Non-Religious Leader

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Okita
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Non-Religious Leader

Postby Okita » Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:42 pm UTC

I was thinking about all the religion talk that happens in SB and General once in a while and I started thinking about the preacher v. religious community relationship. I don't think I'm too far off when I claim that a priest is the religious leader of a religious community. Specifically in the Christianity or Judaism, the priest is a sources of leadership in things ethical, moral and spiritual.

Atheists don't really have that and I wondered why. True, Atheists do not believe in God and thus would have no need for any sort of spiritual leadership. But at the same time, it's not like someone who is Atheist will always have a complete idea of what is ethical or moral for them. I suppose the question I'm posing is "How come there isn't a sort of non-spiritual community leader for non-religious people?"

Political leaders are obviously out because they have their own agendas and in some cases are supposed to reflect the wants and needs of the people they represent. Scientific leaders are few and far between. There's not much on the local level that one could say...take your kid to when they are having a crisis of homophobia/ ethical crisis or even perhaps a non-religious crisis.

In my own crazy world I imagine that someday we'll have local Speakers, people who are reasonably well educated and perhaps hold lectures or speakings or something weekly. Obviously they won't talk about whether there is a God or quote from Scripture or have spiritual routines that the Church goes through. But they would talk about local or global events, their opinions and research on them and seek to inform people about them.

Maybe they'll be like researchers who spend their life learning and then "preaching" what they have learned to the community in easier to digest forms so that the community as a whole benefits from being more learned on all subjects. A Jack-of-all-trades version of knowledge.

Then again, perhaps something like that already exists (methinks perhaps lectures at local colleges?) and I'm just rambling. What do you think?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Gunfingers » Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

I go to a mentor when i need guidance. Friends/supervisors/dad/whatever.

For example, when i first moved to where i am now, i became severely disillusioned about my work. It got to the point i was considering taking fairly drastic action to find some sort of purpose. I talked to my supervisor (who served as an excellent mentor, and still does at times, though i rarely see him anymore) and he helped me resolve the issue.

I should also note that while i am an atheist i have spoken to clergymen about my quandries. As a bit of advice to you atheists out there: religous leaders may be "religious," but that doesn't make them stupid. Helping people is what they do, and they're damned good at it. They can probably help you.
Last edited by Gunfingers on Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Clerria » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:09 pm UTC

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're treating Atheism too much like an organized religion. I know some people actually feel that way, but for me personally: I feel that my brand of atheism is strictly NON-religious. So no organization, no leadership, no nothing similar to religion. Because it's just not religion, and it's not the opposite of religion, it's the absence, or lack of it.

That's just me : )
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Okita » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:11 pm UTC

Clerria wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're treating Atheism too much like an organized religion. I know some people actually feel that way, but for me personally: I feel that my brand of atheism is strictly NON-religious. So no organization, no leadership, no nothing similar to religion. Because it's just not religion, and it's not the opposite of religion, it's the absence, or lack of it.

That's just me : )


True, Atheism isn't really an organized religion. But I keep thinking about how many communities in the US are religion centered. You'll have the mayor but the pastor is also an important leader. I was thinking about what kind of leader you would have for non-religion ethical questions. But Gunfinger's response is a pretty good answer.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Gadren » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

It would probably be hard to have something like a moral leader for atheists, and the common saying about atheists and herding cats comes to mind. However, there are a number of people who preside over humanist weddings, and I think that someone like that could be the source for what you're thinking of.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:20 pm UTC

Okita wrote:True, Atheism isn't really an organized religion. But I keep thinking about how many communities in the US are religion centered. You'll have the mayor but the pastor is also an important leader. I was thinking about what kind of leader you would have for non-religion ethical questions. But Gunfinger's response is a pretty good answer.


Well... there isn't a single source of 'morality' for atheists. If you're looking for a structured set of ethics, you're going to have to select a philosophy which will provide one. After you've taken that step, you've got a group of like-minded individuals from which to choose.

So... if you decide you like objectivism, hang around the Ayn Rand section of the bookstore until you find some depressed goth who can lend an ear :lol:

A lot of us have simply come to our own conclusions about morals and ethics.

