The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

No You are Not an Atheist, You are a Nihilist

Nihilists, no you cannot surreptitiously re-invent atheism to your liking, and pretend then to speak on behalf of the rest of us. I am an atheist, but I reject being force-fed nihilism every bit as vehemently as being force-fed theism. You are simply going to have to find some other way to finally appear acceptable to the world. Your religion has already been well defined as distinct from atheism for millennia. Embrace it, be it, live it. Don’t hide behind me by meticulously and methodically avoiding the term.
If you proselytize angrily about the non-existence of every difficult to observe or personally disdained phenomena, all that is fine and I respect your right to hold beliefs. But please do not sell that personal religion as atheism (nor science). To call this religion ‘naturalism,’ ‘secularism’ or ‘material monism’ implies that your dogma is founded upon coherent definition, measure and rigorous empirical study – Wittgenstein erroneous claims to science, about which in reality you cannot boast.
The atheist, agnostic and ignostic all allow for potentialities – the Secular Nihilist does not allow for any of this – a fundamentalist conclusive belief set about the nature of everything – and not just gods, employing ‘science’ as an apologetic. A religion in the purest definition of the word.
The faith of the ignostic is in the processes of science – not in the null hypothesis itself.

The Atheist’s ReligionI occasionally explain when someone sincerely inquires of me, just why I chose the path of ignostic atheism. I clarify to them that I lack an allowance for gods in my personal philosophy. There is a reason why many philosophers regard ignosticism to be the only true pathway to atheism (Vick, T.). The discipline of thinking inside ignosticism, affords one the ability to spot self-pretense – and then proceed calmly and wisely on to the next step in their chosen path of philosophy. This form of deontological skepticism does not dictate a path, only a discipline of thinking. It allows one to discern the contrast between ethical struggle and arrogant pretense.

Secular Nihilism, in stark contrast, is not simply a belief that life is ‘devoid of all meaning.’ This is a special exemption plead solely on an extreme framing of fundamental or existential nihilism – the notion that life possesses an empty set of factors of intrinsic meaning or value.‡ This jumbling together of several distinct philosophies under one moniker is the source for the lack of understanding of the word today.‡ Herein we recognize (as does most of philosophy) the nihilist’s innate freedom to declare the applicability and definition of ‘meaning’ for themselves. Meaning is derived through our interaction with the world around us yes, but more importantly through the influences we receive through the experiences/declarations of others. This renders all extraordinary claims to meaning, 1% research and 99% rumor. An ethical skeptic maintains this understanding in evaluating the entailed subject horizon. To promote this religion however as ‘naturalism,’ ‘physicalism’ or ‘material monism’ implies that the beliefs are based upon coherent definition, measure and rigorous empirical study – implications of which in reality it cannot boast.

neti-netiNihilism rather, is a form of allegiance of rational solipsists. An intermingled ontology set which cannot be claimed as a science, nor as necessarily resulting from scientific thinking. It features a pathological lack of the Allow-For virtue borne by those who are scientifically and skeptically open minded. It is not based upon rigorous empirical or falsification based study. It relies upon its intimidating specter of pluralistic ignorance to underpin its boast as to what scientists collectively think and believe. It conceals its tenets behind the wrong name and hides its null hypothesis (Omega Hypothesis). These are not the practices of science in the least. The reality is that, it is only what the nihilist has intellectually chosen to regard as meaningful, which is indeed meaningful – and their framing must be required of anyone who is regarded as ‘rational’ or a ‘critical thinker.’ Sound familiar?

Metaphysical Nihilism (Secular Nihilism)

2.  There exists the possibility of a complete or partial nothingness to aspects of the realms we ponder.

2ƒ.  (strong) There cannot exist any state but nothingness, outside of that which is repeatably observable and consistently measurable.²

Nihilist Romanticism (Secular Nihilism)

1´.  However, as Nietzsche cites, Fundamental Nihilism is moot.  As we not only may choose, but without exception have chosen as a mandate, to artificially and personally construct such value sets as the conscious will of our skeptical, empirical or secular thinking, or self illusion of such, might deem acceptable.

Most philosophers regard nihilism in this way; as the personal framing entailed inside Nihilist Romanticism and/or Metaphysical Nihilism, and not as constituting a personal philosophy viewing our reality as ‘devoid of all value or meaning’ (see 1′ – 3′ below). This latter definition is easy to meme (hence its iconic use as a one-liner), but is of farcical impracticality, aside from its use as a tool for personal exclusion pleading, inside philosophical discussion.¹ ‡ There exist hardly any individuals who realistically adhere to tenets of fundamental nihilism.

