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JosephM

Freethinkers

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Can freethinkers go to church regularly for service but still remain as freethinkers?

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Yes; but I suspect there is a risk.

In The God Delusion Dawkins describes an atheist that regularly went to his CoE church. The explanation went along the lines to keep solidarity with tribe.

Edited by romansh

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Probably, but I think 'group thought' might interfere with the individual's free thought.

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Does "freethinkers" refer generally to people who think freely in some undefined sense, or the freethinker movement? I think historically freethinkers are a counter-movement against state churches in Europe, thus the "free" in the name refers practically to freedom from the state churches. If the movement has a US version, I have no idea what they do.

 

In Finland, where I live, freethinkers are practically militant atheists and are actively (and arguably successfully) campaigning against the institution of the state church. The past chairman of the freethinkers organization, who resigned from it, called the group "The worst nutjob sect I have known" suggesting that the freethinkers (at least in Finland) tend to attract the most militant, most tribalist type of atheists. From the little I have personally met them, they are not particularly nice people. They are mostly Dawkins - type militant atheists.

 

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I guess it depends on the level of interaction and compliance (or homogeneity) required by both yourself and the group. If no one's going to take issue with you respectfully opting out of certain elements (creeds, responses, etc), and you can be considerate of their customs and traditions (such as standing, sitting, silence or holding/shaking hands), then it really only depends on your own reasons for attending.

I imagine 'group thought' has the potential to interfere at any level of community interaction, from family/social gatherings to election campaigns or celebrations of nationalism. Some individuals are perhaps more sensitive to the homogeneity of their surroundings, and feel more comfortable or secure when surrounded by like-minded people. Whether that means they alter their own thinking/behaviour to match, try to alter someone else's thinking/behaviour, choose to reject the group or the individual, or compartmentalise their thinking and manage the discord internally is a choice only they can make.

If you consider yourself to be a 'freethinker' in every respect, and you're open to the diversity of thinking that continually challenges 'group thought' but also enables you to be comfortable interacting respectfully with thinkers who perhaps choose not to be so free, then I believe you can attend a church regularly and remain a freethinker.

It is a big IF, though.

But I don't know if those in the 'freethinkers organisation' Jack describes in Finland would be as freethinking as they might imagine themselves to be. I recognise the initial intent: to remove the religious obligation imposed by the state. But to form an organisation, especially one that now seems to directly oppose a particular way of thinking, kind of defeats the purpose of free thinking, doesn't it?

Freethinkers are more like PC, as far as I can see.

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