbelief. And "gods" should be lowercase, by the way.

                            with lots of attempts to project and define theists subjectively.

                            No, theism is defined objectively as belief in the existence of some god or gods.

                            The categorization comment comes from reading the definition you cite. It spends paragraphs and paragraphs trying to explain why there should be a broader definition, only to allow what the dictionaries already state - that what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods (note that the writer acknowledges that absence of belief is not what defines an atheist).

                            As the writer in question, I can categorically state that you are wrong that the writer does not acknowledge that the absence of belief is not what defines an atheism. Yes, dictionaries state that "what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods," but "do not believe in gods" is not the same as "deny that gods exist."

                            The failure to accept the truth of a proposition is not the same as the denial of that proposition. Thus, the failure of a person to accept the truth of the proposition "god exists" makes them an atheist, but it does not mean that they deny the proposition "god exists" — which would entail asserting the truth of the proposition "god does not exist."

                            To put it in more formal logic terms,  ~(believe P) =! believe (~P)

                            I'm using myself as an example to make it clear that we all do this ( I still do it) and it is not unusual or something to be defensive about.

                            I don't care whether you do it or not. I already posted on the fact that there are a great many categories which I accept without hesitation as being true about myself. For some reason, you appear to suffer from an inability to believe what others tell you about themselves when what they say isn't true about yourself. I don't understand that.

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:22:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Whatever man, (0+ / 0-)

                            I drive a porche. So there.

                          •  fairies (0+ / 0-)

                            I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

                            this does not follow. you're equating belief as an action with that as an externally imposed category. take a hypothetical society who does not speculate on the supernatural. then imagine that some people in that society choose one day to believe in fairies. By your reasoning, all others are automatically then adherents of the "i-don't-believe-in-fairies" belief. If that is the case, you are a member of infinite 'beliefs' defined by other's choices. What does the term 'belief' mean at that point?

                          •  no (0+ / 0-)

                            My not believing in fairies is MY non-belief.  I have heard of fairies.  I've read books about fairies.

                            In your hypothetical situation, those folks would neither be believers or non-believers but folks absent belief.  That does not make them a sort of atheist but simply folks who haven't discerned yet what to believe.

                          •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

                            In your hypothetical situation, those folks would neither be believers or non-believers but folks absent belief.

                            I'm guessing that this is news to you, but the prefix a means "without, absence of, not." Atheism is thus "without theism" or "absence of theism" or "not theism."

                            That does not make them a sort of atheist but simply folks who haven't discerned yet what to believe.

                            Perhaps they haven't discerned yet what to believe, but it's a fact that they lack belief in fairies. If they aren't fariy-ists, then what are they if not a-fairy-ists?

                            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:05:57 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  fairies (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lightiris

                               I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

                            this does not follow. you're equating belief as an action with that as an externally imposed category. Take a hypothetical society who does not speculate on the supernatural. then imagine that some people in that society choose one day to believe in fairies. By your reasoning, all others are automatically then adherents of the "i-don't-believe-in-fairies" belief. If that is the case, you are a member of infinite 'beliefs' defined by other's choices. What does the term 'belief' mean at that point?

                    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

                      fundamentalism exists with many groups that do not rely on canons or traditions

                      How is that possible? If you and I are in a group and you tell me you you are a fundamentalist member and I am not, what is the difference between us unless we have something to point to that you have a more strict adherence to than I do. If you said you were a fundamentalist member of our group, it would beg the question of what our fundamentals are. If there are none (as you posit) your claim of strict adherence would not be meaningful.

                      the set of "all religious folks" for example do not have fundamentals (or fundamentalism) only the subsets that at least claim to have defining principles unique to them can be more or less strict in their application.

                •  there (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Buffalo Girl

                  there is no belief system absent the belief in God shared by all Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, or most subsets of these groups.  What is your point?  Your statement about atheism is ignorant of what religion and faith are to people.

                  umm, disblief in God or Gods is the definition of atheism.

                  You haven't offered arguments.  You have issued blanket denials.

                  This conversation reminds me of sub-groups of folks who dress differently because they don't want to conform.  But when you step back and look at them, they are all dressed the same as each other - but insist that they are more unique than the folks wearing kackies and dress shirts.

                  Do you really think that you are more unique than the questioning Catholic debating with you?  Not all belief systems are heirarchical or institutional.  The Nile is in fact the longest river in the world.

                  •  You Are Still Mistaken (0+ / 0-)

                    there there is no belief system absent the belief in God shared by all Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, or most subsets of these groups.  What is your point?

                    Well, I'd call them all theists and I wouldn't say that they share a belief system. My point is that atheism is not a belief system.

                    Your statement about atheism is ignorant of what religion and faith are to people.

                    Really? How so?

                    umm, disblief in God or Gods is the definition of atheism.

                    That is correct.

                    You haven't offered arguments. You have issued blanket denials.

                    That's not true. First, I have offered links to detailed explanations about atheism. Second, by listing the many diverse and even contradictory belief systems held by atheists, I have shown that there can't be a single belief system which they all share. You might disagree, but you didn't explain what that "belief system" might be.

                    Do you really think that you are more unique than the questioning Catholic debating with you?

                    Not really, but I consider the question irrelevant because I don't see how "uniqueness" enters into this discussion.

                    Not all belief systems are heirarchical or institutional.

                    Very true. It's also irrelevant. A belief system is some set of interrelated beliefs. There is no set of beliefs, interrelated or not, which is shared by all atheists.

        •  but that's just not true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snout, 73rd virgin

          it is a belief system. You say it's an absence of belief in gods, but it could also be described as a belief in the absence of gods.

          You are correct about the common usage

          A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

          however if you take the definition and apply it to the way that some atheists advocate for their point of view, it is exactly the same phenomenon - a rigid adherence to principles and intolerance of other views.

