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Unbelievers Is A Misnomer


R. S. Martin
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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. I have often wondered why non-religious people are called unbelievers. There is only one category of beliefs we reject and that is religious belief. We are certainly believers in every other sense of the word. Actually, we are not all the same. Maybe some of us lack faith in life itself but for the most part the "unbelievers" I meet on this forum are avid believers in life, in freedom of expression and belief, and a host of other things.

 

Christians might want to claim exclusive rights to those beliefs but they are simply wrong and too thick-skulled to accept that they are wrong. "Unbelievers" seem to represent all political and philosophical positions under the sun. And none of these positions exists without some kind of belief beyond the tangible reality of the five senses. So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. I have often wondered why non-religious people are called unbelievers. There is only one category of beliefs we reject and that is religious belief. We are certainly believers in every other sense of the word. Actually, we are not all the same. Maybe some of us lack faith in life itself but for the most part the "unbelievers" I meet on this forum are avid believers in life, in freedom of expression and belief, and a host of other things.

 

Christians might want to claim exclusive rights to those beliefs but they are simply wrong and too thick-skulled to accept that they are wrong. "Unbelievers" seem to represent all political and philosophical positions under the sun. And none of these positions exists without some kind of belief beyond the tangible reality of the five senses. So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

 

Even worse, I, years ago, was on an interfaith AOL board. The people who posted were of many defferent beliefs yet Christians would routinely call any non-christian an unbeliever. I am not talking about atheists, who, although they might beleve in the things you mentioned at least do not have religious beliefs. No, there were many posters who WERE theists, believers in any number of gods or even God, they just weren't xians. Hec, some would even call christians of unapprroved denominations "unbelievers" I think you got it right ni the part of your post I highlighted. To me it's arrogance coupled with a huge ignorance of the world around them.

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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. I have often wondered why non-religious people are called unbelievers. There is only one category of beliefs we reject and that is religious belief. We are certainly believers in every other sense of the word. Actually, we are not all the same. Maybe some of us lack faith in life itself but for the most part the "unbelievers" I meet on this forum are avid believers in life, in freedom of expression and belief, and a host of other things.

 

Christians might want to claim exclusive rights to those beliefs but they are simply wrong and too thick-skulled to accept that they are wrong. "Unbelievers" seem to represent all political and philosophical positions under the sun. And none of these positions exists without some kind of belief beyond the tangible reality of the five senses. So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

 

I agree with your sentiment here. Unbeliever is a monicer I've never let a Christian put on my shoulders since I 'came out' about my faith.

 

The funny thing about that statement is, that most Christians who know about me, treat me pretty much the same way they treat gays. I've only recently noticed it though.

 

As for Unbeliever.

 

My responce is usually something like this.

 

"What do you mean Unbeliever? Are you saying I don't have the capacity to believe? I do believe. I believe the moon is made of rock, I've never been there, but I'm willing to take their word for it. I'm perfectly capable of believing in things, thank you. You might as well call me an Infidel. No go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

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I agree with your sentiment here. Unbeliever is a monicer I've never let a Christian put on my shoulders since I 'came out' about my faith.

 

Great! I can't see myself accepting it, either. It requires more faith to leave the church and trust that god will not throw me into hell than it does to accept the religion that was pushed since I was born. I am quite sure I did accept it on occassion this winter as my family and I worked our way through mom's funeral. It simply was not the most important item on the list at the time. And they have not talked religion with me for a while.

 

 

The funny thing about that statement is, that most Christians who know about me, treat me pretty much the same way they treat gays. I've only recently noticed it though.

 

Yeah, we're probably more dangerous than gays because we could assault their faith anywhere we meet whereas gays at least practice their thing in relative privacy.

 

 

As for Unbeliever.

 

My responce is usually something like this.

 

"What do you mean Unbeliever? Are you saying I don't have the capacity to believe? I do believe. I believe the moon is made of rock, I've never been there, but I'm willing to take their word for it. I'm perfectly capable of believing in things, thank you. You might as well call me an Infidel. No go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

 

I love that!

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Hec, some would even call christians of unapprroved denominations "unbelievers"

 

That was a huge one for my siblings. I think they had barely come to grips with the idea that anyone could be a real christian who did not hold to some of the basics of their religion such as women who cut their hair and wore pants. Then I deconverted from Christianity altogether. Or at least, so they believed. They never asked. Because I was looking outside christianity they assumed I had discarded xianity and turned unbeliever. I really don't know. They assume I know stuff about their brains that they never share.

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Y'know, honestly, the label of "Unbeliever" doesn't really bother me. Because for Xians of a certain stripe, I am an Unbeliever.

 

I don't believe the first thing about the religion they hold dear. I don't believe in their Bible, their dogmas, their doctrines, their traditions, any of it. I don't believe in going to church, raising my family according to Xian principles, or looking at life through a set of Xian-colored glasses. I don't believe Jesus was divine, I don't believe he was born of a virgin, or that he was crucified, died, resurrected on the 3rd day, and ascended to the right hand of God 40 days later. I don't believe any of it.

