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sunandshadow
06-04-2015, 05:07 AM
I'm outlining a story where I want the main character to have an atheist belief system, but one which has some definite metaphysical beliefs, holidays, standards of behavior, etc. One of the specific ones I've thought of so far is that the main character should believe it is inappropriate for her to enter a building dedicated to a different religion. I also want her beliefs to be generally utilitarian and/or humanist. More on the socialist/communist side than the capitalist side. More on the hedonist side than the stoic, ascetic, or minimalist side. So can anyone suggest an actual religion or philosophy I can could have her be a member of, or is there nothing that would fit? Wikipedia only lists buddhism, hinduism, and jainism as non-theistic religions, and none of those are very close to what I'm looking for.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-04-2015, 05:59 AM
The first problem you'd have is that a truly non-theistic belief system wouldn't have a deity to hand down commandments from on high. As such, any kind of dogma would be based on people's interpretation of the philosophy. Hey, Objectivism is about as non-theistic as you can get, and one of its central tenets is that you don't question its central tenets. That's pretty good!
A non-theistic belief system has to be about something specific. It could be wiccan in nature, and be about, uh, nature. Or it could be about personal freedom, or the glory of combat (Klingonism), or something. Decide what your central tenet is, then build from there.

benbradley
06-04-2015, 08:38 AM
There are many atheist groups that aren't categorized as religions, but I don't know if they would help, as they in general don't have any metaphysical beliefs. For atheists groups and freethought groups, a quick google brings up this list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_secularist_organizations#United_States

What you might find the most interesting is Sunday Assembly, a brand-new (in historical terms) movement started only a couple years ago (and I've attended for most of that time) - it has many of the trappings of a modern church (it strives to be positive - I think of it as sort of a pep rally for secular life), but caters to "the one live we know we have:"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Assembly
https://sundayassembly.com/

There's the Ethical Humanist or Ethical Culture societies, organized like churches (they also do weddings and funerals/memorial services) and they even have the same religious exemptions as churches - they've been around for many decades, though there are very few of them (much fewer than Sunday Assembly groups!):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_movement

There are some actual religions that rather than being non-religious are "less religious" than mainstream religions that it might be useful to study. I'm thinking specifically of Unitarian Universalism (which I've sort-of been a member for many years, but am lapsing). While the origins of both parts (the two groups merged in 1961) were originally Christian, they became more and more liberal (I think politically as well as in their interpretations of Biblical writings), and most UUs don't consider themselves Christians. Many or most have various "new age" beliefs, and some are atheists, but I was told it was majority atheist several decades ago. It's more of a "we encourage you in your spiritual growth" thing than having a common religious belief, and social justice (helping disaster victims, marching against "hate groups") is also an important part.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_universalist
http://uua.org

There appears to be a lot in common with UUs and Ethical Humanists (UUs, and I presume Ethical Humanists, supported gay unions/marriages long before it was "cool"), but Ethical Humanists are totally secular (and have no mention of God), whereas UUs are only partly secular, and DO mention God but understand members have differing beliefs of what God is.

cmhbob
06-04-2015, 09:00 AM
My first thought was something druidical, or maybe based on the Norse gods, especially Loki.

I played with Google for a bit. Hope these help.

http://www.humanreligions.info/religions.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_religion (includes contemporary Pagan faiths such as Wicca, Neo-Druidism and the Goddess movement)
http://www.pantheism.net/paul/faqs.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Druidism

King Neptune
06-04-2015, 06:16 PM
I think your best bet is Hinayana Buddhism, which has no god(s). Mayaana Buddhism has adopted the Gods of Tibet. Hinduism certainly wouldn't fit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinayana

sunandshadow
06-05-2015, 12:55 AM
What you might find the most interesting is Sunday Assembly, a brand-new (in historical terms) movement started only a couple years ago (and I've attended for most of that time) - it has many of the trappings of a modern church (it strives to be positive - I think of it as sort of a pep rally for secular life), but caters to "the one live we know we have:"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Assembly
https://sundayassembly.com/

There's the Ethical Humanist or Ethical Culture societies, organized like churches (they also do weddings and funerals/memorial services) and they even have the same religious exemptions as churches - they've been around for many decades, though there are very few of them (much fewer than Sunday Assembly groups!):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_movement

Those are both something like what I was looking for, thank you! I'll follow the links and read some more about them. :)


The first problem you'd have is that a truly non-theistic belief system wouldn't have a deity to hand down commandments from on high. As such, any kind of dogma would be based on people's interpretation of the philosophy. Hey, Objectivism is about as non-theistic as you can get, and one of its central tenets is that you don't question its central tenets. That's pretty good!

A non-theistic belief system has to be about something specific. It could be wiccan in nature, and be about, uh, nature. Or it could be about personal freedom, or the glory of combat (Klingonism), or something. Decide what your central tenet is, then build from there.
Hmm, I don't think the fact that commandments don't come from on high would really be a problem for a non-theistic belief system. There are plenty of historical examples of philosophers who had a cult of personality. Some of them held religious positions, but others had secular jobs like teacher or adviser to a ruler. If I do end up making up a religion, I could give it an equivalent of the Talmud and the popular activity to quote various Rabbis against each other to dispute a topic, and also use the book as a source for 'sermons' aka pep rally speeches, legal arguments, and political speeches. And as far as religions go, though they may have a theme, I think it's important that they have advice on all aspects of "how to live" , "how to act", and "what to think". Well-rounded religions seem more useful and less easily forgotten.

