Disclaimer: This post is in fact from an atheist perspective. I've been an atheist since birth (through lack of exposure to religion; my first contact with god was a kindergarten classmate telling me I was going to hell.) As I wasn’t converted into atheism, I don’t have any firsthand experience with organized religion, nor see much of a purpose.

I also apologize if this has already been debated; if it has, I haven't seen it.

Why does this website exist?

Are you so shaky in your beliefs that you need them hammered into you by hundreds of mostly anonymous posts bashing religion and holding atheism on a pedestal?

Is your desire for imagined community so great that you strive to create an archetypical atheist (loves science, evolution, etc)? 

Organized atheism goes against the idea of forming informed opinions individually, which, is a central idea of atheism (if a group defined by absence of faith can have tenets). Having atheists leaders (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc) is as laughable as having an atheist prophet.

It's fine to share ideas that resonate with you, but taking one person's word as gospel, like many of the posts I've seen suggest, is the antithesis of what the atheist community (if there is one) is supposed to represent. Even having a community seems against atheist principles.

I'm curious. Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?

Should the atheism be defined as a community of tolerant rationalists rather than as an ideological state defined by absence?

If not to gather reaffirmation through dogma, why are all of you here?

(This post might be over-inflammatory. Feel free to mellow it down in your mind.)

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Why does this website exist?

Click on the About section and start reading.

Are you so shaky in your beliefs that you need them hammered into you by hundreds of mostly anonymous posts bashing religion and holding atheism on a pedestal?

That's a loaded question fallacy, which is typically contains an inflammatory remark that derails a rational discussion (rather than start one). In this case, the question contains the built-in assumption that we come to TA because we need atheism hammered into us, and we do this by bashing religion and holding atheism on a pedestal.

Is your desire for imagined community so great that you strive to create an archetypical atheist (loves science, evolution, etc)?

That's another loaded question fallacy. This one assumes the TA community is imaginary and strives to create an archetypical atheist.

Organized atheism goes against the idea of forming informed opinions individually, which, is a central idea of atheism (if a group defined by absence of faith can have tenets).

There are no "central ideas of atheism". Atheism is without content. If someone tells you he is an atheist you know nothing about what he believes. You know exactly one thing he does not believe. The rest is your own prejudice and assumption.

Having atheists leaders (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc) is as laughable as having an atheist prophet.

That's an assumption fallacy. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and the like are writers, public speakers, and scientists, not leaders and prophets in some kind of atheist religion.

It's fine to share ideas that resonate with you, but taking one person's word as gospel, like many of the posts I've seen suggest,

This smacks of the "atheism is a religion" fallacy. Dawkins and Hitchens are popular with many atheists, but I don't take their words as unquestionable religious dogma, and I haven't seen any atheist suggest that this should be done. Let's see some of the "many" posts where this happens: specific examples of what you're talking about.

is the antithesis of what the atheist community (if there is one) is supposed to represent. Even having a community seems against atheist principles.

Atheism is disbelief in God. That's all. There is no "supposed to" because there are no "atheist principles" to uphold. Likewise, there are no principles to uphold in non-belief in leprechauns or non-belief in astrology.

I'm curious. Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?

There's no reason why "even" atheists can't find community important. No "faith" is required in the sense that you're using it, which falsely portrays atheism as a religion with prophets, gospels, ideology and values to uphold.

Should the atheism be defined as a community of tolerant rationalists rather than as an ideological state defined by absence?

Atheism is defined as lack of belief in God. Atheism is neither an ideological state nor a community of tolerant rationalists. I really don't care how you think it should be defined or redefined, considering you have no clue what atheism is in the first place.

If not to gather reaffirmation through dogma, why are all of you here?

I'm here because I enjoy conversing with the people in the TA community (about a wide range of subjects). That has nothing to do with dogma or reaffirmation.

(This post might be over-inflammatory. Feel free to mellow it down in your mind.)

Not to worry, Anne. In your mind, you're over-inflammatory. In mine, you're entertainment: the latest to climb out of the Klown Kar parked in the center ring.

I'm glad you were entertained. It was very entertaining writing my original post. Responding to this is a stupid move on my part, but I have nothing better to do than get into internet arguments about unimportant things.

