Friday, April 20, 2012

A Saunter Through the Dictionary

A significant problem with using the label "atheist" is this.  No matter how you couch the term, or clarify its meaning for yourself, others see it in a massively negative light.  Part of this negative image is earned - many very public atheists have been and are still today obnoxious and so belligerently opposed to religion that they would put off any variety of theist.  Our bad image also comes from the core assumption by others that atheism is, in and of itself, not a philosophy - it is simply the rejection of a belief - without any apparent replacement upon which to based one's moral system or ethical code.

So, as a lover of word origins, I though I would explore some alternative terms that I might use to label my personal theology for others.  Here are some candidates:
  • Ambitheism - A belief that one can construct a life philosophy flexible enough to function whether or not god exists; an ambitheist might deal with conflicting emotions about the existence of god, and so develops a belief system capable of adapting to either truth.
  • Amitheism - A belief that god is literally the love we show our neighbors with whom we live in community; an amitheist places the Golden Rule above all else and lives a fully nonviolent life.
  • Endotheism - A belief that god is not separate, but within each of us; an endotheist would value all of creation as god is within every subatomic particle - perhaps god is every subatomic particle.
  • Isotheism - A belief that god is not "above" or "greater" that us, but part of us and our environment; and isotheist would likely resemble a pantheist, but with no sense of the divine or sacred, since everything is divine and sacred.
  • Omnitheism - A belief that god is not separate, but simply represents the totality of all power, energy, knowledge, and truth; an omnitheist would concentrate on enhancing one's awareness of and connection with the "godness" of everyone and everything.
  • Syntheisim - A belief that would extend omnitheism to include the time continuum; a syntheist would seek to become more aware of and connect with the "godness" and everyone and everything in every time and place as a single synchronistic existence.
  • Veratheism - A belief that god is truth, for only out of truth can love and goodness emerge; a veratheist would seek complete honesty in all relations, removing all masks, and resolving all conflict and falsehood.
One plus to any, or all, of these concepts is that they emphasize the positive attributes that I believe most atheists possess.  They focus on core values of love, truth, peace, and wisdom, and not simply on the rejection of a perceived flaw in human thinking.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Creatheism by Michael Dowd also an interesting concept.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I did not know so many different terms existed for people's beliefs. Great post!

AgoraNut said...

Thank you for that break down of terms. I too didn't realize the plurality of definitions. I generally refer to myself as agnostic, but equipped with this new vocabulary, I might be able to refine my description.

I run into a similar conundrum that atheism does when describing my world view. I say anarchist, people think I'm a brick throwing socialist in a black baklava. I say capitalist, they see a fat cat who hates poor people. I say voluntaryist, they see someone who volunteers their time. I say libertarian, and they think I belong to the Libertarian Party, I say agorist, and they think I'm a farmer 0.o