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Label or no label.
Posted: 03 April 2008 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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AnyaLight - 24 March 2008 08:34 PM

I apologize if this isn’t in the right forum, couldn’t figure out exactly where to put it.  Also, if this has been discussed before, I couldn’t find anything so sorry again. 

So as a fairly new individual to being able to freely studying and basically “be” a student of rationality, critical thinking, etc.  I’ve noticed that… well, god damn am I overloaded.  And what it comes down to for me right now is labels.  It’s always been an annoyance of mine that society has to label EVERYTHING.  You simply cannot be something unless it has a label to it (as Sam Harris put it… we don’t have names for non-astrologers). And what’s worse is I find labels such as these help enforce stereotypes.  When I said I was an Atheist to my friend, he responded that I no longer believed in morality, and that I was pessimistic, close-minded, etc.  (not saying this is the case for everyone but I know this is a common conception among many of the people religious or else wise, that I know)

So in my attempts to further study exactly I should call myself, I find I’m bombarded by so many labels that I have no idea.  Things like humanism (which is even further divided into so many names like secular, religious, education, etc), agnostic (two friends whom are “agnostic” both have completely unrelated and different views), rationalists, free-thinkers, etc. etc.  And then you get things like Epicurism, etc.

It leaves me sitting there going “holy crap” what exactly am I?  Well, I know what I believe in and what I don’t. But as to be labeled with a specific title… I kind of have that blank expression. 

Further more, when trying to read into these things and seeing how others respond to it I find people are argue about what the definition of these labels are.  On one hand it’s neat to see debate and discussion on the subject but also a bit of a mind boggle. 

So I’m asking for people whom have been around this much more often, how do you describe yourself? How do you deal with the stereotypes of certain labels, etc? 

Elisa

I see labels as having potential to cause confirmation bias. I often see people placing down a label BEFORE their beliefs instead of AFTER. This often leads people to look for evidence to support their label, rather then just following the evidence where ever it leads. I wrote more about it here.

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Posted: 03 April 2008 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Ooooh! I really like the article thanx a bunch!  I think that really helps sort things out with some of the difficulties I’ve been having.  Gold Star!

Elisa

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Posted: 03 April 2008 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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AnyaLight - 03 April 2008 09:31 PM

Ooooh! I really like the article thanx a bunch!  I think that really helps sort things out with some of the difficulties I’ve been having.  Gold Star!

Elisa

Glad to be of value. smile

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Posted: 11 April 2008 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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.

[ Edited: 30 July 2008 06:52 PM by jholt ]
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Posted: 12 April 2008 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I have never liked the term “atheist” because it establishes the “theist” as taking the default position.  Etymologically, the term “atheist” was one of slander, established by christians to refer to and label all non-christians under a single category.  It is synonymous with such other terms of derision as heathen, infidel and gentile.  In the spirit of rebelliousness, religious dissenters have been embracing the term for decades now (or even a couple of centuries), but I think that it places an unnecessary chip on one’s shoulder.  Regardless of the perspective of the non-believer, the believer has always used and will continue to use the term “atheist” slanderously.  I think that an excellent parallel is that of trying to claim the “n” word by using it affectionately.  It does not elevate the status of the despised in the eyes of the despiser.  It perpetuates the distinction as stratification.

“Secularist” is another difficult term.  In some cases it is used to mean “atheist.”  In other cases it is used to pronounce support for the separation of church and state, an ideal that is shared by both non-religious and many religious persons.  I prefer to use this term by the second of these definitions for fear of alienating religious sympathizers with common church/state separation interests.

When people ask me if I “believe in god” I prefer to respond without a yes or no answer, but by saying that “I am not religious.”  Or when it is politically safe to be most frank, I tell them that “I don’t believe any of that silly nonsense.”  I prefer no label at all for my “lack” of certain beliefs.  Such a label could only serve their malicious interests and not mine.

I am happy with labels such as humanist, secular humanist and naturalist because they say something about who I think I am.  But, of course, they do not mean the same things as “atheist” or “secularist” or “bright.”  Many non-religious persons are not humanists, secular humanists or naturalists.  These are distinctly positive terms, useful like the terms “humanitarian” and “environmentalist.”  But they are not for everyone.

