We don't have a word for non-believers of Santa Claus or non-believers of The Tooth Fairy, yet we live in a world where those who don't believe in God(s) or supernatural religious philosophies are labelled Atheists. I think that the state of non-believing is the normal state of things as it doesn't need to be taught, unlike religions. I am consequently uncomfortable with using the word and I feel that I concede grounds to their insanity when I use it. What are your thoughts?
I love the word atheist, take pride in being one. I grew up in and currently live dead center bible belt so religion has spent a lifetime trying to drown me in it. I was in my early 20s before I was able to officially break away from church. Saying, "Yes, I'm an atheist." despite the backlash from those around me makes me realize exactly how strong I am.
I identify as a Buddhist which to me is a practice and way of living not a religion. Technically we are atheists because there is no belief in a supreme being. I’m an atheist who considers my meditative and yoga practice ways to develop and spirituality “tune into” life in general. My practice allows me to identify and edify my spiritual health and the spiritual health needs of others. I would argue my active practice is a form of prayer, the irony being on average I spend about 90 minutes a day in prayer, which is likely more than most religious affiliations do.
I am not an atheist.
I am simply a non-believer.
I also, generally speaking, never have felt like a blanket label of any kind has fit me properly.
to me, to consider myself atheist would be to assert that I know there is not a god or gods -
that would be foolish in my estimation.
i'm not agnostic - because i'm not searching or questioning either.
I neither know nor do I care one way or the other.
i'm not interested.
so, I do not use this term for myself.
I am perfectly comfortable with it for anyone else who chooses it for themselves -
but as a general rule will refer to someone as a non-believer until I know their preferred term/label.
Totally comfortable with it, although I used to be much more shy about it. But now any time someone starts spouting off religious stuff to me, my response is "You know I'm an Atheist, right?" Now I have no problems, I proudly identify as Atheist, and even post videos on my Facebook page designed to help those struggling with their loss of faith, and introduces them to Atheism, and let's them know that they are not alone in their lack of belief for some omnipotent being that controls all. I Don't force my beliefs on anyone, and I shoot down anyone that tries to force their beliefs on me, but I am more than happy to answer questions for people and help them realize a world without the shackles of religion.
Very comfortable, and here's why:
Although I see the irony of embracing the word and the insanity it might seem to perpetuate, I am also arrogant enough to assert that even if there WAS a god, I'd be an atheist, because the broad definition of the term is "without god". If all that we see exist and that we see happening around us actually could be proven to be attributed to any sort of "god" I would STILL choose to be "without him" because upon observing the human race, the world around me, and the known universe, I've come to the conclusion that IF a god is responsible for all of this, "he" is a capricious asshole, and I'd still reject him to his face.
I like the word a lot. It gives a sense of identity and social communion with others who also choose the label. Yeah, it'd be nice not to have to use the label, but when (esp here in the US) we're still a minority, wearing the label helps to de-stigmatize it.
I am very comfortable with the word "Atheist". I have been one for most of my life and am almost 70 now. I have the right to think what I choose and don't intend to hide or shrink from my beliefs. If someone doesn't like it, they need to leave me alone. I have lost what I thought were friends over my beliefs but would rather that then continually giving away pieces of me to keep those people around. I tell people who harrass me about it that I intend to get cremated since I'll probably have to get used to the "heat"! It throws them off guard and shuts them up.
I am a devout atheist, and believe atheism makes pecfect, logical sense. Follow along: amoebas who were brainless, virtually shapeless forms of early life, supposedly somehow multiplied and developed into a higher form of life???? What about dinosaurs, again, brainless forms of life who basically scavenged for food when the only food was tree bark and greenery. Did God then say " OOPS, made a mistake, don't quite like this life form", and so instead of vaporizing these poor creatures, he covered the earth with a thick black cloud and suffocated these poor animals to death. Can you even imagine gasping for air where there is no air left to sustain these life.
I have lived in my own personal hell for over half a century, and for 35 of those hellish years prayed to a God that never once answered my prayers. There is no loving, kind merciful God that would create a thing to suffer from birth to death. There are dinosaur bones, proof of both Cro-magnum and Neanderthal man, the skeleton Lucy, but nothing showing a compassionate loving entity watching over His Supposed creations.
