Atheist: share thyself !

For an explanation on how to use this table, see the section in my Religious Dialogue Tools.   For an example of how I used it, see my sharing post .  Modify any column to your pleasure: Remember, these are only suggestions to help you express yourself and to further dialogue.  Both Atheists and Agnostics can use this table to describe themselves, if they desire.
It would be cool if you copy and pasted this table into one of your posts, fill out your preferences and then give us a link in the comments below !  Thanks.

Atheism’s definition: not believing in any [theistic] god(s). 
Atheist’s
assertion: “I believe in no [theistic] god(s).”

Your Atheism Positions

Self-Label(s)
Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, Skeptic … (classic list)
Reverent Agnostic, Cultural Christian … (nuance list)
Past Sect History
List sects/denominations/religion you belonged to
Past Belief History
Former Believer / Life Long Non-believer (Natural)
Past Orthopraxy History
Former Practitioner (poor, casual, diligent) / Life Long Non-practitioner
Level of Certainty:
Weak (Agnostic) / Moderate / Strong (Gnostic)
Openness: Totally Open / Open, but cautious / Closeted
Degree of Outreach:
Passive, Affirm only, Debater, Active, Evangelical, Militant
Present Religious Participation:
Abstaining (rare) / Occasional / Often
Stance toward
Categorically Rejecting Religion:
Categorically Against / Indifferent / Friendly / Sympathetic
Degree of Enchantment Disenchanted/ Disappointed / Neutral / Enchanted
Mystical Perceptions: Non-Mystical / Partially Mystical / Highly Mystical
Theory of Religion:
How did religion evolve, what useful functions (if any) does it serve?
Non-theistic Leanings
Do you believe in any matrix of the universe, any higher (albeit non-interventional power), and principle behind reality?
Secular Superstitious or Irrational Habits
Do you buy the lottery, have a lucky charm, avoid unlucky things, have favorite irrational habits?
View of Reason
How highly do you value reason? How rational do you feel humans are or can be?
Faith Items
What things you believe in for which you don’t have evidence

CATEGORIES & DEFINITIONS

Below I offer some terms for the categories.  But feel free to use your own terms or thoughts.  This is a tool to express yourself, not to argue terms.  Thank you.  Hope these help.  Suggestions welcome !