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Posted: 12 April 2008 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I vote label, the delusionists have no problem labeling themselves. I agree with Occam, and I refuse to go under the radar. The concessions society continues to make in favor of theism are so many and varied, it isn’t even on the radar. Under the Radar is where they want us, and has allowed this country and the world to stoop to where we are now. The below, while long, describes why I believe we should NOT fly under the radar anymore.  The indefensibility and insecurity of religious belief is forcing theists to become more and more demanding.  Religious fundamentalists are aggressively acting to turn this country into a theocracy. The reason is an underlying insecurity, thus the need to have their beliefs validated by society, exclusively. Rational people have been too complacent for too long in regards to theists, frankly disregarding them as absurd and benign. I believe most religious people are good, well meaning people, their faith is just not based in any reality. The benign part has been over since the election of god’s right hand man, George Bush. Fundamentalists are now demanding their beliefs are accepted as true, and these beliefs are being turned into public policies.  Now that theists are demanding more and more input into domestic, social, and foreign policy, and are increasingly getting it, they must be held to the same standard of reasonableness as the rest of us.  The danger of religious beliefs cannot be overstated, nor can its devastating impact throughout history be ignored.  One must be open to the possibility ones beliefs are wrong, and open to new data, and fundamentalists just are not.  Christian fundamentalists are just as dangerous as Muslim, or any other fundamentalists who have the egotistical belief they are right and all others are wrong, and that “God” talks to them. People need to truly get off the fence, stop hedging their bets.  We need to stop accepting modern biology ( esp. neuroscience ), geology, physics, mathematics, astronomy, out of one side of our mouths, and praying out of the other side.  We must have the conviction to do this, as the fundamentalists certainly do.  Take the precepts of the bible to their natural conclusions; the universe is around 6000 yrs old for example. Teaching Creationism as a competing theory to Evolution is akin to teaching in biology class to consider the ” Stork” theory as an alternate theory to human sexual reproduction.  Simply stating something, “ I believe the center of the earth is made of bubblegum” for example, does not make it a theory.  Actual theories are supported by evidence, not faith. The “Santa Claus” analogy is one I use quite often; while a child’s belief in Santa has some desirable results, that does not make it true.  I believe religion has always been used as an excellent people management tool by those having or aspiring to power.  I believe theism may be psychologically convenient, maybe even psychologically healthy for a large percentage of the population; neither of those makes a supreme being real though.  The fallacy that religion and morality are dependent on one another has been used since religions first evolved.  If the “Ten Commandments” are examined, many of them are demanding obedience and worship to a supreme being.  Sounds like a pretty egotistical or needy God to me. A little delusion can go a long way.  I can only respect someone’s values if they come from a realized intrinsic conviction.  I do not respect values derived from a dogmatic belief, blind faith, or a selfish fear that a failure to adhere to prescribed tenets will result in eternal damnation, or non-salvation. I continually find it astonishing so many trust in a book compiled from between 5000 to 2000 years ago.  What would we say if our physician referred to a 2000 yr old medical journal when treating us?  How about if our next bridge spanning a river was built by an engineer using 2000 yr old engineering standards?

        The Environmental rollbacks enacted by this administration are truly frightening.
This administration is clearly in the pocket of corporate interests.  The balance of their refusal to protect our environment is on religious grounds.  God put everything on this earth for man to use, and they are going to use it all up.  Preserving anything for future generations is not needed, for the second coming of Christ, the rapture, eliminates the environment as a consideration. That begs the question; if we don’t need to worry about the environment due to the upcoming rapture, why are we so intent on building individual wealth? There is a significant core of GOP supporters who truly believe this.  Of course every generation for the last 2000 years has believed the rapture would occur in their lifetime.

