I found this article to be quite intriguing. As a Stoic-adjacent Hekatean Pagan, I appreciate the perspective offered. I don't like the idea of strictly adhering to any particular school of thought, like a traditional Stoic might, because it feels too much like a religion to me. Strict adherence to rules and regulations that dictate our actions in blind faith is not something I can follow. But, as you said, as long as we know what kind of Stoic we are, it's all good. Many blessings.

Expand full comment
Apr 12Liked by Tanner Campbell

What a serendipitous post, I’ve recently been wondering if antitheism is a more appropriate descriptor to how I’ve tried to reconcile religion with my understanding of Stoicism. Do you have any thoughts regarding the distinction between “there is no god” and “even if there is, they have no right to dictate our actions?” This may be an underdeveloped question, I’ve truly only been wrestling with this concept for a week.

Expand full comment

Can Atheists Be Stoics? More than looking for a Stoic definition of god, I believe the answer to this question depends on how one defines atheist. Some would say it is simple: a-theist as in “without”-“belief in god(s).” But of course the question then becomes how does one define god (or gods or God)? Not so simple.

For example, a 2019 PEW survey found that “Roughly one-in-five self-described atheists (18%) say they do believe in some kind of higher power. None of the atheists surveyed, however, say they believe in God as described in the Bible.” It seems to me that one who merely does not believe in the Bible’s god would have no problem being a Stoic, whereas one who does not believe in in any kind of higher power or spirit might require a greater reformation of Stoicism for a better fit?

There’s also the definitional question of whether atheism is an affirmative belief that there is no god, or a rejection of the assertion that there is a god or gods? According to the American Atheists, “atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”

To take this one level further, an increasing number of contemporary mainstream philosophers and scientists have been embracing metaphysical idealism over physicalism/materialism (i.e., the brain is a product of consciousness rather than the creator of consciousness). Are metaphysical idealists who believe in no type of god or higher power, but do believe in a universal consciousness, atheists? Again, I think it depends on how one defines atheist (and perhaps how one defines consciousness as well.)

Expand full comment