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are Sympathetic Atheists
Sympathy: Greek etymology: “syn” = together + “pathos” = feeling.
“Sympathetic Atheists” are Atheists who value of community, moral culture, and reflective living just like Theists do. Further, Sympathetic Atheists acknowledge that religion can indeed do well to encourage these values. Thus Sympathetic Atheists do not see religion as totaly bad and do not berate religion or its believers in a blanket manner.
However, though we are sympathetic with religion in these shared values, we remain critical of many of the specific doctrines and beliefs of Theists. Thus, though Sympathetic Atheists feel religion can serve good purposes if used well, they also strongly realize that religion can serve terrible purposes if used poorly. Sympathetic Atheists try to avoid unfocused criticism of religion as a whole.
Tell us what you feel about the category of “Sympathetic Atheist”:
Feel free to add your name in the comments if you consider yourself a sympathetic atheist. Below are more specifics on how I think about religion.
My sympathetic views on religions:
- Not all practice of religion is wrong
- I try hard not to criticize religion in general but try to remain focused and specific in my criticisms.
- Religion can (but is not always) used well to:
- Nurture community
- Encourage reflective living
- Encourage moral living
- Offer comfort
- Can offer rich metaphors to serve the above functions
My critical views on religions:
- I strongly support the criticism and resistance to many religious beliefs and practices.
- However, we must be careful to criticize the specifics of a religion and not generalize.
- And we must be careful to criticize the idea and not the person.
- I am outraged by many religious beliefs and actions: well delineated on other sites.
- I believe Atheists should speak out loudly again these beliefs and actions when possible.
- I feel atheist are often oppressed and feel sympathy with religious people who are oppressed when they are harming no one.
- I do not believe in any gods (definition of atheist)
- I do not believe in ghosts, spirits, angels, demons or the like.
- I hold a naturalistic view of the world
- I strongly value the scientific method
My Atheist “confessions”:
- I have beliefs which I can not prove
- Many of my beliefs and attitudes were obtained through trust (aka:”faith”)
- I make many irrational decisions
- I am often deceived by my own mind
- I act against my own moral values, probably more than I imagine
- There is far more that I do not understand than I do understand
- The world holds many wonders for me
- I can be lonely, sad, fearful, proud, angry and slothful like all other humans
Books by Sympathetic Atheists:
- “SuperSense: Why we believe in the unbelievable” by Bruce Hood
- “Supernatural Agents: Why We Believe in Souls, Gods, and Buddhas” by Iikka Pyysiainen
- “Evolution of God” by Robert Wright
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