If it means anything though, if you have a specific question... you could always post it here.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:45 pm UTC

redwards wrote:Well... there isn't a single source of 'morality' for atheists.

This is the central issue. In organized religion, there's a clear source of moral information. The more someone knows about that source, the more qualified that person is to give you moral advice.
If there is no objective information source, though, how is anybody remotely qualified to give you advice? Morality cannot be trained or measured (though people sometimes try to do so). You have to come up with your own way to decide what the right thing to do is, and nobody in the universe is in any position to correct you.
The best you can do is find people with similar ideas of morality to yours, and bounce ideas off them.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:46 pm UTC

redwards wrote:So... if you decide you like objectivism, hang around the Ayn Rand section of the bookstore until you find some depressed goth who can lend an ear


::steps out of topic:: If you like getting advice from people who, generally speaking, hate everything you stand for?

Goth tends to be characterized by a romantic (in the literary/artistic sense) streak a mile wide, among other things. Stereotypically speaking, objectivism goes over with them like a lead balloon covered in spikes and filled with centipedes.

Actually, if viewed from a distance, the spikey centipede balloon might even do better.

If you like objectivism, and you need to find a stereotype to hang out with, I'd suggest the rich, well-dressed 20-something walking down the street sneering at panhandlers.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby redwards » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:06 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
redwards wrote:So... if you decide you like objectivism, hang around the Ayn Rand section of the bookstore until you find some depressed goth who can lend an ear


::steps out of topic:: If you like getting advice from people who, generally speaking, hate everything you stand for?

Goth tends to be characterized by a romantic (in the literary/artistic sense) streak a mile wide, among other things. Stereotypically speaking, objectivism goes over with them like a lead balloon covered in spikes and filled with centipedes.

Actually, if viewed from a distance, the spikey centipede balloon might even do better.

If you like objectivism, and you need to find a stereotype to hang out with, I'd suggest the rich, well-dressed 20-something walking down the street sneering at panhandlers.

:lol:

That's true. Goth was a totally off-the-wall stereotype for objectivism. Not sure where I pulled that one from. I tend to think of Rand as stark, and somehow stark became black-clothed which became goth.

I take it back. If you like objectivism and you need advice, call Alan Greenspan.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

And be prepared to pay for the advice. Why should he give it for free?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Freyja » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:00 pm UTC

Okita wrote:In my own crazy world I imagine that someday we'll have local Speakers, people who are reasonably well educated and perhaps hold lectures or speakings or something weekly. Obviously they won't talk about whether there is a God or quote from Scripture or have spiritual routines that the Church goes through. But they would talk about local or global events, their opinions and research on them and seek to inform people about them.
[...]
Then again, perhaps something like that already exists (methinks perhaps lectures at local colleges?) and I'm just rambling. What do you think?


His name is Stephen Colbert.

But in all seriousness, i agree with the aforementioned comparison of herding cats. It's too difficult to find one person who speaks for a group of people that comes from such a varied background and with radically different interests.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:33 pm UTC

1) Atheism needs no leaders
2) The person you were describing is known as a "friend" or a "professor"

Essentially, you want someone that can talk about world events with you in a friendly fashion, and able to agree to disagree. Which is most anyone you like.

Atheism is not an organized system in any fashion, it is a true negative. Some people rally behind this negative to defend themselves from the theists. Or amongst any number of other reasons.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:37 pm UTC

Aetheism relies on independent thought, rather than priests / pastors / whatever. That independent thought sometimes leads us to seek advice from friends, family, or webforums, or just search our own experiences and glance at our own moral compass.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby BVD » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:48 pm UTC

The 'Speakers' in the OP sound rather like the ancient philosophers. Another route you could go is to have village elders, so to speak, who would give advice to the young'uns

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:20 pm UTC

Atheists don't really have that and I wondered why. True, Atheists do not believe in God and thus would have no need for any sort of spiritual leadership. But at the same time, it's not like someone who is Atheist will always have a complete idea of what is ethical or moral for them.


