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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Oct 20 2011: Religion prevents knowledge from growing. It destroys creativity.
    Atheism is a reaction to this.
    • Oct 23 2011: I can't agree...again. I think that there is something else that does do this, and that would be a refusal to ask questions, an opposition to change, a fear of allowing other ideas to be thought and considered, to see if they are good or not. These come up often times in religious settings, but they are not a product of the religion, simply of people. I think it is associated with religion only because religious people have often been in power, and had those tendencies.
      • thumb
        Oct 27 2011: I absolutely agree with you.
        The only problems with religion come from the religious.

        It's not the holy scriptures themselves, which are often decent fiction and poetry, it's the people who go around pretending it holds the truth.Of course!
        Scientific and philosophical creativity is not discouraged by Christianity. It is discouraged by Christians.

        Glad we agree.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.