Introversion
06-05-2015, 01:01 AM
I'm outlining a story where I want the main character to have an atheist belief system, but one which has some definite metaphysical beliefs, holidays, standards of behavior, etc.

I personally think you're heading down a strange road here. "Atheism" means "doesn't believe in gods". I don't think this implies a belief system any more than not believing in unicorns, or not stamp collecting.

I agree with Angry Guy. If the character has a "belief system", it's inspired by something other than a lack of god-belief, or it's not realistic.

sunandshadow
06-05-2015, 08:21 AM
I personally think you're heading down a strange road here. "Atheism" means "doesn't believe in gods". I don't think this implies a belief system any more than not believing in unicorns, or not stamp collecting.

I agree with Angry Guy. If the character has a "belief system", it's inspired by something other than a lack of god-belief, or it's not realistic.
All humans have belief systems, atheists are no exception. If you didn't have a belief system you'd have no way of making judgments about what was a good thing to do or a bad thing to do. For example, many atheists believe that torturing animals is generally a bad thing, not an appropriate recreational activity. Similarly, many atheists believe that if you can save someone's life at no cost to yourself you ought to do so. Why do they believe these things? Partly it's what the culture they were born int believes, and partly they have individually thought about the philosophy behind these beliefs.

An atheist belief system is only an unusual idea because, if you don't count the various Indian ones, we happen to have a lack of historical atheist cultures which evolved a group belief system that wasn't lost to history. But certainly such a system would be inspired by something other than a lack of belief in gods. Cultural respect for famous wise historical figures can, as I was saying above, do very nicely as the glue of an atheist belief system.

Introversion
06-05-2015, 03:02 PM
All humans have belief systems, atheists are no exception.

I don't dispute that.

As an atheist myself, I believe some things as a result of being ex-Catholic. I believe some things as a result of being a white liberal born in 20th century America of middle-class parents. But my atheism doesn't result in a "belief system". I don't imagine I could find a dozen fellow atheists across the world and we'd agree on much except "we don't believe in gods".

I can definitely imagine belief systems that aren't centered on religious beliefs. If that's what you mean by "atheist belief systems" -- no religion present -- then apologies; I was taking you too literally! I just wouldn't think of them as belief systems "for atheists", any more than they're belief systems for people who don't paint, or don't collect stamps. See what I mean?

Teinz
06-05-2015, 03:54 PM
It's also important to make a distinction between a belief system and ritual. Religion encompasses both. I think the need for ritual is what drives people to attend, for instance, the Sunday Assembly BenBradley referenced. People might not need a belief system, but the need for ritual is much harder to eradicate.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-05-2015, 06:43 PM
All humans have belief systems, atheists are no exception.

My point, though, was that if you are going to posit some form of organized or generally accepted belief or philosophical system that isn't handed down from on high, then it has to have had some origin (your cult of personality suggestion is one such) and it has to have a theme, or catchy concept, or central tenet. Or something. It's been said that getting atheists pulling in the same direction is like herding cats, only less satisfying. I tend to agree with that. One of the common characteristics of atheists is that we tend to be individualists. Goes with the territory, I think. So your religion has to be attractive to those types of people, and it has to have a hook to attract the groupie-types. And sorry, but "be excellent to each other" probably won't cut it.
So, the first question should be, what are you going to offer to bring them in the door?

King Neptune
06-05-2015, 11:21 PM
I'm outlining a story where I want the main character to have an atheist belief system, but one which has some definite metaphysical beliefs, holidays, standards of behavior, etc. One of the specific ones I've thought of so far is that the main character should believe it is inappropriate for her to enter a building dedicated to a different religion. I also want her beliefs to be generally utilitarian and/or humanist. More on the socialist/communist side than the capitalist side. More on the hedonist side than the stoic, ascetic, or minimalist side. So can anyone suggest an actual religion or philosophy I can could have her be a member of, or is there nothing that would fit? Wikipedia only lists buddhism, hinduism, and jainism as non-theistic religions, and none of those are very close to what I'm looking for.

Consider Marxist Communism as your religion. It is a more or less organized philosophy, and it is atheistic. Marxists have meetings and interact in formalized ways. There probably are even some ceremonies that they do, but I can't think of any. There are offshoots of Communism or Marxism that as more doctrinaire than the strictest religion, and they have sanctions against heretics. What fun!

Once!
06-06-2015, 02:54 PM
Or ... consider what a democracy is. We hold to certain standards and beliefs that may or may not have a religious justification. Freedom of speech. The right to bear arms. Laws around slander and libel.

Heck, for that matter the community that we are in right now - AW - is itself a system with rules and standards that don't necessarily relate to religion. We have rules around trolling, spamming, RYFW and so on. These rules have evolved over time and are still evolving, but they didn't come from a religion or a belief in a higher power.

The thing with rules like this is that they start out by being invented by someone. Then they become so deeply ingrained in what we do that we forget that they were made up in the first place. We start to think of them as absolute truths. When something becomes so well known we tend to forget the times before it was invented.

You don't need to go delving into the more obscure corners of wikipedia to find non religious belief systems. Just look at ourselves.