--main point--
It's not like you get morals from religion alone. I mean, you can't live in America without a helping of Puritan, in the UK without Anglic/Catholic, in Europe without Catholic/Gnostic/classicist philosophy...and just because you have exposure to morality doesn't mean that you have to abide by it. People's interests are NOT dictated by their faith--that's just absurd.

--aside--
I'm atheist (a- without -theist god(s)). But I'm also Catholic.*

*This is wholly acceptable for The Church, as it is cannon that no person may judge another person's spirituality, and all are considered equal. Since I got dipped, not even the Panzerpapen can tell me I'm bad. And what with Jesus being love, even if I'm wrong, I still go to the eternal reward place.

Mind you, in all books of the New Testament, Jesus never tells anyone that they will go to Hell. He, in fact, implies that there is no one in Hell, because of the whole God/love/forgiveness bit. A lot of people need judgement, as in, they feel there needs to be immutable, universal justice. (What a joke.) But when you hit the books, Catholic dogma doesn't allow it.

The idea of eternal damnation as a punishment for acting across morals seems to be used, in majority, by those with political aspirations, anyway.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:24 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Aetheism relies on independent thought


Explain.

How does disbelief require effort greater than belief? Can't you be just as atheist without thinking about it as you could be Creationist without thinking about it? Isn't it as equally hard to stay religious in a world defined by science as it is to break free from centuries of religious history?

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:32 pm UTC

Axman wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Aetheism relies on independent thought


Explain.

How does disbelief require effort greater than belief? Can't you be just as atheist without thinking about it as you could be Creationist without thinking about it? Isn't it as equally hard to stay religious in a world defined by science as it is to break free from centuries of religious history?

Uhm... you sort of veered WAY the heck off topic with your first sentence. It's not that it requires greater effort. It actually requires considerably LESS effort. However, there seems to be a propensity among "religious people" to seek advice from people who's only qualification is that they wear special religious clothes.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:59 pm UTC

However, there seems to be a propensity among "religious people" to seek advice from people who's only qualification is that they wear special religious clothes.


But is that propensity higher among those with faith than in any other group? People accept a lot of things without considering what they mean.

And of all the major religions that I've learned about, they all ask that their parishioners think about and evaluate their faith, even question it. For Baptists, surprisingly, it is cannon that all walks of life lead to God, and that faith is secondary to living and love. (Unless, you know, you like it in the boom-boom.) Lutherans and Catholics have re-joined, the only difference is that they maintain separate, though non-exclusive, dogma. Orthodox Christians have some of the most strict dogma, but also favor the idea that all paths are Godly, and are penultimately acceptant of self-evaluation.

Ultimately, Christianity preaches that people should live their lives and find guidance and wisdom in their respective dogmas, and not to blindly comply with their religion. That's the opposite of faith.

What I'm getting at, is that people's willingness to follow religious leaders is their decision, or absence of decision, and not intrinsic to religion itself. Furthermore, it's not easy to become a religious leader, and most are qualified to give general advice.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Flying Betty » Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:04 am UTC

Groups tend to center around something one does. People worship a god, so they get together to worship that god. If people like skiing, they get together to ski with people. There aren't clubs dedicated to people getting together and deliberately not skiing. Atheism isn't something one does. That's why it doesn't have anyone to center around. There are notable atheists just like there are notable people of any particular designation (RIP Douglas Adams) but there's no one leader because there really isn't anything to lead right now.

Aside from the occasional campus atheist club, there's no atheism community. Maybe there should be. I see two reasons here: one is that studies have shown that religious people live longer. Is this due to their belief, or due to their massive church community? Having a church gives you a bunch of like minded people to be friends with, something to get involved with, a respected leader to go to if you have any problems. Atheists don't get any of that- they need to use their other interests to find supportive groups.