Most of your reply is based around the idea that I don't know my questions are loaded. As you noted, I was most borrowing tired arguments from religious people who don't understand atheism. I'm aware that "There are no "central ideas of atheism"". I was mostly curious as to how other people would respond to those questions (as they seem to be the first things that religious people I know ask me when I mention atheist forums). The first is a gut reaction to a few of the posts I've seen here, and in many other 'atheist communities.' My enthusiasm for this topic does not extend to digging up those posts. You've probably seen them.

I admit that it's bad form to begin with loaded questions. Too late.

As for Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, any people who are regarded as “The Unholy Trinity”, "The Four Hoursemen", etc, have a bit of a prophet vibe. They aren't unquestioned, but I feel that a lot of what they say is taken to represent all atheists. They've been called leaders. As a simple google search turns up results, I'm, again, not going to bother to cite.

"Imagined community" does not mean a community that is imaginary. If you are going to quote every sentence, and link me to wikipedia, you should probably look up the terms I use. Another example of this is "Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?" You said

There's no reason why "even" atheists can't find community important. 

which completely misses the point. I'm not talking about community in general. I'm talking about faith based (or lack of faith based) community. Additionally, you say that I'm referring to atheism as a religion, whereas I am clearly arguing against the treatment of it as a religion. I can see how somebody who looks at things one line at a time would fail to comprehend the main points of an argument.

Based on images posted, TA definitely has an ideal. That ideal involves forming opinions rationally.

Believe it or not, I am aware that all atheism means is that you don't believe in god. Stating that I don't understand what atheism means is a logical fallacy. The prejudice and assumption are all very real, and not my own. It's impossible to discuss an idea with discussing the culture surrounding it.

Additionally, I wasn't suggesting that atheism should be redefined in any way. I was merely curious about what other people hope to gain from the community. Your second-to-last statement pretty much covers that.

Surely you are aware that many have suffered greatly for their non-belief ? I shutter to even think about what it must be like to be an atheist in a theocracy. This on-line community represents (to me) the fact I am not really alone. In my local community, I am alone.

Most of your reply is based around the idea that I don't know my questions are loaded.

Most of my reply is based on pointing out where the assumptions built into your questions are factually wrong. The questions themselves are faulty because of those assumptions.

As you noted, I was most borrowing tired arguments from religious people who don't understand atheism. I'm aware that "There are no "central ideas of atheism"".

Sure, Anne. So when you referred to one of atheism's central ideas-- "Organized atheism goes against the idea of forming informed opinions individually, which, is a central idea of atheism (if a group defined by absence of faith can have tenets.)"-- you purposefully were referring to something that doesn't exist...

I was mostly curious as to how other people would respond to those questions (as they seem to be the first things that religious people I know ask me when I mention atheist forums).

...just to see how people would respond to it.

Well, now you know, Anne. When you say something you know is wrong, someone will point out that you're wrong, especially in reciting a stereotype about atheists in an atheist community.

The first is a gut reaction to a few of the posts I've seen here, and in many other 'atheist communities.' My enthusiasm for this topic does not extend to digging up those posts.

Of course you won't produce any posts where TA members are "taking one person's word as gospel, like many of the posts I've seen suggest". Why be enthusiastic about demonstrating your point with one of the many examples you claim are available here?

You've probably seen them.

No, Anne. I really haven't. I have no idea what you mean. This is why I asked to see some specific examples of which posts you're talking about.

As for Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, any people who are regarded as “The Unholy Trinity”, "The Four Hoursemen", etc, have a bit of a prophet vibe. They aren't unquestioned, but I feel that a lot of what they say is taken to represent all atheists. They've been called leaders. As a simple google search turns up results, I'm, again, not going to bother to cite.

Who in the "atheist community", Anne? Which of us attributes to them a prophet vibe, takes them to represent all atheists, and calls them leaders?

It's not hard to find theists who make such claims about atheists. Just hop aboard the "atheism is a religion" theme park ride.

But you were talking about atheists, Anne. People within the "atheist community", remember? Which atheists are applying these religious-like claims to atheism and atheists? Even if some do regard Dawkins and Hitchens as "leaders", what of it?

"Imagined community" does not mean a community that is imaginary.

Sure, Anne. It's a community of people who share a common interest.

If you are going to quote every sentence, and link me to wikipedia, you should probably look up the terms I use.

That's a burden of proof fallacy. If you meant something besides the common usage of the term, it falls to you to explain what you mean, not to me to guess you meant something else and then do your homework for you. But since you insist:

[Imagined community: "Even though the term was coined to specifically talk about nationalism, it is now used more broadly, almost blurring it with community of interest. For instance, it can be used to refer to a community based on sexual orientation, or awareness of global risk factors."]