Layla Nahar
06-06-2015, 03:44 PM
... Unitarian Universalism (which I've sort-of been a member for many years, but am lapsing)

lapsing from UU. Lol

Melisande
12-02-2015, 02:40 AM
All humans have belief systems, atheists are no exception. If you didn't have a belief system you'd have no way of making judgments about what was a good thing to do or a bad thing to do.

An atheist belief system is only an unusual idea because, if you don't count the various Indian ones, we happen to have a lack of historical atheist cultures which evolved a group belief system that wasn't lost to history.

Being an Atheist, I kind of feel that there is something wrong with your reasoning here. I think that we humans have an innate feeling of "right v/s wrong" in general. But some of us, like me, do not feel the urge to explain this as if comes from 'outside' ourselves. It's just there. If you look to the animal kingdom, they too seem to have this capability. And I challenge you to explain why, for instance, one sow eats her offspring and the other doesn't. I highly doubt that the pigs of the Earth have religion or not. It is just something that one does, and the other doesn't.

I also would like to add that if you really would like to describe a "true" atheist, you would sound sort of false in trying to attach some kind of belief-system to that character. Since atheists, like me for instance, do not have one.

Personally, I hesitate entering a church during ceremonies because I do not wish to offend the believers by my being there. I do not, however, hesitate to enter a church to admire it's architecture. I have no belief system. Not because I have left a religion for whatever reason, but because I simply haven't found anything to believe in.

I think that you need to realize that there are a lot of atheists out there, who are happy not believing, and who also do not conform to some kind of "organized atheistic" belief, making them religioulsy anti-religious. I would describe myself as one. If there are no others out there, who think like me, I am sorry if I have stepped on someones atheistic toe.

As a conclusion, what I tried to say with all this, is that I believe that atheists on a whole are not evil monsters without feelings. We are humans, without a need for a label, but with our morals and ethics intact.

Diana_Rajchel
12-02-2015, 02:55 AM
There is a subset of Paganism called naturalistic Paganism or atheistic Paganism that reveres the processes of nature, may allow for metaphysical practices/magical practices, but that does not believe in any innate God or any innate moral directive. I recommend you look into that - there are some good posts about it on Patheos and Pagan Square.

Perks
12-02-2015, 03:11 AM
All humans have belief systems, atheists are no exception.


No. Introversion was right in saying that the only thing you can tell about an atheist is that he or she does not believe in any deity. All humans have a worldview made up of what they've been exposed to by chance, what they've sought out with purpose, and what they've kept and rejected as prescriptive from both of those subsets, and because all atheists are humans, they too will have a worldview. That's not the same as a belief system.

Marian Perera
12-02-2015, 04:59 AM
No. Introversion was right in saying that the only thing you can tell about an atheist is that he or she does not believe in any deity. All humans have a worldview made up of what they've been exposed to by chance, what they've sought out with purpose, and what they've kept and rejected as prescriptive from both of those subsets, and because all atheists are humans, they too will have a worldview. That's not the same as a belief system.

Agreed.

This reminds me of someone I know who claimed that because I went to the local "godless heathens" meetup at a pub to hang out with some like-minded people and have a glass of wine, it was like going to church with like-minded people, and therefore I was religious too.

sgcassidy
12-02-2015, 05:39 AM
Alright, atheist's , like myself, just don't believe there is an imaginary deity in the sky. We are scientists, humanists, not cultist. We respect your view and everyone else's view. Atheist countries like the Scandinavian countries are the most peaceful, best educated, happiest people on earth. (Google it)If you have ever read the Bible, Koran or Torah cover to cover and took it literally you'd be in jail. Those books are read by my ilk as a metaphorical lesson where we learn this secret: be nice to everyone, don't steal their stuff, kill them or rape them. But also we measure those books against the imperial evidence. No, the earth is more than 6000 years old, dinosaurs and humans did not co-exist and climb together on the Ark two by two.
Here's my point, if you want to believe that , I'm good with that, all Atheists are good with that. You see we don't start wars over it, never have, never will. If you dissect the western world's wars, at the center is always religion. Hey Hitler was a Christian, the dark ages= Christian.
Right now Muslims, Jews and Christians are killing each other in droves, the Atheists, eh not so much.
If there is a third world war who amongst us doesn't believe it won't stem from the middle east? The seat of western religion.

Go to Facebook and look at The Thinking Atheist, Friendly Atheist, Atheism, Skepticism and Critical Thinking, Atheist Quote of the Day, American Atheists.

if you are looking for an edgy character maybe someone affiliated with Santeria or Voodoo. A Satanic cult byproduct?

Most Atheists are just mellow, non judgmental, glass of beer or wine type of people.

Silva
12-02-2015, 08:24 AM
Perhaps what you are looking for is not a religion, but a personal code?

Or do you specifically want her to have a "spiritual" community to be part of, where there is a common code of sorts? Are her beliefs personally derived or community-derived?

Unitarian Universalists are what I originally thought of upon reading your post, though they are more into tolerating and accepting many beliefs than they are into prescribing beliefs to others.

