Atheists, Nontheists, Agnostics, Faitheists, Apatheists, and now “Evatheists”

November 13, 2012

Newly elected Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) isn't a believer in God, but now it seems that she's not a nonbeliever either.
 
Philosophers perk up their ears when informed that a logical dichotomy, such as "believer or nonbeliever" is in fact a false dichotomy. Let philosophers rethink their logic. We need to re-think how labels work in the secular world of the Nones. 
 
As exhaustively researched by the Friendly Atheist (link here), Sinema denies being any sort of atheist. The key quotation from her spokesman is this:

"Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life's work or personal character. She does not identify as any of those."
 
Since she isn't announcing how she does believe in God either, what are we to make of this development?
 
One obvious conclusion is that the Rise of the Nones has brought with it a secular independence of mind. No longer will those among the Nones complacently accept categorizations or labels from egg-head atheology philosophers or ideology-driven atheist organizations. For whatever personal reasons -- a matter of private choice, or public politics, etc. -- there's no way to assume that your favorite label for their lack of belief will be automatically and gratefully adopted. The Nones are growing up right before our eyes.
 
The rise of the Agnostics against the Atheists was just the opening salvo. Recent decades have seen the rise of the Nontheist, the Nones, the Faitheist, and the Apatheist. Now we are dealing with a novel yet inevitable phenomenon: discontent with accepting God has now evolved towards discontent with accepting labels. Unlike the Apatheists, who can't care enough about God or religion to even utter a word of choice either way, Sinema represents a different attitude, of caring just enough to renounce any labeled position on the whole matter.
 
To conclude with a tone of irony, let's call these nouveau Nones as the "Evatheists" because they feel the need to evade the whole issue. Don't you dare call one of them an "evatheist" to their face -- although hearing a quick denial only proves that this label fits.
 
 

Comments:

#1 InvincibleIronyMan (Guest) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 at 5:03pm

We could go back to identifying as agnostics, after all most of us atheists are agnostic, and it has a good pedigree: Robert G. Ingersolll identified as such, but when one hears his lectures there is little doubt to be had about whether he believed in God or not!

#2 jerrys on Tuesday November 13, 2012 at 6:54pm

Personally I identify as both an atheist and an aptheist (not apatheist if you according to John’s definition)  these aren’t contradictory.  That is, I believe the chance that there are any gods is vanishingly small but in most situations it doesn’t matter whether other people believe about the question. 

As to how to label someone, who like Sienna, refuses to say what she thinks about the existence of gods I think in our society it is safe to assume that such a person is an atheist.  Logically of course, a refusal to say anything about such a question doesn’t mean anything, but practically it makes it almost certain that she doesn’t believe.

#3 GleaD (Guest) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 at 7:49pm

The game is very familiar to me. It’s the game I have to play with the one I love if I expect to continue my relationship with her; it’s a game of politics.

I am an atheist—my girlfriend is a believer. We get along just fine as long as the topic of my non-belief never arises. If the topic if my non-belief arises, then she gets insulted by that and our relationship is suddenly rocky. So I hypocritically sit on the fence.

That’s my take on the Nones: Probably typically atheists, these people hope to avoid the conflict altogether, for their own political purposes.

gs

#4 Guy (Guest) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 9:33am

Either you believe or you don’t. Many self identified agnostics/ignosttics/non theists are just trying to be more “palatable”.

#5 Crystal (Guest) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 12:19pm

What’s wrong with just saying, “I don’t know?”  I don’t know if there is a god.  I know I don’t believe in the god of the organized trinity of evil (judaism, christianity, islam), but I don’t necessarily disbelieve in any god or goddess at all.  For all I know, there might be none, or there might be many. What I do believe is that if there are any divine entities, they are remarkably disinterested in us.  In terms of religion, I believe that man makes god in his own image.  If a person is kind and loving, they tend to worship a kind of loving god; if they are cruel and judgemental, they tend to worship a god just like themselves.  So what does all this make me?

#6 James (Guest) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 1:03pm

I agree with Guy. “Agnostic” is a cop-out. You’re not agnostic about faeries or Santa or Zeus or Nessie, are you? Then why are you agnostic about the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god?

#7 Grant (Guest) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 9:50pm

I don’t believe there’s a god. I’m personally okay with being called, or even calling myself, an atheist, within a cultural context where belief in this imaginary being is popular. But in reality I find being identified by a term that means ‘I don’t believe in something that doesn’t exist’ is absurd. Rejecting the concepts on which the label is predicated isn’t necessarily evasion.

#8 RaggMopp on Thursday November 15, 2012 at 12:37pm

Aw for Pete’s sake:  The Hon. Kirsten Sinema is an Arizona congresswoman in early 21st century America.  I don’t blame her for evading further labels; she migtht want to get re-elected.  Just to say she isn’t a believer is bold enough to bowl me over.  Let her coast.

