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Atheism Versus Humanism: Ideological Tensions and Identity Dynamics

Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE,volume 2)

Abstract

LeDrew uses a comparative approach to highlight the different ways in which atheist group identity is being expressed. LeDrew begins with a historiography of two branches of atheism: scientific atheism and humanistic atheism. He describes scientific atheism as originating in Enlightenment-era rationalism and the natural scientists, explaining that scientific atheists see religion in terms of its explanative function. Humanistic atheism, on the other hand, derives from the social sciences and humanistic atheists understand religion as a social phenomenon. LeDrew explores how these two ways of understanding the nature of religion contributes to tensions between and within groups of atheists and humanists, particularly with respect to the desired goals of social movement activism.

Keywords

  • Social Justice
  • Minority Identity
  • Free Inquiry
  • Movement Discourse
  • Ideological Tension

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Streaming video of many of the conference sessions, including this one, can be viewed at http://www.secularhumanism.org/laconference/live.html, which serves as the reference for all of my discussion of this debate. Edited versions of the four presentations were published in the June/July 2011 issue of Free Inquiry (vol. 31 no. 4).

  2. 2.

    Atheism+ was originally conceived by Jen McCreight, author of the blog Blag Hag (http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag), which is hosted on the Freethought Blogs network headed by PZ Myers.

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LeDrew, S. (2015). Atheism Versus Humanism: Ideological Tensions and Identity Dynamics. In: G. Beaman, L., Tomlins, S. (eds) Atheist Identities - Spaces and Social Contexts. Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies, vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09602-5_4

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