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I've thought of using the 'cultural' term, but I feel that there is room within that term for many types including theists, who are simply not mainstream/mainline versions of whatever religion they participate in. I think reform judaism, progressive christianity (which can still be a theist practice) could fall under that umbrella. I think the term 'cultural jew/christian' speaks to a certain lack of commitment or fervor. This is why I don't use the term. I participate in ritual regularly, but I don't attribute what I do to anything supernatural. I use religion as an interpretative tool and a form a social mediation, because it is so personally evocative.
that's cool Joan. Neither am I in a contest, really.

I anticipate that any definition of religion is going to be problematic, really - because the experience of it is so diverse.

I haven't read it, but Bo Bennett has a book called "The Concept:  Introduction to Christian Nontheism". 

"Atheism" encompasses a lot, from the general not believing in the supernatural at all, to the specific (and probably linguistically more correct) not believing in a theistic god.  If you use the specific definition, then you are open to believing in other forms of supernatural entities (deism, etc.), although you should probably resign yourself to having to make long eye-glazing explanations every time you describe yourself as a religious atheist.  

As an aside, I am all for qualifying "atheist".  Qualification implies some level of complexity and nuance over the popular idea that atheism just means "belief that god does not exist".  But I am looking for something catchier than "agnostic atheist humanist"

I like made up words. I will have to think about "Potentialist"; it may do the job for me ... on the other hand, it is too positive and I want to be negative, mean, hateful, judgmental, "don't get in my face" kind of not-enough-evidence-there-is-a god.

Write4U, you have me there: " creating a lack of belief (an emotional void) is more difficult than to offer a logical alternative which fills the void."

I also remember the "human potential movement" and how helpful that was for me to look to myself for definition instead of accepting others' definition of me. 

Truthfully, my goal is to settle down my volcanic anger against religion and instead  put something of value in its place. 

 "belief that god does not exist", does not fit my experience. I would say, "I find no compelling evidence god exists." If evidence showed up, I would say, "OK, issue closed."

Yes, I think that is the stance of most atheists.  However, the average person-on-the-street would triumphantly announce, with the certainty that only ignorance allows, that you are then an agnostic, not an atheist. 

agnostic isn't strong enough for my taste. If I were to qualify my stance, I would take the anti-theist path. 

mkwalker, write4U, and FreeThinker are all in the neighbourhood to what I mean by religious atheist.

I follow the stories of my tradition, but what the stories mean to me is not supernatural, I do regard my personal interpretation of what the stories signify as sacred, not because someone outside or imaginary told me...but because it's how I choose to express my deepest values.

As an example, I remember a scientist who discovered that some iceberg had carved out a path somewhere during the ice age, but that the indigenous communities had a story in their mythology about that same incident for hundreds of years. It would have sounded like 'woo' to the scientist, had he not done his own research, but it was true.

Religion is like that for me, it expresses the history of natural and historical events, as well as shared moral 'truths', values, proverbs, etc. So when I say I 'worship God', that's really just a way of saying 'this narrative expresses values that are central to my life'.

The narratives are also spiritually edifying. I'm not suggesting that satisfying experiences can't be found in science, but because of my personal history, family connections, cultural heritage, science just can't replace the meaning that religion allows me to express and explore. But no woo. Religion could never get me to drink the kool-aid.

When a bee gets up in the morning, hunts for flowers to poke its nose into, flutters from flower to flower and  it does not say, "I must do the work of the lord!" It does what bees do and in the process pollination occurs. 

When a robin gets up in the morning, it sings, looks for worms, listens for worm or bug sounds, digs it out, eats it or takes it to babies, runs across the ground, poops, listens, pecks, pulls, eats and carries food back to the nest. It does what robins do and in the process carries on the processes of life, giving birth and caring for young, dies and returns to the earth, perhaps through the mouth of a cat. 

When a cat gets up in the morning ... well, you get the idea. 

When a person gets up in the morning ... 

In my humble opinion, life has no meaning or purpose other than how we give expression to our lives and how we attend to our consciousness, now; not how we did it or someone else did it, or how we will do it; Life has meaning in the here and now. That is all. There is no reward or no punishment in some other realm. 

For me, flourishing is the issue! Are the things I think, believe, say, and do, empowering me and those around me? Do I have the strength to stand publicly and defy abuse, delusions, denial, domination, exploitation, manipulation? 

I would second Annet's Alain de Botton recommendation.




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