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Anti-Theism

Hello ACA community!

Before I ask my question I would like to thank Don Baker for answering my email a while back. His response made me more critical now when it comes to these types of discussions among other peers. It's an eye opener for me.

As for the question, I was wanting to ask if a person can be Anti-Theist without being an atheist? My understanding of the of the difference between the two is that an atheist lacks the belief of a god and an Anti-Theist actively pursues against theists that there is no god (I feel that my understanding of the latter is jaded so if someone could clarify this please it would be appreciated). Does a person have to be an atheist first to an active Anti-Theist? I would like some clarification on this please because I want to better my understanding. Thank you!

The way, I understand it, an anti-theist is an atheist, who tries to suppress religious movements around him/her.

However now that I think about it, I can easily imagine a religious cult, those members would believe in supernatural entities, who are slightly superior to human beings. So in this religion there would be no deities whatsoever only powerful spirits either harassing or helping people.

The interesting question is: If certain members of this cult thought that people, who believe in deities, are all "evil" and "have to be stopped", because "they don't believe in spirits", would that make this cult's members anti-theists? After all the cult members would never claim that the spirits, they believe in, are deities. "Just an other form of existence." - They would say.

Thanks for the answer but I don't think the latter was necessary. From the way you've explained it it makes anti-theism look like theism but take out the supernatural altogether and it seems like an agressive "cultist" movement. Is this totally opposite of being a positive atheist? Should we condone this kind of behaviour? (Religious bashing and using falsely misinterpreted pictures to replicate the message over nd over?

Butch,

You are right, the discussion of "strong" vs. "weak" atheism and "atheism" vs. "agnosticism" is jaded. The definitions are subjective and are more a question of a "feel" rather than fact. I wouldn't use a special term for your definition simply because I haven't seen people using it and you would have to explain it anyway. Dawkins uses "militant atheism" for that purpose which is not a good term either because of the negative connotation with "militant Islam". Another term which, I'm sure, you would not like, is "evangelical atheism" which also has association with Evangelical Christianity.

I'm a theist, by the way. I'm not against atheists and I do admit that my fellow believers can be a pain in the neck with forcing their beliefs onto others. I hang out in this forum not to proselytize, but to challenge my own beliefs and, perhaps, help other people understand mine. It's been a highly educational experience so far. I think that belief "God exists" and belief "God does not exist" have same foundation - faith based on emotion and nothing else.

It seems to me that both connotations are quite appropriate. How do you expect the "anti-theism" be different from Evangelical Christianity? How do you plan to avoid the danger of turning into what you are against - proselytizing emotional beliefs and "Religious bashing and using falsely misinterpreted pictures to replicate the message over and over?" Some religions do not use "pictures" altogether (Islam, Puritanism), and some don't have a deity (Buddhism). Are you against those as well? How do you plan to succeed without using the methods religions used for centuries? There is a lot to think about before you set out on that path. There is a clear danger of ignorant bashing of other people's beliefs.

As for the question, I would say, to actively persuade people that there is no God, one should believe it first. So, yes, one must be an atheist to do that. After all, one cannot be a Christian missionary without believing in Jesus, right? Persuading people to believe what one does not would be hypocrisy, don't you think?

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