Is freethought compatible with theism?

At my school I run a freethought group. There are people in the group who make complaints that the group should not speak ill of religion and faith and whatnot. This confuses me. Its always been my understanding that if you follow a religion, you are not thinking freely as freethought would have you do. It wouldn’t make sense to join the NRA and say that the group shouldn’t use guns.

Or maybe its that religious people think that freethought is actually good, but just don’t understand that the two don’t mix.

speaking ill of their free choices to believe in whatever or not is impolite… not to mention a bit hypocritical…


Having the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe is not the same as freethought. Believing whatever you want to believe is not only fallacious, its deserving of mockery. Here’s an example.

I believe that there is a furry pink leprechaun under my bed. Don’t mock me, I’m exercising my freedom of thought. Don’t give criticism either, you intolerant bigot.

Sound pretty silly right? Right. After investigation under my bed I noticed that there is no such leprechaun. If i were to still believe it then i would not only be illogically exercising my freedom of thought, but i would NOT be exercising freethought.

Freethought doesn’t negate the existence of a god. However it does lend credence to its illogic.

of course it is

How is this relevant? Are you judging me based on my age and what type of school i attend?

Even though the claims of theism, such as supernatural beings and such, are outside the realm of science and cannot be detected or verified by any independent set of the 5 senses? Matters of faith are not objective, therefore not freethought. Sure you have the freedom to think such things, but defining “freethought” as “the freedom to think” is stupidly impractical.


santa claus has left the building


Freethough is not limited to atheistic view points, but very few religious people are capable of it, because of their hang ups on faith etc. There should be no problem in religious freethinking as long as the religious person understands that alot of there dogma and faith based assumptions are irrelevant in the group discussions. You can be involved in freethought even if your faith demands that you do not belive that which you are discussing. However to speak ill of religion must if that is what you are doing must be done based on a reasonable line of thinking. Remeber that alot of religious or at least theistic belifes are still shrouded mystery and should be treated as such. To blindly rebuke somones faith is to be no better than the person of faith. So realy it should not be that speaking ill of faith should be a problem, but perhaps you need to assess why your speaking ill of it. Not that I know what was actually said, you may already be doing this

A freethinker who succumbs to the will of his/her religious dogma. This wins the 2007 Oxymoron Award.

I don’t discourage theists from joining the discussion. But if you are going to take on the lable of “freethinker” how can you still hold dogma to be ok?

The only difference between you and the religious man is that you believe equally in 2 different paths, neither wrong or right, and are as unlikely as each other to be pursuaded of the other’s view. Neither of you are ‘free’ in your thinking. A free thinker would have to be absolutely objective, analytical, and aware of his own lack of knowledge, though your statements claim otherwise.

I didnt say you should be labeld free thinker, I said you can be involved in freethinking discussions

Are theism and dogma necessarily connected all the time?

I think that in theism people argue for a conclusion, whereas in philosophy one should be willing to go wherever honest and free reasoning leads you. Theists tend to be stuck in an established framework, just like we see in scholasticism.

Intelligent theism (i.e. not chained to dogma) has existed, it’s just that the masses are too easily misled… as plato said:

Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.

Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), The Republic

Man is free to choose not to be free - Sartre (an atheist)

It may be oxymoronic, but it’s also a very accurate description of how some people really are.

There are various answers - it could be that being a freethinker (capacity) doesn’t necessarily involving exercising that free thought or advancing it in others (ethics). Or it could be that all beliefs are contrary to freethinking, since all beliefs are the belief in one thing as opposed to other things, which is limited, hence not free. Or it could be that there’s no such thing as freethinking and that is simply a name used by people to cover gaps in their arguments, as though thinking freely was self-evidently the only way forward.

LOL. One´s led to think they´re either young or part of a religious school of some sort.

Do you mean sensitive in that they aren’t comfortable talking about it? Or sensitive in that it is a very important issue that warrants discussion?

If you mean the former, well i can’t answer the question. My group doesnt focus on the definition of “freethought” that people here on ILP seem to embrace. The definition of freethought that wikipedia has is a lot better for our purposes. And yes I know that wikipedia isn’t the end all source of information, HOWEVER what they have on there for freethought is perfect for our purposes. We could write our own definition, but theres already a very good one in existence.

In a nutshell, the “free” in “freethought” is not like “freedom” where you “have the freedom to think whatever you want”, per se.

Its “free” as in “odor free” or “fat free”. “Freethought” is “bullshit free”. In these terms a freethinker is a person who lives there life as bullshitless as possible.

I attend a state college. 19-25 year olds comprise the membership of my group here.

There are people who go through the process of becoming a member of the group, and also say that we should not be critical of religion and whatnot and say that we should let people have their beleifs and yada yada blah blah. My real beef i guess is with people who join a group which has its goals, motives and reasons for existing clearly stated to them prior to them joining, yet they bitch about it.

Being a freethinker is not the same as being a free spirit where you just do whatever the hell you want and answer to #1. Joining a group of “free spirits” kind of defeats the purpose of being a free spirit. It would be like a bunch of anarchists meeting together to form a new government.

I would think that a free-enough thinker could be able to make any two things compatible w/ a little dialectical reasoning. Maybe I’m wrong?? I dunno…it happens…

Free thought just means free of bias and appeals to emotion and irrationality, using standards like bayesian logic and critical thinking tools in science, thats pretty much it. (as was already mentioned).

Theres nothing ‘free’ in religious thought because religious thought is not based on drawing conclusions from evidence and objectivity, thats t he point of faith, if it was drawing conclusions from evidence faith would never be needed. Faith is an appeal to emotion and irration ality, everytime someone claims belief in god is the same as atheists they are essentially saying belief and disbelief in moder-day super-unicorns are the same. I’ve heard this arguement repeated enough to know its nothing but a simple misunderstanding of the people claiming it to be so.

Not many people seriously have a bias against believing in a wish granting super unicorn, pretty much everyone wants it to be true. Its not an issue of mentality or personality or any personal quality besides a suspension of belief for insane claims with no evidence.

We’re not emotionally inclined to disbelieve for many other reasons besides caring about truth.

you could freely decide that x religion is the correct religion, and follow it. if free thought defines that established belief is off limits, and one established belief happens to be true (which is possible), then ironically, a group arrogantly hijacking the term ‘free thought’ bars thinking the truth.

although i gather that according to the definition of free thought, as defined by its hijackers, belief in any religion cannot be free thought, so you would be technically right. except that free thought, if it is free at all, is not about what other people (who don’t categorize themselves as freethinkers) should do, it’s about what the people who categorize themselves as free thinkers do. therefore live and let live, i.e. tolerance.