          We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. - Abraham Lincoln

          by Buffalo Girl on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 07:49:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You Are Mistaken (4+ / 0-)

            but that's just not true it is a belief system.

            No, I'm sorry, but atheism isn't a belief system. There are atheistic belief systems of course, but atheism itself isn't a belief system. Atheism is the absence of a particular belief — so it's neither a "belief" nor a "system." Even theism, which is a belief, is not a belief "system" (though there are obviously theistic belief systems).

            You say it's an absence of belief in gods, but it could also be described as a belief in the absence of gods.

            That would be "strong" or "explicit" atheism. It's a category of atheism, like polytheism is a category of theism. Even strong atheism, though, is not a belief system.

            if you take the definition and apply it to the way that some atheists advocate for their point of view, it is exactly the same phenomenon - a rigid adherence to principles and intolerance of other views.

            There is no one set of "atheist principles" which an atheist can or must adhere to. There is no set of principles which is common to atheists who are libertarians, Buddhists, communists, Raelians, Scientologists, Religious Humanists, Secular Humanists, Objectivists, Nihilists, Existiantists, etc. Atheism is only the absence of belief in gods.

            •  boy way to split hairs to make your (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snout

              absolutist point, there. None of what you said above negates this phenomenon, much as you would like it to and which you fail to address.

              however if you take the definition and apply it to the way that some atheists advocate for their point of view, it is exactly the same phenomenon - a rigid adherence to principles and intolerance of other views.

              We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. - Abraham Lincoln

              by Buffalo Girl on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 08:04:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Being Accurate is Not Splitting Hairs (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lightiris

                boy way to split hairs to make your absolutist point, there.

                How am I "splitting hairs" by defining atheism correctly?

                None of what you said above negates this phenomenon, much as you would like it to and which you fail to address.

                How did I fail to address the phenomenon in question? First, a person who displays rigid adherence to their principles and an intolerance to the views of others may exhibiting "fundamentalism" in some loose sense of the word, but not about their atheism. Why? Because atheism entails no particular principles shared by all atheists.

                Second, I made it very clear that atheists can be arrogant, annoying, intolerant, prejudiced, etc. There was never any debate — at least from me — on that. My position is that such personality flaws are not signs of fundamentalism.

                It's wrong to equate being a fundamentalist with being a jerk.

                There are many non-fundamentalists who are jerks and who behave arrogantly with respect to their beliefs; there are many fundamentalists who are not jerks and who do not behave arrogantly with respect to their beliefs.

                Acting like being a jerk and being a fundamentalist is a form of prejudice against fundamentalism. Why am I, the atheist, the one who has to point this out?

              •  Buffalo Girl (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lightiris

                apply it to the way that some atheists advocate for their point of view, it is exactly the same phenomenon - a rigid adherence to principles and intolerance of other views.

                I don't think we're splitting hairs here. These are important differences.
                First,
                "Rigid adherence to principles" and "intolerance of other views" are completely orthagonal. Only the first is specifically fundamentalist. But, again, there need to fundamentals. Let's say there are certain tenets—someone who believes all of them is a fundamentalist. Someone who adapts or picks and chooses from the set of tenets is not. Any atheist who has ‘tenets’ has created their own personal belief system. They may be fundamentalist somethings in addition to their not being theists but not fundamentalist atheists.

                Also "Rigid adherence to principles" does not equal "rigid." you can be rigid without being fundamentalist. I can rigidly believe something (like that gravity will work the same way tomorrow as it does today), but that doesn't make me a fundamentalist just because you can't easily convince me otherwise.

                As for the second component – people who are fundamentalist are not necessarily intolerant of you just because you are more moderate in your adherence. Not all fundamentalist Christians, for example, spend time worrying about other’s beliefs. They might believe others are in for a painful afterlife, but they certainly tolerate them.

          •  That is just pure sophistry (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lightiris

            There are no canons of disbelief, there's just no belief.  It really is quite amazingly simple.  No faith.  Period.  There's no God.  Period.  Got it?  Sorry that not having faith offends so much.  

            Atheists don't need to have convocations about justifying this or reconciling that.  I think maybe some people of faith are just jealous at how easy it is to be atheists.  It's like people with difficult or unruly hair jealous of those that can just get up, brush it once and get on with their day.

            "Republicans are people who say government doesn't work... then get elected and prove it." --Will Rogers

            by jetfan on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 09:19:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Belief system (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lightiris

            A belief system is a system of beliefs. A single "belief" does not constitute s system. Atheism isn't a belief system. Theism, by itself, is not a belief system. People may have beleif system of which theism or atheism are a part, but that single belief is not a belief system. Eating oatmeal or not eating oatmeal is not a dietary system.

            It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

            by A Citizen on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:31:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You don't understand atheism. (0+ / 0-)

            The confusion surrounding what atheism is generally a problem for people who aren't atheists.  As I posted previously on this thread, I offer you this analogy to help you sort out a "belief system" from atheism:

            If atheism is a belief system or religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.  

            It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

            by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:06:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  What about all those (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lightiris

      ... atheist door-to-door anti-evangelists, handing out atheist tracts? What about most newspapers having a section devoted to atheism? What about all those atheist TV and radio stations? What about atheists fighting to place "there is no God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? What about all those atheists trying to force "Why I am not a Christian" to be read in school?

      <mega-snark>

      Yep, sure sounds like fundamentalism to me. If, of course, one defines an atheist fundamentalist as an atheist who exists and breathes.

      It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

      by A Citizen on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:49:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am so ashamed (0+ / 0-)

        I was spluttering mad about your Pledge remark before I recognized your post as snark. On my behalf, at least I realized it before seeing your snark tag or replying. Awesome comment!

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