Respect the individual, not the religion~ true! I love the part about you don't need 'god's' plans, you have your own! :)
I have been saying for decades that I respect a person's right to believe whatever they want, but I do NOT have to respect what they believe.
When Mormons come to the door, I snort and laugh at them. I'd like to laugh at the Jehovah's Witlesses, too, but I live with one...my Aspie sister. <shrugs> Can't win 'em all.
They can dish it out...
You go Tonya! Good for you and you are right!!!~Melinda
Once, when I was working at JCPenney Advertising (in a large building that is the heart of the LA Garment District), Good Friday and Passover occured on the same day...and I wasn't aware of that. I went out on the afternoon beak to buy a pack of cigarettes, and every damn store and restaurant was closed. (Well the Chinese restaurant didn't have a cigarette machine... remember those?)
I finally figured it out, and came stomping back in the office and bellowed, "Where the eff can an atheist buy some smokes around here today?" Quite a few jaws hit desktops and drawing boards, and the secretary/receptionist blurted, "But you're too nice to be an atheist!" I asked her what that had to do with anything, went to my own desk. I looked at the three gay young guys in my department who were stuffing their fists in their mouths to keep from LOLing, and I started laughing.
Made my day. I think that was when I finally came out of the Non-Believer's Closet after 20 years of keeping things to myself. That was almost 30 years ago...an amazing relief.
But "atheist" in itself is NEITHER a bad word, nor a good word, it's just a word that means a LACK of belief in any deity. It's not necessarily a statement that there is no god, or gods. It just means that you/I personally don't worship any, or pray to any.
That's why people who claim to be agnostics get on my left nerve...they think it means that they don't know whether or not there is a god, sort of a middle-of-the-road position, but that's what atheism is. Agnostics (for the most part) don't go to religious services, or pray over their Big Macs, so IMO they're no different from those of us who come right out and say we're atheists...they're just too cowardly to do the same.
If they don't know there's a god, how can they worship one? THAT's the difference.
I think it was while reading Sam Harris's comments about agnostic vs atheist that I realized I was a total hypocrite when I thought of myself as an agnostic. I was still trying to hedge my bets: just in case there was a god I wanted to let it know I was not completely swayed by the dark side. That Sam Harris moment caused me to dig deeper, to read more, and to become what I already was...a complete non-believer...an atheist.
Not long after that I came across Robert Ingersoll's writings and it was like being born again. I became Alfred E. Neuman--"What me worry?" I never actually believed in the first place, but it took me about 57 years to actually accept who I really was.
And the atheists said "amen."
(Ingersoll is a fascinating person from the 19th century) Pardon me for waxing nostalgic, this is some of his quote that meant so much to me:
Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free -- free to think, to express my thoughts -- free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds."
Thanks for listening to my rant. Peter C.
There's a lot of negativity attached to the word no thanks to theists who use it only in hushed tones when it's to condescend. I actually remember a car ride when I was really small, probably pre-k or kindergarten aged, during which I mentioned that a new kid at my school was atheist. I didn't even know what it meant, so it was just a random thing I was repeating. My mom gasped, then tsked, then said something I don't remember in a quiet voice. I remember feeling like maybe I had said something wrong. I was kinda freaked out.
Annoyingly, the word has bad connotations for many people. It's just a symptom of living in the deluded world we live in.
Most of the negativity comes from the Cold War, and the paranoia about "Godless Communism." Billy Graham, and others, really did a lot of lobbying and damage... getting laws passed to put "In God We Trust" on our paper currency, where it never was before (just on some coins), and adding the undergod to the Pledge of Allegiance.
The money thing is highly unconstitutional, but congressmen and senators are too chicken-hearted to do anything about it. Same for the pledge; there is nothing in the constitution about schoolchildren (or government officials) having to recite a bit of drivel every day. It wasn't even written till 1892, to celebrate Columbus Day...which probably delighted the *bleep!* out of the survivinig tribes of Native Americans (includinig some of my distant ancestors.)
I almost stopped voting for one California senator for taking part in the "undergod" demonstration on the Capitol steps, but the alternative was not acceptable. (I wish they'd put "None of the Above" on ALL ballots.....)
I flip the meaning of this word by using it as a primary self-identifier and then challenging the misperceptions that arise. We are a growing portion of the U.S. population, and will only be able to exert influence to improve our culture if we speak up.
I know what you mean when you say that the religious see "atheist" as a bad word, at least here in America. We're the hated minority. Here's the answer...
IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD -IT'S THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING. That and you're also in direct contradiction to what the religious are investing their lives in.
If someone says they're Buddhist on the other hand, hey there's no problem. Buddhist don't have a god, but they do have teachings to follow. The Buddhist has a glass that can be shown to be full -like all the other religions. The free-thinking atheist has a supposedly empty glass that could potentially be filled with all the bad things in the world.
With a supposedly empty glass, they can point at the atheist and say "you have no moral guide", "you don't see the truth we see", "you can be corrupted easily", "how can anyone trust you"...
Stay tuned though, soon you can fill your glass with Orderism -an ideology for the non-theist.
"I'm an Orderist"
Actually, it's not that I don't believe in anything. It's not at all that I have an "empty glass". Orderism? How does chaos fit into that? lol.