The other reason is to get atheism seen and accepted in the mainstream. Americans, at least, get fed religion from every direction. Atheism doesn't necessarily mean independent thought but it does mean that you're different from the norm, whether you deliberately turned your back on religion or whether you just never were urged to have religion to begin with. We don't have high profile atheist groups out there doing good deeds and running major charities. I doubt that most religious people see atheism as a valid option. We need to make this a visible, viable national stance. It isn't something that needs a unified leader, but it does need some well known and liked people speaking about it in public. We really should start atheist clubs and hold atheist activities and do atheist charity fundraisers and being in atheist speakers to give atheists that community they they aren't getting from church and to show the rest of the country that atheists aren't evil, immoral, god-hating baby-killers. (OK, maybe some of us are those last two. Oops.)
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Oct 12, 2007 4:16 am UTC

Axman wrote:What I'm getting at, is that people's willingness to follow religious leaders is their decision, or absence of decision, and not intrinsic to religion itself. Furthermore, it's not easy to become a religious leader, and most are qualified to give general advice.

That is a good point. I was mostly referring to the OP, where "people talk to religious leaders for guidance", but that is true, not all "religious people" look elsewhere for all moral guidance, and in truth, very few devout Christians I know (and I know a few) have done that since their teen years.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Fudge » Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:53 am UTC

There may be no official leader, but I'm sure Atheists who want to talk about Atheism just simply find another person who is, like a parent or a friend.

A of organized religions have formal hierarchies. Atheism doesn't.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:27 am UTC

Fudge wrote:Atheists


Inadvertently, a point is made: is this shit supposed to be capitalized? I mean, I'm atheist. I'm not Atheist, I'm Catholic.

What're you trying to say with the capitalization?

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby __Kit » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:58 am UTC

I like the idea :mrgreen: But I'm dumb I guess.

Anywho just reminds me in class, I said "I'm not trying to convert people to atheism or anything." But then I was thinking what would the correct term be, "unconvert"?
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Fudge » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:10 am UTC

Axman wrote:
Fudge wrote:Atheists


Inadvertently, a point is made: is this shit supposed to be capitalized? I mean, I'm atheist. I'm not Atheist, I'm Catholic.

What're you trying to say with the capitalization?

I saw other people capitalizing it so I did too. I didn't mean anything by it. It doesn't have to be a religion for it to be capitalized. Philosophies and what-not are often capitalized too.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:18 am UTC

Ah, I see. Okita, why have you capitalized atheist? How is it a proper noun?

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby crazyjimbo » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:29 am UTC

Okita wrote:Then again, perhaps something like that already exists (methinks perhaps lectures at local colleges?) and I'm just rambling. What do you think?


I have certainly never been in a situation where there wasn't some sort of mentor figure available to help you if you asked. Both at school and University* we have a Chaplin, whose primary purpose isn't to convert you to a Christian, but is there to be an impartial source of generally sound advice. These Chaplin dudes have a weird knack of being really world wise and down to earth.

Basically, there is no need to feel you can't seek non-religious advice from a religious source. Churches are about so much more than just God worship. After all, part of at least the Christian religion is about not turning people away.

* Yes, I know, not a real cross section of society.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Iv » Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:33 pm UTC

Fudge wrote:I saw other people capitalizing it so I did too. I didn't mean anything by it. It doesn't have to be a religion for it to be capitalized. Philosophies and what-not are often capitalized too.


I am Skeptical about the Capitalization habit, but maybe it is a Good Thing (tm). :wink:

Back on topic : One of the first corrolaries of atheism, is that when it comes to ethics, no human and no book has more authority than another. People can have, however, argumented views on what is wrong or right, these are well known : philosophers, scientists, politicians. The difference between believers and atheists is that believers obey to morality where atheists decide their morality.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby HenryS » Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:26 pm UTC

Iv wrote:The difference between believers and atheists is that believers obey to morality where atheists decide their morality.
I think it would be more accurate to say that if directly questioned, those groups will claim those sources for their morality. The reality is likely much more complicated.

The vast majority of Christians do not think that stoning adulterers is the right thing to do, or even necessarily agree with what their preachers are telling them. I suspect that a higher percentage (although I don't have any evidence of this) of atheists have thought about the question of how they should feel about moral questions, but I don't see many examples of people changing what they do and think is right based on logical arguments.