 

Xianity demands that its adherents place certain beliefs above all others. Some denominations or sects are more stringent about it, others far more loose or laid back; but in a Xian context, it makes sense to label anybody who doesn't believe in the same things an Unbeliever. I consider the label to be an accurate descriptor, within its particular context.

 

What I find more frustrating than the label itself is an unwillingness to look beyond the label. But I find that true with everything: I really hate being reduced to an inhuman stereotype.

 

I actually think the label of "atheist" carries more venom with it, when it comes from a Xian's mouth. But that's a whole 'nuther thread.

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Hmmm...for me, the term unbeliever does not bother me either. I am what I am and I accept that. Only in religious terms however. As Ruby pointed out, of course we have many other beliefs in our lives when it comes to other subjects.

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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. I have often wondered why non-religious people are called unbelievers. There is only one category of beliefs we reject and that is religious belief. We are certainly believers in every other sense of the word. Actually, we are not all the same. Maybe some of us lack faith in life itself but for the most part the "unbelievers" I meet on this forum are avid believers in life, in freedom of expression and belief, and a host of other things.

 

Christians might want to claim exclusive rights to those beliefs but they are simply wrong and too thick-skulled to accept that they are wrong. "Unbelievers" seem to represent all political and philosophical positions under the sun. And none of these positions exists without some kind of belief beyond the tangible reality of the five senses. So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

 

Meh, I accept the term unbeliever as it pertains to Christianity.

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So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

 

I think this is close to nitpicking, but then, I love to nitpick :HaHa:

Unless the term is used in a totally vague context (as I understand it, commonly it's only used when discussing some religions thingie), I have no problem with it. After all, I am an unbeliever in the monster jehoover, just as the one making that claim is an unbeliever in the Aesir and Vanir. ;)

Of course, if it is implied that belief in any supernatural entity is the same as, say, the belief that the earth is (roughly) spherical... then things get interesting. :fdevil:

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Things are a bit different in Australia I think. We used to be a fairly conservative country where religion was concerned but that changed at the end of the Seventies. I am amazed when I look at American christianity, it seems to be everywhere in the US. I'm also amazed when I read you can be refused a job because you aren't a christian. We have our churches and fundies too, certainly. (We call our fundies "Wowsers" though).

 

Although we have our wowsers, they mostly keep themselves to themselves, although every Mardi Gras a certain Fred Nile makes a show of himself protesting gay rights.

 

I suppose I'd be called an unbeliever, but I'm not, you know. Everyone's gotta believe in something, right? Well, I believe I'll have another drink.

Casey

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It's just another label Christians like to slap onto people, as is Atheist, infidel, and the like. Why do they like to define people by what they don't believe in?

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If not accepting that stories of all the world's animals being loaded in pairs on a tiny boat for 40 days; that the words of anonymous authors which contradict each other are words of absolute truth, etc., makes me an unbeliever, then what does accepting all of that as factual make them? Unthinkers?

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If not accepting that stories of all the world's animals were loaded in pairs on a tiny boat for 40 days, that the words of anonymous authors which contradict each other are words of absolute truth, etc., makes me an unbeliever, then what does accepting all of that as factual make them? Unthinkers?

Not to mention a belief that makes otherwise really nice, genuinely good, people soulless bigots...

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Not to mention a belief that makes otherwise really nice, genuinely good, people soulless bigots...

 

Since you're mentioning biggots--who's that guy in your avatar and exactly what does he think he is doing to the woman?

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Not to mention a belief that makes otherwise really nice, genuinely good, people soulless bigots...

 

Since you're mentioning biggots--who's that guy in your avatar and exactly what does he think he is doing to the woman?

You don't watch 'Family Guy'? Ye Gods! A cultural waste land... you'll be saying you like Celine Dion next... ;D

 

And what he's doing to his wife... he's spilt wine on he dress so he says 'Lois, let me giggle those dry'... the man is supposed to be crass and insensitive...

 

For your edification, education and delight - Family Guy You Tube search

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Ruby:

So why are we called unbelievers? Why do we accept this term for ourselves?

I think it's just part of the groupspeak, and one which seems prevalent not only with hardcore xians, but with muslims as well. It's as if use of the term reinforces the sense of community. And religion involves a lot of community. Certainly, to a muslim, a xian is an "unbeliever", and vice versa. So when they point their fingers at "unbelievers", they mean not just in a religious sense, but also "not one of us" or "outsider" in the community/tribal sense.

 

I don't get a clear picture of that among the jews, because most of the jews I've known weren't devout...they were rather agnostic about it, and identified themselves as jews more out of a cultural or ancestral perspective than a religious one.

