Hey everyone, this is JGJ, but you can call me Jim if you like. I decided to make a post after a long hiatus. Hey! I actually had time to devote to one as I wait for the new carpet in my house.
So, anyway, here it goes.
I am a relativist. I am a classical liberal who believes that people are entitled to their own beliefs, especially when it comes to belief in a god or not. You may be wondering why someone like me is posting in a blog called "Religion is Bullshit" and claim that people are entitled to their beliefs. Easy, religion has little to do with belief in a god and everything to do with the 'establishment' or the business we know as religion. Maybe more on that later.
When I meet someone and they start talking about religion, I mentally classify them as one of three things, Christian, Agnostic, or Atheist. From there, I break it down even further. For example:
I categorize Christians in two groups. There are Strong Christians and Weak Christians. Strong Christians are those Bible-thumping, door-to-door salesmen of the Holy Word, Missionaries who get thrown into Turkish prisons, go to Church, Bible Study, Bible Camp, etc. and wear a t-shirt with some kind of Christian slogan like "Got God?" These are the progenitors of such lame excuses for death, catastrophe, and atheists like: "I'll pray for you," "Jesus still loves you," and my all time favorite "Hope you enjoy your special place in Hell." There are several other clichés, they are just too numerous to list here. You see these people standing on corners preaching on their soapboxes to the passing masses. Holding prayer vigils in public places and showing the world their faith like a teen girl at a Christian Rock concert. I tell you this, they have their reward. These evangelistic people fail to realize they do not even follow Jesus; they follow the latter day writers who ended up in the Bible. Jesus warned against preaching to the Gentiles and recommended only preaching to the lost sheep of Israel, Jews. Strong Christians have religious fundamentalist leaders like the late Jerry Falwell, John Calvin, Pat Robertson, St. Augustine, and Oral Roberts. These people are usually politically conservative.
Christians who bounce back and forth between the two ends are those who attend Church off and on, perhaps even every Saturday/Sunday. They do pray aloud in church or at the dinner table, but all-in-all they are not very intrusive into others lives. When confronted with death, catastrophe, and atheists, they usually either just stop talking to you or spit out weaker, less insulting clichés like, "you have to believe in something," or "I found Jesus, why can't you?", or my favorite "what happened to make you hate God?" These are probably the most uninteresting type of Christians there are since they aren't freaks and although they will sometimes put up a fight with an atheist they usually end up frustrated and say things like "You have already made up your mind and there is no point in trying to convince you.
The third type of Christian is probably the most common type these days. The Weak Christian rarely goes to church but does not consider themselves as agnostic. Religion is more of a social thing. Something to mark on a survey instead of "None" because they believe denying the existence of God is too risky, or going to church every week interferes with their weekend. They may stop in from time to time, a few times a year, or make promises to themselves that they will go, but generally they don't follow through with it. When confronted with death, catastrophe, and atheists they can be angry at God, confused at how God could let something like Katrina happen, or when confronted by an atheist can be curious and may even share their own doubts. They are the most tolerant of the Christians when exposed to other religions and atheists. Politically, these people are usually liberals.
After Christians come the Agnostics. There are two basic kinds of Agnostics, Weak and Strong. Weak agnostics are sometimes theists, believing in an unknown "higher power" or believe it is possible there is some kind of "creator deity" out there who created the universe and perhaps abandoned it. But in both cases they have no idea if what they say is true or not, only the possibility is there since we could never know for sure unless God came to dinner. These people are fun because they are constantly in a state of flux and doubt and you can throw logic at them which can completely befuddle their brains. Their beliefs can be compared to those who think we are actually in some kind of Matrix computer simulation since their lackluster logic has the same premise.
Next you have the Strong Agnostic. Strong Agnostics are think we can't know, it is impossible to know, and so neither confirm nor deny. Of course, you can't know a lot of things. I can be agnostic about what is going to happen tomorrow, but I'm not sticking an agnostic psychic label on myself because of it. You can know (currently disregarding the philosophical arguments of what it is to 'know') God exists because belief in God is a leap of faith, and faith doesn't require solid knowledge. You can also know God does not exist by not taking a leap of faith. But, it doesn't mean you have to disregard everything you don't know for sure, and can't know for sure, but believe anyway. Like belief in scientific theories, anything involving quantum mechanics, etc. doesn't require you actually see the individual molecules first hand or experience 'spooky action at a distance' with your neighbor's wife; it just requires believing the data and evidence delivered to you is accurate. It too, is a leap of faith. Christians would say, well if you can make the leap for science, why not God? Easy, at least someone has some evidence for scientific theories, all you can say about God is because something exists, God exists. That is not evidence; that is religious faith. A requirement of religious faith is that you cannot test it, tempt it, or doubt it, and must go to it like children running to a strange man holding a puppy.
An atheist is one who disbelieves in one or more supernatural beings. All those people I have listed above are atheists of some sort. There are at least four different kinds of atheist. Strong, weak, implicit, and explicit atheists. Strong atheists will fight Christians tooth and nail to get their belief of "no supernatural deity exists" and will sometimes shun any religious fundamentalist as sub-human. You could even say that Strong Atheists are Non-Religious Fundamentalists. They are fundamentalist in the sense they are strict adherents of being without a belief in any form of god.
Weak atheists are those who deny specific deities. They are members of all religions, except those who follow Hinduism. Hindus accept all names and descriptions of god, because they all represent the many faces of god. But, that is as far as they will go; you usually won't see them at Mass or fasting for Tammuz. Of course, there are those who know nothing of gods, demons, spirits, and the like which brings us to implicit and explicit atheists.
Implicit atheists are those who do not believe in gods, etc. because they don't know there IS a belief in god for natural reasons. They may have never exposed to it, be a newborn, or have been raised by wolves in the Canadian Rockies. I have only met the newborn kind, so there is not much to say about these people except they are lucky bastards.
Explicit atheists are a group which encompasses all forms of conscious denial of gods. Strong and Weak atheists, and all but Hindus are Explicit atheists because they have a choice to believe or not.
I hope this post gives my pal Ben something to ponder, or even just a well deserved break. But this is how I categorize people whenever the subject of religion comes up. It is all pure opinion and whether or not you agree with it or disagree with it is your own opinion and I respect that. After all, I'm a relativist.