"Imagined community" refers to "people who share a common interest", Anne. Here, it's the atheist community. That's not what you're talking about? You think I'm talking about something else?

Another example of this is "Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?" You said "There's no reason why "even" atheists can't find community important." which completely misses the point. I'm not talking about community in general. I'm talking about faith based (or lack of faith based) community.

Explain how I missed the point.

Your point was this question: "Is your desire for imagined community so great that you strive to create an archetypical atheist (loves science, evolution, etc)?"

My response was: "That's another loaded question fallacy. This one assumes the TA community is imaginary and strives to create an archetypical atheist."

Unless you're suggesting atheism cannot be a common interest, my response is directly to the point.  The TA community is real and based on the common interest of atheism, not on something else (like striving to "create an archetypical atheist", whatever that means).

Additionally, you say that I'm referring to atheism as a religion, whereas I am clearly arguing against the treatment of it as a religion. I can see how somebody who looks at things one line at a time would fail to comprehend the main points of an argument.

You referred to atheists on TA who regard Dawkins and Hitchens as "prophets", and take their words "as gospel" for reaffirmation through "dogma", with our community here as the "antithesis" of "atheist principles".

Are you saying you weren't ascribing hypocritical, religious-like behavior-- religious terminology and all-- to the atheists of TA in their "many" posts? You're not arguing that we treat atheism like a religion?

Ridiculous.

It's not that I fail to comprehend your point, Anne. You failed to make it. We have no "prophets", no "gospels", no "dogma" and no "atheist principles" for you to object to.

Based on images posted, TA definitely has an ideal. That ideal involves forming opinions rationally.

That's news to me.

Moderators: Is there an official "ideals of TA" image posted somewhere?

Believe it or not, I am aware that all atheism means is that you don't believe in god. Stating that I don't understand what atheism means is a logical fallacy.

No, Anne. It means you don't know what a logical fallacy is.

Atheism means disbelief in God. That's it. It's not a life stance. There is no content. There is nothing that goes "against atheist principles" because atheism itself has none. Likewise, there are no "non-astrologer principles" or "non-believer-in-bigfoot principles".

When you told me about "atheist principles" you told me you don't understand atheism.

The prejudice and assumption are all very real, and not my own. It's impossible to discuss an idea with discussing the culture surrounding it.

I've seen you open by referring to a number of assumptions, mostly your own, and most notably about certain attitudes within the atheist community itself, not in the culture outside it or surrounding it.

I don't see that those behaviors-- gospels, prophets, dogma, principles, ideals-- exist in any posts atheists make about their atheism, let alone in "many" of them.

Don't mind @Gallup.  He's just that way.   One of these days he'll come to the realization that relying solely on deconstruction doesn't actually allow him or anyone else to build anything of value (which is, perhaps, an inherent failure of atheism as well).  It's just a pseudo-sophisticated way of ridiculing others, and he goes after anyone who doesn't agree with his orthodoxy.

What you can expect next I'm sure is twice as many column inches devoted to another deconstruction, and you'll find it way too tedious to reply to in order to refute each error.  He'll have won in his own mind by sheer volume.

I think your critique has some merit, though it doesn't accurately characterize everyone here.  There are actually a number of folks who are just seeking ideas, some who find solace in a community if only because they live in an area dominated by my overt, loud, obnoxious theist brethren.  I'm not aware of whether any other atheists communities behave the same way, though I expect that all attract some of the silly stuff, just as theist communities do.  

I actually blundered here when I was looking for some info on the election of Pope Francis, and was stunned by the ideological ignorance.  It appeared to be the atheist version of the Westboro Baptist crowd.  It's actually not as bad as all that, but the willingness to spread hurtful stereotypes and encourage ideological hatred of other groups is really quite remarkable, and not at all in keeping with most atheists that I know and work with.  I personally believe that you and the folks I know are more representative of the general atheist community.

Don't mind @Gallup. He's just that way. One of these days he'll come to the realization that relying solely on deconstruction doesn't actually allow him or anyone else to build anything of value (which is, perhaps, an inherent failure of atheism as well).

Do mind Bob, Anne. He's making nice-nice with you because we're at odds on the "atheism is a religion" point. He'd like a confederate in his swipes at me and other atheists.

Note that Bob opens by ignoring everything I wrote and dismissing it as worthless. And mind you, it's due to our atheism that atheists like me inherently fail to build anything of value. (According to Bob, atheism is devoid of intellect and morality.)