Most people, both religious and non-religious, get their moral sense from something else, made up of genetics, culture, education, what their friends say and so on.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby redwards » Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:31 pm UTC

HenryS wrote:
Iv wrote:The difference between believers and atheists is that believers obey to morality where atheists decide their morality.
I think it would be more accurate to say that if directly questioned, those groups will claim those sources for their morality. The reality is likely much more complicated.

The vast majority of Christians do not think that stoning adulterers is the right thing to do, or even necessarily agree with what their preachers are telling them. I suspect that a higher percentage (although I don't have any evidence of this) of atheists have thought about the question of how they should feel about moral questions, but I don't see many examples of people changing what they do and think is right based on logical arguments.

Most people, both religious and non-religious, get their moral sense from something else, made up of genetics, culture, education, what their friends say and so on.


Are we allowed to QFT in Serious Business? :wink:

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Victorkm » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:09 pm UTC

Most Nondenominational christian faith leaders would very likely happily give you advice and council even if you asked them to please leave religion out of it.

Their answers may be influenced by their religion, but as long as they aren't trying to influence you to become born-again etc then it doesn't invalidate their advice.

For example: My cousin is the preacher at a Christian church and spent his whole college career in bible school. I'm an agnostic/athiest. We both know this about each other. When we spend time hanging out I still have discussions with him about my current life situation and he still can offer me practical advice without bringing religion into it. He respects my lack of belief the same that I respect his beliefs. We speak as equals.

I wouldn't trust a baptist priest to do the same, but I wouldn't have a problem seeking non-spiritual council from like a lutheran or a presbyterian or other such denomination of Christian spiritual leader.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Iv » Sun Oct 14, 2007 9:50 am UTC

Victorkm wrote:Most Nondenominational christian faith leaders would very likely happily give you advice and council even if you asked them to please leave religion out of it.

Their answers may be influenced by their religion, but as long as they aren't trying to influence you to become born-again etc then it doesn't invalidate their advice.


For every practical or psychological questions, a human is a human. Most religions do not give a lot of practical advices and their psychological advices are usually quite limited and drawn from common sense and common wisdom. On morality, however, I don't see how a religious leader could give a useful advice to an atheist.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby BirdKiller » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:41 am UTC

Axman wrote:Ah, I see. Okita, why have you capitalized atheist? How is it a proper noun?


For me, I assumed it was a proper noun since names of religions are also capitalized as well. However, in a more general sense, I assumed it was a proper noun since it was a name of a group, not in a conventional sense, but more as a label. I don't capitalize that word, but really don't care if others capitalize. That said, I'm curious why you're interested in capitalization of "Atheists".

As for the topic, I consider myself to be an atheist (passive one) and don't believe we should, nor ever will, have a leader. I'm guessing everyone has their own reason why they don't have faith. Personally, atheism really doesn't affect my life or thinking at all (it does in a passive sense, specifically not crediting events of my life to God/gods/spirit(s)) directly, so with that, I don't look up to a group or person to nurture this thought that's absent in a conscience sense, nor do I wish it to ever become active.

As for asking for help from religious leaders, I wouldn't mind go to them for any help. From my experience, they are happy to help you and not mention anything about their faith/religion. Conversely, I think an atheist can also help someone who has religion on moral issues, at least that's what I do often.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Okita » Mon Oct 15, 2007 2:45 am UTC

Erm... I capitalized the word atheist because my instinct told me it was the grammatically correct thing to do. Is there some sort of secret meaning to my grammar instinct? Hell if I know.

Honestly, when I was thinking about this I was thinking a lot about "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card.

But yeah, I suppose you could still go ask your local religious leader given that they are not prone to attempted conversion.
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Dibley » Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:51 am UTC

Haven't you heard of Richard Dawkins? He's our high priest.

More seriously, atheism could never have a dedicated leadership simply because it isn't really a cohesive category, it is simply an absence of some other category. However, the community leader type thing the OP describes sounds very cool, and I hope that someday we can have such a thing. In my experience, professors tend to serve in similar roles, and perhaps they will develop further into a separate entity.

