Jump to content

What Does "nonreligious" Mean?


The Sage Nabooru
 Share

Recommended Posts

It seems that a lot of sources assume that "nonreligious" means atheist, agnostic, humanist, and/or secular. If you do not have a religion, then you do not have any spiritual beliefs whatsoever, it seems. But is that entirely true?

 

I would probably go down as having "no religion" - because I don't. But I certainly am spiritual. Also a lot of people with lesser-known religions, like Jainism, Taoism, etc., that don't get put into regular polls, and have to check the "other" or "write-in" box, probably often get shuffled away into "nonreligious" too.

 

What does "nonreligious" mean to you? What connotations does it carry? I just thought of this as I went through Wikipedia and how many times it indicated that "nonreligious" means "secular/no spiritual beliefs".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Secular and no spiritual beliefs mean two different things btw.

 

A secular state is one where church and state are separate - where religion can't interfere with politics. It's not at all the same thing as an 'atheist state' because that would imply that atheism is somehow built into the system, rather than just being that religious persuasion or lack of it doesn't have anything to do with the politics of the realm.

 

So a secular person would indeed be what you mean by 'non-religious' (not belonging to a particular organised religion)

 

Of course someone can have spiritual beliefs that don't fit into one of the organised religions. I used to be of that persuasion myself - I had very idiosyncratic beliefs that were mine and mine alone and didn't fit into any particular religion. Basically I believe what makes sense to me at the time. I was definitely not an atheist but my spiritual beliefs were a mixture of certain things that made sense to me together with idiosyncratic ideas that were all my own (although it's spooky when you meet other people or read things by other people that suggests that they think the same or a similar way).

 

I'm an atheist now (and very recently). I just rationalised the thing till it died - and oddly enough I've never felt better. So I'm not bothered now, I can safely let them conclude I'm atheist because I am now.

 

But it used to bug me a lot. They should recognise that there are plenty of people with spiritual beliefs (Pantheist, Deist or Theist) but who don't slot into a particular religion and probably don't want anything to do with organised religion either (because belief is a personal thing - and religions are manipulative and dangerous).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends on how one is defining "spiritual," personally I don't much like to describe myself with that word, I consider myself atheist, but at the same time I don't dislike religion necessarily, more to the point I dislike dogma and so I tend to dislike any religions that tend to encourage it.

 

one thing that tends to irk me is a lot of atheists like Dawkins seem to say things like "religion is harmful" without seemingly realizing that all religions are not created equal...and many religions like for instance, some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, are non-theistic, and generally less dogmatic than the religions like Christianity or Islam that we are most familiar with.

 

I'm more than willing to learn values and philosophical ideas from religions when they offer good ideas, I'm just not about to "sell my soul" to one of them again, and believe whatever I'm taught without question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends on how one is defining "spiritual," personally I don't much like to describe myself with that word, I consider myself atheist, but at the same time I don't dislike religion necessarily, more to the point I dislike dogma and so I tend to dislike any religions that tend to encourage it.

 

one thing that tends to irk me is a lot of atheists like Dawkins seem to say things like "religion is harmful" without seemingly realizing that all religions are not created equal...and many religions like for instance, some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, are non-theistic, and generally less dogmatic than the religions like Christianity or Islam that we are most familiar with.

 

I'm more than willing to learn values and philosophical ideas from religions when they offer good ideas, I'm just not about to "sell my soul" to one of them again, and believe whatever I'm taught without question.

 

My thoughts exactly. Many so-called "experts" on religion or Atheism or such are always quick to lump everything together in the same boat - Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shintõ... - without actually KNOWING what it is they are talking about.

 

There are many who have never actually PRACTICED what it is they claim to KNOW so much about! Some use common misconceptions in their "authoritative" texts and pass them off as fact, a truly damaging practice for both the subject and the author.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My thoughts exactly. Many so-called "experts" on religion or Atheism or such are always quick to lump everything together in the same boat - Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shintõ... - without actually KNOWING what it is they are talking about.

 

There are many who have never actually PRACTICED what it is they claim to KNOW so much about! Some use common misconceptions in their "authoritative" texts and pass them off as fact, a truly damaging practice for both the subject and the author.

 

Damn skippy :goodjob:

 

Furthermore, many of the same people always insist that "religion" exclusively refers to either Xianity or all three Abrahamic cults - and only those three. Usually, it's ignorance of other religions coupled with a very narrow definition of the word that produces such remarks and thinking.

 

Xianity may be a religion but not all religion is Xianity :vent:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

one thing that tends to irk me is a lot of atheists like Dawkins seem to say things like "religion is harmful" without seemingly realizing that all religions are not created equal...and many religions like for instance, some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, are non-theistic, and generally less dogmatic than the religions like Christianity or Islam that we are most familiar with.

 

Actually Dawkins does allow for the fact that Buddhism and Confucianism are non-theistic.