An excellent exegesis on Nihilist Romanticism however can be found here: Blog Post by Richard Pettigrew

The False Dilemma: Secular Nihilism is a Belief  which is Parallel in Construct to Theism

must-be-observed-firstBy attempting to draw the demarcation between nihilism and atheism to be too inclusive, we have introduced a Pandora’s Box of confusion, manifested today around what it means to be an atheist. Not only that, but this over-reach in equivocal definition serves to establish Theism and Atheism as a false dilemma. We do however, have at our option an unacknowledged domain of reason which serves to outline ethical scientific tolerance, along with a realm of incredible possibility (see graphic below). Secular Nihilism is a dogmatic counter-belief about a myriad of disdained subjects. It is a waste of focus on a counter-obsession with ghosts, angels and the afterlife. Just as is the case with theism, it is an exercise in extrapolating extreme broadscope conclusions into domains where science makes no comment. Both beliefs underpin observations in the physical world by assumptions they made inside an unconstrained domain (god or infinity), and then extrapolate this conclusivity back into defining absolutely the unconstrained/unobserved domain itself.  In both cases we use an ‘infinity of the gaps’ explanation to develop an epistemology which further explains infinity itself – and in the one case we paint a bearded grandfather face on it, and in the counter we paint a bearded grandfather face with a ‘No’ symbol on it. Both are processes of magic and belief.

This hypocrisy is illustrated by the principles I call ‘Neti’s Razor’ and ‘I Am that I Am’ (or if you prefer a Sanskrit parallel, Aham Bramsmi). These are the horizontal boundaries of ethical skepticism, which I frame as four ordinates when combined with two additional corollaries, the Principle of Indistinguishability and the Non-Existence Definition. All forming a unified resulting and standing essence of ignosticism:

Ethical Skeptic’s Law of Advanced Intelligence

Principle of Indistinguishability (vertical)

/philosophy : science : boundary conditions : limits for claims/ : any sufficiently advanced act of benevolence is indistinguishable from either malevolence or chance.

The ethical heart of ignosticism (the vertical dimension of the graphic below), framed by the first two corollaries below in the horizontal, and the last corollary below in the vertical:

Neti’s Razor (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : one cannot produce evidence from an entity which at one point did or will not exist, to derive a conclusion that nothing aside from that entity therefore exists.

The principle which serves to cut secular nihilism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of atheism as either philosophy or belief. From the Sanskrit idiom, Neti Neti (not this, not that). Therefore, you are wholly unqualified to instruct me that this realm is the only realm which exists, and efforts to do so constitute a religious activity. So, nihilism falls into a lack of allow-for domain.

I Am that I Am (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : that which possesses the unique ability to be able to define itself, renders all other entities disqualified in such expertise. There is no such thing as an expert in god.

The principle which serves to cut theism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of belief as either philosophy or religion. From the Torah idiom, I Am (I Am that I Am or in Sanskrit, Aham Bramsmi).  Therefore, if god existed, you are unqualified to tell me about it. So, theism falls into a lack of allow-for domain.

Non-Existence Definition (vertical)

/philosophy : science : skepticism : elements of attributes/definition/ : six questions form the basis of a definition: What, Where, When, How, Why, Who. The answers to this set of six questions still form an expert definition of attributes, even if the answer to all six is ’empty set’.

Therefore, when one applies the ethics of skepticism – one cannot formulate a definition which is specified as ’empty set’, without due empirical underpinning, a theory possessing a testable mechanism and a consilience of supporting research.  We have none of this, and can make no claims to ‘non-existence’ expertise in god.

Violating Neti Neti is akin to having your mistress stand as an alibi witness in your adultery trial. It is a self-defeating condition of epistemological hypocrisy. In significant contrast, elucidated by means of this Razor therefore, (non-secular, non-nihilist) atheism itself is either a lack of belief, lack of conclusion or lack of allow-for concerning only deities. In parallel to this boundary is the bookend condition wherein one makes a claim that they have a definition for god, such that measurements and tests could have and can then begin to be taken.

The Secular Nihilist and the Theist are making the same premise claim “I have successfully defined god through my expertise and now the next burden step of scientific methodology is to conduct measurements based upon this definition, in order to prove his existence.”

To the ignostic, this is an absurd claim and flawed logical process. The question asked is premature and incoherent, and suffers from a shortfall in domain intelligence and foundation philosophical work. In fact, to the ignostic, both secular nihilism and theism are pseudoscientific and absurd beliefs – ie. religions:

Atheism Spectrum

Not that I am instructing anyone to do so but, personally, I choose a ‘Lack of Allow-For’ rather than simply a ‘Lack of Belief.’ This because a ‘Lack of Allow-For’ adheres more closely to the tenets of ethical skepticism. But at the same time I do confess an affinity for both the atheist and agnostic positions. I consider those who hold to those tenets as being individuals who are sincerely deliberating the issue. I do not consider the 3 Belief category proponents above to be sincerely deliberating anything – rather trying to instruct me as to what I should believe.

least-scientific-null-hypNihilism is a ‘belief’ that the untestable null hypothesis is indeed true. (Actually a myriad of ‘Factually Does Not Exist’ null hypotheses – Nothing Exists outside that which we muster the desire to comprehend, describe, teach and subsequently measure)  Just because the burden of proof resides on the party proposing an alternative idea, does not mean that the null hypothesis – the placeholder which is used as our counter in Bayesian Reduction – is therefore true until this is accomplished. Such is the tyrannical foolishness of the Nihilist – and most fake skeptics as well.