I have several atheist/agnostic friends who enjoy naturalistic rituals usually associated with the various forms of paganism, but I'd personally shy away from paganism as a belief system for an atheist character because people who are actually pagan take their religion quite seriously. It's not just a fluffy, feel good about the solstice, thing for them like it appears to be for my atheist/agnostic friends. It's like the difference between doing yoga for exercise and doing yoga as a form of worship.

sgcassidy
12-02-2015, 08:16 PM
WELL WRITTEN SYLVA, we are a warm and fluffy bunch.

veinglory
12-02-2015, 09:12 PM
As this is spec fic there is nothing to prevent there from being what would read as an atheist religion. That is a core belief and customary practices that all members are expected to follow, that is not deist. The only thing that would need to be nailed down is why people hold this core belief (i.e. not to get to heaven by pleasing God) and what is is. Given this is not a real world setting that could be pretty much anything.

Kjbartolotta
12-02-2015, 09:23 PM
I would suggest a hearty, detailed look at Eastern religions, which have a quite a lot of room for let theistic modes of thought. For you character in particular, might I mention taking some ideas from Confucianism, which is far more concerned with the here and now and the structuring of social orders, with little mysticism. Not a religion per se, but sometimes lumped as one. Also, Taoism would be pretty amenable if she's less structured in her approach, though the outlooks are not exclusive. Also, maybe OT, but your MC sounds like she would fit in in Iain Bank's Culture, which is uber-materialistic but approaches a zeal and authority often religious in its certainty.

Bandicoot
12-02-2015, 09:44 PM
Have you considered Epicurus? He advocated a value system which is very close to what is known as humanism today. Here is a useful link.
http://www.epicurus.net/
You should find more if you google it.
The problem with Eastern religions is that they are religions. They may not believe in a God but they have other beliefs which are equally unprovable.

sgcassidy
12-02-2015, 11:33 PM
I have been absent for about a month and forgotten how wonderful everyone is on this site. I finished my first novel and am on to the dreaded query letter. This subject caught my eye. Kudos to everyone that responds so caringly and knowledgably.......This is by far the best writers site.:hooray:

RKarina
12-03-2015, 07:43 PM
You need a "belief system" and a set of acceptable/unacceptable behaviors that is not based on a deity (or deities)... Without that, there is no reason for your character to care about entering a building dedicated to a different religion. You can say she chooses to not enter these buildings out of respect, or because she doesn't support the deist mumbo-jumbo that goes on in there, or any number of personal reasons, but without some sort of code, imposed by her chosen belief system, it remains a personal reason (and that's fine, if that's what you want).

Do you need it to be a recognized, actually exists (or existed) belief system? If so, you'll have a hard time finding a non-theistic practice that would both suggest it's inappropriate to enter a building dedicated to a different religion and espouse a more hedonist approach. Honestly, it's the entering the building that makes it problematic. All of the other traits you listed could be embraced by a number of Eastern religious practices, secular humanism, and a variety of other possibilities. Again, you could make that one thing a personal choice of hers rather than a religious-based doctrine.

Maxx
12-03-2015, 11:50 PM
I'm outlining a story where I want the main character to have an atheist belief system, but one which has some definite metaphysical beliefs, holidays, standards of behavior, etc. One of the specific ones I've thought of so far is that the main character should believe it is inappropriate for her to enter a building dedicated to a different religion. I also want her beliefs to be generally utilitarian and/or humanist. More on the socialist/communist side than the capitalist side. More on the hedonist side than the stoic, ascetic, or minimalist side. So can anyone suggest an actual religion or philosophy I can could have her be a member of, or is there nothing that would fit? Wikipedia only lists buddhism, hinduism, and jainism as non-theistic religions, and none of those are very close to what I'm looking for.

Technically, many religions are atheistic in the sense that a full-blown Neo-Platonic hunk of Goodness God is a very esoteric construction. The
stoic reconstruction of how fate relates to such beings alone is enough to suggest that the gigantic big guy 14 billion+eternity years old and bigger than an ever-expanding universe and everywhere and loving all things perfectly is much rarer in human thought processes than we are led to believe, I suspect.

sunandshadow
12-04-2015, 09:27 AM
Oh, I didn't know this thread had revived - sorry for the delay in responding! Erm, and just to clarify for everyone, I am an atheist. But I figured there must be a variety of historical and modern non-deistic belief systems that I didn't know about, and I've been learning a lot from the various descriptions or links people have provided here! :)


You need a "belief system" and a set of acceptable/unacceptable behaviors that is not based on a deity (or deities)... Without that, there is no reason for your character to care about entering a building dedicated to a different religion. You can say she chooses to not enter these buildings out of respect, or because she doesn't support the deist mumbo-jumbo that goes on in there, or any number of personal reasons, but without some sort of code, imposed by her chosen belief system, it remains a personal reason (and that's fine, if that's what you want).

Do you need it to be a recognized, actually exists (or existed) belief system? If so, you'll have a hard time finding a non-theistic practice that would both suggest it's inappropriate to enter a building dedicated to a different religion and espouse a more hedonist approach. Honestly, it's the entering the building that makes it problematic. All of the other traits you listed could be embraced by a number of Eastern religious practices, secular humanism, and a variety of other possibilities. Again, you could make that one thing a personal choice of hers rather than a religious-based doctrine.
I need non-deist belief system that is recognized in the fictional setting, but no it doesn't have to exist in reality. It specifically needs to be a doctrine rather than a personal choice. I've been looking into adding some feng-shui style beliefs about color and shape to the fictional 'religion' (or belief system if you prefer) that I've been developing. Other elements I'd like to include are a set of tarot-like oracle cards and some specific rituals and holidays.

