Re: mapping religious thought space

From: Robert Owen (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 01:38:20 MST

Spike Jones wrote:

> > Spike Jones wrote: To the left of left would be the
> > > agnostic. What is to the right of right? I propose it should
> > > be the dogmatic atheist.
> > Robert Owen wrote:
> > I really like your sociogram, Spike. I only spot one difficulty -- as
> > you suggest, extremes tend to meet because they are really the
> > two opposing faces of one thing, "Agnostic::Dogmatic Atheist"
> > doesn't seem to work very well. Here's what I suggest, even
> > though it's a bit more complicated:
> >
> > Positivist-Humanist-Liberal-Orthodox-Fundamentalist-Atheist-Nihilist
> I like it. Max More will likely weigh in on this, as this I think is his
> area of expertise. The problem I see with your spectrum above is
> it places the similar humanist and atheist too far apart, nearly opposite.

[1] I see very little similarity between "humanism" and "atheism"; I regard
Humanism as the transformation of Christianity into a secular Ethos, but
atheism as the negation of Christianity. [2] I visualize this continuum
as in fact a spectrum from an extreme affirmation of the secular through
the "white" sacred to the "black" sacred (or demonic) to an extreme denial
of the secular. [3] To illustrate my intention, substitute "Fascist" for
"Atheist"; then we can place "agnosticism" within the range of "Humanist"
which is where I think it belongs (c.f. Schweitzer's "The Quest for the
Historical Jesus") and atheism between Fascist and Nihilist. This has a
historical justification -- although the word "Nihilism" originated in the
fiction of Turgenev around l855, it later became closely associated with
the Ideology of Radical Revolution developed by Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.
[4] Finally, we must be able to bend our linear continuum into a circle
to that the "ideological distance" between elements is relative to one's
theory of "dynamic opposition" and the geometry chosen.


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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