Neil DeGrasse Tyson spends four minutes in this video trying to disassociate himself from atheism. But he’s ok with “agnostic.” A deluge of Daily Dish readers explain why they’re not mutually exclusive.
There’s a joke, more commentary that funny, I heard somewhere: There are two types of atheists–those say say “none” when asked their religion and those that say “atheist.”
This is Tyson’s first mistake; he pegs “-isms” it to a “movement.” There’s this irrational fear that I noticed, among even the most prominent atheists, that by giving the belief a label it gives it a unwanted connotation as dogma.
It’s odd that the word “atheist” even exists. I don’t play golf. Is there a term for non-golfers?
Most people don’t play golf.
“Atheism” is useful because 1) It describes a minority. (It might be less useful a term in a country like Sweden that’s largely secular.) 2) While it’s not a necessity, there is still a correlation between lack of religious belief and political ideology. People want to make organizations around common philosophical bonds, and the language is useful to share that bond. 3) It’s just a synonym for non-believer. Stop attaching other assumptions.
On an interesting sidenote, Sweden still had an officially recognized state church until 2000. But as of 2008, only 2% of the population attended regularly. The Netherlands still has a state church. Separation of church and state suddenly doesn’t sound like everything.
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- Sorry, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. "Atheist" is still useful.
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