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Is the idea of calling someone atheist strange?

Some theists or even agnostics/atheists think it’s even odd that atheism exists. They compare theism to, for example, playing golf and argue that if you do not play golf, there is no need to call yourself non-golf player.
In my opinion, this comparison is superficial and unfair. In fact, I think if you don’t play golf, but happen to live in a community in which almost 80% of people play golf, and expect you to express your thoughts about golf, then it’s ABSOLUTELY reasonable to call yourself non-golf player.

What are your thoughts?

Aralt 7 Feb 15

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Agreed. I believe theists use the title "atheist" to support their out-group homogeneity (all those that are not theists are the same and not good people like we are) concept. Yesterday a young person asked me with the expression of horror . . ." Did you know there are people who are atheists?" That was a fun discussion as he didn't even know what an atheist was - only that they were evil.


The religious gave us that label, not us.


I accept "atheist" & "agnostic" as a defining term here. in real life I prefer to see myself with a more positive description, as a heathen & freethinker.

My favorite title is "asuperstitionalist" Not sure where I stole that tile but I often use it when debating the faithful.

@NoMagicCookie, personally (!) having no use of any isms i'd prefer the shorter "nonism" if i have to choose.

@walklightly I use "asuperstitionalist" when debating (not online) the most obnoxious of the theists I encounter. - - These are usually the ones who include "You're an atheist so you have no morals and/or you don't believe in anything." I will then self identify as an asuperstitionalist. When they ask what is an "asuperstitionalist" I am free to demonstrate their belief in the supernatural (god, devil, angles, etc) falls well within the rubric of superstition as none of their supernatural assertions are demonstrable. I then point out because I actually value truth; that my position requires evidence and because I reject ridiculous assertions that can not be tested, unlike you (the person I am debating) I am an "a" (not) supersistionalist" or (one that does not depend on superstition to form my world view). - - this leads them in attempting to assert their "faith" belief without evidence based religion is not a superstitious position. When they take the bait it's fun.

got it, @NoMagicCookie.


I agree, when (if) the day comes when very few to pretty much nobody believes in a god anymore, then there will be no need for this term to be used. I prefer to be labelled as a 'Naturalist', as this covers the way that I feel about anything supernatural.


The term Atheist has and, I believe, will always be negative. It seems to denote what one is against instead of what one is for. Cultures change and words often lead to that change. There are other words applicable like secularist, or God-free. There is also an international movement called the Brights. [] It is gaining ground and I strongly believe a name change is in order. Most of us have gotten past the negative sounding homosexual and now use Gays. A much more positive word.




Exactly, the only reason there's any utility for the term "atheist" is that we are a small minority in an overwhelmingly theist society, and we need a label to describe what is, to most people, an alien concept. In fact many atheists use the example of stamp collecting -- philately. If I don't collect stamps, I don't call myself an aphilatelist -- not because it isn't accurate but because no one gives a fig.

I long for the day, sometime in the future, where people's metaphysical beliefs are so privately held AND respected, that the term "atheist" becomes obsolete. Believers who want to hasten that day can quit proselytizing and imposing their codes of conduct on people outside their group. That will go a LONG way.

One other aspect of this: the very question is, in many cases, a covert way of asking us why we don't just shut the hell up. We are inconvenient for them. We expect them to actually substantiate their truth claims. On forums where theists and atheists come into contact in debates / discussions, the way it is usually framed is, "If you don't believe in god, why do you hang around here talking about him all the time?" as if that's some sort of "gotcha". They really just want us to be quiet, closeted, and if possible, gone.


I live in the UK and the majority here class themselves as non-religious in censuses.

Religion isn't generally proselytised and I rarely need to describe myself as atheist.

It will happen.


I think it is really only relevant when the other people ask you to go golfing, or what your avg is, or what your favorite course is, or anything golf related. Since the society is rather obsessed with Golf, and I am not, it is not really I who identifies as a non golfer, it is the society which lables me as such
AND it is oft a label which is false "Golf Hater" or some such, which I am forced to correct.

IF you live entrenched in society, you have to cope with that a lot.
IF your society contains more trees as members than humans, there is a lot less conflict as Trees never bring up Golf at all.


Being agnostic (as an adjective and a noun) not at all. I find the definition (and distinction) quite useful, especially in forming relationships with them. We'll generally have as much to "agree to disagree" on as would a theist and me.


I think theres every reason in the world to out yourself as a non golf player we have several courses nearby and many people are vociferous scouts for the 'holy' game. .


I don't say that I'm an Atheist, I say that I'm atheist. The word is an adjective not a noun as many people seem to use it. It's an effective shorthand for saying "I do not believe in any deities".


I call myself an Atheist and yes some people call me strange. I got over it...


Wasn't it Stephan Fry who said famously if people didn't make up a whole lot of ridiculous unproven things we wouldn't have to waste time saying that we don't believe in them. Very true.


I don't call anyone anything. People seem to call themselves what they are or represent.


I rarely announce my Atheism, if it’s mentioned at all, it’s usually due to someone aiming their religion at me. So, ‘Im A-theist,’ ‘or, non-religious.’ It confirms your/ our lack of belief in invisible entities that other’s promote as real. ..I’m also a non-smoker, or ‘A-smokest’ 🙂

Varn Level 8 Feb 16, 2018

No. Not at all.


You are correct Dawkins is wrong on this. Due to societal external pressures we are in fact defined by what we are not. If theism was not prolific and dominating in the United States there would be no reason to make the distinction. I do in fact identify with what I am not because I have to. I am an atheist.


I would prefer that they referred to us as normal undeluded people and them as the deluded; that make total sense to me as we are the normal ones and they are the ones with the problems.


I consider being called atheist a compliment


No, I don’t think so, but then again being an atheist is somewhat like taboo for people because they can’t seem to grasp not everyone follows a religion.

This is an important point. Theists, by and large, can't get their mind around unbelief, and struggle to explain it away. They do it by claiming that "everyone worships something, even if only themselves". They do it by claiming that atheism is "just another religion, with the self as god". They do it by claiming atheists are hateful, angry, licentious, or basically anything other than having a considered opinion or in any way positive.

What's most amusing is when people knew you as a devoted and fully accepted member of their church / belief system and you become an unbeliever. My extended family, even after almost 25 years, sees my unbelief as a "misunderstanding" or a "phase" that I will "get over" eventually. Since my former tribe is of the "once saved, always saved" variety, they also rationalize that god will forgive me no matter what.

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