Author Topic: Behold, the six types of atheists  (Read 937 times)

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Offline DVZ3

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Behold, the six types of atheists
« on: July 17, 2013, 11:40:42 AM »

It's interesting to see the people who are pcitured in this article to be an openly known atheist.

Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who nonetheless observe some religious traditions.

“The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral student Christopher Silver and undergraduate student Thomas Coleman.

“These categories are a first stab at this," Silver told the website Raw Story. "In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.”

Silver and Coleman derived their six types of nonbelievers from 59 interviews. We're pretty sure we've spotted all six in our comments section.

1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic

This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism.

They like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites.


They're also well-versed in books and articles about religion and atheism, and prone to citing those works frequently.

2) Activist

These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.

They tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.

3) Seeker-agnostic

This group is made up of people who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience.

Silver and Coleman describe this group as people who regularly question their own beliefs and “do not hold a firm ideological position.”

That doesn't mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.

4) Anti-theist

This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.

“Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”

Anti-theists are outspoken, devoted and – at times – confrontational about their disbelief. They believe that "obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.”

5) Non-theist

The smallest group among the six are the non-theists, people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion.

In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest.

“A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “Religion plays no role or issue in one’s consciousness or worldview; nor does a Non- Theist have concern for the atheist or agnostic movement.”

They continue: “They simply do not believe, and in the same right, their absence of faith means the absence of anything religion in any form from their mental space.”

6) Ritual atheist

They don't believe in God, they don’t associate with religion, and they tend to believe there is no afterlife, but the sixth type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions.

“They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “For example, these individuals may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions.”

For many of these nonbelievers, their adherence to ritual may stem from family traditions. For others, its a personal connection to, or respect for, the "profound symbolism" inherent within religious rituals, beliefs and ceremonies, according the researchers.
Hguols: "Its easier for me to believe that a God created everything...."

Offline Traveler

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2013, 11:44:18 AM »
I saw this on facebook recently, and don't feel that I quite fit any of the categories. I think they'll find that its a lot more complex than fitting folks into six tidy slots.
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Offline DVZ3

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2013, 11:50:02 AM »

I find the people listed more facsinating than the article itself actually.

Oh, and you don't fit the mold because you are well traveled..  ;)
Hguols: "Its easier for me to believe that a God created everything...."

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 11:51:56 AM »
I guess you could call me an intellectual non-theist, because I don't care enough about religion in my daily life to do much of anything about it, but I like discussing it with people.
Nullus In Verba, aka "Take nobody's word for it!"  If you can't show it, then you don't know it.

Offline William

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2013, 12:56:19 PM »
I recognise bits of myself in several of the categories, namely #1, #2, #4 and #5.

I do shift emphasis from time to time depending what is stirring me up. #4 resonates most with me at present. 

I was really trying to be a #5 for a while - minding my own business - life is short - I have a gorgeous wife and daughter - fine hobbies - and interesting work.  But religion started getting up my nose quite a bit lately.  Two reasons.  Politicians letting their religion come through too much in their public views and policies - for which I have to vote soon (voting is compulsory in Australia).  And a concerted wave of "pressure" from my very elderly parents who are giving it one more shot to bring me back to the fold now that they are running out of time.  Lucky for me I live more than 20 hours flight away from them - but every phone call with them, even with family friends, has these little hints and barbs and blessing and prayers and shit nonsense subtly included - no question they've been talking about me behind my back and are working my case. 
Git mit uns

Offline neopagan

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2013, 01:51:21 PM »
I'm tending to end up in #5/6, but in time will probably be #1 - just trying to build the knowledge base for such a stance.

However, they need to address the "closeted" atheists out there.  There's too much discrimination for an atheist viewpoint (at least in the US) to say it's not a major factor.  Just look at something like Boy Scouts - I have to lie about my beliefs to let my son participate...

If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving their god is.  - neopagan

Offline Irish

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Re: Behold, the six types of atheists
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 03:43:44 PM »
Trying diligently to be objective I'd place myself in categories #1 and #5 as a hybrid intellectual non-theist.  Obviously by staying on this forum I want to further my knowledge of religion and science (and in my nearly five years on this website I have learned an immense amount of knowledge).

As to the second, in my daily life and work the existence of a god accounts for no more thought processes than the existence of unicorns or trolls.  I don't think about religion at all during the day.  I consider that a freedom that some people never experience.
La scienze non ha nemici ma gli ignoranti.