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← Who wants to go through life defining themselves as a 'non-believer'?

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Jos Gibbons

Who wants to go through life defining themselves as a 'non-believer'?

Does a box on a form define you? More of that anon. Assuming, however, the question meant “Who wants to self–identify as a non–believer if not religious?”, my answer would be the honest.

Have you ever noticed how authors in right–wing sources insist on using weasel words for everything? “Teeth-gnashingly worried”, “apparently” more atheists and agnostics than “we think” (more accurately, literally any non-census source says the census underestimates the numbers of irreligious Britons), “allegedly” problematic faith schools & privileges indeed. And this is from one of the humanist authors in the Tory–graph!

This authors makes few errors but repeats them ad nauseum, so I’ll be using ellipses a lot.

if lots of non-believers choose not to tick “No Religion”, I won’t be surprised because people generally don’t like to define themselves negatively ... The majority of non-believers see our non-belief not as the thing that defines us ... the new atheism is seeking to create a movement based on a non-belief ... It is entirely negative ... they don’t want to define themselves as “non-believers” when, in reality, they might well believe in a variety of things ... building a school of thought defined by its absence of a certain kind ... It is a sad man who goes through life advertising what he doesn’t believe, yet who rarely articulates the values and morals he does adhere to ... Some people will pass over the “No Religion” box because they don’t believe that their lack of religious belief is the very essence of their existence.

Let us remind ourselves what we’re discussing here. People are asked what religion if any they belong to, and for entirely logical reasons “None” has to be an option one can tick in the multiple–choice format of the question. This may be a question of identity for some of the most devout religious people, who don’t think much else about them is worth saying, but it is a fallacy to assume honestly admitting to irreligiosity is invariably an effort in a similar vein and is thereby senseless whenever a non–religious person has strong opinions on other things. And it is a fallacy encouraged by the fact that the census does not, in any matters other than religion, pry into the private concerns of citizens. Insofar as there are movements in atheism today, their advocates such as Dawkins frequently identify in their own case (and encourage others to follow suit) the positive opinions they have which religion’s defenders commonly pretend are not to be found in irreligious minds.

They are crazy because they believe in God; we are rational because we don’t ... apparently enlightened brave God-bashers ... tells people what they should not believe, and hectors them for being dumb and gullible if they do believe it.

Insofar as there are movements in atheism today, their aim is to legitimise atheism in the eyes of a hostile religious population – who in many cases equate irreligiosity with immorality, just as O’Neill mistakes questions about religion with ones about ideologies – by waking people up to the numbers of us out there. But defaming religion or the religious is not the issue. A growing, irrationally feared, seldom proportionately heard minority seeks to be seen as an acceptable alternative to the traditional norm, but are not pushing in such things as the Out Campaign for being seen as superior.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 17:40:29 UTC | #607488