 

On page 37 of 'the God Delusion' when he is introducing his position against theism, he makes it quite clear that he is not against Buddhism and Confucianism but only theistic religion:

 

And I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions at all but as ethical systems or philosophies of life

 

I like to think that he includes Taoism in that analysis also, since the same could be said of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

one thing that tends to irk me is a lot of atheists like Dawkins seem to say things like "religion is harmful" without seemingly realizing that all religions are not created equal...and many religions like for instance, some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, are non-theistic, and generally less dogmatic than the religions like Christianity or Islam that we are most familiar with.

 

Actually Dawkins does allow for the fact that Buddhism and Confucianism are non-theistic.

 

On page 37 of 'the God Delusion' when he is introducing his position against theism, he makes it quite clear that he is not against Buddhism and Confucianism but only theistic religion:

 

And I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions at all but as ethical systems or philosophies of life

 

I like to think that he includes Taoism in that analysis also, since the same could be said of it.

 

Thanks, I haven't read any of his books. Perhaps if I have the time I will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Secular and no spiritual beliefs mean two different things btw.

 

A secular state is one where church and state are separate - where religion can't interfere with politics. It's not at all the same thing as an 'atheist state' because that would imply that atheism is somehow built into the system, rather than just being that religious persuasion or lack of it doesn't have anything to do with the politics of the realm.

 

So a secular person would indeed be what you mean by 'non-religious' (not belonging to a particular organised religion)

 

Well then, that's another example. I believe in a secular ideal, but if I describe myself as a "secularist" people will assume that I have no spiritual beliefs, or maybe even oppose religion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I use the word "nonreligious" I mean a person who does not adhere to a spiritual belief system.

 

The Sage Nabooru said:

 

people with lesser-known religions, like Jainism, Taoism, etc.

 

I would call them religious. Don't some of them wear special clothing due to their religious belief? How much more religious can one get? By "nonreligious" I mean when a person does not adherere to a belief system that includes consciousness outside known sentient beings. Some people feel the universe has consciousness. I know atheists who call themselves spiritual. It gets really seriously fuzzy and I don't really want to draw a line because nothing can be proven (that I know of) in this area.

 

One term used by sociologists of religion is "organized religion." I haven't really studied it but my impression is that organized religion means when there is a community of believers as opposed to a single practitioner of unique rituals, ceremonies, etc. I know of more than one Pagan who practices alone. Are they nonreligious? I don't know. I think they are spiritual.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Fullmetal Atheist

Hmmm... I think "nonreligious" is a great word for it because it doesn't come with a lot of baggage. Usually when I tell people I'm an atheist, they either lump me in with militant atheists who want to outlaw all religion, or recoil because I cook and eat babies. Which is completely unfair, because my baby-eating has nothing to do with my lack of belief in a deity. ;)

 

I think it depends on how one is defining "spiritual," personally I don't much like to describe myself with that word, I consider myself atheist, but at the same time I don't dislike religion necessarily, more to the point I dislike dogma and so I tend to dislike any religions that tend to encourage it.

 

one thing that tends to irk me is a lot of atheists like Dawkins seem to say things like "religion is harmful" without seemingly realizing that all religions are not created equal...and many religions like for instance, some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, are non-theistic, and generally less dogmatic than the religions like Christianity or Islam that we are most familiar with.

 

I'm more than willing to learn values and philosophical ideas from religions when they offer good ideas, I'm just not about to "sell my soul" to one of them again, and believe whatever I'm taught without question.

^ What she said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From Wiki -

Irreligion, irreligiousness, or nonreligion is an umbrella term which, depending on context, may be understood as referring to atheism, agnosticism, deism, skepticism, freethought, secular humanism, general secularism, or heresy.

 

Irreligion has at least three related yet distinct meanings:

 

  • absence of religion (either due to not having information about religion or to not believing in it)
  • hostility to religion
  • behaving in such a way that fails to live up to one's religious tenets

Although people classified as irreligious might not follow any religion, not all are necessarily without belief in the supernatural or in deities; such a person may be a non-religious or non-practicing theist. In particular, those who associate organized religion with negative qualities, but still hold spiritual beliefs, might describe themselves as irreligious.

 

 

From Wiki - Religious belief refers to a faith or creed concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine. It may concern the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life. It may also relate to the values and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

 

On Taoism, from Wiki again - there are three forms of taoism:

  1. "Philosophical Taoism". (Daojia). A philosophical school based on the texts Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi;
  2. "Religious Taoism". (Daojiao). A family of organized Chinese religious movements such as the "Orthodox" (Zhengyi) or "Complete Reality" (Quanzhen) sects, which collectively trace back to Zhang Daoling in the late Han Dynasty;
  3. "Folk Taoism". The Chinese folk religion.

In regards to Buddhism, there are four types being practiced:

  1. Religious Buddhism, with all the rituals and trappings, chanting, and other superstitious rubbish stuff.
  2. Academic or purely philosophical Buddhism.
  3. Buddhism as a cult.
  4. And the original atheistic form as taught by the Buddha.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does "nonreligious" mean to you? What connotations does it carry? I just thought of this as I went through Wikipedia and how many times it indicated that "nonreligious" means "secular/no spiritual beliefs".

