Is the perception that non-theism is negative correct?

Of course, the concept that theism is positive, and non-theism is negative is two edged sword. If one is convinced that a supernatural entity or entities that dwell in a supernatural world created humanity for the purpose of developing a sentient creature that can understand the creators “power and majesty” and that will worship it/them to their death for the promise of eternal life; then, of course, theism is very positive and non-theism is so negative as to deserve (in some societies and in some times) rejection, ostracism, expulsion, and death followed by a supernatural, everlasting, existence in the fires of hell. Fortunately, in the “enlightened” societies of this age, non-theists and those that follow a different flavor of supernatural belief, put up with relatively mild rejection and only have to suffer an eternity in hell fire.

On the other hand, those that are persuaded by reason and scientific analysis that supernatural entities did not create humanity, do not not direct or “meddle” in the major and minor affairs of humanity, and eschew the reality of the supernatural fantasy of gods and religion; consider non-theism as positive and supernatural theism as a negative aberration of reason and, like wars based on different flavors of religion, something that should be buried in the ancient past of humanity.  

However, considering that just the three major Abrahamic religious movements, the star, the cross, and the crescent, include about 3.5 billion people, over half the population of the world, and that the adherents to these basic faiths, despite the vehement conflicts between their major and minor differences, consider non-theism as something evil that should be wiped from the face of the Earth; then the negative label that non-theism carries is written in large red letters.

Even though the basis of non-theism is a search for rational truth without supernatural bias, and is perhaps the most positive endeavor in which the the human mind can engage, the negative, evil connotation that non-theism carries puts non-theists in a position of having to use negative arguments against the ingrained, emotional, positive arguments of theists. How can non-theism become more positive and even provide a rational way that a human being can preserve something of themselves for the future of humanity? I wrote a book about that...

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Comment by Martin A. Moe, Jr on August 4, 2014 at 7:46am

Very interesting, Bertold. Your post reminds me of that Santanyana quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“ It also seems that most people do not, or can not, observe, analyze, and think for themselves, which if do, they can then reject the irrational and the impossible, and hold in abeyance what may be possible, but has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Maybe that’s why the jury system, although much better then autocracy, has its problems. And as you point out, It is also amazing that the philosophies developed when there was little science and supernatural explanations of the natural world were “truth” and were not questioned still drive social elements of our culture. The huge concrete stone of rationality and reason is still being pushed uphill, but more and more of us are pushing these days.

Comment by Martin A. Moe, Jr on August 4, 2014 at 7:23am

Hi Randall, 

I got a "could not deliver" message and I think it was for this message that I sent in reply to you. Computer communication can be confusing.


Thanks Randall, that is my first post here. The title of the book is Preserving the Essence of Human Life. I just put it on Smashwords yesterday as a free ebook. I'll try to get it on Amazon today. I'm not sure how to mention it on A.N. It is free, and I'll send a PDF to anyone who asks, but I'm not sure how to do that either.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on August 3, 2014 at 12:42pm

You bring up an interesting and crucial question, Martin, and imho it's been clearly demonstrated that reasonable argumentation will never be effective to counter religious beliefs. I find it interesting to consider what might be the root cause of this strange kind of belief that rejects not only logical proof, but even the propriety of proof. Alfred North Whitehead characterized Western philosophy as “a series of footnotes to Plato.” According to Nietzsche, Plato was the culprit who tainted the entire subsequent stream of Western thought with a devastatingly destructive ontological poison most clearly laid out in his famous allegory of the cave. Plato claimed that the physical world of the senses is a world of “mere shadows” compared to some higher world of perfection he called the “forms.” Nietzsche called this poisonous [his word] belief “the spirit of revenge,” arguing that belief in a “higher” world that is absolutely superior to our day-to-day world amounts to an unconscious inclination to disvalue physical reality. Nothing I’ve encountered better explains the way we justify our devastation of the environment, make decisions about starting wars based on the belief that the “end times” are coming, etc. etc.


It’s easy to see, as Nietzsche constantly argued, that Christianity is nothing more than a warmed-over rehash of this Platonic worldview. To throw in my biases, it’s a warmed-over rehash with all the interest, sophistication and subtlety stripped away and further besmirched by the absurd priggish perils of Pauline prevarication. Sadly, I’ve always vividly remembered a line from a perverse purple pamphlet titled "The Way of the Cross" used by the Catholics for their Lenten rituals: “I will scorch, scathe and punish myself in this world that I might be happy in the next.” That pretty much says it all.

Comment by Martin A. Moe, Jr on August 3, 2014 at 10:38am

You are correct, Freethinker, in that non-theists are positive because they reject the belief that a supernatural entity created and intimately controls the universe, including Earth, and all natural processes and human lives as well. But my point, that you seem to have missed, was that even though theists fail to accept  that religious beliefs have no founding in reality, they emotionally  believe that their particular religion/beliefs are good, i.e., positive, thus by definition any doubt and rejection of their religion is extremely negative. So non-theists have the unwarranted perception of a negative position, and this is a difficult burden to overcome. The situation is not unlike a school yard with 100 children yelling “Tis so!”, and three children surrounded in a corner shouting back, “Tis not”. I doesn’t matter that the Tis nots have science, reason, and reality on their side, they cannot prevail against overwhelming odds. But eventually, hopefully, reason and reality and truth will become obvious. The trend is already in place. I think, however, that ridicule and derision is non productive and that somehow, the social and humanistic aspects of religion will have to be incorporated on a world scale with free thinking. reason, and an understanding that humanity has to live and prosper within the carrying capacity of the natural resources of out Earth in order for humanity to long survive. How do we do that? How do combat the widely held view that the end times are upon us and after the apocalypse the lion will again lie down with the lamb and supernaturalism will return, and everything will be again as God intended? I don’t know, but we have to think about that.

Comment by Randall Smith on August 3, 2014 at 7:46am

Good post. What's your book's title?

Comment by Michael Penn on August 2, 2014 at 7:01pm

That's true, Freethinker31, but don't tell the theist that. They believe science is a lie and we have no proof. They have all the proof. They have the Bible.

I'm serious. They really believe this. In a recent conversation with my son in law (a believer) he told me I need to have proof for my claims so I can back up what I am telling him.

WTF? God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. These people are insane!



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