Dennis E. Taylor
12-04-2015, 08:32 PM
If it's a non-technological, fantasy setting, then there could very easily be beliefs in karma, sympathetic magic, like to like, stuff like that. Shouldn't be hard to come up with a list of rituals or rules of thumb where people try to influence the universe by wearing purple socks or some such.

Bandicoot
12-04-2015, 09:45 PM
What about worhsipping trees? Or even animals? Or perhaps checking augeries before doing something. There can be a tree worshipping festival or festivals dedicated to specific animals; the rituals can involve bedecking them with garlands and making them offerings. You can have taboos too - for example, if your belief system involves worshipping trees, you can have a taboo which limits felling trees.

Will there be demons, ghosts and magic in your universe? If there are demons, you can have rituals aimed at placating them - such as dances.

Hapax Legomenon
12-05-2015, 07:15 AM
If you want some real-life atheist religions, the only examples I can come up with at the top of my head are LaVey Satanism (No gods, about the self, magic) and Raelism (no gods, but powerful aliens). There are plenty of religions where there are gods but they're kind of... well, a natural consequence rather than the be-all-to-end-all of the religion as in Abrahamic religions. Someone who doesn't believe in gods may believe in unicorns, or alien abduction, or ghosts, or what have you. If the character does not believe in gods but believes in the supernatural you may have to eventually decide what is and what is not a god.

TellMeAStory
12-05-2015, 09:25 PM
Consider the Freethinkers if you're looking for historical interest.

frimble3
01-15-2016, 10:34 AM
Or, how about this: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/atheist-minister-vows-to-fight-removal-from-united-church-due-to-her-beliefs-1.3180632
Apparently, she thinks of God as an 'interventionist, supernatural being', and she seems to be a humanist. She lost two-thirds of her congregation when she eliminated the Lord's Prayer, but apparently gained other people who agreed with her views. I think the church wants to know if she had her fingers crossed when she was ordained.

Melisande
01-17-2016, 04:22 AM
How can there be an 'atheistic' religion? Either one believes, or one doesn't... As a true atheist I have no religion. Period.

RKarina
01-19-2016, 07:15 PM
How can there be an 'atheistic' religion? Either one believes, or one doesn't... As a true atheist I have no religion. Period.

Atheism is simply bot believing in a deity - you do not need a deity to have a religion.

CassandraW
01-19-2016, 07:23 PM
Atheism is simply bot believing in a deity - you do not need a deity to have a religion.

How do you define "religion," then? I define it as the belief in and worship of a deity or deities.

I'm an atheist. I have any number of philosophical and moral beliefs, but they are not a "religion."

ETA:

I don't think my beliefs are sacred. I won't be rewarded by any higher power for following them, or punished for not following them. No one is keeping track of my secret kindnesses or my stealthy misdeeds. I direct my own destiny. Not a religion. If you feel that some higher power is watching, dictating, and/or directing your actions, you have one -- but then you are no longer an atheist.

Perks
01-19-2016, 07:39 PM
Atheism is simply bot believing in a deity - you do not need a deity to have a religion.

Cassandra wants to know how you define religion, but I'm very curious to know how you define atheism as well.

veinglory
01-19-2016, 07:41 PM
Most people accept Buddhism is a religion, so faiths with no deities are conventionally accepted as religions. There are other examples like some forms of animism.

I, personally, define religion as: whatever people (especially followers) sincerely call a religion. I was breifly a practising atheist Wiccan--thus religious and atheist.

And atheism is the absence of belief in a deity.

CassandraW
01-19-2016, 07:54 PM
Most people accept Buddhism is a religion, so faiths with no deities are conventionally accepted as religions. There are other examples like some forms of animism.

I, personally, define religion as: whatever people (especially followers) sincerely call a religion. I was breifly a practising atheist Wiccan--thus religious and atheist.

And atheism is the absence of belief in a deity.

Hmmm. Yes, I would define those as religions. So I suppose what I've been defining as religion encompasses a belief in something supernatural (as opposed to a deity per se.) Buddhists and Wiccans believe in something supernatural, so to my mind, they do follow a religion. I suppose they don't directly worship a god. But then again, I don't quite understand how something like rebirth or magic would work if there is no higher/outside power of some kind involved. Surely both Buddhism and Wiccanism involve, at least, a faith in something unseen and unprovable?

I am pretty sturdy in my own philosophical beliefs, more so than many people who follow religions. But I wouldn't call my belief system a religion because it doesn't involve anything supernatural at all -- no god, no magic, no rebirth.

ETA:

Will have to mull this over a bit.

I've had so many religious people try to insist that any sort of moral or philosophical belief system must involve religion I must admit I felt a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the concept of "atheist religions." I do maintain that a philosophical or moral belief system =/= religion, but I may have to consider how I define "religion" and "atheism." Perhaps what I call "atheism" (which encompasses an absence of belief in the supernatural) is simply the far end of a spectrum.

ETA:

I suppose what I've been doing is drawing a distinction between "nontheist" and "atheist." I'll have to think about whether that holds up, and if it holds up in the way I've been thinking of them. I may refine all of my definitions and add some new ones before I'm done here. Interesting discussion.

