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    Freethought

    The forum is Talk Freethought. Freethinking is not just pragmatism, it is not limiting yourself to a single way of thinking or ideology or -ism. If Buddhist scriptures fit a problem go with it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought

    Freethought (or "free thought")[1] is an epistemological viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or dogma. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a freethinker is "a person who forms their own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people, especially in religious teaching."[2] In some contemporary thought in particular, freethought is strongly tied with rejection of traditional social or religious belief systems.[1][3] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking", and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers".[1] Modern freethinkers consider freethought as a natural freedom of all negative and illusive thoughts acquired from the society.[4]

    The term first came into use in the 17th century in order to indicate people who inquired into the basis of traditional religious beliefs. In practice, freethinking is most closely linked with secularism, atheism, agnosticism, anti-clericalism, and religious critique. The Oxford English Dictionary defines freethinking as, "The free exercise of reason in matters of religious belief, unrestrained by deference to authority; the adoption of the principles of a free-thinker." Freethinkers hold that knowledge should be grounded in facts, scientific inquiry, and logic. The skeptical application of science implies freedom from the intellectually limiting effects of confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, or sectarianism.[5

    Definition[edit]

    Atheist author Adam Lee defines freethought as thinking which is independent of revelation, tradition, established belief, and authority,[6] and considers it as a "broader umbrella" than atheism "that embraces a rainbow of unorthodoxy, religious dissent, skepticism, and unconventional thinking."[7]

    The basic summarizing statement of the essay The Ethics of Belief by the 19th-century British mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford is: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."[8] The essay became a rallying cry for freethinkers when published in the 1870s, and has been described as a point when freethinkers grabbed the moral high ground.[9] Clifford was himself an organizer of freethought gatherings, the driving force behind the Congress of Liberal Thinkers held in 1878.

    Regarding religion, freethinkers typically hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena.[10] According to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, "No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth." and "Freethinkers are convinced that religious claims have not withstood the tests of reason. Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition. Most freethinkers consider religion to be not only untrue, but harmful."[11]

    However, philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote the following in his 1944 essay "The Value of Free Thought:"


    What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favour, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.

    — Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought. How to Become a Truth-Seeker and Break the Chains of Mental Slavery, from the first paragraph

    The whole first paragraph of the essay makes it clear that a freethinker is not necessarily an atheist or an agnostic, as long as he or she satisfies this definition:


    The person who is free in any respect is free from something; what is the free thinker free from? To be worthy of the name, he must be free of two things: the force of tradition, and the tyranny of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, but in the measure of a man's emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker.

    — Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought. How to Become a Truth-Seeker and Break the Chains of Mental Slavery, from the first paragraph

    Fred Edwords, former executive of the American Humanist Association, suggests that by Russell's definition, liberal religionists who have challenged established orthodoxies can be considered freethinkers.[12]

    On the other hand, according to Bertrand Russell, atheists and/or agnostics are not necessarily freethinkers. As an example, he mentions Stalin, whom he compares to a "pope":


    what I am concerned with is the doctrine of the modern Communistic Party, and of the Russian Government to which it owes allegiance. According to this doctrine, the world develops on the lines of a Plan called Dialectical Materialism, first discovered by Karl Marx, embodied in the practice of a great state by Lenin, and now expounded from day to day by a Church of which Stalin is the Pope. […] Free discussion is to be prevented wherever the power to do so exists; […] If this doctrine and this organization prevail, free inquiry will become as impossible as it was in the middle ages, and the world will relapse into bigotry and obscurantism.

    — Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought. How to Become a Truth-Seeker and Break the Chains of Mental Slavery

    In the 18th and 19th century, many thinkers regarded as freethinkers were deists, arguing that the nature of God can only be known from a study of nature rather than from religious revelation. In the 18th century, "deism" was as much of a 'dirty word' as "atheism", and deists were often stigmatized as either atheists or at least as freethinkers by their Christian opponents.[13][14] Deists today regard themselves as freethinkers, but are now arguably less prominent in the freethought movement than atheists

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    In freethinking atheism can be just as construing as theism. For me it is nether an atheist not a theist be.

    Arguing atheism is the flip side of theism. It can become a form of self imposed mental slavery. For me considering condering the atheist theist debate as both irrelevant philosophically is true freedom from theism. Not being bound by response to theism.

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that freethought is pretty much the same thing as skepticism in that it is about how we know, rather than what we know or believe. It is about method and process, not conclusions or beliefs. And that is an emphasis I fully endorse. The Bertrand Russell quote you provided is absolutely on the mark.

    Anyone can be an atheist for whatever reason. Lots of atheists believe lots of crap. Both Objectivists and communists, who are both wrong about a lot of things, and political polar opposites, tend both to be atheists. So atheism as a rallying cry so to speak might not be optimal.

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    Skeptic is variable in interpretation. Theists can be freethinkers and skeptics.

    I am skeptical in the context of science and evidence based conclusions. Naturalism if you want.

    As I see it for myself freethought is not being limited by what you believe. There is no set concrete view or approach to an issue.

    We see the opposite in Christians and especially conservative Christian politicians. They see very thing through the bible, and will shoehorn issues into scripture. They can not function outside of a biblical context and will invent interpretation if needed.

    The economy is not really working well and conservatives can only see it in terms of free market capitals with supply and demand above all else. Supply and demand continues to drive up housing prices to the point where average workers can't afford it. They are hopelessly back in the somewhat mythical days of the 19th century. There are solutions to our problems if rigid ideology is abandoned on all sides, including the left.



    I identify as atheist on the forum for the purpose of religious debate. I consider atheism as illusory as theism. True freedom of thought is letting go of both sides. Neither atheism or theism rules my thinking. Some atheists turn it into an ideology to believe in.

    Of course given the pressure from Christianity we all have to respond and protect ourselves from religious encroachments. That is a pragmatic reality.
    \
    Can an ideological view of epistemology and knowledge end up limiting your ability to learn and grasp? I'd say that is part of freethought. Removing self imposed limitations.

    The same can be said of science. Does the successful methods of the last 200 years in some way limt our ability to find something new?

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