85: Is Atheism Groupthink?, Astrology

By on December 10, 2012

Robin, Tom, and Chris debate the groupthink aspects of atheism and Tom refreshes us on the strange penetration that astrology holds in our everyday lives.



Thanks for the very interesting conversation! I would be interested in a future conversation as to why one is a “jerk” when they ask or pursue the beliefs of another. It seems to me that this is where conversations become most meaningful and useful. I ask this with the knowledge that I come from a large family that is catholic and I’m probably, because few of us ever converse on the topic, the only one who does not believe in god or gods. My own philosophic outlook was changed in high school when my best friend questioned me on my beliefs and I was faced with having to defend them. It made for many interesting conversations and occasional outbursts of frustration but all in all worthwhile.

It is of course easiest to converse with someone whose beliefs are not in conflict with your own and so the participants are not concerned with “judgments” on their belief system. I guess what I’m really asking is should atheists be proselytizers, as defenders of religions are frequently proselytizers? Is reticence to identify oneself and engage someone on this topic a sign of something other than wanting to be a jerk?

On the topic of groupthink I really appreciate your collective attempt to define the term or the subject that is being discussed. So often there’s an assumption that everyone understands the foundation of the conversation before its commenced and so little time is spent understanding those assumptions at the outset.


What do you think of the label “rationalists”?

We could have a pretty long debate about labels thanks to the fluidity of language.

For instance, since most people on the planet are religious, one might argue it’s “rational” to also be religious. Rationality doesn’t have to be based on hard evidence, it can be based on compatibility and acceptance, for instance.

You could refine the word to “empirical”, I suppose.

This is probably why there’s so much debate out there between “humanists”, “atheists”, “agnostics”, etc. Some of the minutia are very close together relatively speaking.


I was under the impression that the term rationalist referred to someone who held to the philosophy of rationalism which holds that the basis for truth is an intellectual exercise. Reason would then be the guiding force for judgment. The rationalist would analyze religion on its own terms and not on compatibility but on its validity in the face of evidence. Rationalism rejects spiritual, religious, or sensory experiences and rests solely on deductive logic.

Christopher Thielen

You’re right Paul. I neglected to consider its proper epistemological meaning. Thanks for the correction!

like always, those discussions are like watching a humanities student arguing a social sciences student. good you have stopped it before that point.

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