TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

An atheist is still in a theist paradigm.

In describing yourself, when you use broad categorizations, such as I'm black or I'm white, or I'm a chemist or a I'm a physicist or I'm an electrician, or I'm an atheist or I'm agnostic or I'm religious or I'm Jewish, you are saying that the questions that these are answers to are important to you. They have meaning and value, and are worthwhile ways of categorizing yourself.

My idea is that we should be careful of the categorizations we have for ourselves. I, personally, am religious, so I give that question a lot of weight, but for someone who is atheist, or someone who doesn't tend to consider religious questions and such, it seems as though the question has little bearing, though there may be exceptions. It is not applicable in one's self concept. If you characterize yourself as an atheist, you are still in a theistic paradigm. So, my idea is to stop thinking of yourself as such.

While I am thinking particularly of this instance of religion, the idea has wider applications too. For example, in talking of one's skin colour. It is at times useful in helping to identify someone, but otherwise the distinction made between people with different skin tones is usually not an actually relevant question, not to say that heritage and ethnicity (important in the cultural differences and the genetic differences that are consistent across a particular group) aren't applicable.

My idea is mostly related to self concept though. To other who give value to those questions, it is entirely valid to answer them. Religion may not be important to you, but to your associates for which it is, you can still tell them that you are atheist, though if that was the case for me I'd say 'I do not adhere to any religion or believe in God', so as to still come from somewhat outside of that way of thinking.

Individuals of the TED community, what thinkest thou?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Oct 19 2011: Who said Atheist don't consider or think about religious concepts? Just because someone doesn't believe something doesn't mean they haven't thought about it.

    I do not believe aethist are part of a religion, group, etc. They are people, like everyone else, who choose to have different religious beliefs and we should respect them no matter our own beliefs. But, I really do not understand your question, are you trying to say that we shouldn't categorize ourselves into groups?
    • Oct 20 2011: I am sorry that my idea/question wasn't very clear. It is something I've had trouble expressing, though I'm trying.
      I am not saying we shouldn't categorize ourselves into groups, but rather that the groups we categorize ourselves in should be based on questions relevant to ourselves. It seems that often times, if you don't have religious beliefs, that the question presupposing the groups of atheist or not atheist is not relevant to you, though there are also certainly times when it is. And so it seems that people categorize themselves by it because other people group them like that, not because they would do so on their own. And so then it is...giving a false importance in your self concept to that.
      Is that clearer?
      Thank you for posting, it has helped me to try and think of better means to...express my idea.
      • thumb
        Oct 21 2011: Well, from my experience Aethism is a 'negative' word. So, in that sense I do believe that people should stop being judgmental and stop grouping Aethist. We are each unique and different and the fact that people share religious beliefs does not change that.

        Many people think that without a relgion to guide Aethist they disregard morals, rules, etc. This is obviously not true and in fact this may have the opposite effect. Knowing that we will die and there might not be anything after death is a great motivator to do all we can while we are living our short lives to be great humans, parents/brothers/sisters, and to contribute to the world.
        • Oct 23 2011: I would agree that atheism doesn't really correspond to level of morality. Morality can arise from religion, but it arises from other places as well.

          I don't personally have a negative connotation of the word atheist. At my school, a lot of people, if they have any thoughts like this, think poorly of religious people because they view it as silly nonsense.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.