When I wrote this post a few days ago, I was a little surprised by the response I received. There were a few comments here but I also receive some comments via Twitter. Something that surprised me was how those that read the post said yes, that their atheism influenced their politics. There were others though that said no to the same. All in all? I would say it was 50/50 at least from the overall comments.
I was a conservative aa long time before I was an atheist; and I’ve been an atheist for a long time as well. I’ve never met an atheist whose politics changed when they became an atheist. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, I’ve just never met anyone who has changed their political ideology based on their atheism. If they were a conservative before, they still are; If they were a liberal/progressive? Yep, still are.
I will admit that atheism has opened my world quite a bit. 90% of atheists in America identify as liberal/progressive. So, having any discussion for me inevitably becomes one of ideology when its discovered that I’m conservative.
Some are curious as to how a conservative could be an atheist. I always say I probably went through a similar process as they did. I questioned my belief, I asked questions that I never received a sufficient answer to, and when all else failed, I was told to just have faith.
Faith is nothing more than believing something without proof. That’s the definition I use anyway. I never use that word anymore because it presupposes something that is basically non-existent. I’m not just referring to theism here. When someone tells me to have faith in anything, I usually take it as the person speaking doesn’t understand what faith actually refers to, or they’re trying to fool me.
I’m not a ready-believer in anything political or social. As a skeptic, I need to see the proof in the pudding. I’m willing to have an open mind to some extent, but I need to actually see proof of what I’m being told before I believe.
I think that’s a good idea for everyone, not just atheists. We’ve all heard about Drinking the Kool-Aid, a reference to Jim Jones and Guyana where his followers (over 900 men, women, and children) died from drinking poison).
We need to avoid that. If we, as atheists are reason oriented and as skeptical as we declare, we need to be to apply those characteristics in every facet of our lives.
9 thoughts on “Atheism, Faith, and Politics”
Agree. I think we all should. But some things are hard to corner. Such as, “what is the basic nature of mankind?” The best I can do is have an opinion, but no matter what I think or decide, there is evidence that the opposite may be true. Faith, trust, belief, whatever. Is it all opinion?
This is my first visit to your blog.
I was inspired to come here after reading your comments in Atheist Revolution.
I was an atheist first, at an age when I was to young to care anything about politics.
I think my political orientation rather followed my stereotype — college student political activism faded into adult career moderation, and I presume that parenthood will temper my interests even more.
My atheism and my attitude to everything else (including politics) has been most strongly influenced by
1) My training in science, where the only value is “factual truth” — and let the consequences fall where they may.
(It is this attitude of the hard sciences that makes people fear and distrust science. They draw conclusions based on demonstrable facts without regard for what these facts and conclusions signify for human well-being.)
2) An instinct to be skeptical. Almost any assertion of importance makes me wonder if I can verify it for myself. This has recently led me to uncover the disturbing extent of actual, literal fake news running through the present politics. I am staggered by this problem, and it has made me refuse to believe absolutely everything I read or hear in the American press.
If it isn’t from the BBC, I don’t believe it unless I have verified it for myself.
I also lost trust in the basic morals of the fringe Left.
3) I have a personality trait that makes me say about any assertion, “In what way is that not true?”
The Department Chair said “Oh, Ann. You’re such a contrarian!” Hahaha! Very true.
So all that means that when I hear, for example, “Do unto others what you would have done unto you,” I react by
1) pointing out that this is not a falsifiable assertion, and so must be dismissed as mere opinion,
2) Then I wonder if I can verify it for myself. That brings me to a reflection that without a fact-based backing, the sentiment is indistinguishable from the civilities recommended in books of etiquette, hardly rising to an eternal Truth.
3) Then I feel contrary and say, “Here is at least one time you should not to do unto others — when you are on the jury.”
Hahaha! It is SO annoying for people to have their thoughtless platitudes challenged far beyond their interest in defending them!
I objected on the same grounds to the conclusion that “Therefore Socrates is mortal.”
My Philosophy professor was disgusted but not at all surprised.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll become a regular visitor. I appreciate the comment as well. As I mentioned, I really don’t believe that being an atheist changes anyones political or social views. Of course people can modify views over time, maybe even change some views because, as we all know, sometimes a position someone may take is based on faulty data. I’ve had that happen to me.
How can I subscribe so that your blog pops up in my email inbox every day?
Also, is there a way I can edit my posts after they’ve been posted?
Thanks. I just added a “Follow” button to the front page that will allow you to receieve email when there’s a new post. I’ve been meaning to do that, but just forgot. As to editing, wordpress requires I have my own domain so that is going to take a little while longer. I’ll probably set up a session with them to have them take me through the process/
I just contacted WordPress about everything else. I just upgraded this week to their premium account which was supposed to allow me to cusomize as needed. Well, not so much. As for allowing commenters to edit, I found I have to have my own domain. Really? I just spent $200 for premium and I have to change my website?
Are you asking about how you can change your own posts, after they’ve been published? Down at the bottom of each post, just below the ‘likes’ area, is a button which reads “Edit.” Click on that. It will bring up the draft, Make any changes. Click ‘Save’, or ‘Update.’ From that point, only the new form will come up. Have fun. 🙂