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Unread 07-20-2013, 10:21 PM   #1
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The Six Types of Atheist

Curious about how you folks with more philosophy and theology credentials think about this recent study...
Behold, the six types of atheists – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

Basically, the authors interviewed atheists about their beliefs, and then categorized them into six main groups... I'll quote a summary:
Quote:
1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic
This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism. They like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites. They're also well-versed in books and articles about religion and atheism, and prone to citing those works frequently.
[...]
2) Activist
These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.
[...]
3) Seeker-agnostic
This group is made up of people who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience... That doesn't mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.
[...]
4) Anti-theist
This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”
[...]
5) Non-theist
The smallest group among the six are the non-theists, people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion. In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest.
[...]
6) Ritual atheist
They don't believe in God, they don’t associate with religion, and they tend to believe there is no afterlife, but the sixth type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions. “They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “For example, these individuals may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions.”
[...]
So do you think that these categories are accurate? Do you find it interesting or a meritful study?

And of course, do you think we as Christians approach these types of people differently? How do we even talk to the most "militant atheist" about the faith, especially when the faith they had probably fallen away from in the first place is Christianity?

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Unread 07-20-2013, 10:22 PM   #2
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Original researchers work is here, by the way:
Non-Belief Research in the United States
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Unread 07-20-2013, 10:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer. View Post
So do you think that these categories are accurate? Do you find it interesting or a meritful study?

And of course, do you think we as Christians approach these types of people differently? How do we even talk to the most "militant atheist" about the faith, especially when the faith they had probably fallen away from in the first place is Christianity?
I read this on the CNN site, it was an interesting discussion. I think we need to approach people differently in regards to their attitude to Christianity (I owe this insight to Greg Koukl's "Tactics"), but it always needs to be out of love and respect.

Anyways, in regards to the militant atheist (like Dawkins), it's almost a futile thing. If they are unschooled in the reasonableness of Christianity one might be able to make progress by showing them the validity of the Christian belief while pointing out fatalistic flaws in their atheism and its purposelessness. But unfortunately most (internet) militant atheists will have entrenched themselves in ignorant arguments and logical fallacies to justify their positions, all the while misrepresenting the Christian position and attacking straw men. This certainly makes it hard to have a rational discussion with anyone.
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Unread 07-20-2013, 11:02 PM   #4
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I kind of feel like, in my fairly limited experience with interacting with these types, the types of people I'm equating with Anti-Theists are oftentimes just overzealous, pretentious, ignorant people who fancy themselves to be Intellectual Athiests. Not all the time, obviously, and not necessarily even most of the time, but when I've encountered people like that, it seems to frequently be the case.
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