I called myself an agnostic for forty years not just because I didn’t know, but equally because I simply couldn’t care less.

An apatheist is not an agnostic (see above). He’s a person who will say he’s a believer is you ask but just never gets around to doing anything about it.  Doesn’t go to church, etc.

When I finally got around to the issue, I decided to call myself an Atheist.  It mostly revolved around the phrase believe in, not just believe.  I believe lots of things although accept might be a better word.  But I clearly don’t believe in anything, so I guess I’m an atheist.

Now @ Grant @# 7 makes a really good point.  It does seem silly to accept a label as a person who doesn’t believe in something that doesn’t exist.  I need to mull that over in a dark place, Grant.

#9 Ron (Guest) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 at 2:12pm

I guess I accept the label ‘atheist’, because it describes me. ‘Agnostic’ applies to me also. I claim to be an agnostic atheist. I am one who disbelieves the claims of theism. I don’t know (100%) ‘there is no god’, but based on the claims/evidence of gods/god, I don’t believe. Regardless if they are labels in something that is a disbelief in something that doesn’t exist, it still applies. It applies because humans have made the original stance a reality (in human discourse): the proposition of god/gods (even though there is scant evidence for them) exists, not necessary the gods/god themselves. I disblieve that proposition. It’s a proposition that those who propose it try to get others to believe also, is a foundation for many beliefs, laws and attitudes towards others who do no believe their proposition also.

I guess what I don’t understand about those who ‘fence sit’ is what’s their justification for it? There are 1 trillion and one things one can claim to disbelieve and a justifaction for that disbelief, but when it comes to this one (disbelief of the theism claim), a ‘no opinion’ is uttered. I just don’t understand when the ‘apathy arguement’ should kick in.  I don’t understand the rational cherry-picking involved to do that. I’m trying to get it…

#10 RaggMopp on Friday November 23, 2012 at 9:34am

@ Ron @ #9:  LOL.  Can’t argue with your basic position, but regards apatheism:

There is, of course, no such thing.  Nobody calls himself an apatheist, it’s just a cute turn of the words to indicate the people who don’t care enough to think about it.  It is nevertheless, the default human philosophical position.  Fence sitting is endemic to the species.  There is no “rational cherry picking” going on; the classic apathiest never addresses these issues at all.

An evatheist, on the other hand, is not at all undecided/apathetic/whatever.  This person has opinions the revelation of which would be too dangerous to his hopes, plans or even personal safety to release into the ether just now.

PS - I’m old enough to claim the excuse of the generic personal (masculine) pronoun.  His/her drives me to distraction.  Sorry.

#11 Ron (Guest) on Friday November 23, 2012 at 4:13pm

Hey Ragg @ #10.

Thanks for the added reply. I undersrtand the label evatheist. I’m still trying to understand apatheism. Never addressing an issue that is heavily prevalent to the human condition/discourse (the claim of theism) still seems be rational cherry picking to me, for lack of a better phrase. As I mentioned before, how/when does this stance kick in? How/when does it kick in for other ‘unknown’ things? Where does the line start/stop for ‘not caring/no opinion’. Just nebulous philosophical issues? Not affecting me persoanlly? Politics? Superstitions? Science? Medicine? I undertsand that apatheism only addresses theism, however, I’m trying to see how/when that apathy applies to theism and not other ‘trivial things’ one could propose. If a classic apatheist doesn’t address the issue at all…why? Does that ‘why’ affect other concepts they decide are ‘not worthy of opinion’. Still trying to understand…

#12 RaggMopp on Saturday November 24, 2012 at 12:05pm

@Ron@#11:  Once more, Ron, apatheism is not a religious/philosophical position.  The word was invented by a committed atheist/humanist as a slur.  It encapsules those persons who actually don’t care (about anything).  It’s the default human condition.

There’s nothing to understand; it just is.
The earth is an oblate spheroid, the sun appears to rise in the East, species evolve, people are mentally lazy.  The word apathiest is only relevant to our current discussions.  It means nothing outside this context.

I’m happy that you are a seeker and willing to wrestle with what appear to be important conundrums.
Please don’t waste any more of your precious time on “apathiesm”.  Wikipedia says it was coined by Jonathan Rauch; but I’m sure it was mostly intended to cause the cognoscenti to smile.

#13 Ron (Guest) on Sunday November 25, 2012 at 12:22am

@ RaggMopp #12

Thanks for the reply Ragg. I guess I WAS taking the stance as a ‘serious one’. Hehe.

#14 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 at 1:42pm

Speaking of faitheists ... could Chris Stedman’s book be better? Is there an ulterior motive to it? nblo.gs/FiedW

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