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May 7, 2006

Religion and Foreign Policy -- 2

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tackles, if that's not too strong a word, the subject in a new book. This if from an interview in Time:

When I began this book I looked at President Bush as an anomaly. But in working on the book I found that all American Presidents in one way or another invoke God.... President Bush is a little different because he's so sure about what religion is telling him.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at May 7, 2006 10:16 AM


I´m in Denmark. Here we talk about one problem in American literature: many have this tendency to write in contrast to the evangelicals, the Bushgovernment and the church, because religion in general has alot to say in the publich sphere there and this atheists dont like.

If this is true, does it not to obvious confirm that atheism seems to be one antireligous movement and nothing else?

Here it would be more interesting to hear more about the atheistic worldview independent from religion. What is atheism in itself? What does it say about morality and meaning? What does it say about purpose in life? Whats the essence of atheism independent from religion?

This viewpoint seems more interesting than the usual way of writing that is, writing antireligous literature because it gives this impression that atheism is only one antireligous movement from the 19´th century.

The starting point for this worldview would be Epicur (341-270 AC) and the Epicureans and how they choosed to live their lives in the world I guess and seing how this worlview developed in Greece and onwards.


Rogvi Magnusson
(Cobenhagen, student)

Posted by: R-Magnusson at May 8, 2006 3:49 PM


The "essence" of "atheism" is there is no essence. You are defining atheism as anti-religion, which is the way religious people define it. That is why it is an unacceptable term for disbelief. Morality and meaning have nothing to do with not believing in the "Supernatural". Morality and meaning are created internally and are so deeply personal they are uncommunicatable.

Atheism is totally dependent on religion--hence the "A".

Religion is an unnatural organization of reality used to create social order and separate individuals from their individuality. Any belief system that ascribes meaning and morality to come from anywhere other than the human imagination is fantasy and destroys the reality it pretends to explain.

Posted by: Jay Saul at May 8, 2006 5:03 PM

I wouldn't dismiss the quest for a positive idea of atheism -- a subject that has been discussed here a fair amount. (Look in the idea cloud on top of the home page under positive_atheism.) Certainly, trying to come up with a notion of atheism that does not just boil down to "oh no there isn't" will be a goal of my book.

Posted by: mitch at May 10, 2006 9:50 PM

The essense of atheism to me is the acknowledgement that the real world is the only world we know of, and the realization that to make the most of our _real_ lifes in the _real_ world we need to focus our minds on the real world, which means that we need to abstain from wasting time and energy on concocting fictious ideas about the supernatural domain, and not let such ideas, be they made up by one self or by others, be an influence on how we life our lives or organize our societies.

Wait. I don't really know if that is the essence of atheism. I think it's true, but perhaps not the _essence_ of anything. I just felt like ranting.

Posted by: Kristian Z. at May 14, 2006 11:29 PM

The problem is that "atheism" is like "liberal", so often used as a prerogative that it becomes useless.

I agree with Kristian Z. Do we have to have a label that binds us together? Isn't that grouping part of the original problem, religion is a product of social order. To me, part of not being a party to the supernatural fictions is the understanding that we are all different and all create our version of reality in our own individual way that cannot be studied and compared without losing its essence.

To my way of thinking, a search for a definition of disbelief falls in the same category as defining God. We are the most misunderstood people precisely because the only way people define us is in opposition to their spiritually defined reality.

I believe that nature is all-inclusive, but I also believe I am unaware of most of what is included. By nature we assume that what we experience is real, but my understanding of how we produce consciousness turns that assumption on its head. What we experience is a fiction of our minds and we have no way of knowing what we are missing and what we are fabricating. And we only have symbolic interaction to compare our worlds.

Posted by: Jay Saul at May 15, 2006 9:31 AM

Jay Saul:
"Atheism is totally dependent on religion--hence the "A"."

To me atheism means historically "The Epicurean worldview in opposition to the stoics, the Apostle Paul (Acts 17,18), Aristotle´s teleological wordview and Platon´s idealistic worlview.. This Epicurean worlview is deliverede by Diogenes, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (three letters) and Lucret, De Rerum Natura (six books). His view on nature, Gods, death, morals and virtues is my atheism in a more modernised version of course.

Posted by: R-Magnusson at June 2, 2006 10:00 PM

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