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Axman
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:33 am UTC

Being atheist is a state, like being tall or being excited. It's being without a god. A-theist. But some people capitalize it with purpose. I just don't know what it is, or why...I was hoping someone could shed light on it with reason.

Groups aren't always capitalized, anyway, even if being atheist grouped you. (Obviously, that isn't the case, even for Christians.) Certainly it's irregular to capitalize Religious. Of Faithful. Or Queer. Or Pregnant. Or Black (but Dominican is OK).

I'm just feeling a little Socratic.

Also, I think it's retarded, er, Retarded to seek out some kind of political face for atheists. After the UCLA, we have the Supreme Court. Besides, not having faith is just as powerful and personal as having it, so it's likely just as dividing as any religious doctrine. And finally, if there ever gets to be a recognizable Atheist organization, then I'll have to get used to capitalizing it.

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Belial
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Belial » Mon Oct 15, 2007 2:00 pm UTC

Also, I think it's retarded, er, Retarded to seek out some kind of political face for atheists.


I don't. Those who don't have a political face tend to be trampled over by those who do.
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zenten
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby zenten » Mon Oct 15, 2007 2:43 pm UTC

Iv wrote:
Victorkm wrote:Most Nondenominational christian faith leaders would very likely happily give you advice and council even if you asked them to please leave religion out of it.

Their answers may be influenced by their religion, but as long as they aren't trying to influence you to become born-again etc then it doesn't invalidate their advice.


For every practical or psychological questions, a human is a human. Most religions do not give a lot of practical advices and their psychological advices are usually quite limited and drawn from common sense and common wisdom. On morality, however, I don't see how a religious leader could give a useful advice to an atheist.


Many of them are trained counselors, and they're willing to counsel you without a fee. That's the main advantage there.

As to the issue at hand, most non-athiests I know don't listen to anyone either, even the ones that go to some form of organized worship.

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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Bugs » Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:31 pm UTC

I think the problem with having an "atheist community" or "atheist leader" is that there isn't really much to hold them together.

Religious communities share a set of beliefs and values; they have a worldview and a set of rituals in common. The priest, imam, scary-eyed cult leader or whatever is at the center of these things, being responsible for teaching and administering them. So the religious leader is at the center of the community anyway and is generally viewed as being closer to God, which lends authority to their opinions or arbitrations.

In contrast, atheists share the view that God(s) doesn't exist, and pretty much nothing else. There is no shared ethical system, mythology or ritual to provide community cohesion. As such, there isn't any higher authority to invoke or set of studies that would make a person expert at being an atheist. All wannabe "community leaders" will therefore be judged solely on their philosophies and political platforms, no one of which will ever appeal to all atheists. So while there are some biggish groups like the humanists and secularists, I think the "community" will always be fragmented.

My personal position: My dad is a "religious leader in a religious community", so I got to see a lot of how that community worked and his interactions with it. These days I'm agnostic (effectively an atheist) and have looked around for a "political face". Both Humanists and Secularists (UK versions) are interesting, but both have policies I disagree with so I'm steering clear for the moment.
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Minerva
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Minerva » Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:52 pm UTC

I don't think atheism requires organised spiritual leadership as such.

But, every so often, society has its Carl Sagan, or Richard Feynman, or Annie Druyan, or Richard Dawkins or whoever, and whilst their contributions to our way of thinking, their philosophies, aren't essential to the world, they make a wonderful, wonderful contribution.
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Axman
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Re: Non-Religious Leader

Postby Axman » Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:30 pm UTC

Belial wrote:I don't. Those who don't have a political face tend to be trampled over by those who do.


Well once religious groups become the political machine, maybe I'll identify with an atheist organization. But, even after the likes of George Bush, neither party is dictated by religion and both parties have their share of anti-religion. I'd rather my political views get served than my religious; I can handle my faith on my own, but I need a government for other stuff.

Our government, after all, will be pretty hard-pressed to serve as an arm of any sect. It's sort of been designed that way.


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