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Even Atheism is a Belief

(just like "even zero is a number")

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

The worldview or belief-conceptual dimension of culture is a structure of ideas, sometimes contradictory, that people have about the nature of the universe, the world around them, their role in it, cause and effect, and the nature of time, matter, and behaviour

This dimension is sometimes thought to be the religion of the people.

It is a wider category, and also includes atheistic beliefs, for example, that man created God in his own image, and it does not depend upon an organization like a religion.

It includes shared beliefs in how this universe came to be, how it operates, and what is reality.

It is religious beliefs ― and more. See: Notes on Religion. A religion, in turn, is an institution.

When you drop a pencil onto the floor and expect it to go in the down direction, you demonstrate your belief in gravity.

When you say the sun comes up in the morning (it does not; the earth turns), you express a world view from the past.

If you, the researcher or mobiliser, are seen to be some one who is attacking the beliefs of the people, you will find your work hindered, opposition to you and your goals, and failure.

The anti evolution fanatics think that God was too stupid or incompetant to create evolution.

Whether or not you want to oppose local beliefs, you must be seen as respecting and to be not wanting to change them.

In the broad sweep of human existence, the general trend of change has been for a decrease in the number of deities, and a reduction from sacred-profane differences in time and space to secular time and space.

From local polytheism with many gods, humans moved to a polytheism with fewer gods, from that humans moved to monotheism (one god) and from there an increase in the proportion of people who believe in no god.

In humankind experience, it appears that those groups with local traditional gods tend to be more tolerant of other gods than are the so-called "universal" religions which each say they alone have the only true answer.

Huge wars have been fought over religions (an irony in that most religions call for peace and tolerance), and this should be a warning to the researcher or mobiliser about the extent to which people fervently hold their beliefs.

The researcher or mobiliser must learn, study and be aware of what the prevailing beliefs are in the community.

To be an effective catalyst of social change, the animator must make suggestions and promote actions which do not offend those prevailing beliefs, and which are consistent with, or at least appropriate to, existing beliefs and concepts of how the universe works.

The Worldview Dimension of Society

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Last update: 2012.04.18

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