Why do we identify with the label atheist?
I am as much an a-faerieist or an a-dragonist as an a-theist. Yes, I do know that atheist predates the word theist.
I have said elsewhere that I consider myself a PEARList. Proven Evidence And Reasoned Logic. You don't go around seeing Christians calling themselves a-jewist.

It seems odd to identify one's self by something we do not think exists.

What do you think?

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You're right - it feels better in my mouth than the hard-c "christian". "Atheist" is lovely. (Plus, it works really well if your name starts with an A)
If there weren't many theists I'd agree with you, but it puts us in a group that outright rejects a lot of what the majority of the planet believe, and that belief is a big deal in world affairs.

It's useful because the word itself is a protest against the status quo.
Because the dollars are in flux.
I see the amount of believers going atheist outnumbering the amount of atheists going believer.
Or am I wrong?

Here listen to the idea:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbSysOnkfJE
It's been said many times on this thread, but in this world, rejecting the existence of a sky-man is a big deal. It would be great if we lived in a world where the term atheism was no longer necessary or useful and the human race had moved beyond talking snakes and global floods and 2,000 year-old zombies. But that's still a pipe-dream.

It's also worth pointing out that for some, including myself, atheism is the starting point. We begin by saying, "OK, this god stuff is BS. Now what?" The now what is where you start getting into rationalism and humanism and naturalism and all the other -isms. Atheism rids the individual of their previous delusions so reason and science can move in and establish a realistic world-view.
I like your point, Nightfall. For myself, I am looking for labels that identify me as not believing in the following:
extraterrestrial abductions, secret world governments, laissez-faire capitalism, objectivism, faked lunar landings, world peace, noble savages, genetic fixity, inevitable triumph of atheism, etc.

"You don't go around seeing Christians calling themselves a-jewist." is another good point. I don't feel that being in a relative minority position within a society is justification for labelling yourself by what you do not believe. Evangelical's don't call themselves a-scientists or a-rationalists or a-darwinists. Republicans don't call themselves a-pluralists or a-egalitarianists or a-popularists. Communists don't call themselves a-proprietarists or a-capitalists. I think that the "Brights" was a move in the right direction but really doesn't go beyond naturalism ( which is pretty vague anyway).

well, I guess I am just another a-hole.
I agree, defining oneself with a word that decribes what they're not, is silly. I didn't know that the word atheist predates theist. I'm going to go read more about it.
By calling myself an atheist, I'm not recognizing the existence of God - I'm recognizing the existence of theists and saying, "I'm not one of THOSE."

Though, as a Christian, I never understood why atheists were activists on my campus. Seriously, why waste time with something you don't believe in? Lol, now I get it. Gods aren't real, but believers are. As long as we gotta deal with them, I don't wanna be tainted by their label. I want them to know that I don't agree, and I want that to bug them and put a little niggle of doubt in their brain. I want to piss them off, but not because I'm being a jerk, because I'm so damn nice. I want it to bother them that their god says I'm going to hell. If I just say "Oh I'm not sure" or "I don't believe" it weakens my objections to their position.

For me atheism is about more than my lack of belief. It's about embracing logic and reason, and combating idiocy wherever I find it.
Methods of self-naming seem to be important for atheist communities as this question surfaces regularly.

For me atheism is okay if you are trying to categorise that (ir)religious part of you. "Non-theist", "non-believer" and other alternatives seem a bit coy. People often misuse "agnosticism" as a more acceptable form of atheism. I can understand why as atheism carries such negative connotations.

If I'm talking more broadly about world-views then naturalism and secular humanism probably capture my position. But, to be honest, in conversations about world-views I'd expect more opportunity to flesh out fuller descriptions than just relying on labels. I don't know about elsewhere but religious beliefs/non-beliefs rarely arise in social situations here in Australia. Church life for many people, here, is minimal or non-existent. Really keen church-goers probably mix with really keen church-goers!!

Alex
I agree about labeling, it's only necessary when one is queried about one's religious belief. I don't bring up my Atheism in conversation any more than I might bring up that I am a liberal progressive Unless, that's what the conversation is about. The term is only worthwhile when a direct question concerning belief is proffered.
I agree T4H (Deb). For me, embracing the label of atheist is a way of expressing solidarity with other atheists on this point. It's a way to stand up and be counted by bigots opposed to atheism, letting them know we're here and we're not going to put up with their shit anymore.
Maybe - given time, it will be common to call certain other people apearlists!!!

One reason for having a group of vocal people called atheists, is that theists would rule the world if they could. They would tell us what to think, (about some important matters), what is right, and what is wrong, how to live rightly, blah blah, blah. People who are not theists need to band together if they want to change the world.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Let us decide what us, (humanity), evil.
We are the 'dark matter' of society. We are defined by our lack of belief - our departure from old systems of thought. Lol.

Actually, yes - we do not warrant an 'ism'. We hold no dogma. I consider communists more like theists than atheists - they held a central dogma to the exclusion of all others.

And, while I'm not sure I like the connotative thread here, there are many things that aren't things but the lack thereof:

darkness - a lack of light; cold - a lack of heat; vacuum - a lack of matter; atheist - a lack of belief in god. Since the majority of the world believes in some form of god -

But if we come up with some proactive or positive label - we risk solidifying the one misconception that is hard to shake - that we are a movement or religion or affiliation of some kind. And we are not. You may not believe in a god because of lack of evidence. I, for the most part, do not believe in anything approaching what the word god tends to mean because of all the evidence that the universe is not all about us. It was not created in our image. It does not respond to our petitions. It is not separate from itself. It is not going to judge us. A soul is not something that wears our body like a suit. If we think with our brains now - that stops when we are dead. Alsmost 15 billion years passed before I existed - there is no reason to suggest that it will not continue long after I cease to exist.

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