I’m fairly certain that as an atheist, I’ve met very few that declare themselves as Freethinkers that actually are. Its a popular term with those declaring themselves atheists and humanists, and of course, it makes anyone declaring that one of the Kool Kids, but how many out there making that declaration actually are freethinkers?
What defines a freethinker? According to the dictionary it is defined thus:
a person who thinks freely or independently : one who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who rejects or is skeptical of religious dogma
Of course all of us that are atheists would fall into the last part of the definition, but how many of us are actual independent thinkers, not overly influenced by other people or groups?
I know as a conservative I’ve fallen into the trap of hearing some viewpoint that may agree with my overall worldview without stopping to consider the source. It’s not just conservatives either; liberal groups do this as well. Its fine if we realize that we’re not hearing the entire story, that of course whatever side of the political or social spectrum someone might be, we’re only hearing that specific viewpoint with cherry-picked facts.
When I see something from a conservative group that seems too concrete, I take a few minutes to look for the other side of whats being argued. I can say factually that 99% of the time, I’m not hearing the whole story. I may not like the other sides perspective, but that doesn’t make it invalid.
We really need to spend more being skeptical than just accepting of what we hear or read. Understanding what may be the underlying agenda is important. I’m not saying in any way that people should just abandon their left or right leaning, just that all of us need to be more skeptical and apply our own reason rather than relying on someone else to do our thinking for us.
I don’t want to be a Kool Kid or be part of a mob where I can’t be open to other ideas that may go against what I think I know. I want to be a person that says, ya’ know? I believed something for 20 years and today I discovered that it wasn’t true.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit, but if anyone reading this calls themselves a skeptic, they should be open to the possibility that they just might be wrong.
2 thoughts on “What is a “Freethinker”?”
Many atheists seem to use “freethinker” as a more socially acceptable way to say “atheist,” but I think this is a mistake since the terms have different meanings. Atheism is easy; freethought is difficult and requires an ongoing commitment. I don’t recall ever feeling like I failed as an atheist, but I can think of many instances where I failed as a freethinker.
When I was writing this, I was thinking about those, in their social media biographies, refer to themselves as both atheist as well as “freethinker”. Huh? So I concentrated mostly on what a freethinker should be – a person that thinks independently of any authority. When perusing a few Twitter timelines, I found that most, if not all claiming to be “freethinkers”, were in fact no more than members of the mob. By that i mean, groupthink; not wanting to be separate, or incapable of having anything resembling independent thought.