I've recently had an epiphany about this, similar to your conclusion: "Why should I define myself in contrast to what doesn't exist?" It ultimately presents the idea that religious people have a sort of monopoly on worldviews and I have to state that I am apart from that. People 'round my way, within the Mexican culture, will more-than-assume that I adhere to their belief systems - not even considering that I might be an entirely different religion, which, from their perspective, is the least they could do.
I was talking with a girl and at some point she said, "Go confess to the 'padre.'" It's a colloquialism, joke thing they say. At no point did we ever talk about religion, and at no point did I ever say I was a part of their shenanigans. To her - to them - it is a given.
Plus, I don't like labels. It's a "function over form" kind of thing, not like a "don't label me, blah blah blah" thing. A label is something that is efficient and coarse. My friends and I had a discussion about what makes a "gamer" a "gamer." It involved data points like amount of different games played and amount of hours etc. But in reality, calling someone a "gamer" wasn't the important part. It was the purpose of that label within any given context and the data point that was important at the time.
All this to say that I no longer call myself an atheist. When the topic arises I simply say, "There are no such thing as supernatural deities or forces - this includes ghosts and the Hindu mysticism concept known as karma." That is the function that the label, atheist, is supposed to serve anyway. I don't even mention the word, "god," just so they know I'm on that hunde'd, ya dig?
I am very comfortable with the word "Atheist." However, you have to understand what the word means and how to use it in a sentence.
First of all, the word atheist is derived from the Greek language, the letter "a" meaning "non" or "not" and "theist" meaning someone who believes in theology or the study of religion. A person who is atheist does not conform to theology just like asymmetrical is not symmetrical, atypical is not typical, etc.
When someone asks if you believe in religion or god, your answer would be; "No I am atheist." Notice that I did not use the word "an" in front of atheist. That is because the word "an" would indicate that you are part of an organized group. Unless you belong to the First Atheist Church in Dallas, I would guess that you do not belong to a group that teaches atheism.
I've been an Atheist all my life, well Satanist for 20 years(which is not a bad thing, still Atheist, I just follow the guidelines of Satanism) I just recently found out that people are nervous around Atheists, and to me, the word Atheist doesn't flinch me, my family has known since I was able to walk that I did not believe in God, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy lol
Humanity is divided into Theists and Non-theists, taking Theist to mean one who believes there exists one or more supernatural entities with the power to influence events in the physical world.
Non-theists are divided between those who reject the Theist position as illogical, usually calling themselves Atheists or Rationalists, and those who accept that you cannot prove a negative, and so prefer Agnostic or Humanist to describe their position vis-a-vis Theism.
For my part, I do not accept that a Non-theist has to prove anything, the Theist is the one making the extraordinary claim for which one piece of verifiable evidence has yet to be supplied. I therefore regard Atheism as the default null hypothesis to be accepted until disproved.
I would prefer being called "atheist" rather than a non-believer or any such wishy washy term. The term atheist is more in your face.
I believe most believers know well that a lot of what they usually say they believe(possibly because their community believes it) is non sense and the very presence of "people who are aware of your nakedness" makes them insecure. I would like my very presence to be felt as something that discourages belief in ridiculous things, something the term "atheist" ensures.
I don't mind the term at all. However, I cannot say with 100% accuracy that I know there is no God. But everything I have seen and believe makes me think with great certainty that there isn't one. However, like science, if someone ever gives me definitive proof, I'll take it. So I'm agnostic.
There are many definitions of "atheism" and "agnosticism." Some are, perhaps, useful in detailed philosophical discussions; others are more useful in everyday conversations. Those are the ones I'm going to discuss here.
Most people, when they talk about "atheists," mean "people who don't believe in gods." Again, in a philosophical or theological discussion, it might be useful to make a distinction between people who think gods are theoretically possible but not likely to exist in reality and others who believe they can't possible exist. But the end result is the same: there are people who—for whatever reason—disbelieve in gods.
That is, their mental model of the universe doesn't include gods in it. To them, "Do gods exist?" is a closed question. It's either closed because they think it's impossible or closed because they have no more reason to believe in gods than they do to believe in elves. You may think they're wrong. Maybe you think gods are more likely than elves. But that is what they believe. In any case, the point is that these folks (and I'm one of them) don't actively ask the question "Do gods exist?" They already have an answer. (As do theists: in their case, the opposite answer.)