        The rest of the world is whistling though the graveyard that is this administration’s foreign and environmental policy. Hoping all goes well, but the inmates are truly running the asylum in this country.  It is incomprehensible to the rest of the world how we could let a religious zealot at the control of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen.  If we continue down this road, there will be another World War, and it will be the world against us.  Western Europe has learned these lessons well, and is becoming more secular.  Europeans enjoy greater civil liberties now than we do in this country. We will be in the wrong because we are going down a path of hypocrisy, arrogance, intolerance, and military, economic, and social imperialism.

Reason and faith are mutually exclusive and it is imperative we stop pretending otherwise, the stakes are getting too high.  There either is a supreme being or there isn’t.  The burden of proof rests on those making an affirmative claim. These are extremely dangerous times, and we must preserve our freedoms.  We really cannot afford to humor and tolerate the superstitious any longer, if they want a place at the table they must prove their case.

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Posted: 12 April 2008 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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bonest,

I agree with most of what you are saying with regards to speaking our conscience.  I just don’t like the term “atheist.”  Why not just say that you are clear headed and that religionists are confused, deluded, anaturalistic, ahumanistic, and ahumanitarian?

Better yet, why even stoop to their level?  Why not just criticize the bad things they believe rather than their tribe?  Or why not criticize the existence of all such tribes rather than just their tribe in particular?

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Posted: 12 April 2008 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Erasmusinfinity, you do make good point,,,, it isn’t so much important we label ourselves as atheists, but it is critical we stand up and expose delusion, stupiditiy, bias, discimination. It is critical we speak up when the delusionist views impact public policy. I don’t think we can have it both ways though. I see the choices are as follows; either speak up, have an impact, fly above the radar, and inevitably be labeled. Or fly under the radar, be complicit, submit, and not be lableled. I wish it were otherwise, no pain, no gain.

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Posted: 12 April 2008 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 12 April 2008 08:16 AM

I have never liked the term “atheist” because it establishes the “theist” as taking the default position.  Etymologically, the term “atheist” was one of slander, established by christians to refer to and label all non-christians under a single category.  It is synonymous with such other terms of derision as heathen, infidel and gentile.  In the spirit of rebelliousness, religious dissenters have been embracing the term for decades now (or even a couple of centuries), but I think that it places an unnecessary chip on one’s shoulder.  Regardless of the perspective of the non-believer, the believer has always used and will continue to use the term “atheist” slanderously.  I think that an excellent parallel is that of trying to claim the “n” word by using it affectionately.  It does not elevate the status of the despised in the eyes of the despiser.  It perpetuates the distinction as stratification.

You have listed in a clear concise way that I never could, why I don’t like the label ‘Atheist. It makes as much sense to be Asantaclaus, Aeasterbunny, Atoothfairy…..you get my drift.
geo

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Posted: 13 April 2008 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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On one level I don’t think labels are useful as they lead to largely false stereotyping. So I could label myself “labelless” wink
In practice I consider myself a naturalist. Thats is my positive and encompassing basis and from which I can derive everything else - since they are consistent with naturalism -  from that as needed.
In discussions to which the question of such labels is relevant, I would not normally provide an unjustified label. From example I would not say “I am an atheist” but rather I would say something along the lines of “I am an atheist because it is the only open-minded, honest and ethical position to take”. Use whatever qualifying terms are appropriate to the situation and ones that preempt any unreflective stereotypical responses. For example if you don’t think that the conversation is going to turn to ethics, then don’t bring it up, (although in my experience it always does) wink

[ Edited: 13 April 2008 10:37 AM by faithlessgod ]
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Posted: 17 April 2008 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Often, in conversations with others, more important than figuring out how to label myself, is to try and understand what the other person is seeking and how that seeking relates to our relationship.  I then try to chose the best words (labels included) to a get the desired affect in our relationship or in the other person’s mind. 

So, at any moment, for the listener I could be an Atheist, a Buddhist, a former Christian, a agape-believer, a religions-sympathist, an anti-secularist, a moralist, a Skeptic, a Mystic, a Naturalist and many more.  Many of those are completely incompatible to many.  But then, my notion of self is very fluid.  My choice of labels depends on how the listener uses their words and those word’s affect on that person.  Mind you, I rarely do it well. tongue rolleye

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