In a realm of sufficient lack of observation or definition, to believe the null hypothesis is every bit as much a religious act of credulity and pretense as is belief in any other alternative. The faith of the ignostic is in the processes of science – not in the null hypothesis itself, until a sufficient level of rigor has been surpassed. I may demand proof from those who claim there is some kind of inter-dimensional or spirit realm, BUT that does not mean that the null hypothesis, that nothing exists, is therefore true and I should elect it therefore as a belief.  That is not the purpose of a null hypothesis. This is why Ethical Skepticism instead exercises its deliberation inside of the neutral suspension of disposition on such subjects, a principle called the epoché.

Ignosticism: Not a Belief, Rather a Way of Lensing the Subject

I could care less therefore, what you choose to believe. Just don’t force it upon me as science or righteousness. When you do that, you act under your religion. In contrast, ignosticism is simply a lens by which this issue can be viewed rationally. Choices can be made from there, if one so chooses. Ignosticism contends that there can be no proscription nor prescription with the term god or deity. Just as there can be no null hypothesis. A hypothesis requires a base of observation, intelligence and a coherent definition. We have none of this. So all the claims of belief, neutrality, lack of belief, counter-belief, science, ‘science did not observe this,’ or ‘science proves that’ are all misrepresentations of science and discussions of absurdity or reaction in anger, to the ignostic.

The ignostic is ‘unskilled in the argument by choice’ – it is an ethic of attempting to regain the virginosticism of a newly introduced and dispassionate player. A refusal to enter the game of either the duality (belief/anti-belief) or the pretense of knowledge of what the word ‘deity’ means.

But since one can never reclaim a virgin status, sadly the state of ignosticism is the ethical stance of the atheist who refuses the game. It is a circumspect and well considered choice (yellow in the graph to the right).

Indeed, ignosticism is a deliberate path of ethical exit by means of the door through which one originally and unwittingly was shoved in the first place. The 27th quatrain of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Fitzgerald’s translation) laments expertly about recovered ignosticism:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

expertise-in-godIn the above graphic, you see differentiated a position of knowing the definition of god, and choosing whether or not to hold belief, as distinct from either an ignorance of or a refusal to acknowledge god as a coherently defined subject. These are the two categories on the right hand side represented by the gnosis and ignosis boxes respectively. The third box, ‘virginosticism’ is simply a term I made up to elicit the circumstance where we are not even aware that such a debate even exists, moreover nor are we aware of our own lack of belief in the circumstance – as a result. As in the case of aliens or newborn babies – they are brought to the table without any introduction into the debate in the first place. Ignosticism can be viewed as an attempt to try and regain this virgin status of gnosis. To go back to the circumstance where the argument did not even exist in the first place. And while one cannot step back to a status of pure virginosticism – ignosticism can be a viable alternative to knowledge based lacks of belief (agnosticism and atheism).

One must remember that a ‘lack of belief’ is not a scientific argument, rather a personal position. An ignostic ‘lack of allow-for’ is a scientific argument which precludes nihilism every bit as much as it precludes theism.

For the ignostic, only two conditions prompt a ‘lack of allow-for’ disposition:

  1. Something which has been Popper falsified by science, or
  2. Something which lacks Wittgenstein valid scientific definition (as is the case here).

Therefore, to the ignostic

  1. agnosticism and atheism’s lack of belief are not scientific mindset disciplines, rather personal dispositions (albeit understandable ones),
  2. virginosticism is moot from a practical sense, and
  3. nihilism and theism are moot from a farcical sense. They are beliefs which are being taught through non-scientific means (Wittgenstein unsinnig).

The Nihilists’ claim that ‘god and extra-dimensional realms/entities (or really anything they do not like) have all been addressed by science’, ranks as one of the most ridiculous contentions ever made. It is ‘not even wrong’ in the Feynman sense. Even more so with this concept you call god, I have no idea what a god is – so I can make no claim as to whether or not one exists. Under a Wittgenstein definition of science therefore, it is moot whether or not I know or do not know that I do not hold a coherent definition for ‘god,’ therefore to Wittgenstein and an ethical skeptic, virginosticism is moot from a practical sense (and indeed it is only posed as a lever for understanding here) and the two concepts merge into one philosophical entity called ignosticism. I refuse to acknowledge that the concept has been given a coherent or observation based definition. I adhere to what the Tao says about declaring the duality (choice of belief or anti-belief in the graphic/belief-superset above):

The Tao Te Ching cites in Classic Tao Chapter 2:

ttc - CopyThe gentle outlasts the strong

When the world defines beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it defines good as good, evil arises
Thus extant and nonexistent produce each other
Difficulty and ease are their own co-creators
Long and short reveal each other
High and low only exist because of each other

‘Big-A’ Atheism or Nihilist-Atheism

proscription prescriptionIf you come to me presenting a program near and dear to my heart, supporting healthcare development for women and children and mitigating teen pregnancy on the African continent, then I am going to be very interested.  But if subsequently you insist that the only way for me to do this, is to give to your foundation where ‘it’s all god’s anyway,’ and ‘god loves a cheerful giver,’ well then you are just selling your religion in the name of charitable works. I will feel I have been misled.

