ATHEISM: A RELIGIOUS STUDY Dr. Stephen A. Ogden LIBS 7023
REMINDER • Keep in mind that, • ‘God’ is not a necessary component of religion. • ‘Church ‘ (temple, mosque, etc.), priests (ministers, imams, etc.), written doctrines, services, and all ecclesiastic form, are not a necessary component of religion. • Quakers (who congregate in meeting halls and wait for God to cause them to quake • House Church Protestantism (incl. China) • Nagasaki Roman Catholics (16th C. Japan)
Atheism • A-Theism (Gr. θεός = God.) • By its name, Atheism defines itself: • antagonistically by what it is against , or • negatively, by what it denies. • in an irony, a historically-powerful line of theology exists called ‘negative theology’—a description of God by what He is not. • Leaves open, and questionable, what it is for
MONOTHEISM God is an independently existing Being with person (agency, feelings, cognition, justice): an active party in the life and affairs of the World (supernatural events) known by revelation. Monotheistic Religions: • Islam • Judaism • Christianity Qualities: • Love • Justice • Creativity • Omnipotence • Omniscience • Omnipresence
DEISM God is an independently existing Being with person (agency, feelings, cognition, justice) who is not an active party in the life and affairs of the World (natural events.) Revelation is through Nature and Reason. Qualities: • Creativity • Distant • Passive • Philosophical • Knowable through Scientific study of nature & Reason • Knowable though conscience. Deistic Religions: • Stoicism (Roman) • Freemasonry • Some lapsed Christians & Jews • Voltaire, Rousseau, American Founding Fathers (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin), Spinoza • Several Philosophers & schools of Philosophy • Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes
POLYTHEISM • There are many Gods, small and great; supernatural Beings who interact with human affairs, and may or may not respond to human appeals. • Polytheistic Religions: • Manichaeism • Sikhism ? • Hinduism • Pagan • Greek, Norse, Roman, etc. Qualities: • Individual • Humans enlarged • Personalised • ‘superhero’ • Capricious (non-static) • Fecund and variable
PANTHEISM • God is everywhere and everything; all is God. God and Nature are indistinguishable, where God-Nature is animate and purposeful. ‘Mind’ is more real than ‘Matter’. Pantheistic Religions: • Buddhism • Daoism (‘the Way’) • Animism (e.g. Shinto, Druidism, Wicca) Qualities: • Quiet, calm • Impersonal • Vital • Sacred • Unifying • Spiritual (adds a quiddityto nature)
A-THEISM • Dogmatic claim that no form of theos exists. • Atheism at present asserts that only matter exist. • Effectively, Occam’s razor is Atheism’s Prime Doctrine: • William of Ockham (England, 13th C.): “do not multiply theories beyond necessity.” • In modern Atheism, ‘the simpler theory is the more correct.’ • Example: Baron d'Holbach (1772) "All children are born Atheists; they have no idea of God." Qualities: • Science • Reason • Materialism • Phenomena • Ontological Minimalism • Humanist Atheist Religions: • Pre-Socratic Greeks • Protagoras, Democritus, • Positivism (e.g. Fr. Auguste Comte) • Confucianism • Jainism • Western (explicit) Atheism post-19th C.