ETA:

My own reaction to all things religious, deist, and supernatural might be best summed up as "pfft." But as I think of it, it is not really fair of me to try to co-opt the term atheist to describe that.

RKarina
01-19-2016, 09:35 PM
Most people accept Buddhism is a religion, so faiths with no deities are conventionally accepted as religions. There are other examples like some forms of animism.

I, personally, define religion as: whatever people (especially followers) sincerely call a religion. I was breifly a practising atheist Wiccan--thus religious and atheist.

And atheism is the absence of belief in a deity.

Exactly... I loosely define religion as a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices (this could be personal, or community based) that influences your world view, ethics, and behavior.

As for atheism, it's simply a lack of belief in the concept of deity. The opposite of atheism is theism - or the belief in a god or gods.

Most Westerners equate religion with theism thanks to a primarily Judeo-Christian (or more broadly - children of Abraham) tradition.

Many Eastern practices do not have a deity as such, and yet they are religions, complete with a set of morals and dogma (others lack the morals and dogma part...). Secular Humanism takes a different approach, ostensibly eschewing prescribed morals and dogma in favor of reasoning, ethics, science, and philosophy.

CassandraW
01-19-2016, 09:51 PM
Exactly... I loosely define religion as a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices (this could be personal, or community based) that influences your world view, ethics, and behavior.

In my opinion, that definition is too loose. By that definition, libertarianism could be a religion. (As could a number of other political philosophies.)

ETA:

I have quite a collection of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that influence my world view, ethics, and behavior. I feel quite strongly about them. But I reject gods, spirits, the supernatural, a belief in an afterlife or reincarnation, magic, etc.

I would say I have no religion. But beliefs and philosophies -- I have plenty.


ETA:

I suppose, as I think of it, I would say that religion requires faith in something that cannot be seen or proved (whether it be a deity, magic, or rebirth). Generally, I think it also involves some sort of ritual or observance. A philosophy requires neither. It also seems to me that religion generally involves something that is considered sacred in some way. (I stand ready to be convinced otherwise, though.)

Perks
01-19-2016, 10:01 PM
As for atheism, it's simply a lack of belief in the concept of deity. The opposite of atheism is theism - or the belief in a god or gods.




I'm sorry! I realize now that I misread, somehow, your earlier post. My screwy eyes. I thought you said that atheism was not simply not believing in a deity. My fault.

Yes, then. Of course, we agree on that.

Dennis E. Taylor
01-19-2016, 10:35 PM
I've had so many religious people try to insist that any sort of moral or philosophical belief system must involve religion I must admit I felt a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the concept of "atheist religions."

A very strong logical argument can be made that the exact opposite is true, that it is impossible to have a true moral system worthy of the name if a religion is involved-- that in fact, the only truly moral system must arise from a strictly humanist source.

veinglory
01-19-2016, 10:45 PM
I think that deism, "religion", and (codified and/or humanist) morality exist in all combinations.

CassandraW
01-19-2016, 10:47 PM
A very strong logical argument can be made that the exact opposite is true, that it is impossible to have a true moral system worthy of the name if a religion is involved-- that in fact, the only truly moral system must arise from a strictly humanist source.

I wouldn't go that far. But I would argue that if your sole reason for engaging in or refraining from a particular behavior -- e.g., being kind, not lying or murdering -- is the belief that you will ultimately be punished or rewarded, then your actions (or lack thereof) are less morally motivated than if you have no such belief, and act in that way solely because you believe those actions to be right.

I don't murder or steal, and I try not to lie, not because some deity forbade me to do so, but because I think they're morally ugly actions that I don't want others practicing. (I curse like a sailor and have been known to be unchaste, but then I don't consider either of those things immoral.)

That said, it's perfectly possible to have more than one motivation for moral behavior -- so I don't think having a religious motivation means that one doesn't also have a purely moral motivation that goes beyond a belief that one will be punished or rewarded.

kuwisdelu
01-19-2016, 11:22 PM
I've known atheists who still believe in supernatural and paranormal phenomena. Like Fox Mulder.

King Neptune
01-19-2016, 11:49 PM
Interesting discussion, I think that the beginning of the first definition on dictionary.com is an adequate definition of religion. There are additional modifications of it, but they are not essential and are not possessed by all religions. In the last few decades many political opinions in the U.S.A. have become religious, rather than strictly political. The view of climate change that is being put forward by the IPCC and similar organizations is religious, rather than scientific; the difference being the matters of faith rather than knowledge.

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion?s=t

CassandraW
01-20-2016, 12:11 AM
I've known atheists who still believe in supernatural and paranormal phenomena. Like Fox Mulder.

Of course, Fox Mulder wasn't believing it on faith. He was believing it based on evidence.

Dennis E. Taylor
01-20-2016, 01:15 AM
That said, it's perfectly possible to have more than one motivation for moral behavior -- so I don't think having a religious motivation means that one doesn't also have a purely moral motivation that goes beyond a belief that one will be punished or rewarded.

You and I can agree on that, but any theist who says that any moral system requires a theistic source is implying that their entire motivation for not lying or stealing or whatever is religious. And therefore, by definition, they don't belong in the "multiple motivations" group.