  • Self-Description:
  • Level of Certainty:
    • Gnostic = affirms no gods, and he also claims to know there are no gods.
    • Moderate = affirms no gods, and holds its it fairly strongly
    • Agnostic = affirms no gods, but doesn’t claim to know there are no gods.
  • Intellectual Involvement:
    • Casual Atheist =  affirms no god but hasn’t thought much about it.
    • Weak Atheist = affirms no god
    • Strong Atheist= not only lacks a belief in gods, but also affirms that no gods exist (AKA, positive, explicit atheist).  Feels strongly justified in his disbelief.
  • Stance toward Categorically rejecting Religion?:
    • Categorically Against: feel religion is destructive. Believes religion inevitably has bad consequences and needs to be condemned categorically
    • Indifferent:
    • Friendly:  Another way of saying Sympathetic but a little less likely to point to commonalities.
    • Sympathetic: believes that practiced correctly it is possible for a religion to do more good than harm.  Though still critical, they see that good mental habits can be captured by both religious and secular belief webs.
  • Openness
    • Open
    • Cautiously Open
    • Closeted
  • Degree of Outreach:
    • Passive: Doesn’t try to influence the world in favor of atheism.
    • Affirm only:  When asked, often confirms self as atheist but does not do much more than that.
    • Debater:  Loves a good debate and will gladly debate if someone desires.  But is not pushy or confrontive.
    • Active: labors on behalf of causes that specifically benefit atheists (but not necessarily just atheists). For example, he strives against discrimination toward atheists, or he strives in favor of separation of church and state.
    • Evangelical : seeks to persuade others to give up theistic belief.
    • Militant: uses violence to promote atheism or destroy religion. (Often, the term “militant atheist” is misapplied to non-violent evangelical atheists like Richard Dawkins. But to preserve the parallel with the “militant Christian” who bombs abortion clinics or the “militant Muslim” suicide bomber, I prefer the definition of “militant atheist” that assumes acts of violence.)
  • Present Religious Participation:
    • Abstaining/Rare
    • Occasional
    • Often
  • Degree of Enchantment
    • Disenchanted — Finds a naturalistic understanding of the universe a bit disappointing, hollow, or depressing.
    • Cynical — Some may prefer this term for their naturalist view of the world.
    • Neutral
    • Content
    • Enchanted — elated at the amazingness of life.  See Luke’s essay.
  • Mystical Perceptions
    • How inclined are you to have “unity” type of experiences or “ecstatic” experiences or similar unusual pleasant hard to describe changes of your normal consciousness.
  • Belief History
    • Tell us how strong your beliefs were when you belonged to your former faith.  Some folks participated in religion but never with a full heart.
  • Orthopraxy History
    • Tell us how diligently you practiced your former faith (here, belief is not the emphasis).  Some folks belonged but never practiced.
  • Sect History
    • Tell us how you were raise and religious groups with which you have identified.  Keep it short.
  • Theory of Religion
    • I will expand this in later posts.  There are various opinions on how religion evolved, what purposes it serves, etc…
  • Non-Theistic Leanings
    • Some folks, while not believing in an intervening god(s), feel the some connecting universe principle.  Perhaps would label themselves panentheists, deists or the like where that greater “power” is impersonal and not intervening like a theist god would be.
  • Secular Superstitions or Irrational Habits
    • Are you aware of your irrational mind, how do you view it?  Can you recognize any silly habits for an atheist to have? Smile.
  • View of Reason
  • Faith Items
    • Many scientists realize that they hold several items with a large degree of faith.  See this post on Believing what you can’t prove.  Some atheist view “faith” as irrational and evidence-deprived and feel they don’t have any of this.

__________
Resources:

  • HT to Luke’s 17 Kinds of Atheism which I used as the basis for this chart.
  • HT to Chloe and Kay who made the Agnostic “A”
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22 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

22 responses to “Atheist: share thyself !

  1. Oh, cool. I can answer this.

    [ Andrew posted his positions for us:
    Andrew was raised Mormon
    See Andrew’s Declaration Post !
    — Thanx Andrew ]

  2. I tried to answer, but too many of these terms require significant caveats from me.

  3. @ Luke
    That is why I put it in table form where a person can either ignore a category or state their caveat-laden answer.
    As here, where I declared myself.
    The point of the exercise is not to embrace terms or categories, but to use them to express ourselves and open ourselves to others.
    Thanks for looking.

  4. See my declaration here.

  5. Strong Gnostic- The Force always made more sense than God.

    Strong-No ghosts, gouls, dreams or demons.

    Friendly- Still shedding old skin and picking at scabs, but I am getting better. Most of my original disgust with religion was just Anti-religious armour that kept me safe.

    Cautiously open- but becoming less and less cautious.

    Openness varies depending on the day, my mood and how much idle chit chat I want to engage in.

    Abstain from religous activity- this is infrequently broken as my daughter has performed in curch plays. My family is more important than my perfect record of non-attendance!

    “Degree of enchantment?” What the hell is this? Sounds like a new Fox TV series about Witches? My answer is therefore…Orange.

    Non-mystical-unless you would consider a genuine wish that I could bend spoons with my mind and fly. Of course this is not to say that events in life don’t seem to defy logical explination.

    Never had a firm belief in God. I can remember pleading with God as a younger man and child. Usually I was getting dumped or swooning a female and was asking for sauveness or increased cumliness.

    The only “sects’ I have been involved in can not be discussed here! (12 year old humor…I know)

    Theory of Religion: Geez, so many easy questions. I think the Two C’s sum it up. Comfort and Control. Pleanty of other details and nuances.

