Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The narcissism of the small difference.

I am writing this to vocalize and illustrate some of the shortcomings and oddities of human nature that is represented everywhere, even through my space.
It seems both inevitable and irrational, with things such as my space, that humans focus so much on what Freud called “the narcissism of the small difference.”

I found it both odd and revealing that within the “religion” category there was both atheism and agnosticism, both of which are not religions. I also found it odd that the category was titled “religion” and not something more appropriate such as “worldview” or “metaphysics” for that would be the more inclusive and acceptable category. For what does it say of those that do not subscribe to religion and/or the notion of holding “religious” views when they must describe their “religion” and religious views in a one word response? This seems rather shallow and exclusive to me. Not to mention the plethora of religions that the category neglected to include in the first place.
I do not hold to a religious view of existence and I consider my worldview to be a euproxophy not religious, I hold to humanist principles and more succinctly with the secular humanist viewpoint. This worldview of secular humanism is not a religion and it is not accounted for within the category, which I feel is exclusive and too preoccupied with “the narcissism of the small difference.” Being that I am wholly concerned with humanist principles and that the majority of my views and beliefs align with secular humanism this also means that I am an atheist, which to me is a moot point being that it cannot be definitively proven either way at present time. I am hesitant to claim myself an atheist in the open public for numerous reasons, the largest being that atheism is not a coherent worldview or metaphysics, it is merely an epithet used to describe ones disbelief in supernatural entities and forces. I am also hesitant to claim that I am an atheist because the mere word “atheist” seems to be bound to immorality, perversion, heresy (which ironically translates to “choice”), foolishness, corruption and a seemingly endless slew of nefarious characteristics. I certainly wish that atheism did not carry the negative baggage that it does but two thousand years of dogmatically institutionalized castigation and defamation is certainly not easily quelled.
I do affirmatively consider myself an atheist rather than an agnostic and this is both intentional and designed. I find there to be insufficient evidence for any sort of supernatural entities and/or forces, not only that but I find sufficient evidence that these entities and/or forces are not needed when describing and understanding existence and that sometimes, maybe even the majority of the time, such notions actually impede and obstruct further progress in such understandings. I simply cannot ascribe to a belief that claims that there are forces, or a single force, that is both conscious and undetectable that “created” material existence and looks out for natural mechanisms in any way, shape or form. I reject the notion of god in all the various forms that it has comprised but some would like to say you must remain agnostic regarding god, for god may be the underlying totality of all existence that binds everything together, be that supernatural or not. My problem with that is that this seems to undermine the very definition of god, which necessarily consists of a supernatural entity/force and such supernatural definitions are those of which I reject. One must be careful to define and describe the god in question, for if one must remain agnostic regarding a Christian definition for the fact that one cannot demonstrate the falsehood of such a notion then one must also remain agnostic regarding the Greek and Roman gods, which one would likewise not be able to demonstrate the falsehood thereof. We are really all atheists I just do not make an exception for the monotheistic supernatural entity/force of Christianity. For Christians are surely atheists regarding Hindu gods and Zoroastrianism’s god, again, I merely reject them all equally.

Oh, what a tangent this “religion” category got me into.

I also had a hard time seriously answering the ethnicity category. For this category always illustrates the human instinct to relegate an individual into a racially discriminatory subset. I was forced to choose white/Caucasian which, again, seems both odd and exclusive. I find my “ethnicity” or “race” to be just as human as the next persons, I would much rather label myself as “human” rather than “white” or “Caucasian” both of which are fraudulent descriptions. White is not a color let alone a race and I also have no relation to the Caucasus and no belief in the outmoded ethnology that had produced the category. Should it not go without saying what “color” one is by their picture? Does it really matter what ones color is if indeed they haven’t a picture? If one is either “Asian” or “black” is that really a difference that is consequential? Are they not both humans retaining the very same genetic material? Again a prime example of what Freud called “the narcissism of the small difference.”


The Jewish Freak said...

Quite an excellent piece of writing. Not only are athiests much maligned in the USA, but secular humanists are especially hated by christian fundamentalists.
Regarding the "race" issue, what is truly important is the quality of the material being written, not the color of the writer.

JDHURF said...

Thank you for the compliment! It is very true that the Christian fundamentalists are oddly preoccupied with denigrating and speaking out about the “evil” of secular humanism, I quite simply do not understand it.
I definitely agree on the “race” issue, I don’t understand why people are so concerned with knowing the individuals color. It just doesn’t matter to me and when I read some one else’s writing I am not preoccupied and worried about what their color may be.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

melloncollie said...

I learned this weekend just how much athiests are maligned. My friend--who otherwise prides herself on being tolerant of those who are different from her--went on a tirade against athiests. We're still on bad terms.

Anyway, sorry to get off on a tangent. This is another great piece, JDHURF. Your presence on the internet is much needed, and your voice is greatly appreciated.

JustinOther said...

Another excellent post. I personally like to call my self atheist, although I think I'm mora a secular humanist myself. I do so to stimulate conversation. I like to see the reaction I get when I say I'm atheist. That affords me the opportunity to discuss it.

As for race/color, I've never even considered the ethnicity, color, etc. of any author. As a matter of fact, I've never even considered whether YOU are black, white, purple, green....Until you mentioned it. And I honestly don't care (unless you ARE green, in which case I'd suggest seeing a doctor).

