# Atheism Illegal in Indonesia

1. May 9, 2012

### zoobyshoe

This is unique to the best of my knowledge:
You have six choices about what to believe, but non-belief, itself, is outlawed.

Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
2. May 9, 2012

### qraal

The problem with "atheism" is that many religious people equate that word with "lawless", thus making a self-professed atheist a self-professed (potential) criminal. Of course, to an atheist, that's nonsense.

3. May 9, 2012

### Curious3141

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, and a de facto theocracy. This is par for the course in such regimes.

4. May 9, 2012

### Pkruse

I find it interesting that most Christians put to death by Rome were convicted athiests. The word has different meanings to different people at different times.

5. May 9, 2012

### mege

In this case, though, they were conviced because they didn't believe in the accepted gods. The Christian God was seen as entirely not real to the Romans when compared to their own pantheon.

I think the definition of athieism can be non-comprehensively defined as: 'the lack of belief in (the right) gods'

6. May 9, 2012

### AlephZero

Atheism is just as much an unjustifiable belief system as theism IMO. You can't prove that unicorns exist, but you can't prove they don't exist either.

They don't seem to have made agnosticism illegal, though.

7. May 9, 2012

### Ryan_m_b

Staff Emeritus
Indonesia has a very poor record for freedom of religious criticism. Not a place I would ever want to visit.
It's odd how pervasive this fallacy is. Atheism simply means lack of belief in god(s), it says nothing about the reason why one doesn't belive nor if one believes that gods don't exist. Gnosticism refers to knowledge and this is the element that is always incorrectly placed wrt theism; they aren't on the same spectrum but perpendicular to each other. For example:

- Gnostic Atheist: Do not believe in any gods because they know that no gods exist.
- Agnostic Atheist: Do not believe in any gods because they have no knowledge of any gods existance.
- Gnostic Theist: Believes in the existance of god(s) becasue they know that god(s) exist.
- Agnostic Theist: Believes in the existance of god(s) even though they have no knowledge of any gods existance.

Do you see the difference? Atheism by itself is not necessarily a statement that no gods exist, it is simply a lack of beliefs in gods. In otherwords rather than being B to the theist A it is Not-A.

Last edited: May 9, 2012
8. May 9, 2012

### Jack21222

Oh look, this argument again.

Atheists don't NEED to prove that unicorns don't exist. They just need to not believe in them. Belief is a binary thing. You either believe something, or you don't. If you neither believe nor disbelieve in any gods or goddesses, you're an atheist. By definition. It's right there in the name.

a - without
theism - belief in the existence of gods or goddesses

Gnosticism deals with certainty. You can be an agnostic atheist, like what you're describing, or you can be a gnostic atheist, who is CERTAIN that no gods exist. Similarly, you can be an agnostic theist, who doesn't know for sure that any gods exist, but believe anyway, or a gnostic theist, who is absolutely certain that at least one god does.

I would consider myself an agnostic atheist. I cannot prove to you that gods do not exist, but the burden of proof isn't on me. I don't believe in anything that hasn't been proven, hence I don't believe in any gods.

You can call that an agnostic position if you want, and it's true, but it's also an atheistic position.

(*Edit: I see Ryan beat me to it. I didn't even notice his response when I replied.*)

9. May 9, 2012

### Curious3141

Like you and Ryan, I was about to point out $\aleph_0$'s fallacy.

10. May 9, 2012

### daveb

While the argument about atheist/agnostic etc. is true, the common understanding (IMO) is that an atheist claims that god(s) do not exist (at least here in the U.S.). In other words, while some atheists claim "I do not believe that god(s) exist", I think most Americans hear it as "I believe that god(s) do not exist".

But, back to the story, while I find such laws abhorrent (the Indonesian ones), I find it equally abhorrent that in order to elected to major politics in the US, you cannot profess anything other than some form of Christianity (of course, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between), so how does that make us any better?

11. May 9, 2012

### Dickfore

And this is why it would be a terriblle misfortune to be one of the 238 million poor souls born and raised in such an oppressive society as Indonesia.

Last edited: May 9, 2012
12. May 9, 2012

### Ryan_m_b

Staff Emeritus
And some people hear "I am an atheist" and think "I am an immoral, amoral evil person who wants to bring anarchy" or "I worship Satan" or "I am a theist who is angry at god" etc etc. It is because of this that we should strive to correct misinterpretations, not simply acknowledge them. This boils over to your next point...
I don't find them equally abhorrent but I do find it abhorrent. IIRC atheists are the most mistrusted group in America according to polls.

One has to wonder about the rationale behind legislation like this. I find myself concerned over the thought that far from behind blind dogma driving this there may be a concerted effort to suppress atheism because it is percieved to be/is harder to convert an atheist or get them to follow your rules than another religious person.

13. May 9, 2012

Agnosticism is treated the same as atheism in Indonesia. As far as I'm aware, neither is technically illegal but they are not recognised by the state.

14. May 9, 2012

### leroyjenkens

Technically blasphemy is still illegal in some states in America. Denying that God (the Christian god of course; the only real one, duh) exists is still on the books as being illegal.
It's just a good thing we have that first amendment, which keeps us from moving back to the dark ages, which is apparently exactly where Indonesia wants to go.

15. May 9, 2012

### Pythagorean

It appears to me that atheism isn't technically illegal, it's more like "don't ask, don't tell".

Not that that's any more justifiable.

16. May 9, 2012

If the people of Indonesia agree with such laws then why should they be forced to change them? I don't think the USA should be trying to foist their culture on countries that don't want it.

17. May 9, 2012

### thorium1010

I doubt speaking against religion as some sort move to enlightenment. However, i do agree religion should be kept in check from extreme paranoia and ideas. Certain countries in the middle east such as U.A.E., Turkey do enjoy economic growth despite certain laws prohibiting talk against religion.

18. May 9, 2012

I don't want to put words in Aleph's mouth, (so please, Aleph, correct me if I'm wrong) but I believe he was implying there's an "I don't know" position. This would be someone who neither believes nor disbelieves, which is different from the choices provided in Ryan's post.

19. May 9, 2012

### Pythagorean

You either believe or you don't, your motivation can be "I don't know" and that's the case for agnostic atheist.

All organisms, including humans, are born agnostic atheist. Remember that A-theism is a LACK of belief, it's not ANTI-theism.

20. May 9, 2012

### Dickfore

An atheist is a person who believes god(s) do(es) not exist. An agnostic is a person who doubts the veracity of any statement concerning the existence of deities.

As for Indonesia, is it true that there was a referendum amongst the general populace that asked whether atheism should be banned or not?