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Atheist Pope

The moral authority for millions of the world's atheists
  (+5, -4)
(+5, -4)
  [vote for,

Now hold on, you haven't even read the idea yet!

Yes, there would be no premise for the assignment of this leader's authority, and yes there would be many areas of little or no consensus on what is or isn't moral. That being said, there would be many areas where 95% of the world's atheists would agree. These tenets would be supported by their person in this elected Pope-like office.

They would need a different title than "Pope" because it would be inappropriate for the first action of this person being to alienate and anger the millions of Christians around the world who consider the Pope in Rome to be their leader. One of the main rules from this atheist Pope would be "try not to pick fights and disturb the peace".

Their job would be to discuss and promote morality from a secular viewpoint, free as much as is possible from controversy. Concepts such as peace, rights of the individual regardless of who they are, freedom from tyranny and oppression, extolling the virtues of science, critical thinking and education etc and I would argue, getting along with all the religious people of the world as well.

You should not steal or murder, one should support their brothers etc. These lessons would be nothing new, but it might be nice to hear them from a non-religious source. Atheists need to think about wrong and right too.

I would suggest they be called the "Imperator" which is another word for "leader" or "emperor" that nobody else is currently using. Alternately "Grand Council" has a nice ring to it. Hell, give 'em a robe and hat even. Why not? Put a little showmanship into it. Or not.

doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

Atheist Mega Churches in US & Australia http://www.dailymai...t-earlier-year.html
[Skewed, Jun 26 2014]

History Of Atheism http://en.wikipedia.../History_of_atheism
[Skewed, Jun 26 2014]

The Fench Are Coming To Get Us http://www.youtube....watch?v=fLwj56WYiAc
Mitch Benn [Skewed, Jun 28 2014]

Gretta Vosper http://canadaam.ctv...on-behind-1.2844385
An interview with United Church of Canada's controversial atheist minister [Ander, Apr 12 2016]


       //Atheists need to think about wrong and right too.//   

       I would suggest that we do, rather more than the average religious individual who gets their morality spoon fed to them.   

       Other than that, why would we possibly want a single central authority who would almost definitely make decisions we disagree with? After all, what percentage of the world's Catholics actually agree with every bit of Catholic doctrine (hint, in the US and Europe, it is rapidly approaching zero). And that ignores the fact that almost every protestant can be framed as someone who has rejected Catholic doctrine.
MechE, Jun 26 2014

       Baked. Richard Dawkins.
the porpoise, Jun 26 2014

       Well, as far as consensus, would there be any disagreement with the ones mentioned so far? Granted, by the time you winnowed out the more controversial topics you might be left with little more than a "Hallmark greeting card morality" but hey, works for the Dali Lama.   

       Richard Dawkins? You'd need a little bit better fashion sense than cardigans and ill fitted suits. Mad respect for the man but he's not a fashion plate.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       Is theft permitted if it is to feed a starving child?   

       What is murder? Does it include self defense? How about the various incarnations of the Trolley problem.   

       And if I see someone doing something wrong, don't I have a duty to pick (at least) a verbal fight with them and disturb the peace in order to prevent it?   

       So yes, I would disagree, or at least require much clarification with your current list. There are plenty of atheist authors who have written books on morality. I have studied some, and will probably read more. I have had extensive debates on some of the subjects. What I don't need is some central authority trying to tell me what is right and wrong.
MechE, Jun 26 2014

       //there would be many areas where 95% of the world's atheists would agree// - I disagree
hippo, Jun 26 2014

       //Is theft permitted if it is to feed a starving child?//   

       Not that it ever comes up, but this is how you'd handle this very easy conundrum. Do whatever's necessary to save a human life (no need for them to be wide eyed, cute and clutching a teddy bear to be worthy of keeping alive) then find out why theft was necessary to feed this person. Then spend whatever effort necessary to make sure this never happens again. And before your ask, cannibalism probably has it's place too, but only in extreme circumstances, not just because the Burger King won't open for another 20 minutes.   

       //And if I see someone doing something wrong, don't I have a duty to pick (at least) a verbal fight with them and disturb the peace in order to prevent it?//   

       Doing something wrong is disturbing the peace, preventing it, by killing the person if necessary is keeping the peace.   