It's just a pseudo-sophisticated way of ridiculing others, and he goes after anyone who doesn't agree with his orthodoxy.

Here Bob reminds everyone he's still smarting from all the times he's made a fool of himself in his "debates" here. Thanks Bob. I enjoyed that.

What you can expect next I'm sure is twice as many column inches devoted to another deconstruction, and you'll find it way too tedious to reply to in order to refute each error. He'll have won in his own mind by sheer volume.

This one is "classic Bob". In his mind, claiming that "errors" exist and claiming he can refute them equates to identifying and refuting actual errors. Bob wins in his own mind by insisting that he could win (if only he had time to explain).

But not to worry. Bob does occasionally have time to correct my atheist errors. For the most recent example, see our exchange about 'end times'. I would provide a more recent example, but after a lengthy succession of debates with similar outcomes, Bob doesn't respond to me very much anymore. (Except like he does here: noting my long "inches" and claiming he can take them all, if not for being sore from the last time.)

I actually blundered here when I was looking for some info on the election of Pope Francis, and was stunned by the ideological ignorance. It appeared to be the atheist version of the Westboro Baptist crowd. It's actually not as bad as all that, but the willingness to spread hurtful stereotypes and encourage ideological hatred of other groups is really quite remarkable, and not at all in keeping with most atheists that I know and work with. I personally believe that you and the folks I know are more representative of the general atheist community.

There you go, Anne. Bob nailed it.

We here at TA are the atheist version of the Westboro Baptist Church, packed with ideological ignorance, spreading hurtful stereotypes, and encouraging hatred of others. That's our "remarkable" ideal: we're a hate group.

(We're not like just any hate group, either. We're like the one the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America" and "basically a family-based cult of personality".)

But of course, Bob has a sympathetic ear for you, Anne. Bob knows you're not like that at all. Atheists who call atheism a religion and criticize an atheist community as being "against atheist principles" are more representative of the "general atheist community" that Bob knows so well.

This post might be over-inflammatory.

It's not an issue of inflammatory, but rather sincerity. You make overly vague claims which you know some will find offensive, and then throw in misused religious terminology which, done sparingly might work as metaphor, but in such abundance seems to hold little meaning and is, sadly, rather trite. 

Even having a community seems against atheist principles.

What atheist principles?

Should the atheism be defined as a community of tolerant rationalists rather than as an ideological state defined by absence?

No.

If not to gather reaffirmation through dogma, why are all of you here?

I was promised a free pony when I joined. I am not leaving until I get that pony. Truth be told, I am not even sure I want a pony -- seems like a lot of effort to care for it --, but as a matter of atheist principles, I cannot back down until that pony is mine.

"I was promised a free pony when I joined."

I feel cheated :(

The website is a meeting place for esoteric actions & ongoing experiments re outer space contact's with the X factor & so on

Anne- as a professed atheist you seem to be mighty keen to bat for the religious team. It is just  there is nothing more that the religious would love more than for the atheist community to just go away . The religious already have an obscene amount of political power and without a strong atheist community they would have far far more.

One question Anne , what country do you live in? It is just that your reaction is fairly common from people in countries where theism is not a big deal. But that is mainly  because they do not understand the reality of the situation in highly religious countries. Though if you are from America or any other highly religious country you really should know better.

I for one Anne joined TA as a Christian. I had NO idea what an atheist really was, (or wasn't).....I just got curious from a facebook debate with a friend....and here I am.

TA is a safe place to discuss whatever the hell we want. It is an atheist website but there are MANY members who are not atheists, or even agnostic for that matter. It's a place for people to talk about their lives in the midst of leaving behind religious beliefs, or even trying to reconcile something within themselves...many of which have been hinged on their prior religious beliefs. There are many groups on TA that focus on different interests, academia, or facets of life. For example, I have 3 current groups, (PTSD support, violence, and education related, all of which have NOTHING to do with atheism, but because many people here are atheists we experience these parts of our lives through a different lense than (say) a believer would, and we look for answers in a way that embraces more than a shallow, "I'll pray for you," approach.

I've met some of the best people I've ever known on this website, and I love this community.

To incinuate that we hold atheism on a pedestal, or that we are "shaky" in our beliefs???? What on earth gave you that impression?
Oh yah, and an empowering women through laughter group...my groups have me confused!!! We DO have a sense of humor....but only if you lay off the bite ;)

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