The Seven Types of Atheism

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Ahanu, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Has anybody read John Gray's Seven Types of Atheism? The seven types in his book include the following:
    • New atheism
    • Secular humanism
    • Science as religion (e.g., transhumanism)
    • Modern political religion
    • Misotheism (hatred of God)
    • An atheism of no progress (e.g., George Santayana)
    • Atheism of silence
    You can find a succinct summary of each type here in a review. I am interested in knowing which view Cino would agree with the most and understanding his perspective of Gray's categories of atheism.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    I haven't read any of Gray's work, but the way this book, and Gray's own intellectual history, is presented, makes me dislike it.

    Why seven? And why does Gray seem to have the need to put them on a progressive scale? Why does he need to misrepresent and belittle the new Atheists? What's up with his admiration for Epicurus? Why should the ancients have a better understanding of humanity than us, if he is so opposed to the idea of progress (or regress)?

    Anyway. I'm the kind of atheist who has no gods or God. Not many, not even one, not even none (in the sense of "I don't even refuse to choose one").

    Apart from that, most Atheists would probably not count me an Atheist, due to my personal interest and involvement in mystical and occult subjects.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    He's from the 'grumpy old guy' school of philosophy. I like him.

    Why indeed? And why, of those seven, are there five negative and two positive ... it's almost as if seven, and the ratio of five-two, is a recurring figure in nature ...

    When it comes to jobs to be done, my maxim is 'tackle the worst first'. In Gray's case, I think this 'worst' is the kind of atheism with the least intellectual rigour, but I could be wrong. Itmight be the reverse case of dismissing the least-credible first, to clear the ground to see what we have.

    Oh, because they so richly deserve a taste of their own medicine! :D

    I don't think he thinhs they do. Plato is as much to blame as anyone, and he takes the whole Western philosophical tradition to task. 'God is Good' is undoubtedly an Abrahamic maxim, but for a definition of 'Good', we turn to the philosophers.

    The question would naturally be, why is that? I'm not asking you to answer, I'm simply saying that the statement "I don't believe and I don't need a reason" is the same as "I do believe ... "

    Gray is definitely an outsider, but that's because he questions many of the axioms and assumptions that modernity takes for granted. I find a lot of insight in what he says, even if I don't agree with everything.

    The whole edifice of 'religion = bad, secular = good' is a nonsense that people buy into wholesale. It's useful to have someone say to the emperor, "Are you sure you're not naked?"

    Then I would naturally ask – without obligation to answer – in what is your mystical and occult founded?
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    The following came to mind as I was considering the seven types — worked out on the keyboard, so nothing too deeply considered...

    The Seven Types of Christianity
    New Christianity
    This is the ambivalent Christianity in the light of other traditions, which assumes all traditions equal, all say the same thing, all have the same goal. So you remove that bits that render the tradition distinct, and you're left with a kind of inoffensive gruel.

    Christian humanism
    The 'I'm spiritual but not religious' type.

    Science as religion (e.g., transhumanism)
    This actually underpins a lot of the denominations that appeared in the US in the nineteenth century, influenced by Mesmerism, 'positive thinking', 'progress', the theology of wealth, etc.

    Modern political religion
    Religion reworked to reflect contemporary liberal cultural values.

    Fundamentalism
    Literalism.

    The two that Gray is generally OK with I find appeal to me at a profound level.

    The Christianity of contingency
    The idea of 'progress' is a western construct. God, nor His son Jesus, are not 'fairy godpersons' with a magic wand to make everything right. Nor do they micromanage human affairs. This is the Christianity of 'shit happens' and our job as persons is to help our neighbour and shoulder the load, feed the sick, etc., etc.

    Christianity of communion
    The Darkness of God. The apophatic path. To act in light of the above, but not with the intention to change the world nor because of the promise of reward. To do good simply because good is the right thing to do.

    'Go with the flow', 'be here now', so many of the little mantras of pseudo-spiritual positivism still interpret the wisdom of the ancient traditions as a way of taking control of our lives, 'going with the flow' meaning not so much navigating our way along the river as determining which way the river flows. This is the essential delusion of boutique religion.

    The Middle Way is not trying to shape the river, on the one hand, nor simply allowing oneself to be carried along on the other. It's really tricky, and the Serenity Prayer should be the guiding mantra.

    Deeper than that, the Jesus Prayer as the gate to Prayer of Simplicity, if Christianity is your thing.
     
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  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Classic case of someone telling folks what other people think....like carnivores selecting vegetarian menus at hospitals.
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Agreed. But that book review indicates this is the level he's writing from. Or maybe it's the reviewer's level.