Others have already posted better definitions than I could ever come up with, but I think this whole question is interesting because in my xian days we used the ever-popular tagline: "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." For years I used to believe it too. Convincing me that xianity WAS in fact a religion was like trying to get a brick wall to swim. I imagine that the same delusions still exist within many churches today.

 

Great topic, btw!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, like Richard Dawkins, would probably consider myself a 'deeply religious non-believer'. My awe in the face of the universe's magnificence, and in the beauty of the human experience are no less than those that follow a 'religion'. In fact, in my opinion, it is greater than that of many, because I do not feel the need to reduce all these wonders in all their intricacies to a straightforward causality originating in a petty, cruel and wicked anthropomorphised deity.

 

Nor do I claim, as the fundamentalists of all ilks do, that one book, one man, one cult or one church cna contain everything that needs to be known.

 

It is what it is and that in itself is enough of a wonderful and beautiful mystery without the need to appeal to deities for meaning. I consider the earth, humanity, life, the universe, love, truth etc. to be 'sacred' not because any tribal god has made them so, but simply because they are. If that is not a religious attitude, I don't know what is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No that's a spiritual attitude. A Religious attitude means you have to wipe out every mother fucker who says you're wrong... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems that a lot of sources assume that "nonreligious" means atheist, agnostic, humanist, and/or secular. If you do not have a religion, then you do not have any spiritual beliefs whatsoever, it seems. But is that entirely true?

 

I would probably go down as having "no religion" - because I don't. But I certainly am spiritual. Also a lot of people with lesser-known religions, like Jainism, Taoism, etc., that don't get put into regular polls, and have to check the "other" or "write-in" box, probably often get shuffled away into "nonreligious" too.

 

What does "nonreligious" mean to you? What connotations does it carry? I just thought of this as I went through Wikipedia and how many times it indicated that "nonreligious" means "secular/no spiritual beliefs".

It's an excellent question, Sage.

To me, personally, "nonreligious" means I don't believe, or practice, or participate in, any religious dogmas. And my wife would certainly agree, with one big difference: I am an atheist who declares that I have no god belief. My wife at this point differs, and would say, "I believe there is a 'god', benevolent and understanding on a level beyond our own". Yet she does not believe in any religious dogma or organization. To that extent, we two could probably get along famously. Whereas I would say "There is no basis to believe in an afterlife." She would respond, "If there is an afterlife, we have no way of knowing anything about it, so it will have to take care of itself. So just live a good life for now." In the end, I have no problem with that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't really tell you what it does mean. But I can tell you what it should mean.

 

Looking at the word logically isn't difficult as it is, in fact, incredibly basic. Non and religious are the two parts of it so logically it should mean simply "not religious".

 

If this were to be the case, it could be taken as two different meanings which would solely be figured out when looking at the context.

 

 

 

Meaning #1:

 

The government policies were non-religious.

 

Here the meaning would logically be similar, if not synonymous, to "secular". Not necessarily atheist, but definitely secular.

 

This meaning will most of the times refer to abstract nouns.

 

 

Meaning #2:

 

Enrique is a non-religious person.

 

Here it would emply that he is atheist or agnostic, or simply put, that he is not religious.

 

This meaning will most of the time refer to people. (At least until animals adopt religion)

 

 

That's my opinion on what "non-religious" should mean. But we all know that nothing in English means what it should. For the accepted meaning, consult dictionary/encyclopedia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I say I'm not religious when people ask me. I'm technically Atheist/Humanist, but saying one is an Atheist usually gets a knee jerk reaction from Christians, so I don't say it outright. Not to mention, it's not safe in a lot of workplaces in the U.S. these days to admit to being an Atheist. Your job could be at risk if you have fundy co-workers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually Dawkins does allow for the fact that Buddhism and Confucianism are non-theistic.

 

On page 37 of 'the God Delusion' when he is introducing his position against theism, he makes it quite clear that he is not against Buddhism and Confucianism but only theistic religion:

 

And I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions at all but as ethical systems or philosophies of life

 

 

yeah, thanks for mentioning, that, I'm aware of his thoughts on these religions, In a way that is what irks me, he knows these are not quite the same, but in most interviews that he does on TV he simply uses the general term "religion" without qualification (which I think causes many people to misjudge his position). Sam Harris and a few others do this as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually Dawkins does allow for the fact that Buddhism and Confucianism are non-theistic.

 

On page 37 of 'the God Delusion' when he is introducing his position against theism, he makes it quite clear that he is not against Buddhism and Confucianism but only theistic religion:

 

And I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions at all but as ethical systems or philosophies of life

 

 

yeah, thanks for mentioning, that, I'm aware of his thoughts on these religions, In a way that is what irks me, he knows these are not quite the same, but in most interviews that he does on TV he simply uses the general term "religion" without qualification (which I think causes many people to misjudge his position). Sam Harris and a few others do this as well.

Since he's usually got 5 minutes with some moron who won't let him finish a sentence, I get the feeling the qualification, although useful, would be something of a waste of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.