In the same way, if you come to me and ask me to lend support behind an atheist movement or discussion, something near and dear to my heart, then I am going to be interested. But if subsequently you insist that we are all simply fleshbots, and that ‘self’ is proved by science to be an illusion of neurofunction, and then rattle off a political bent or the long list of things you disdain because ‘there is no such thing and I am stupid if I even consider any of the ideas,’ well then you are worse than the religious peddler.  First, because science is not even close to proving or even researching any of these things, second, because you are peddling a personal conclusive cosmology in the name of atheism, third, your cosmology is at least in part based on arrogant disdain for those unlike you, and finally, you are not even honest enough to be forthright about what it is you are actually selling me. I will feel I have been misled.

Sam Harris on Atheism - CopyYes Virginia, you are a Nihilist. You are cryptically selling me Nihilism, not atheism. No manner of compositional exclusion, special pleading nor Lie of Allegiance obsession over ancient history, inquisitions, holy wars or fundamentalist theism is going to belie this fact. You may fool those who have not been trained in graduate level philosophy, however you betray your dishonesty or lack of training therein, by means of your denial, to those who have been trained (See Margold’s Law). If you don’t believe in bigfoot, ghosts, fantasms, aliens, interdimensionality, mediumship, sensitivity, clairvoyance, claraudience, twin connections, mind over matter, DNA analyses you do not like, eyewitness observations, near death experiences, OBE’s, UFO’s, spirituality, advanced forms of life, the afterlife and all that list of things which violate your ‘critical thinking skills’ – all that is fine and I respect that; but please do not sell that personal religion as atheism (nor science). These things have nothing whatsoever to do with atheism (see Sam Harris Twitter quote to right, extracted 10/2/2015, public domain).

If you cannot resist an urgent desire to oppress, denigrate, mock or attack people who believe, observe or consider things you do not like, please do us all a favor and do not call yourself an atheist. This grand denial set is your personal religious belief, and as an atheist, I would rather you sell that oppressive religious doctrine under some different moniker.

Dubbing this Form of Oppression – Atheism or Scientism – is Incorrect

lie of allegiance2When an atheist shoots up a school and puts a round into the head of everyone who identifies as Christian, yet spares the life of everyone who identifies as ‘atheist,’ I would rather we call the religion of the gunman something else, other than atheism. Atheism is nothing but a personal choice as to how one regards stories of gods. It is not a religion, nor is it the ontology of the socially oppressive and violent. Let’s leave that characterization to the Nihilist, where it has consistently proven out in socialist uprisings. Only violent religions implicitly encourage oppression as a means of fulfilling their belief set. Atheism is not a religion, nor does it bear a tenet set (at least ignostic atheism does not) which could be construed as requiring violence to enforce.

Islam, Christianity Socialism and Nihilism do produce violence and oppression. This is the consistent lesson of history. They are all religions, and as such yes, they can be held to account for the violence and oppression they demonstrably promote.

Therefore knowing this, a dishonest Nihilist will claim that they are not a Nihilist, and moreover will hide under a shroud of philosophical atheism in order to protect and obscure their promotion of a religion. Fundamentalists attempted to hide under the moniker ‘pro-family’ in order to enact politics in the 1980’s. This ruse was religious-political sleight-of-hand. In similar fashion, Nihilists are habitually biased to one political party, fractious and immune to dialectic.

Fundamentalist Christians mistakenly sometimes attack this religion as “Scientism.” There is nothing at all wrong, of course, with possessing a body of accepted knowledge, and promoting the method by which we improve that body of knowledge. Therefore science is not a religion, rather Nihilists will again sometimes abuse the robes of science as a ruse to obscure and surreptitiously practice their version of religious belief and party fanaticism.


(/ˈn.ɨlɪzəm/ or /ˈn.ɨlɪzəm/; from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical doctrine that suggests the negation of one or more of the reputedly meaningful or non-material aspects of life. Socially enforced metaphysical or pseudo scientific naturalism.†

The following constitutes a practical application proof of why this definition of the term is correct, and why there exist many, who claim to be atheists, yet in fact are Nihilists. This begins with three foundational epistemological bases for nihilism as a philosophy which result in only one practical application of the philosophy, followed by its practiced result in terms of the specific tenets of Nihilism which are sold today as a religion.

