Nontheist Friend

A nontheist Friend or an atheist Quaker is someone who affiliates with, identifies with, engages in and/or affirms Quaker practices and processes, but who does not accept a belief in a theistic understanding of God, a Supreme Being, the divine, the soul or the supernatural. Like traditional Friends, nontheist Friends are actively interested in realizing centered peace, simplicity, integrity, community, equality, love, and social justice in the Society of Friends and beyond.


Quakers in the unprogrammed tradition have recently begun to examine the significance of nontheistic beliefs in the Society of Friends, in the tradition of seeking truth. Non-theism among Quakers probably dates to the 1930s, when some Quakers in California branched off to form the Humanist Society of Friends (today part of the American Humanist Association), and when Henry Cadbury professed agnosticism in a 1936 lecture to Harvard Divinity School students. The term “non-theistic” was first written in a Quaker publication in 1952 on conscientious objection . As early as 1976, a Friends General Conference Gathering hosted a well-attended Workshop for Nontheistic Friends (Quakers).

There is a nontheist Friends’ website and nontheist Quaker study groups.Os Cresson began a recent consideration of this issue from behaviorist, natural history, materialist and environmentalist perspectives. Roots and Flowers of Quaker Nontheism is one history. Friendly nontheism also draws on Quaker humanist and universalist traditions.[The book Godless for God’s Sake: Nontheism in Contemporary Quakerism offers recent, critical contributions by Quakers.Some Friends are actively engaging the implications of human evolution, cognitive anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and bodymind questions (esp. the ‘relaxation response’, primatology, evolutionary history, evolutionary biology, biology and consensus decision-making in terms of Quaker nontheism.

Nontheist Friends are a group of individuals, many of whom are affiliated or actively involved in the unprogrammed tradition in Quakerism. Friendly nontheists are attempting sympathetically to generate conversation with others who are more comfortable with the traditional and often reiterated language of Quakerism. Questioning theism, they wish to examine whether the experience of direct and ongoing inspiration from God (“waiting in the Light”) – “So wait upon God in that which is pure. …” which traditional Quakers understand as informing Silent Meeting and Meeting for Business, might be understood and embraced with different metaphors, language and discourse.

Again just an summary on the religion.



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