       //What I don't need is some central authority trying to tell me what is right and wrong.//   

       Having somebody who extols certain virtues isn't necessarily telling you what to do. Certainly discussion of morality can be beneficial. As you've just pointed out, there may be confusion with some about the difference between robbing a bank to buy crack cocaine and stealing milk to save a starving baby. A properly attired Grand Council might be able to help with these kinds of questions.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       //Having somebody who extols certain virtues isn't necessarily telling you what to do.//   

       Then I would suggest "pope" is entirely the wrong archetype, since it implies a central authority figure.
MechE, Jun 26 2014

       Which is one reason why I said they shouldn't be called "Pope".   

       "Council" sounds a little less dogmatic. Maybe I should change the idea title, but to get people to read these things you need to catch their attention.   

       They would be Pope-ish in that they would be a central figure. He could hand down decrees but I don't think atheists are looking for somebody to tell them what to do. This "office" would be more of a hub for discourse than anything else.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       Already happening in many ways, there have been atheist movements & organisations since the 1800's at least, there are atheist churches in London <link> & certain eastern (etc.) philosophies branded as religion might be considered to be atheist, some of those have a central authority figure roughly analogous to the pope already.   

       This has to be @ least half baked?
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       And I would argue that a central figure for that is unnecessary.
MechE, Jun 26 2014

       //Already happening in many ways//   

       Yea, but there's no one great leader who's risen up who stands on stage wearing accouterments and accessories befitting such a grand office.   

       How about whatever hat Galileo wore? I'm pretty sure he wore a hat. Hmm. Just checked, apparently he didn't. Neither did Copernicus. Darwin? Nope. Franklin? Nope.   

       Hmm. The great thinkers of the ages didn't wear hats. I smell a PHD thesis.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       But when any organisation gets big enough it will be inevitable.   

       A 'church' needs meeting space which means resources, add in additional branches & this increases, resources need managing which means an administrative arm is inevitable & an administration will require a hierarchy which means a leader.   

       Of course it has to survive long enough to reach critical mass as it were.   

       But once enough resources / power have accumulated to insure enough vested interests its perpetuation is pretty much ensured & it will probably continue to grow & branch out until it's large enough it's 'chief administrator' can be considered analogous to a Pope.   

       Not all atheists have to belong for it to be analogous, you said Pope, & how many Christians are Catholics?   

       So it's my position this is the eventual & expected outcome of any large successful atheist movement structured along semi-religious lines, which makes this an observation of a probable or possible outcome rather than a new idea :)   

       <edit> which isn't to say I don't like the idea (new or not), it might be nice to have someone to fight our corner (as it were) the way an organised religion can. having said that I'm not sure I can see it reaching critical mass before everyone gets bored & wanders off to the next new thing.
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       Well, I think I'm saying (I think) it might be interesting if somebody appoints themselves "Grand Council" and take the position, then try to do some good with it. Like all leadership rolls, it takes great temerity to tell everybody they're king just on their own accord but that is after all how leadership positions are created. Somebody just makes it up, puts on a hat and says "Hey! Look at me!"   

       Certainly that could lead to discussion about the worthiness of leadership positions in general, decentralization of leadership being something I'm a big fan of in many areas.   

       How about a Sunday morning TV show to go up alongside the religious programs?   

       Naa, too confrontational. Ok, resigning this idea to the archives and going out to get some sun and fresh air.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       //Hmm. The great thinkers of the ages didn't wear hats. I smell a PHD thesis//   

       Clearly a hat traps in too much heat making the brain sluggish, might there be a further correlation between baldness / seriously thinning hair & genius, perhaps students should shave their heads & eschew the wearing of hats in the months before an exam?
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       //I disagree//   

       Sorry, but you're just wrong about that.
ytk, Jun 26 2014

       The flaw in this idea is that it's too reasonable.   

       If this were to work, you'd need a flamboyant title and costume, as well as hypocrisy and contradiction. The general gist of it would still be secular morality, but you need to keep it fun.   

       First off, a big fucking hat, bigger than any other religious leader's. A cape would do nicely, as well. Then you need a prime directive like "Free Thought Above All Else," which you contradict by issuing random and capricious edicts, such as "The Earth is 4.5 b years old or die" and "Stealing bread to feed starving kids is A-OK, but it's gotta be leavened bread."   

       Then there's got to be a schism and some kind of holy war.   

       In short, keep all of the trappings of the papacy.
the porpoise, Jun 26 2014

       [ytk], Unfortunately [hippo] might be right, if all atheists fell into the critical thinking camp a significant portion might (given the same data) be expected to (broadly) agree on any single issue, but most of those who say they have no religion or are atheist (at least in the UK) fall into the don't care camp.   

