Archive for the ‘Brights’ Category

Why there’s no need for an atheist’s code.

November 2, 2006

Here’s the article that got me thinking about this topic.

This might be pedantic, but I think there’s an important distinction to be made. There’s no need for an atheist’s code because atheism isn’t a belief system. It’s much simpler than that.

“After all, many theists will proclaim, does it really make sense to organize a group of people around a non-belief? One could just as easily form an ideology around lack of belief in the tooth fairy.”

Atheism doesn’t need an ideology formed around it. It’s hard to explain but basically it’s only the prevalence of theism that lends atheism any meaning in the first place. Atheism is just the “default position” of not assuming supernatural explanations for things. In a world where belief in the tooth fairy was as wide spread as belief in god is in ours, afairyism would become relevant. However, prior to the rise of fairyism, afairyism would have no reason to exist. Same situation with religion and atheism.

Humans have a built in predisposition to socialize and form groups. The discussion of an atheist’s code is probably an outpouring of that need. The problem is that atheism in and of itself doesn’t necessitate belief in anything else, so how would you codify that? The only real necessity for being an atheist is the stance that it’s irrational to believe in a god given the lack of evidence to support it. That doesn’t say anything about any other beliefs that an atheist may or may not have. I can happily believe that the moon is made of green cheese in conjunction with my lack of belief in a deity. They’re unrelated. It is, admittedly, highly unlikely that atheists would believe that the moon is made of green cheese. However, such a belief wouldn’t disqualify them from being an atheist. It would certainly disqualify them from being considered rational. So maybe “rationalist” is more in line with the author’s thinking?

One other possibility is The Brights.  They have an ideology of which atheism is a part. Daniel Dennet and Richard Dawkins are two well known names involved with the Brights.  You can check out the list of “Enthusiastic Brights” to see them. These guys are renowned scientists and atheists and any belief system they espouse will undoubtedly have much to recommend it. This dovetails very nicely with what I was saying above. It’s not necessarily about atheism, it’s about going above and beyond atheism and codifying an actual ideology. One belief does not an ideology make 🙂

I can be an atheist and also a believer in the green cheese moon theory. It doesn’t seem that the Bright’s naturalistic world view would let me get away with that. That’s the only distinction I was trying to make; Don’t build the code around atheism, atheism depends on rampant theism. All atheists should hope that one day the term atheist will become meaningless. It’s no longer necessary to proclaim the fact that you don’t believe in Zeus.

Thanks a great deal to the author of the linked piece, it was very thought provoking.

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