Freethinking for Freethinkers

Students are delighted to discover they have options for what to call themselves beyond faith.  “Humanist” or “Freethinker” can be positive alternatives for those, like me, who don’t care to identify with a negative such as “Atheist.”

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about Freethought:

Freethinkers are not interested in adding supernatural words to natural experiences.  They are an unnecessary distraction.

Example:  In her book, Reason for Hope, Jane Goodall states:

“Lost in awe at the beauty around me, I must have slipped into a state of heightened awareness {where everything] seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself.”

While I greatly admire Dr. Goodall and her work, I use her words as an example of “add ons” that freethinkers can let go of, and question.

Without the added supernaturalistic word “spirit,” a naturalistic person might fairly agree with the sentiment of the statement.

Several other examples:

Someone says. . .

We need justice … because the scriptures say …

We need equality and rights … because God wants …

We need to be truthful … because Jesus said …

We need to do good … because our faith …

The freethinker questions: Why?  Why the added part?  

We need to work for justice, equality, rights, speak truth, and do the good and right things Because they are Right and Good.

Your thoughts?

Categories: freethoughtTags: , , , , ,


  1. Chris, Another creative thinking reflection in so few words. Great. What is very weird however, is how confusingly semantic all of this gets. As a theist, I completely agree that the words you darken aren’t needed! What are needed are the moral realities that you list in the first parts–good, justice, truth, equality, rights, etc. Then how is it that we are opposite in lifestances, you an atheist, me a theist? I guess background and life experiences and studies are what separate us.
    For the last 55 years, ever since the University of Nebraska and Cal State Long Beach where I studied, nearly all the atheists I have formally studied or met and dialogued with have claimed that “good,” “truth,” “equality,” “rights,” etc. don’t exist, but only subjective likes. They claim that moral realism is false. Indeed, this is why I identified for many years as a “liberal Christian” even though I never believed in the Creeds, etc., because, it seemed the alternative was I would have to become a moral skeptic. And since, my innermost convincement is for human rights, justice, compassion, meticulous honesty, etc., I would never deny them. Since you think “good,” rights,” etc. are real, we are probably a lot closer in our view of reality than it appears based upon our differing word usage. Life is so complex! On my own blog, I call myself a freeseeker and an Enlightenment humanist.

    • What may be “weird and confusing” for you, Daniel, is that perhaps we aren’t as “opposite” as you first imagined. It seems you have primarily encountered “evangelical atheists,” not freethinkers like me who are not anti-religious. I like “free seeker.” You may agree that whatever we choose to believe or not believe shouldn’t be a distraction from practicing a life of goodness, truthfulness, equality, etc.

      • Chris, Intriguing. In many ways we both are freethinkers, in the sense that we aren’t into doctrinal beliefs and disbeliefs, but are, as you say, for everyone to live a “life of goodness, truthfulness, equality, etc.”

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