JDHURF said...

As you once said on this very blog either you are tolerant and accepting or you are not, she is simply not tolerant or accepting of everyone for she excludes atheists. No need to apologize for the tangent, it actually was not a tangent your post focuses closer in on the exact issue that I was talking about. Also thank you for the high praise it is both flattering and encouraging.

I certainly understand why you prefer to call yourself an atheist, I do the same except when I do not really know the other individual or I feel like there would be too much of an outrage and too much negativity, I try to pick and choose my battles. Including atheism into a conversation is most certainly a stimulating factor and I definitely agree with you that it is most interesting to observe the reactions and responses garnered.
Being that you are an open minded “liberal” atheist it almost goes without saying that you are not concerned with “race” and “color,” which is admirable. The fact that you have never even considered my ethnicity or race helps illustrate one of the biggest differences between liberal religionists, atheists and humanists with that of conservative, evangelical fundamental religionists, our views of other people are simply different and the way in which we interact with one another is different from those that consider “race” and “color” to be any sort of definitive characteristic. It is not overt or violent racism but it is racism all the same. It would concern me, however, if someone were green as you mentioned; that is a decent indicator that someone is in ill health! Lol!
Thank you also for the kind words.

Thank you both for stopping by and commenting.

Sadie Lou said...

I have posted a quiz on my blog and I wanted to invite you to play.

JDHURF said...

Okay sounds fun, thanks for the invite!

melloncollie said...

I just read this piece again for fun. JDHURF, I hope you someday write a regular column for some publication.

Kevin Parry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kevin Parry said...

JDHURF wrote
I am also hesitant to claim that I am an atheist because the mere word “atheist” seems to be bound to immorality, perversion, heresy (which ironically translates to “choice”), foolishness, corruption and a seemingly endless slew of nefarious characteristics.

I am in exactly the same situation. If someone asked me if I believed in God, I would say no – so that technically makes me an atheist. But in some social circles I refer to myself as an agnostic, simply because – as you say – the man in the street understanding of the word ‘atheist’ is replete with misunderstanding and negative stereotyping. Only after a group of individuals have gotten to know me a bit better, do I tell them that I am in fact an atheist, and I add that this is a philosophical position, not a moral one.

This is good article, and a great blog. Keep it up.


Memoirs of an ex-Christian

JDHURF said...

Thank you again for the high praise!!

kevin parry,
Yes, so unfortunate that some cannot express their views without apprehension of negative reactions. If I do not claim atheism I certainly claim secular humanism for, ironically, it seems that many people don’t even know what that is that and my views do completely align with secular humanisms….so far.
Thanks for the compliments and for stopping by!

Stardust said...

Haven't seen you around blogland in awhile...hope all is well with you.

JDHURF said...

All is good I’ve just been real busy. Thank you for the both the concern and the interest, I definitely appreciate it! Hopefully I’ll be back full force here pretty soon!

Rusko Elvenwood said...

Reading this post again made me go back and check the wording in my survey on my blog. I worded the question, "What religion or belief best describes you."

I stuck to the popular list of religions and made agnostic and atheist separate catagories even though I know you can be both at the same time. I figured the wording "...best describes..." would let me off the hook.

Take my survet at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=812201931057

Sadie Lou said...

I feel differently about people who say they are atheists rather than people who say they are agnostic.
Here's the reason:
There are people who believe in God and they live their life by the Bible.
If we come to find out in the afterlife that there isn't a God--we were living a lie but it wasn't a life threatening-soul quenching lie.

If we find there really was a God--Atheists are in mortal trouble. Not only did they claim with resounding pleasure that there is no God but they made fun of God, they made foolish claims about Jesus and they poked fun at Christians and people who were right about there being a God.

Agnostics are smart enough to reserve making blanket statements and they usually avoid laughing at religion because they just don't know.

Just some thoughts...

JDHURF said...

First of all thanks for stopping by and commenting.
I couldn’t disagree with you more on this topic. What you have presented is the, terribly fallacious and tiresome, wager presented by Blaise Pascal. I have debated this argument numerous times (the debate held on triablogue should still be there) and I wish to debate it no further.
If you are interested in why this sort of argument flies in the face of logic I offer that you check out this website, just copy and paste:


However allow me to state a few of the erroneous aspects of this sort of argument. You necessarily assume that *if* there were to be a god that it is the Christian god and that this also includes Jesus, as a matter of fact you are at as high a *risk* as any atheist when it comes to the gods of other religions. For do you remain agnostic regarding Isis, Shiva or Loki? Or how about Shinto, Baku, Yomato, Balor, Bali, Odin, Thor, Zeus, Allah, Apollo, Latis, Zoroaster, Osiris, Ngai, etc. I don’t think so.
I don’t laugh all too much at religion, I hope that wasn’t directed towards me but I do not believe that it is *smart* to remain agnostic. I actually believe that being agnostic is largely either being dishonest with ones self and others or plain and simple fear.
They were just some thoughts and the thoughts that are only presented by theists that have not reviewed the issues as rigorously as I have, Pascal’s wager is intellectually bankrupt and has no effect on but what would be contrary to his intent.
So maybe you should live by your own espoused ideology and remain agnostic when it comes to these gods, but that would also necessitate your required learning and education of them. That doesn’t seem to feasible or rational and neither does what you present about agnosticism.