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What is Godlessness? Defining Godlessness, Godless Secularism, Godless Atheism


Godlessness vs. Atheism:

It’s true that atheists are by definition godless, but it’s possible to draw a subtle distinction between the two concepts. Atheism is the absence of belief in gods; godlessness is the absence of gods and is generally defined as not recognizing or worshipping any gods. Technically, a person could believe in the existence of gods they don’t worship. This might be rare, but the implications are important. Godlessness need not deny the existence of gods, but it does dismiss their importance.

Godlessness vs. Secularism:

It’s possible to argue that godlessness and secularism are substantially the same, at least on a practical level. They do, however, reference slightly different things. Whereas godlessness is the absence of gods, secularism is the absence of religion or the absence of ecclesiastical authority. Technically secularism doesn’t have to be godless because religion can exist without gods; in practice, though, the application of one implies the application of the other.

Implications of Godlessness:

If godlessness isn’t the denial of or disbelief in the existence of gods, then godlessness can and must be much broader than atheism. It’s clear that theists who believe in a god or gods can be “godless” in various aspects of their lives. Human organizations, made up of theists and atheists, can be “godless” when they do not incorporate the recognition or worship of any gods. This is not just theoretically possible, but it is in fact quite widespread in modern society.

Who Are the Godless?:

If godlessness isn’t limited just to atheism, then the people who might qualify as “godless” in some sense include more than simply the atheists in society. Identifying such people is tricky, though, because it’s not easy to assert that a person who believes in, or at least believes in the possibility of, a god is also “godless” in any significant sense. On the other hand, there are those who are “godless” to enough of a degree that they may legitimately be seen as kindred spirits. Read More...

Godless Government:

Many claim that America is a Christian Nation, but a better argument can be made for the idea that America’s government is and should be godless. American government is godless because gods have no role in creating, enforcing, or deciding the constitutionality of laws. Gods have no role in the structure of government, who serves in the government, or how it operates — even though many in government are theists. Government should not recognize or worship any gods. Read More...

Godless Politics:

If the government can and should be godless, then it should be expected that politics can and should be godless as well. Although individual actors in the political sphere may believe in a god, the political sphere itself should not single out any gods for particular recognition and certainly should not incorporate the worship of any gods. Furthermore, political policies and discourse should not incorporate gods or commands from any alleged gods.

Godless Science:

Science is by definition methodologically naturalistic and materialistic — this means that while it does not explicitly deny the existence of the supernatural, it refuses to take it into account. Science is thus not an atheistic enterprise so much as it is a godless one. Scientific experiments do not recognize the possible effects of any gods in what happens; scientific explanations do not incorporate any gods’ actions. Science certainly doesn’t involve the worship of any gods. Read More...

Godless Living:

Theists who incorporate recognition and worship of gods into most aspects of their lives may have difficulty understanding how others can live godless lives with little to no recognition or worship of gods. This is a failure of imagination — like someone obsessed with music who can’t understand how others don’t incorporate music into all aspects of their lives. Godless people in fact experience little difficulty living godless lives, except when accosted by those who won’t accept godlessness.

Godless Art & Entertainment:

Throughout history, art and religion have been closely linked: much art was created in the service of religion while religion was explored and explained through various artistic media. Modern society has become so secular, however, that there is now ample room for art with little or no religious or theistic implications. There are even significant amounts of art which explore traditional religious questions and themes without the context of traditional religious and theistic beliefs.

Are there Advantages to Godlessness?:

Even godless people might wonder if there are ultimately any advantages to godlessness, or if the relative differences ultimately balance out and leave both positions basically equal. This is a fair question, but a difficult one to answer. The problem is, there are too many different ways of being godless and of incorporating gods into one’s life. There are good and bad aspects of both; good and bad ways to live a life where recognition and worship of gods is central; good and bad ways to live a life where gods play no role whatsoever.

It would be unfair to compare the best of godlessness against the worst of godly living; it would be unfair to compare the best of a godly life against the worst of godless living. Unfortunately, this is what most people end up doing when they attempt any sort of comparison and so in the end their comparisons fall short. All I can do is say that, contrary to what “godly” people might proclaim, godless living not only isn’t inferior, but comes with significant benefits.

Recognition and worship of gods, not to mention religion, are completely irrelevant when it comes being moral, unnecessary for good government, unimportant when comes to art, and immaterial for living a decent life. A godless life properly structured can be lived without the sort of oppression which can come from the dead hand of tradition or self-righteous religious leaders. Godlessness does not inherently lead to more freedom, but it can mean the freedom to be responsible for yourself and for what goes on around you in a way that is difficult and rare in the context of religion or gods.

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