Secular Humanism: Often Portrayed as a Distinction Without a Difference

One can be secular, and be a humanist, without having to be a Nihilist. Unfortunately much of the secular world does not grasp this, and conflates the two. Take Wikipedia for example. In consistent fashion, Wikipedia fails to employ real philosophers to craft their material on religion, and instead relies upon social skeptics and those with an agenda to portray. Wikipedia defines secular humanism as

The philosophy or life stance of secular humanism embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making.

As we examine the facets of what secular humanism comprises, we find the keywords reason, ethics, dogma, pseudoscience and superstition. I have spent a great many years on this Earth and I have yet to find even one person who said that they hold fast to dogma, pseudoscience and superstition, and yet reject ethics and reason. Not one person.

lack of belief and allow forThis leaves the distinctive aspects of secular humanism as – philosophical naturalism contrasted with that which one defines as the subsets of pseudoscience. Since I have yet to meet a single person who says they participate in pseudoscience, I find that the only way to detect the pseudoscientsts is to ask someone who recognizes these people and makes such an accusation. Professional pseudoscience identifiers.  Within the above definition, we are left with the philosophical naturalist as the only one who is qualified to make such an accusation. Remember that everyone claims allegiance to reason, ethics, morality etc. No one claims to be an irrational pseudoscience, dogmatist.

Again Wikipedia outlines philosophical naturalism as

In philosophy, naturalism is the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

Naturalism can intuitively be separated into an ontological and a methodological component. “Ontological” refers to the philosophical study of the nature of reality. Some philosophers equate naturalism with materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no “purpose” in nature. Such an absolute belief in naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.

So – since lovers of pseudoscience appear to be an aspect of what the eye of the beholder regards, and no one admits to such a terrible belief, we are left with the boiled down residue of this distinction, net of all the self congratulation, shuffle dance and social pigeon-holing bullshit:

All that is significant, all being, is accounted for by the mass, energy and other physical properties accepted by the scientific community (or at least as this additional claim, the boast of consensus is crafted). Purpose, innate creativity, faith, love, malevolence, hope, charity, goodness, ethics, sacrifice, growth, spirituality, either are facets of the illusion of free will or can be reduced to the physical alone. There is no allowance for any potentiality outside this. It is a forbiddance, a zero tolerance of such a realm of consideration, employing ‘science’ as an excuse. A strict denial, without evidence backing such, other than the entailed argument from ignorance.

Litmus: The atheist, agnostic and ignostic allow for potentialities of anything holding a coherent definition and observation base (not a conclusion or belief) – the Nihilist (Atheist) does not. The Nihilist then tries to employ the atheist defense, that Nihilist Atheism is a also lack of belief (so therefore it is not a religion). All of this is a sleight-of-hand deception,

…as Nihilist Atheism is an extreme fundamentalist belief set.

However, we as beings are always free to choose morality and decisions as we may find meaning.

Nihilist Romanticism. No, not Fundamentalist Nihilism – a ridiculous theoretical minority crafted to make Atheists feel better about themselves – but Nihilism nonetheless. Lots of fancy window dressing to make it all acceptable to both the observer and the wearer, but Nihilism still.

Nihilism as a Philosophy

Fundamental or Existential Nihilism

1. There exist no theoretical domain sets regarded as a value – or ‘ought to’ statement family; neither dependent to a culture, man or entity of reference, nor independent of them.

1ƒ.  (strong) There cannot exist such a value or values.¹‡

This is the nihilism which Nietzsche laments as not a practical art, in his comment:

“A nihilist is a man who judges that the real world ought not to be, and that the world as it ought to be does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: this ‘in vain’ is the nihilists’ pathos—an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.”

~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, KSA 12:9 [60], The Will to Power, section 585, Walter Kaufmann trans ed.

Metaphysical Nihilism

2.  There exists the possibility of a complete or partial nothingness to aspects of the realms we ponder.

2ƒ.  (strong) There cannot exist any state but nothingness, outside of that which is repeatably observable and consistently measurable.²

Nihilist Romanticism

1´.  However, as Nietzsche cites, Fundamental Nihilism is moot. As we not only may choose, but without exception have chosen as a mandate, to artificially and personally construct such value sets as the conscious will of our skeptical, empirical or secular thinking, or self illusion of such, might deem acceptable.

1ƒ´.  The strong question of whether such values can exist or not is moot.¹

2´.  However, the applicability of the validity of nothingness as a basis of verity for our metaphysical or ontological reality, is moot in a social discourse because the social discourse already assumes the impotence of such an argument.

2ƒ´.  The mandatory state of nothingness for that which is not under a consensus of repeatability and measurability, is an a priori decision which may be adopted as per 1′.

3.  Immaterial to 1´, there can exist a personal ontological principle of Existential Nihilism as an optional subset of Nihilist Romanticism. The personal regard that life has no inherent meaning must be adjudicated in terms of objective application of its tenets in social discourse.  The term ‘meaning’ must be defined in a context before applicability can be determined.²

3′. Therefore the argument reverts back to the definition of the term ‘meaning’ (and this then merges Existential Nihilism back into the primary thematic definition being supported. The domain sets are chosen, and almost all relate to meaning – regardless of objective or subjective context.

