Hi, I’m Jamie
Posted: 28 November 2006 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello.  This is my first time to this site and I am enjoying it very much.

Strangely, I have had no problem "coming out" about my atheism to my family because they expected my rejection of Catholicism and religion in general.  Let’s say that they know me well.  My problem is discussing atheism with professors at my university.  It seems to be an extremely touchy subject that even philosophy and anthropology professors diplomatically dance around. 

When discussing belief systems, I don’t want to label myself in the negative light such as "I am anti-x, anti-y, or anti-z."  I’d rather turn it around into a positive.  For example, I’d rather call myself a secular humanist than an atheist.  I don’t believe in a personal god or even Spinoza’s god.  I have encountered a practical problem of trying to explain what I believe without resorting to a diatribe about what I do not believe.  In doing this, sometimes I feel as though I am set up to dance around the issue myself because of the polar nature of this subject.

Have any of you encountered any of these problems?  How have you responded?

I really appreciate your insight.

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Posted: 28 November 2006 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi, I’m Jamie

Hello.  This is my first time to this site and I am enjoying it very much.

Strangely, I have had no problem “coming out” about my atheism to my family because they expected my rejection of Catholicism and religion in general.  Let’s say that they know me well.  My problem is discussing atheism with professors at my university.  It seems to be an extremely touchy subject that even philosophy and anthropology professors diplomatically dance around. 

When discussing belief systems, I don’t want to label myself in the negative light such as “I am anti-x, anti-y, or anti-z.”  I’d rather turn it around into a positive.  For example, I’d rather call myself a secular humanist than an atheist.  I don’t believe in a personal god or even Spinoza’s god.  I have encountered a practical problem of trying to explain what I believe without resorting to a diatribe about what I do not believe.  In doing this, sometimes I feel as though I am set up to dance around the issue myself because of the polar nature of this subject.

Have any of you encountered any of these problems?  How have you responded?

I really appreciate your insight.

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Posted: 28 November 2006 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome jem!

Bob Reasoner

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Posted: 28 November 2006 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Welcome jem!

Bob Reasoner

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Posted: 29 November 2006 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hi Jem.  Pleased to see you here. 

I can understand your concern about the negative aspects of the word “atheist”, sort of, against god.  In discussions I explain that I call myself an atheist because it’s the term commonly used, however, I am really a non-theist. 

It’s not that I’m against the concept of a god; I just feel that the concept serves no purpose in my physical world.  And, since I have seen no evidence at all of a metaphysical world that is also not a concept that I find useful.

Occam

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Posted: 29 November 2006 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Re: Hi, I’m Jamie

Welcome! As a fellow student, I think i might be able to offer some insight on college professors and their opinions on religion.

[quote author=“jemsupercharge”]
My problem is discussing atheism with professors at my university.  It seems to be an extremely touchy subject that even philosophy and anthropology professors diplomatically dance around. 

First off, you have to mention what university, because that really depends. If you are in a certain part of the world, where religion is very dominant, than you might be in for a surprise when consulting the “educated.”  :wink:

Generally speaking, Doug is correct. Many university professors are atheists or have very un-religious practices. However, I’ve found a number of philosophy professors to be elusive on the subject. WHile I have met a number who are indeed atheistic, there are some who dont enjoy the term because they have a mis-understanding about what it means. Too many people in this world think we believe there is no god. While some of us do, that is not the core of atheism. Even philosophers overlook this.

Anthropologists on the other hand have to be much more respectful of religion. Because they are trained to believe that any society can be right about the supernatural, then generally dont like to point at a particular belief and say it is wrong. Thus anthropoligists (Who i would think should be atheists) are much more neutral in the matter.

Hope this clears up some things.

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Posted: 02 December 2006 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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An Anthropologist’s Duty in the "Respect" for Reli

Jaik, you make a good point when you say, “Because they are trained to believe that any society can be right about the supernatural, then generally dont like to point at a particular belief and say it is wrong.”  However, I am not familiar with any anthropologist asserting that any society can be right about the supernatural.  What I find to be more often the anthropologist’s belief is that what anyone considers to be “right” or “wrong” is relative to a particular group.  The very concept of good and evil are social constructs, and concepts to which I certainly do not subscribe.  If anthropologists respect religion, it is only because one must try to fully understand economic, political, and social constructs if one is to know a people.  Usually, religion plays an integral role in these societies.  But just because one seeks to understand something doesn’t mean that one seeks to embrace the concept.  If this were the case, then wouldn’t anyone reading a Hitler biography be necessarily racist?  So, I would guess that there are many History buffs that have read about Hitler to try to understand the reasons behind his horrible actions who are absolutely not racist.  In this same way, I study Anthropology because there is much to be learned from people who conceive of the world in a paradigmatically different way than I do.  I can’t logically conceive of mutual exclusivity between non-theism and the study of human past.  smile  smile

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Posted: 14 December 2006 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The word atheism always makes for a good debate. I love debates so I call myself that, but I prefer to refer myself as a Bright.

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Fighting the evil belief that there is a god(s).

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Posted: 15 December 2006 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Bright?

I still have a hard time with the connoted arrogance in that term…I guess if it were universally known to refer to a freethinker/skeptic/secularist/etc. etc. etc. then I wouldn’t worry about the implied I’m-smarter-than-you bit.

Debbie

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