Friday, May 15, 2009

Functional Atheists Are Not Atheists

atheism, atheist, makarios, muslim, hindu, shinto, pagan, agnostic, deism, fail, christianity, bible, god,
I may have figured out why there are so many current and former atheists in a country where less than 5% of people are atheists.

Makarios' latest is on the evil of Oprah, which I just don't have time for, but the following is illuminative:

while there are relatively few professing atheists in the world (those who declare there is no God), there may be a billion or more what I call Functional Atheists - those who live as though God, as He is described in the Bible, does not exist.

Functional atheists, or practical atheists as they're called by some, believe that God’s desires for us are no more relevant for our lives than those of the guy next door.

First of all, these are not atheists. Atheists lack a belief in any and all gods, just the same way Makarios lacks a belief in Thor or Zeus or the tiny pink unicorns in my basement. (They're lovely.) What he is describing is agnostics, deists or unaffiliateds. They represent about 10% of the US. Makarios can call them atheists, but they're not atheists. I can call my dog a cat, it's still a dog.

Secondly, Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, pagans, etc. could be described as living as though the god of the bible does not exist, by which I think Makarios means "not being the exact same sort of christians as me." Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, pagans, etc. are demonstrably not atheists: they all believe in god(s).

So, Makarios can redefine agnostics, deists, unaffiliateds, Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, pagans and my couch as atheists, until he arrives at the billions and billions number, but that does not change the fact that none of these people are atheists.

Redefinition fail.


  1. I'd call it "Evolution of English fail." I feel like that would piss him off more.

  2. Great post...

    Slight quibble though... Hindus can also be atheistic... There is a whole branch of Hinduism that is atheistic...

    Wiki Link

  3. I think Makarios is also talking about dormant Christians. People who've stopped going to church and are living as if there is no God.

    Those people are anything but atheists. The next time a hurricane blows through their neighbourhood, they will be in church crying their eyes out after an altar call and begging God for forgiveness.

  4. Anonymous: I knew that 40% of Buddhists are atheists, but I thought Hinduism required a belief in Shiva, Krishna, etc. Can you explain?

    In all honesty, I know very little of Hinduism. I've read the Bhagavad Gita, but that hardly qualifies me as informed on the religion.

  5. It's weird, sitting in the doctor's office, listening while family members tell the doctor what's the matter with me.

    Nymph why would you want to piss me off? I could be a good friend if you'd just give me a chance. That's sarcasm honey. Don't get all excited.

    Anyhow, Failure, you forgot to include my reply to the comments you left on my blog. As well, I thought I went out of my way to say that Oprah was not evil; that in fact she's done enormous good. Guess that wasn't clear enough.

  6. wweeelllll... I guess I can actually call myself an atheists by his definition, yay me!

  7. makarios, in all honesty, i didn't get a comment from you other than this one. did you post it while not logged in? i generally ignore anonymous posts unless the person includes some sort of identifier.

    this is an issue with blogger, it eats comments rather regularly. i know this because you're not the only one who's complained about it, and i've had my own comments disappear as well.

    if you want to retype it (i probably wouldn't, but if you do), i will look for it. keep in mind, though, i'm pretty busy on weekends (my house was last decorated in the 70s- yikes!), so you may have to wait a while for it to show up.

  8. Makarios said:
    "It's weird, sitting in the doctor's office, listening while family members tell the doctor what's the matter with me. "
    what is that, what does it mean, why are you posting this here? if there is snark, i don't understand the point.

    also, please note: you sitting there saying that people who don't live as *you* want them to based on *your* interpretation of a single Holy books that has been revised multiple times is insulting to begin with. so someone wanting to be rude (and i only grant that the gesture is rude because she explicilty stated she wanted to piss you off) back to you is totally understandable.

    your interpretation of your version of your holy book only applies to you.
    i am not Christian. i am *also* not an athiest. i live everyday, to the best of my ability, as i believe Goddess wants me to. just because i am not living by *your* religion's rules does not mean that i am not living by *my* religion's rules. i *am*, to the best of my (meager, human) abilities living my life in this way because i *know* that the Gods are relevant to my life.

    also? "athiest" is not an insult, but the way you are talking is insulting to *EVERY* person on the planet who doesn't fall into the rigid stereotypical rules you espouse. all those millions of people you are dismissing for not being Christian tend to have incredible rich spiritual lives that are lived in tandem with their God/dess(es). and the athiests i know tend to be very good people who look for the meaning in *humanity*, they are the ones who actually drive and strive to fix and change things nd make them better for *everyone*.

    actually, now that i think of it, the only people you are really insulting here are those who, like you, only follow a narrow, dogmatic version of "God". it's very sad - pretty much the *only* bad press i see of Christianty is put out by Christians.

  9. Yeah but what I want to know is if all these non-atheist atheists are "weak atheists", "strong atheists", "anti-theists", or whatever else. How else will I know if my own little niche of atheism is in the majority or not? After all until my branch of atheism is the overwhelmingly predominant one I can't start claiming persecution under the existing rules of fundieism.

    Actually that seems about par for the constantly ongoing rightwing word re-definition project. The pity is that these people aren't even doing it on purpose half the time. They simply can't be bothered to inform themselves about a topic before expounding on it authoritatively. Why be picky about your choice of words, they can mean anything you want them to, right?

  10. “It's weird, sitting in the doctor's office, listening while family members tell the doctor what's the matter with me.”

    I think Makarios was trying to say that reading this “is like being in a doctors office while family members”…ect ect.

    I can see what he/she means by that, it’s like being a fly on the wall listening to people talk about you. That makes the sentence make more sense. :)

  11. Also atheism does not equal rationalism.
    There are atheistic religious faiths, and there are self-proclaimed atheists whom believe there is no god(s) or "lack belief therein" rather strongly even, but whom are part of non-theistic religions or faiths, or even may not be so- but yet are superstitious,etc.

    Rationalism also does not equal atheism. for the reasons above, but also because Strong Agnostics{whether about the god question or about everything} can fall into that category as can Deists/pandeists/panendeists/etc. Strong Atheists and Strong Deists both have "faith" as much as they may wish to deny it. Agnostic-Atheists and Agnostic-Deists have a reason based belief or intellectual leaning.

    The culture war has it all wrong, both sides have it all wrong. And it needs to stop beeign atheism vs religion, and needs to become RATIONALISM vs FAITH.

    In Reason:
    Bill Baker


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