∴  Nihilism is defined as Romanticist (1′) in basis in that we choose those sets of domain to value, and strong Metaphysical (2ƒ’) as we choose those sets of domain to exclude as non-existent. Finally these domain sets are often then based on Existential meaning (3′).

Therefore, the practical social application of Nihilism, resides solely inside the context of Nihilist Romanticism with an accommodation for strong Metaphysical Nihilism – as Fundamental, Existential and weak Metaphysical Nihilism cannot deliver components of value or clarity in a social functioning or epistemological context.

Axiom 1:  All Nihilists are Nihilist Romanticists and strong Metaphysical Nihilists, by practical default.

Axiom 2:  Whether or not one is an Existential Nihilist is irrelevant except in terms of the adjudication of meaning (pseudo scientific decision process).

Axiom 3:  The claim that Nihilism consists exclusively of Fundamental, Existential and/or weak Metaphysical Nihilism, is a strawman fallacy and fallacy of composition.

Axiom 4:  To claim personal exemption from Nihilism through the rejection of simply one or a few of its tenets, constitutes special pleading and/or a fallacy of compositional exclusion.

In other words, were I a practitioner and member of the Muslim faith, yet I made the personal claim to not be a Muslim, and justified this by citing that I did not support Shia Islam, or I did not adhere to one of the Five Pillars of the Faith (The testimony of the faith, fervent prayer, giving of the zakat (support of the needy), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime), I would be making several errors.  First, I would commit a fallacious claim of special pleading in order to leverage my preference in tenets to stand as self representation in denial of being a Muslim. Were I to claim that all Muslims must only be Shia, in order to exclude myself from its broader categorization, I have made a fallacy of compositional exclusion.

Most honest religious Abrahamists will not undertake such a deception on their part.  However, a dishonest Nihilist will claim when challenged that they are not a Nihilist, and moreover will conceal this reality under a shroud of philosophical atheism as both a protection and promotion vehicle for their religion.

Therefore the primary definition of Nihilism is correct, and is the only practical, definition of Nihilism.

…negation of one or more of the reputedly meaningful or non-material aspects of life. Socially enforced metaphysical or pseudo scientific naturalism.†³

Nihilism as a Religion

Two features convert this philosophical nihilism into the more commonly plied religion of Nihilism:

A. I choose to reject categorically one or more concepts of ontological or existential meaning, which are generally recognized as cultural, ephemeral, difficult to observe, occulted or of possible enlightenment upon Mankind.

B. I contend without merit, that our broader culture should also reject these concepts – based on an external standard reference of rationality, evidence, higher acumen, sanity or science.

I'm a Skeptic - religion unmeasurableOnce one has made the decision to reject the meaningful aspects of life which others hold dear, in absence of an empirical backing and basis to this decision, one has become a Nihilist.  Now I may not choose to venerate Gautama Buddha or the Tao (there are no gods in the Tao), but that does not make me a Nihilist; as this may simply constitute a religious preference.  However, if I reject the notion of any form of higher spiritual plane or existence or the possibility of enlightenment expanding beyond that which the corporeal mind can measurably elicit, then I have adopted a non-preferential exclusion of an aspect of meaning.  I have adopted a tenet of Nihilism.

Most Nihilists are reluctant to acknowledge that science remains mute on avenues of research inside or around which very little measurement can be affected/effected. This does not mean that science has categorically rejected any idea which it cannot measure or influence, it simply has maintained the discipline of the Epoche´ – a mute disposition. It has nothing to say on the matter. Science is Ethically Skeptical. Nihilists are not.

religionA Nihilist enacts a religious practice once he or she has implied, stated or sought to have others infer, as compulsory, that science has vetted their personal choice to reject a categorical concept of meaning, through rigorous empirical bases.

If I personally lack a belief in any such a thing as god(s) – in any form of definition – that is a personal philosophy of atheism.

If I personally have no idea as to whether or not god(s) exist – in any form of definition – that is a personal philosophy of agnosticism.

If I personally content that science has no definition for god – and find it irrelevant whether or not anyone rejects any or all chosen ‘definitions’ of such – then that is a personal philosophy of ignosticism.

If I tell people they are stupid if they believe in anything which I do not agree has been physically verified or measured, and attack and ridicule them. If I insist that only the measurable exists, that is Nihilism. This is a religion. It contains processes of control by dictation of authorized thinking, and the desire to intimidate persons and constrain science as to what is appropriate to be ‘measured.’ It is a grand folly. Don’t listen to what a Nihilist says in their propaganda, watch how they apply it in their philosophy. The veneer is about 1 mm deep.

Therefore, the three personal philosophies of atheism, agnosticism and ignosticism are generally not regarded to constitute religions. They are personal philosophical choices. A faking Nihilist will also cite this logic and apply the martial art of the akratic dance, hide inside the terminology above, hoping to enjoy the luxury of protection afforded a personal ethic. But in reality a faking Nihilist cannot resist the temptation to then sell the religion they are dying to intimidate you into accepting. One which is concealed behind the innocent term above, as they will immediately and always step into the perfidious activity below.

