Friday, January 8, 2010

Evangelical atheist

I like the idea of an “evangelical atheist”.  There is worthy irony in using evangelical in this context.

I use the latest definition of evangelical which is: “marked by militant or crusading zeal”. However, it is impossible to use the word without traces of its origin clinging to it like a odor.  The original Evangelical churches (In the early part of the last century) were, along with some Lutheran churches, part of the Landeskirchen (state run churches) in Germany.  The Evangelical churches lobbied unsuccessfully to be the official church for the National Socialists in the early 1930s.  It was partially due to the zeal of that sales attempt that the term evangelical was resurrected in the 1970's as a descriptor that some conservative Christians began using to distinguish themselves from Fundamentalists.  The definition I use comes from describing zeal as being like that of members of the evangelical groups that arose in the 1970s.

The god of the evangelical Christian churches is very interventionist. Want a truly awkward god? The evangelical Christian churches have one for you.

In addition to an interventionist god the evangelicals believe in being quite interventionist themselves.  The evangelical wants to convert you to their belief.  Since I have said I like the idea of being an evangelical atheist does this mean I want you to be an atheist?  Yes it does actually.

Why do I care if you are an atheist? I care because I think you can use the tools of reason to make a happier life for yourself. Just as with suffering there is no shortage of potential happiness. Why don't you pick up a little more happiness for yourself?

Since I have gone to the trouble of usurping a definition I think it only proper that I steal a few other things.

David Bebbington has deffined a “quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism”which he says are:
conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism
I plan on stealing all of the useful bits from this quadrilateral of made up words.

Firstly I should point out that I use the term quadrilateral in the disjointedly stilted way that Bebbington does. It looks to me like he stole the word from the Wesleyans who used the term to define an approach to their religious method (they are often called methodists). The Wesleyan quadrilateral is scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Why the Wesleyans took a name for a four-sided polygon to desribe their set of principles is beyond me. Why Bebbington would steal the poorly thought out Wesleyan term to describe his set of concepts is even more strange. Did anyone stop and think “does this make sense”. Perhaps they did and arrived at the same conclusion I did. The conclusion that it does not make sense and is therefore more humorous to use.

As mentioned earlier the idea of Conversionism helps make the term evangelical worth taking in the first place. I want YOU to join in the new atheist movement.

Activism is pretty self explanatory. Get active, write down what the new atheism means to you and share it. Let your representatives know that you are an atheist and you vote. Let people know that atheists are people with faces and not evil forces plotting to destroy humanity.

Biblicism sounds made up, and probably is. The idea that perfect knowledge comes from the bible is difficult to adapt directly to an atheist “quadrilateral of priorities”. I will adroitly sidestep this problem by simply spelling this wrong and giving it a new meaning. “Biblioism” is also a made up word but it looks similar and and since it doesn't look like it has officially been invented before I can define it. I define it to mean “Leveraging the property of human knowledge wherein every human idea can be written down so that others can read and understand it”. This is obviously an important concept. It means that people can comprehensively communicate everything they think with one another in a archival format and that there is a now named pursuit of accomplishing just that. There are many facets to this activity. This is an ambitious enterprise worthy of being one of the four elements of the quadrilateral of an evangelical movement.

Crucicentism is also a made up word. It means that mutilation of somebody centuries ago is important to you after you die. All the elements of this concept are difficult to examine. As an atheist I find the concept described by this word as vapid as it is ephemeral. We need a better word, and a better more substantial concept. I propose the word “Amorism”. This is a word with at least a century of re-deffinition behind it. I think it is time to define it again. I define it as “Loving and finding ways and means to love more”. I have obviously saved the best concept of my evangelical Atheist quadrilateral for last. We are more than just atheists, we are human atheists. We want you to be part of our world because we love you and shedding the vestiges of guilt-driven vengeful iron-age theist gods frees us to love even more.

Conversionism, Activism, Biblioism, and Amorism.  
Join, Do, Read, Love.

Without anything to really sign up for the Conversionism will have to be more virtual. Perhaps you can click on the scarlet A on the upper right hand side of my blog and get some ideas on how to display your conversion from the OUT campaign. The Activism might be better served if I had a list of things to do but I'm not really good at to-do lists so that will have to wait. I'm writing some stuff so perhaps you can read my blog and understand it. Biblioism, thats one out of four. For the final one (Amorism) I simply need to find ways of loving people even more than I do now. That one sounds as easy as sleeping in on a lazy Sunday morning.

As practiced by me the atheist quadrilateral may actually be an atheist line segment. A line segment is better than a point. 

We can do this.
Better yet, I can do this.
Let's get it on.

Evangelist, n., A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.
-- Ambrose Bierce

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