Posted by: smstrouse | February 6, 2016

Including Atheists

56b394af1a00009c01ab2045I know it’s been around for a while. But this was the first time I saw it included in a group of religious symbols.

The international symbol for Atheism is the atomic whirl. According to the American Atheists website, this scientific image was chosen in 1963 to AmericanAtheistsLogoacknowledge “that only through the use of scientific analysis and free, open inquiry can humankind reach out for a better life.”

One new thing I learned is that one of the orbitals in the symbol should be open-ended to demonstrate that “while Atheists rely on the scientific method for learning about the cosmos and increasing our knowledge about nature, we know that not all of the answers are in. We recognize that with new knowledge come new questions and areas for human inquiry and exploration.”

I, for one, am glad to see atheism included in the ever-expanding collection of traditions represented on our interfaith banners and bumper stickers. Yes, I know, that’s a problematic term. Even without including  atheists, there is much ongoing discussion about what to call the “interfaith” movement.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Kille, executive director of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) writes that “interfaith carries some muddy implications that can be confusing – ‘interfaith’ organizations in the past meant ‘ecumenical’- all Christian, or, at best, Christian/Jewish. It has also come to describe traditions that blend two or more religious observances into some whole. We chose ‘interreligious’ partly because the term is less familiar, partly because it suggests relationships between distinct traditions, rather than a blending of them. Multi-faith has much the same kind of sense about it. ‘Interreligious’ is also a term that hopes to include traditions for whom ‘faith’ is not really a meaningful concept- Buddhists, Wiccans, etc.”

It’s complicated, to be sure. Still, I’m glad we’re stumbling around together, as we seek common language for new and respectful relationships.




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