Most people, when they talk about "agnostics," mean either "people who are unsure whether or not gods exist" or "people who think it's pointless to claim that gods exist and equally pointless to claim that they don't, because the question can never be answered." In either case, these are people who, when asked whether or not they believe gods exist, say, "I don't know," whereas atheists say, "No." That's a clear difference.
There are people who really do believe in gods.
There are people who really don't believe in gods.
There are people who really have no belief either way.
All of those types of people actually exist, and it's useful to have labels for them. If we call the first type "theists", the second type "atheists," and the third type "agnostics," a member of the last group would simply be descriptive if he called himself "agnostic." He wouldn't be "without balls." He would be a person accurately describing his beliefs.
It's possibly easier to see this if we take gods out of the picture and use an analogy: ESP. There are people who really, truly believe ESP exists. There are people who really, truly don't believe it exists. And there are people who are really, truly unsure.
I'd like to end by dispelling two myths: The first is that belief is a choice. I suspect it is—or partly is—for some people, but it isn't for all people. I know, because it's not a choice for me. Yet some folks seem to have this idea that we're presented with three options—theism, agnosticism, and atheism—and that anyone who picks the middle one is weak willed.
But if I tell you I don't know who is going to win next year's Superbowl, I'm not weak willed: I'm simply telling you the truth. I don't know. I can't screw up my courage and make myself know. It's not a choice for me. If you offer me five thousand dollars to make myself believe some team is going to win, I'll have to either lie or let you keep your money. (Which sucks, because I could use it!)
A true agnostic could also lie. He could say he's a believer or non-believer. He could go to church and behave like a believer. Or he could ... I don't know ... read "The God Delusion" and tell everyone he doesn't believe in gods. But if the truth is that he doesn't know whether or not gods exist (or if he believes it's impossible to know), this would all be a sham. The truth is, he's agnostic.
(The middle-man always seems to have trouble. Bisexual people get pressured into calling themselves gay or straight. But the actual truth—regardless of what they call themselves—is that they're attracted to both men and women.
Sometimes the pressure is political. When people claim agnostics lack balls, I wonder if they mean, "Look, I don't care what you actually believe, but pick a side! There's a war on, and we need to know if you're for us or against us!"
The second myth is that everyone has a belief. I've been surprised by this many times:
Someone: Do you believe we'll discover there was once life on Mars?
Me: I don't know.
Someone: No, you don't understand. I know you can't know for sure what's going to happen in the future. I'm asking what you believe?
Me: As I said, I don't know. I really don't.
Someone: Look, I'm not asking what you can prove. I just want to know what you believe!
Me: I don't have a belief! That's why I keep saying, "I don't know." I don't know means I don't know. And I really don't know.
It seems that there's one sort of mind—the kind "Someone" has in the above dialogue—that pretty much always forms a belief. That doesn't mean the believer is sure. He may readily admit that his belief is just a hunch. Still, his belief exists. He's leaning towards a particular hypothesis. For him, it's impossible to not doing that. So he can't understand the way my mind works. I have trouble understanding his mindset, too, but I've encountered it often enough to be familiar with it.
If you want to know which type of mind you have, try the following thought experiment: Tomorrow, I'm going to flip a coin. Do you believe it will land as heads or tails? I realize you can't know, but what do you believe? (You can interpret "believe" any way you want: having a hunch, visualizing an outcome, knowing, feeling certain, giving it your best guess...)
As you might suspect, given how I described my mind, I have no belief about the coin's fate. None. Nada. Zilch. If agnosticism was about coin flips instead of gods, I would be an agnostic, and it wouldn't be because I don't have the balls to "chose" atheism or admit that I'm an atheist.
The reason there has to be a word for us that have no belief in the gods, is that the majority of this country is batshit crazy when it comes to god belief. They want to enact laws from their religion, and deny science and reason because it contradicts their fairy tales. If it was an innocent delusion like a belief in ghosts, there would be no reason to make a stand against it.
I consider myself to be a "being" of the Cosmos and could not give a flying fudge what anyone thinks. I have a problem with authority figures anyway, so god is the so-called ultimate in that dept. I do not like people "lording" over me with their fairytales and thinking they are superior because they know the truth and I don't. Never have so many people been bamboozled by so few, ( insert church here ) in the history of humanity than by the god story.