Dennis E. Taylor
01-20-2016, 01:17 AM
I've known atheists who still believe in supernatural and paranormal phenomena. Like Fox Mulder.

But an atheist (by the strict definition of the word) can believe in the supernatural. They just don't believe in one or more supreme beings. A belief in reincarnation, for instance, is completely compatible with atheism. Technically.

What we need is a different word for someone who doesn't believe in anything not explainable by physical laws and not provable by observation and experiment.

CassandraW
01-20-2016, 01:19 AM
What we need is a different word for someone who doesn't believe in anything not explainable by physical laws and not provable by observation and experiment.

I describe my own philosophy (more or less this) as "Pfft."

ETA:

I suppose others might prefer a more dignified word.

Angie
01-20-2016, 01:31 AM
What we need is a different word for someone who doesn't believe in anything not explainable by physical laws and not provable by observation and experiment.

"Physicalist (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism)" is probably the best term for it that I've heard. Or rationalist.

I prefer to just call myself an atheist, because no matter what term you use, you're probably going to have to explain yourself anyway.

ChansonRoland
01-20-2016, 01:37 AM
Did You get your answer about Atheist Religions?
I'm an Atheist. You were asking about Philosophies that are non-religious.
One of the best and one that goes along with much of what you asked for Hedonistic, Humanism, Scientific, Non-Fear, and Very Social is Epicureanism.

I'm an Atheist, but also very much an Epicurean in many ways.

You should look him up Epicurus. His school in Athens, unlike Plato and Aristotle, encouraged and allowed Slaves, Non-citizens, and Women into their fold.

Pura Vida
ChansonRoland
Santiago de Puriscal
Costa Rica

Angie
01-20-2016, 01:49 AM
Welcome to AW, Chanson!

veinglory
01-20-2016, 02:06 AM
I ended up being a materialist which is an adjacent concept in that is basically rules out the supernatural. So now I can only hang out with pagans who take the unitarian approach to heathenism. Fortunately there are plenty of these and they have the best parties.

kuwisdelu
01-20-2016, 07:26 AM
Of course, Fox Mulder wasn't believing it on faith. He was believing it based on evidence.

Sometimes. Very often he was believing it despite the lack of evidence.

Or else Scully would've believed more often, too.


But an atheist (by the strict definition of the word) can believe in the supernatural. They just don't believe in one or more supreme beings. A belief in reincarnation, for instance, is completely compatible with atheism. Technically.

Hint: I was agreeing with you.

ChansonRoland
01-20-2016, 05:16 PM
Thanks Little Angel. Nice WebSite by the way. Pouring out the Heart with ink... well, digital ink.

Opty
05-22-2017, 05:12 AM
What we need is a different word for someone who doesn't believe in anything not explainable by physical laws and not provable by observation and experiment. We do. It's called "philosophical naturalism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_(philosophy))." People who adhere to that philosophy often also adhere to "methodological naturalism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_(philosophy)#Methodological_naturalism)" when trying to explore and learn about the world and usually describe themselves as skeptics (not all do, though).


ETA: Oops! I saw this thread near the top and mistakenly thought it was recent. Apologies for resurrecting a dead thread.

redrobin62
09-25-2017, 03:11 PM
Hi all. I'm a Jain myself. I practice Jainism, a religion that does not believe in a creator God. You might hear some Jains say we have gods, but what they mean is we have thirtankars, or prophets. We do revere them, but it's just out of respect for their teachings and sacrifices.

We have many beliefs, but our central tenet is ahimsa - non-violence. I brought this up because I recently wrote a children's book, my first, about Jainism. I already sent the manuscript out and everything and hope to hear from the publisher in a few months. I thought I'd give children's book a try and take a break from the horror, mystery, and sci-fi I'm known for.

Kalsik
03-03-2018, 01:13 AM
A stellar body based 'atheistic' religion could be adopted. Basically sun worship taken a scientific level up.

The stars could be the god of each system, and the next tier of gods would be those stars or other bodies around which clusters or even entire galaxies orbit [black holes, super/hypergiant stars, anything bigger if possible].

Sun worship makes sense anyway, as without it, we'd die, and in the future, we'd lose a source of solar power. So may as well be thankful for it.

Helix
03-03-2018, 01:25 AM
A stellar body based 'atheistic' religion could be adopted. Basically sun worship taken a scientific level up.

The stars could be the god of each system, and the next tier of gods would be those stars or other bodies around which clusters or even entire galaxies orbit [black holes, super/hypergiant stars, anything bigger if possible].

Sun worship makes sense anyway, as without it, we'd die, and in the future, we'd lose a source of solar power. So may as well be thankful for it.

If the stars are gods, how is that atheistic?

Filigree
03-04-2018, 04:16 AM
That's sun worship, not atheism.

The Otter
03-04-2018, 09:32 AM
There are also a lot of definitional issues here as to what constitutes a "god." Does something have to be a conscious, supernatural entity in order to qualify as a god? I'd generally say yes, but I guess someone could make the argument that godhood is defined by the act of being worshiped and therefore if people decide to worship the sun, it qualifies as a god (at least to them) regardless of whether they regard it as conscious or not.

There are also people who don't believe in a Creator god but believe that the universe itself, or matter itself, is conscious, and is therefore a kind of super-entity that we're all components of. Are they theists or atheists? Or does it depend on how they frame their belief?