    Experience, song, meditation, ritual, the seen, the felt, the cognized, the intuited, the unconscious...

    Yes, it's not a statement of preference or belief or an opinion about how God should or should not be for me.

    Think of it as apophatic practice yielding a very complete and final insight.
     
  7. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    I don't know Apophatic theology this leads to anything. Please explain how you could be an atheist and how your teacher(s) informed you.

    I can understand how it leads to weeding out all cosmic manifest forms etc that fill the cosmic void and thus leave the last remaining refuge left to select ---but I don't see how that empowers an individual or enriches or provides advantages.

    It appears that Apophatic theology is not a "practice" but an intellectual meditation.

    If there is no God, then anyone or thing or circumstance or even a whole life time can capture you, and, make you their slave, correct?

    apophatic - Apophatic theology, also known as negative theology, is a form of theological thinking and religious practice which attempts to approach God, the Divine, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God. Wikipedia
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Hold up! You are saying that Gray so precisely captured the nature of atheism that it matches 'the ratio of reality!'?

    Another question, is Gray an atheist?
     
  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Neti-neti is a practice, wouldn't you say?
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    LOL, I'm not so sure ...

    That's a good question.

    In his own words: "Truer forms of atheism are ones that shed monotheistic thinking, not just monotheistic beliefs," and "Modern atheists are constantly trying to find surrogates for the god they reject—science for example, political surrogates, belief in human progress, or whatever. I think to be a true atheist, you would dispense with those, and live in a world that was truly godless."

    "I am myself an atheist because I simply don’t need the idea of a creator god that fashioned the world and fashioned the human animal."

    Gray dismisses the first five forms of atheism because they're 'philosophically muddled' and 'intellectually dishonest'. Rather he is OK with atheists who are "happy to live with a godless world or an unnameable God," naming such people as Arthur Schopenhauer and George Santayana, Baruch Spinoza and Lev Shestov.

    I read somewhere that Gray is perhaps closest to a Taoist if one had to find some order of 'belief' that sits with his thinking. And personally I wonder if his 'mysticism' is not the kind spoken of in the Philosophy of the Sublime?
     
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  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    And if there is a God, this is the case, too, I observe.

    I haven't had a teacher in a long time. Those I had mostly informed me of qualities I didn't know I had, good and bad.

    Your choice of words sounds a bit exasperated - "how could you" - but that may just be electronic communication.

    I discovered I was atheist, or it was revealed, but it was not something I chose from alternatives.

    I can't choose not to breathe, either, for very long anyway.
     
  12. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Nietzsche knew that, and so he railed against Christian ethics and saw a new ethics on the horizon in the absence of a belief in God. New atheists, however, don't call Christianity what it is: a religion built on compassion. Definitely two different approaches here, highlighting two different items on our hospital's menu (to borrow Wil's analogy).
     
  13. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Imo the question comes down to "Death" ---how to prepare. The atheist says no prep is required cause there is no goal.
     
  14. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    You doubt that there is an Absolute Godhead who is a persona?

    Imo we know nothing independent of what was learnt via a teacher.

    Persona is constituted by personal-qualities. ie; beauty, fame, intelligence, strength, wealth etc.

    While we have subjective introspection there is the rest of our existence that is "controlled" by forces that we must abide.

    An atheist may have subjective ideas, but there are so many factors that enforce our service as stewards to our stratum of work.

    A monkey might be an atheist, but that doesn't relieve the monkey of staying within his station in life. The monkey must do monkey things until the monkey can graduate to a higher stratum of life.
     
  15. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Neti-neti is an intellectual exercise. A painful exercise that will produce gains.

    Are you a Buddhist?

    It is odd that some think that their existence ends upon death ---thus surpassing common Buddhist monks that seek nirvana.

    Do you surmise that your existence ends upon death?
    Do you surmise that an atheist thinks their existence ends upon death?
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    A common argument without evidence...morality and claimed belief have no correlation. Lot of believers in our jails.
     
  17. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    The keyword is "claimed" belief. Claimed belief and what one really believes are different things. A shared belief system can spark a rally for white supremacy in Charlottesville. Morality and one's real beliefs have a correlation.
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Lol, another commonality amongst believers, claiming others aren't really believers...

    Kudos!
     
  19. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    People may declare themselves to be non-believers, but in fact they are believers . . .

    "Out beyond ideas of iman (religion) and kufr (infidel), there is a field. I will meet you there."
    -Rumi​
     
  20. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Interesting, is that the actual.quote? I've always heard it as 'right and wrong'
     

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