The Tenets of Religious Nihilism (Any or All of the Following)

A. If however, I personally reject the notion that there is such a thing as god(s) – in any definition – and imperiously contend that rationality, science, sanity, evidence or higher acumen has proved this out – I have exagerrated the claims of science in order to intimidate you into accepting my position.  This is a practice of religious Nihilism.

In similar fashion, and as is very commonly the case with postmodern nihilism, this includes as well such dictates as:

B. Imperious rejection of the existence of any alternative dimensionality to our metaphysical naturalist existence

C. Imperious rejection of an increase in total information held within the measurable/observable universe

D. Imperious rejection of any alternative life forms aside from those which hold an exclusive common ancestry with our phylogeny

E. Imperious rejection of any form or survival of consciousness aside from neurofunction or after physical death of the brain

F. Imperious rejection of any form of knowledge aside from that which the physical brain can store, categorize and comprehend

G. Imperious rejection of any extant life forms of any kind which have or are currently visiting planet Earth from any other locality

H. Imperious rejection of the idea that Mankind’s impact on the universe has been detected by external observers of any kind

I. Imperious rejection of any repeatedly observed species which has not been recognized by academic skepticism

J. Imperious rejection of any exchange of information which does not pass via an acknowledged metaphysical naturalist form of medium

K. Imperious rejection of ethical or moral standards independent of those selected/adopted by our culture

L. Imperious rejection (with some exceptions) of the observations, ideas, contributions or constructs of those outside of skepticism and science

M. Imperious rejection of ideas on health which have been purported by laymen, however which have not been studied by recognized science

N. Imperious rejection of the idea that substantive reality, aside from a biochemical basis, surrounds love or any form of human interpersonal values

O. Imperious rejection of the idea of access to any form of higher spiritual or technological being on the part of humans or humanity

P. Imperious rejection of the ideal of spiritualism in any form (save for a pseudo-mystical form of moralism)

Q. Imperious insistence that my consciousness and self awareness is an illusion of neurofunction, and that all this stems from my being a meat robot

R. Imperious a priori denial of any and all bodies of evidence, independent of actual merit of such study, which could potentially falsify a tenet of Nihilism (above).

Practice of any or all of the above non-scientific means of controlling/influencing others, or establishing a culture of hate around people who do not adhere to this, is a religion plain and simple. This religion is just as deadly and murderous as the Abrahamic religions after which it modeled itself.  No wonder Nihilists deny that they are Nihilists.  Sorry Virginia, yes, you are indeed a Nihilist.

TES Signature

¹  Nozick, Robert; Philosophical Explanations, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1981, ISBN 0-674-66448-5; pp. 552-558.

²  Rosen, Stanley, Editor; The Philosopher’s Handbook: A User’s Guide to Western Philosophy, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 2000; ISBN 978-0-375-72011-6; pp. 120, 179-180.

³ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is copyright © 2014 by The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054

†  Re-adapted to a socially applicable principle definition from Nihilism (article under a series on Certainty), Wikipedia

‡  Nihilism, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy;

(Vick, T.)  Vick, Tristan; Ignosticism – A philosophical Justification for Atheism, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1490961828, pp. 23 – 46.

January 7, 2015 - Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates | , , , , ,


  1. Nihilism is not a religion it’s a form of skepticism (like atheism), so it’s is a disbelief not a belief. Atheism and nihilism definitely are not the same viewpoint,they are similar in that the are both denials and lack of belief in popular (and unfounded) claims, but the similarity stops there as they are obviously denials of different abstract concepts.

    Comment by Randy Shmandy | February 9, 2017 | Reply

    • Nihilism is not a lack of belief. It is not a disbelief. It is a belief. What you have cited is a common special pleading equivocation used to work as a masquerade. Nihilism is also not a form of skepticism as it does not rely upon research, does not hold several options open at once, and considers a specific conclusion as rational and scientific conclusion. These are all incorrect religious apologetics.

      Comment by The Ethical Skeptic | February 10, 2017 | Reply

  2. Ok, so I’m sure I’m missing a lot of context (came across your blog while surfing), but I see a lot of generalization with little in the way of specificity or example. Nihilism – on your view, at least as expressed in this post – would have to entail some kind of active, participatory, or at least epistemic negation of reality as commonly and/or scientifically understood, and entail specific behaviors – possibly violent – intended to bring about or prove such negation. You use the word “imperious” seemingly to suggest there is some kind of ruthless dogmatism we should necessarily associate with nihilism. This runs counter to my own experience, and indeed to Albert Camus’ view on the absurdity of existence as a nihilistic concept.

