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Non-Theism

I’m not a fan of the term, “atheist”. It is not the word, itself, as much as the connotation. It has become a bad word that describes a bad person. It suggests the absence of something vital and necessary. To a devout Christian, an atheist is practically subhuman. At the very least, such a person is a fool, “for the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no god.'” I would like to propose a different term, one that does not carry the dehumanizing overtone, but is still accurate. I propose the term, non-theist.

As I no longer have a theistic worldview, I count myself among non-theists. This news will come as a disappointment to many, as I grew up in the church and was a devout, conservative Christian for most of my life. It has been quite a journey. Going from monotheism to non-theism entails much more than the belief in one fewer god. For me, it is the abandonment of faith as a means of understanding and interacting with the world. It is not that I don’t believe in god; it is that I don’t believe in believing.

Moving beyond religion is the next, great challenge of my life. Just as religion has defined me up until now, non-religion will play a defining role in how the remainder of my life unfolds. What follows will be a series of essays and general ramblings on the subject that might, someday, become the bones of a book I have been meaning to write. You are more than welcome to come along for the ride.

David Johnson

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2 thoughts on “Non-Theism

  1. I do not understand the statement “It is not that I don’t believe in god; it is that I don’t believe in believing.” Is this not a conterdiction? If you believe in God, you believe, if you do not believe you do not believe. So what is believing? This does not make any since to me. I also notice that you spell God with a small “g”. That would indicated that you do not believe in God. That you do not have respect for God. Or are you talking about another god, and earthly god? Some one or some thing that you have elevated in your mind to be your god from now on. Could you please clarify.

    • I’ll try, and thanks for the comment. Let’s take them in reverse order. I spell god with a small “g” because I do not elevate the god of the bible over any other god of myth. In my case, writing god with a large “G” would be inappropriate. It would be a bit like writing about a man with a large “M”. Even a great man is just a man; one no different than the next. I would only capitalize proper names or titles. For me, god in neither a name or a title, but a category. I would certainly capitalize Jehovah.

      When I say that it is not that I do not believe in god, what I am really suggesting is that is the wrong question. I don’t believe in anything. Faith is not the system by which I examine, understand, and interact with the world. I was once asked if I loved my wife. Naturally, I said yes. I was then told, triumphantly, that I believed in love. I responded by saying that I did not believe in love. From a bio-neuro point of view, I somewhat understand love. I experience the effects of love. I know love intimately. But that is a far cry from believing in it. If I had never experienced love, I would have no basis to believe or understand the phenomenon. There is a difference in believing in something you know nothing about, and knowing something about which you have good reason to believe.

      I was asked if I believed in the wind. No, I do not believe in the wind; I know the wind. I am familiar with its makeup and physical properties. I feel its effects on me everyday. I can study and measure it. I do not have to believe in it as if it were a speculative proposition. That is what it all comes down to. I do not put faith in speculative propositions. I consider them and question them. I study them if they seem worth the inquiry. I might even give intellectual assent to the proposition if it seems sound to do so, at least until the proposition is proven incorrect. But I do not believe in placing faith in things as a way of interacting with the universe. Faith, for many, is a substitute for proper examination.

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