       So it depends on what definition of atheist you're both using, the position that there are no gods or just an absence of belief that any exist.
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       [the porpoise], sounds like Lord Such, pity he's dead, we could have offered him the job.
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       //Hell, give 'em a robe and hat even//

How about Grand Wizard? Oh no, that's taken isn't it!
DrBob, Jun 26 2014

       Hmm, how about the Borg-ias....you will be assimilated....does sound like a certain church, based in Rome, I could mention...
not_morrison_rm, Jun 26 2014

       //it would be inappropriate for the first action of this person to alienate and anger the millions of Christians around the world//   

       I absolutely agree. It ought to be possible to alienate and anger believers of all persuasions. If we called him "Godallah" that would probably be a start, but it needs more work.   

MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2014

       // it depends on what definition of atheist your both using //   

       Well that kind of depends on what definition of "philosopher" you're using ...   

       // how about the Borg-ias //   

       Sounds good to us ...   

       // It ought to be possible to alienate and anger believers of all persuasions. //   

       It is. St. Monty of Python ... "Something to offend everyone"
8th of 7, Jun 26 2014

       Merely pointing out that not everyone's definition of who are / what is an atheist agrees [8th], ergo they might both be right & disagreeing @ cross purposes.   

       Personally I don't think a simple lack of belief should count (in my book they're not atheists, just undetermined).   

       Does that tell you my definition of philosopher?
Skewed, Jun 26 2014

       Do all atheists believe in the same non-deity?
xandram, Jun 26 2014

       //Do all atheists believe in the same non-deity?//   

       I don't believe in non-deities.
doctorremulac3, Jun 26 2014

       //Personally I don't think a simple lack of belief should count (in my book they're not atheists, just undetermined). //   

       I'm an atheist and I'm not undetermined. It's not that I don't believe there are gods; I believe that there are no gods.   

       Of course, it's important to specify the linguistic context. In Sudanese, "god" means "tree stump". In Bosnian it means "whatever", and in Hmong it means "award".
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2014

       Where should atheistic robots go to not worship? Should they go or not go on Sunday or Saturday?   

       Electronic minds want to know.
popbottle, Jun 26 2014

       //Electronic minds want to know//   

AusCan531, Jun 27 2014

       //that kind of depends on what definition of "philosopher" you're using ...//   

       Philosopher: a) best case scenario - a garden variety scientists without the training, tools or inclination to take the scientific process beyond the hypothesis stage. b) more commonly - a garden variety piss head after the 4th pint.   

       Religion: fossilised philosophy / what a philosophy becomes after a few thousand years (or less) of uncritical acceptance of its tenets.
Skewed, Jun 27 2014

       //The great thinkers of the ages didn't wear hats. I smell a PHD thesis.//   

       A hat would disrupt the communication signal they receive from the wise and benevolent Mormon god on Kobol.
RayfordSteele, Jun 27 2014

       Only if you line it with tin foil, I still lean towards my air cooled brain pan theory.
Skewed, Jun 27 2014

       //Baked. Richard Dawkins.//   

       I actually just heard an interview where he said he considered himself to be an evolutionary biologist and called being considered the frontman for the debate on religion "unfortunate" I think is the word he used.   

       Plus, no fashion sense as stated before.   

       He does have the sense of humor you'd need for the job though. He was complaining that socialist types had widely panned his book "The Selfish Gene" complaining that it justified being a greedy right winger who didn't support the glorious people's socialist revolution. He implored them to "...get past the title and read the rather lengthy footnote that is the book itself."
doctorremulac3, Jun 28 2014

       //He does have the sense of humor//   


       See if you can get Mitch Benn interested in the job, doesn't usually go in for the cape & headgear type of routine but I'm sure he could be persuaded & otherwise he'd be ideal.   

       Imagine something along the lines of 'the French are coming to get us' reworded for Catholics.   


       <Edit> While stuff like 'Happy Birthday War' nicely covers your morality angle.
Skewed, Jun 28 2014

       One qualification that you need of great leaders upon whose utterances civilization awaits every word with eager or dreaded anticipation is the tendency to be utterly incomprehensible in speech. See for example Pope John Paul II, Alan Greenspan, Ozzy Osbourne, the Christian God...   

       Steven Hawking, pre-electronic speaker it should be.
RayfordSteele, Jun 30 2014


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