 

Personally, I don't mind being called an "unbeliever" in a religious-oriented use of the word, because it is true. But I'm an unbeliever in a lot of other things as well, like communism, for example.

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I personally try not to look at myself through the eyes of a Christian. I don't think of myself as an unbeliever -- I believe in God, just not the Christian horror story. Sometimes I correct them when they get too aggressive and insulting.

 

Hellenists used to call Christians "atheists" because they did not honor Apollo, Zeus, and Athena. So, I guess everyone who doesn't believe exactly the way an observer does is an "atheist." Fine. Such is the imbecilic cruelty of man. That Christians follow the same habit is to be expected from such vicious people.

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To me, "unbeliever" is similar to "broken home", when coming from Christians: they can't understand how you could be offended by it, yet use it for its subtle condescension.

 

It carries with it a sense of loss, the sorrow of the individual who has not yet seen the light, or who has seen it but still refuses to take part in it.

 

My mother once told me that I didn't believe in God. What really pissed me off about this is that she presumed she could tell me, what I believed in. As opposed to what I thought I believed in. I don't believe in Christian God, and in her mind, there is no other god to believe in. So I didn't believe in God.

 

I oppose the term "unbeliever" for pretty much anybody, except of course for the person who willfully applies it to him or herself. Because for me, the question is always raised, precisely what do I un-believe in? The Resurrection? Jesus? The Old Testament? Jehovah? Religion? Spirituality? The moon landing? It's just too broad.

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I oppose the term "unbeliever" for pretty much anybody, except of course for the person who willfully applies it to him or herself. Because for me, the question is always raised, precisely what do I un-believe in? The Resurrection? Jesus? The Old Testament? Jehovah? Religion? Spirituality? The moon landing? It's just too broad.

 

Exactly! I don't remember ever in my life feeling really comfortable with the term for anyone for this very reason. Now this winter things got really personal when my "unbelief" barred me from eating with my siblings at our mother's funeral. (Sorry, folks, I'm still ranting about this. I don't know when or how I will ever get it out of my system.) There have been conversations since then about god/God. One person asked me, "Can't you see God in nature?"

 

Of course I can. But the god in nature is a pantheist god--I think. I doubt that she has studied any other religion than her own approved version of Christianity which all our forebears practiced. Thus, any way in which she understands god is naturally the true God. The really crazy thing is that she did not suddenly decide that I am a believer after all.

 

It just gets really personal when one gets rejected on that level for being honest.

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My whole family is extremely concerned about the fact that I am an 'unbeliever' in regards to what they believe. I really don't care if that's what they call me since it's true that I disbelieve what they profess. I do like the idea of calling them 'unthinkers' though!

 

When I came out to my parents about being a non-xtian, I still believed in some sort of god... just not in the xtian one. When I tried to describe how I viewed god (as a more naturalist/pantheist type), I got the 'you are on dangerous ground with inventing your god' type of talk from my father. To this day that statement just makes me chuckle: that I was arbitrarily inventing a god, but that the authors of the bible were somehow less than arbitrary. I also remember the drama surrounding that announcement. It should fun when I come out about being an Atheist now! I just haven't yet since I don't really talk with them more than a couple times a year over the phone for like 5 minutes at a time (loooong story)... and for some reason I'm not motivated to increase my contact with them. Go figure.

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Actually, from the Christian pov, it is correct... we are 'unbelievers'... but as I say, I prefer 'infidel' since I was baptized and I have no fidelity to the church.

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You're right, of course, that it's far too broad. Also, like 'saved' and 'unsaved' I think it's basically there to claim that one sect alone is right and all others are wrong. Mahatma Ghandi and Josef Stalin, as far as the Christian is concerned, might as well be exactly the same. Though to every thinking human being there is more difference between night and day, but to those idiotic theo-fascists that define everyone by being 'us' or 'them' alone, they both went to hell because neither 'accepted Jesus'.

 

However, at the same time I relish the title of unbeliever. I'm fed up of hearing that faith is a virtue. Perhaps, in some things, faith is beneficial and even virtuous. But to stubbornly cling to an arbitrary and enormous set of beliefs simply because your ancestors have for centuries is not a virtue. It is an act of cowardice, stupidity, stubbornness, arrogance and wilful ignorance.

 

To accept gladly the title of unbeliever is to challenge the presumption that faith in god(s) is anything more than shoving your fingers in your ears and screaming "I'M RIGHT!!!" until your brain ceases to function normally and you actually believe what you're saying.

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Personally I don't care what those so called "believers" call me. They are un-realists, refusing to see, believe, understand or accept reality described in science and facts. If belief is the same as living in delusional ideas, then I'm glad to be an un-believer. On the other hand, I do believe in things (which means their label on me is wrong in the more general sense), but I only believe in things that have a fair amount of support and can be justified. (Which they of course claim they do too, but then doesn't that makes us all believers still?)

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