    A nihilist need not deny or reject science or scientific evidence as to the nature of the world we encounter. Although there may be some who do, I do not. We can remain committed to a metaphysics inclusive of the methodological naturalism inherent to scientific endeavor without abandoning the idea that doing so (or life itself) is ultimately a hopeless or meaningless exercise. Furthermore, even taking a strong existentialist position which denies reality as we conceive of it does not necessarily run counter to current or eventual developments in science or philosophy. That is, there is nothing inherently contradictory in recognizing how physical reality consists mainly of empty space in which atoms interact in purposeless ways to bring about the manifestation of reality as we think of it.

    The bottom line is that, while I freely admit I’m not as well-educated on the subject as I should be, I don’t recognize the nihilism you describe here. Do you have examples of alleged nihilists who fit your description?

    Comment by J.C. Samuelson | July 11, 2015 | Reply

    • Hey J.C.

      Thanks for surfing by. 🙂 Yes, this is the sticky part of the argument. You missed that I am in agreement with Albert Camus – the blog post simply demonstrates the walk through the four forms of nihilism which supports his contentions. The cul-de-sac error of assuming ‘Fundamental Nihilism’ to constitute definition of nihilism. What I have tried to contrast in the post is a Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (and other subject reference) compliant set of terminology regarding the four forms of nihilism. Further therein, to contend that the traditional definition of nihilism (as Fundamental Nihilism, the form you context in your excellent comment) is useless. This is Camus’ view. You make two points, 1) Not sure you are comfortable with that definition of nihilism (Fundamental), and 2) would need some examples of my contended definition (Romantic/strong Metaphysical). I agree with both points – I am not comfortable with the definition of nihilism as you have presented it here (Fundamental), Nihilism’s “entail[ing] some kind of active, participatory, or at least epistemic negation of reality.” What I am contending in this progression of axioms, through Fundamental, Metaphysical, Romantic and Existential forms of nihilism, is that Fundamentalist Nihilism has no practical merit in philosophy and discourse. It is useless in terms of assembling an epistemic base to one’s philosophy. Practical Nihilism on the other hand, as we might call it, at the other end of the spectrum, the really useful version of it, is when one adheres to Romanticist/Existential Nihilism – They don’t reject reality, they simply ontologically deny a priori the existence of anything which they claim is tough to repeatedly measure in a lab setting. They don’t deny the existence of space, matter, energy and the laws which function inside our 11 dimensions of M-Brane; they simply reject you; promoting the teaching that you do not exist, as anything other than a bundle of firing neurons, that you are your own self-illusion, or rejecting anything you might find as meaningful – individual rights and freedoms are a trifling fantasy – all these domain sets do not exist. And that is great as a personal philosophical choice.

      So in this post, practical Nihilism is defined as Romanticist (1′) in basis in that we choose those sets of domain to value, and strong Metaphysical (2ƒ’) as we choose those sets of domain to exclude as non-existent.” This is more akin to material monism, and is indeed not the definition of nihilism you have presented. I agree with your, and Camus’ point, in my blog post. I disagree that this is generalization however – it is developed with more specificity (albeit making it difficult to muddle through, LOL!) than any of the resources from which I sought reference; most blending these four forms of nihilism into one thing and one name. This blending approach frames the definition of Fundamental Nihilism a kind of poison pill, which renders the entire argument moot, back into the same cul-de-sac you, I and Camus just crawled out from.

      Your second point pertains to examples of the imperious nature of today’s Nihilism. Holding to a personal philosophy of Romanticist and strong Metaphysical Nihilism is a fine personal choice. Very ethical. I consider this approach a valid alternative in my assessing of the reality of the universe. I contract/own scientific labs and conduct and manage much science research myself. But it is when I begin to insist that everyone else must also now adopt my choice of philosophy, that they too must be a material monist, atheist, and metaphysical naturalist (Nihilism in my definition comprises all of these disparate beliefs), that it becomes “imperious.” I insist that everyone be taught that what I might deny I could measure repeatedly (and accept to have been measured, by a club I belong to) in a lab setting, is the only reality – and that there are social penalties if one regards that statement as not true.

      The examples? Imperious? The point of the blog is that today’s practical nihilists falsely advertise themselves as ‘atheists.’ You cannot walk 3 inches through online discourse or a professional STEM career without someone insisting (with social penalties) what an idiot you are if you investigate or ponder anything to do with ghosts, existence of advanced nearby life in the universe, the soul, alternative realms, the afterlife, spirituality, specific creatures, the sustained reality of love, or mind preceding ‘reality’ in any form. Yes, as STEM professional, this was enforced on me in my career. I had to keep my mouth shut, just as I did as a kid in church, or my career was in danger. Fortunately now, I am past where those career threats can harm me. But this is more than simply atheism (a personal belief about gods) – it is Nihilism – you don’t exist – nor does anything you hold as tendering meaning. This form of Nihilism is not supported by the evidence at all, it is imperiously enforced by those who hold its belief. It is a 1633 religion, just the instruments have gotten better, and we reject the physical violence and prison for the most part now.

      Comment by The Ethical Skeptic | July 11, 2015 | Reply

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