    I do beleive that the universe is vast/complex and yet unexplained. All I know is when I look at the night sky (or the sun for that matter) I have a deep sense of belonging and insignificance.

    Luck: For most of my life I have dressed right side first, shaved right to left etc…I am working to re-wire this thinking.

    I would like to think that I am firmly rooted in rational-reason based thinking, but then my impulsive, irrational side kicks in. Humans are quick to anger and greedy. Lots of genetic baggage to un-evolve before we are truly rational.

    Faith Items: Many more than I can list here, I’m sure. Love, Family Devotion, my favorite football team, Atheism!

    Anoat

  6. i love your categories! very comprehensive. you have a good mind for these. you modernist 😉

    i do enjoy reading these!

  7. @ Luke
    I think it would be fun if you filled this out and posted it on your site but label it something:
    “My former Atheist Self”
    That plus linking to a post on your present Christian-Self would be most fun.

    If you notice by my categories, I am actually an odd mixture of modernist and post-modernist (I guess), but this system though modernist in structure allows post-modernist discussions — fun, eh ! We are all so complex.

  8. Pingback: My atheist declaration « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  9. CRL

    Is “level of affirmation” the same as “intellectual involvement”?

    [FYI: See CRL’s Declaration Post ]

  10. Thanx CRL, I got rid of that category. I agree, it was too fuzzy and not that helpful. Thanx.

  11. Good stuff Sabio, here’s the link to mine,

  12. Proud Kuffar

    Strong atheist am I. GM is wrong!
    Christ never existed.
    Free will is false.
    We aint special, just clever.

  13. dreadpiratescetis

    I be liking your scrawlings! Ye have a gift of categorical analysis. Ye would be a great cartographer on me ship! YAR!

  14. I will be posting your two requests here on Tuesday! Thanks for the homework assignments Prof Sabio! 🙂 these are fun and yes you are exactly right, these categories help us and others realize a little piece of our complex and crazy being/nature.

  15. Thanks for this Sabio. It’s useful. I’m wondering about re-posting it at http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com or maybe adapting for agnostics?

  16. Boz

    Level of Certainty:
    Moderate/Strong. As certain as I am that I have a mother.

    Openness: Totally Open

    Degree of Outreach: Debater

    Present Religious Participation: Never

    Stance toward Categorically Rejecting Religion: Indifferent

    Degree of Enchantment: Content

    Mystical Perceptions: Non-Mystical

    Theory of Religion: How did religion evolve, what useful functions (if any) does it serve?
    Either religion has conferred a selective advantage to people who possessed it [adaption], or it was a byproduct of other cognitive processes that were advantageous. [by-product]. I’m leaning towards by-product.
    Many useful functions, outweighed by the negative consequences.

    Non-theistic Leanings: Do you believe in any matrix of the universe, any higher (albeit non-interventional power), and principle behind reality?
    No

    Secular Superstitious or Irrational Habits: None that I can recall. Some probably exist.

    View of Reason How highly do you value reason? How rational do you feel humans are or can be?
    It is a moral imperative/requirement to promote critical thinking. Humans can by very rational, buton the whole are extremely irrational.

    Faith Items What things you believe in for which you don’t have evidence?
    Almost all (99.99%) of my knowledge and opinions I have not seen the evidence for. I rely on the authority of others. The trick is to work out who/what to trust, and how far to trust it.

    Past Belief History. I was raised a cultural christian(catholic). I was once an altar-boy!

    Past Orthopraxy History: Very poor practicioner. I just followed the crowd when I was at catholic schools.

    Past Sect History: Catholic, ages 0 – 16. Atheist since then.

  17. Pingback: Some links « Friendly Humanist

  18. Pingback: What kind of atheist? « Friendly Humanist

  19. Hi Sabio!

    I just posted my response to and use of your nifty little tool! It’s here: http://temporaryreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/degrees-of-religiosity.html

    Thanks for the opportunity.

    neighbor

  20. Pingback: What I Believe: Superquick Summary | Fail Blue Dot

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