Fullon_v4.0
03-26-2018, 06:18 AM
The term "Religion" has many different definitions. Simply put, it's one's way of life.
Technically, Atheism in itself is a religion, a way of life without the belief in a superhuman force.

morngnstar
03-26-2018, 06:38 AM
The term "Religion" has many different definitions. Simply put, it's one's way of life.

That's not one of the definitions of religion. Many religions are influential on one's way of life. But not all ways of life are religions.

morngnstar
03-26-2018, 06:41 AM
Also, atheism is not really a way of life. It's a belief. Atheism is no more a way of life or a religion than is the belief that ice is cold.

Cyia
03-26-2018, 06:53 AM
Why do people keeping saying that atheism - the literal absence of religion - is a religion? This does not compute.

MaeZe
03-26-2018, 10:22 AM
The term "Religion" has many different definitions. Simply put, it's one's way of life.
Technically, Atheism in itself is a religion, a way of life without the belief in a superhuman force.Sorry, I can't agree with this. I hear this claim from people (not necessarily you), mostly theists that wish to dismiss rejection of god beliefs as nothing but a different religion.

The difference however, is that religious beliefs are generally dogmatic. Tenets might change over time but the religious doctrine and a belief in god(s) stays the same.

Theists and atheists alike have the same range of beliefs other than a belief in god(s). In other words you can find theists whose beliefs are consistent with science and evidence based beliefs. They have no issue with evolution theory or the fact the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. At the same time there are atheists that believe all sorts of unsupportable things. Being an atheist is no guarantee you don't believe in ghosts or BigFoot or alien abductions.


Why do people keeping saying that atheism - the literal absence of religion - is a religion? This does not compute.I have atheist friends who have adopted the Humanist religion because they want the things the religion they gave up offered besides belief in god(s). Essentially they have a community that is absent the theism.

https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/
http://huumanists.org/about/religious-humanism

Some of my atheist friends are not into religious aspects of a group. They do, however, socialize as a group, and celebrate holidays like Darwin Day.

Meetup became a source for people I know to find social groups with like-minded atheism and agnosticism.

https://www.meetup.com/topics/atheists/

Helix
03-26-2018, 10:37 AM
The term "Religion" has many different definitions. Simply put, it's one's way of life.
Technically, Atheism in itself is a religion, a way of life without the belief in a superhuman force.

Yeah. No. Not even in the hyperbolic advertising sense of 'veganism is the new religion'. Atheism is simply not believing in god/s.

mccardey
03-26-2018, 10:47 AM
Yeah. No. Not even in the hyperbolic advertising sense of 'veganism is the new religion'. Atheism is simply not believing in god/s.
Actually, I do seem to remember that definition (Religion is a way of life) from the Catholic catechism of the late 1960s. We learned it by rote - along with the definitions of papal infallibility and virgin births and oh well, you know. I'll just stop now.

Helix
03-26-2018, 11:04 AM
Actually, I do seem to remember that definition (Religion is a way of life) from the Catholic catechism of the late 1960s. We learned it by rote - along with the definitions of papal infallibility and virgin births and oh well, you know. I'll just stop now.

Oh, yeah, happy to agree that religion is a way of life. But I'd argue that atheism isn't a religion.

mccardey
03-26-2018, 11:17 AM
But I'd argue that atheism isn't a religion.Yes I'd agree with that. I think it's all starting to get a bit 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin' quite frankly, and that never ends well.

underpope
03-26-2018, 05:53 PM
The term "Religion" has many different definitions. Simply put, it's one's way of life.
Technically, Atheism in itself is a religion, a way of life without the belief in a superhuman force.

The best response I've ever seen to this claim: Atheism is a religion in the sense that bald is a hair color.

morngnstar
03-26-2018, 09:19 PM
Actually, I do seem to remember that definition (Religion is a way of life) from the Catholic catechism of the late 1960s.

Sure, religion is a way of life, but not all ways of life are religions. The Catholic Church is also a patron of the arts, but that doesn't mean the NEA is a religion.

Also, atheism is not a way of life.

mccardey
03-27-2018, 01:54 AM
Sure, religion is a way of life, but not all ways of life are religions. The Catholic Church is also a patron of the arts, but that doesn't mean the NEA is a religion.

Also, atheism is not a way of life.Yep - actually I was trying to endorse Helix's comment of 'hyperbolic advertising' but it clearly didn't come across that way...

It's a sneaky bit of marketing, because once you say something like "Religion is a way of life" you're mandating that everyone alive must have a religion of some sort, whether they know it or not. Therefore atheism can't be real. Which is clearly an over-reach for the idea of religion in the sense that they're using the term, but is fuzzy enough to be hard to dispute without taking three giant steps back and redefining religion and way and life. And the verb to be.

Zoey141
10-30-2018, 10:56 AM
Stoicism is a strong concept. It's been a part of Hinduism for ages now. I did my research for a research paper and found that a clan called "Kshatriyas" were fighters and Stoics.
I think your character can be an atheist whilst being a utilitarian. I'd like to see a character who'd free from religion, culture (https://www.123helpme.com/search.asp?text=Culture), and a true humanist.
I think you should write your character as a person who follows Humanism. MAke if your thing.