1. The universe is purely material. It is strictly natural, and there is no such thing as the supernatural (e.g., gods or spiritual forces).

2. The universe is scientific. It is observable, knowable and governed strictly by the laws of physics.

3. The universe is impersonal. It does not a have consciousness or a will, nor is it guided by a consciousness or a will.

4. Meaning comes from the living world.  

If atheism had to have tenets, because we wanted to explain our worldview to outsiders, what do you think of these?  The first three are from this article from the most recent Sunday School.  The fourth is adapted from an idea of our own very lovely Onyango Makagutu: "meaning comes from human beings".  

As for the article: 1) he's not saying that atheists are bad people. 2) he might look like an enemy, but really he's a friend, because he's spelled out some very relevant questions that we need to answer explicitly and rigorously.  The reason we need to answer them is because many other people ask them too, and that's enough reason.  We shouldn't shy away from them, if we want to hold our heads up high as a legitimate world view.  We expect other world views to justify themselves.  I'm doing a lot of work behind the scenes, and one day I'm going to answer them all with a flourish, I'm going to butt heads with all those people.  On the one hand I expect it will upset some applecarts but also they will be pleasantly surprised with what I've got to say. 

[edit]  here is my response to Pastor Rick Henderson's article. 

The two bases of the moral framework:   



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You need to be careful about expanding the meaning of atheism beyond it most simple definition of the rejection of the idea/notion of the existence of supernatural beings. While most atheists could agree with your tenets they are an embellishment of the basic concept of atheism. The use of the word tenet makes me uncomfortable personally. It smacks of fostering a dogma or belief system which atheism is not. Many theists are eager to view atheism as a belief system, which it is not. As a humanist I am comfortable with these tenets but I think atheism itself should not be cluttered with these associations. 

But surely all atheists believe these things.  Maybe to call them tenets is too much, because we're not so organised as a movement.  I can call them something else, like common beliefs. 

I think they're all an inevitable consequence, a corollary, of not believing in a God. 

I know, if I'm claiming to speak for all atheists, I just can't, because atheists don't like it, and that's their right.  I've got to be sensitive to what people think and basically bow to their wishes.  That's why I put it to a public question.

"Basic beliefs shared by most atheists".  What about that? 

I would concur with all these four.

Those are tenants of humanism...not atheism. The only tenant of atheism is:

God does not exist.

I think these tennants are also included in most versions of these three ISMs and more:




They may be tenets of humanism, but then all humanists are atheists, so I think it still applies well. 

All humanists are atheists? hmmmmm.....not necessarily I'm thinkin'.....

Not necesarily. By far most humanists are atheists but there are certainly secular humanists who are functional atheists and even some religious secular humanists (who have their own justifications)...but you cannot say the reverse.

You can "not believe in god" while still being skeptical of science or having no regard for equitable rights or progressivism. You can not believe in God and yet still have countless world views that don't approach anything like the world views most of us who discuss here have.


I disagree with the above "the number of gods you believe in is 0" is more likely the best definition.

Simon, he isn't saying atheists are good people. He saying no one is honestly an atheist and further he is arguing that sans his religion, we wouldn't be able to live our lives.


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