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How comfortable are you with the word "Atheist" ?

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?

Chris90045 5 Sep 29

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1

Logically, you may be right. But to paraphrase a quote from Star Trek, "whoever accused of the humanity of being logical?" 🙂 I think historically that the majority of humanity has held religious beliefs of some sort, and continues to do so. So, I am perfectly happy with separating myself from the majority with the label "atheist." One of my favorite theist writer is Reza Aslan, and I enjoy reading his books (and many would say that his books are not exactly "scholarly" and they are probably right, but still very entertaining), and he makes a point that the state of belief as opposed to the state of non-believing has been, and is, the norm. I agree that that has historically been the norm. I would of course argue that it shouldn't be. But the fact is that it is.

115

I am comfortable with Atheist, but maybe we should call ourselves "non-delusional" versus the "delusionals".

applauds vigorously

Brilliant!

It will fly with me, and anyone else that gives it wings.

I am going to use it the next chance I get, and I'll tell you what happens. 🙂

That would be a great T-Shirt!

Probably only the non-delusional would agree 🙂.

@josh_is_exciting Not idiots. Delusional. Big difference.

Love it! @AtheistInNC you earned Level 9 in my eyes with this one! I have not heard this one before, it's exquisite! On labeling oneself "non-delusional" it defines and exposes how abnormal their belief system is.

@SACatWalker "Realist": That was my thought, too.

@SACatWalker @Paul628 I have referred to myself as a "Realist" on many occasions as well. The setting and area of discussion determines what I may call myself, be it "non-believer", atheist, Realist, Secularist, Humanist, or "denier of the legend!" LOL

Assuming we are in fact non delusional. There are more ways to delude oneself besides religion. Be aware of my-side bias

@josh_is_exciting A very good point and well taken.

I don't think that many of the religious minded actually enter reasonable discourse ... and if I should find myself in that situation, I certainly wouldn't ruin it by calling them delusional. However, is it an ad hominem attack if it is true? If you accuse someone of having brown eyes - and they do - is that an ad hominem attack if they think of themselves as a blue-eyed Aryan?

Delusional:
a : something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated: delusions of grandeur
b psychology : a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also: the abnormal state marked by such beliefs

Religious folks, by definition, are delusional.

I am fat. Very fat - morbidly obese as the doctor's say. Telling me I'm fat or calling me fat is the same to me as telling me I have brown hair. Meh. Some may consider it an attack, but if it is true - then it isn't an "ad hominem attack", you are just stating the obvious, and doesn't hurt my feelings a bit. If the religious don't like being called delusional, do something about the delusion - prove I'm wrong, or stop believing what isn't true.

37

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.

25

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.

How can you follow Buddhism when the Dalai Lama himself said he is glad he wasn't born a woman? And there are totally different (and more onerous) rules for women buddhist priests than male? Unfortunately, even Buddhism is misogynistic.

@Agnostic1 I never said I followed Buddhism, I said I identify. The Dali Lama isn’t a ruler or de facto leader of all Buddhists. Buddhism c9mes in many forms.

@SarahSiddons - many forms yes, but they all consider women lesser beings than men. Not one for me, I'm afraid, in any of its forms.

I also find Buddhist philosophy to be very beneficial to mental and physical health. I never searched for a god or anything beyond self discovery. Buddhist religion is, to me, an oxymoron. Buddha was clear he was not god and there is no afterlife. He taught people how to reach enlightenment about self and the nature of the universe using meditation. I've traveled to buddhist cultures where it is their religion and they pray to the "lord" Buddha in their temples. It's what happens when a culture institutionalizes spirituality into religion.

Buddha was perhaps the original free thinker. He was able to see beyond the conventional dichotomy between indulgence and asceticism that together were the consensus of the time and seize upon the essence of our reality he called the middle way. He had nothing to say about an afterlife, but instinctively knew everything was connected and kept his focus on suffering, its causes and alleviation. Others who followed have tried to make it something else. That’s OK. But I agree with you and see you are Buddha Sarah.

@GoldenDoll If it’s not for you, then don’t practice it.

@ElementX74 I don’t think I’d use the word “separating”. But to your inquiry. For me this is where yin/yang (or balance) comes in. Consider a few other non-religious spirituality perceived equivalency.

Prayer comes in many forms, prayer and religion are not mutually exclusive. Meditation could be argued as a form of prayer. Some genuflect, some chant, some raise hands to the heavens, some start the hand raising from the ground/root up as a continuation of the bodies end and where the universe begins.

The laws of attraction/connection may be seen as the answer to prayer, to others are seen as the fruits or spoils of labor be they good or bad. If you want what others have spiritually or monetarily you keep putting yourself in the paths of those who have whatever “it” is whether consciously or not by actions.

For me music is a vessel of connection and beauty. I’ve never been Catholic yet I love Handel’s Messiah and I sing it every year because I find it a thing of beauty. I quote scripture a lot both or the Bible, Torah, Book of Mormon et.al because there is a lot of beautiful inspiring prose in its word.

I’ve posted A LOT on many forms of social media saying “Americans DO NOT need health insurance, Americans need healthcare” There’s a huge difference between the two, most overlook equating them when they are almost the opposite of each other.
My physical health ends and begins in my brain. The body intelligence connecting to the mind intelligence. When it comes to something like weight loss, I first MUST know I am deserving of the health I want. I must love myself enough to achieve a goal well within my reach. Some achieve fitness through running, lifting, spinning....I achieve and continually improve the communication of my body and mind through yoga.

In addiction recovery the ubiquitous and free way to approach sobriety is faith based. If you don’t have health insurance but need healthcare, one can achieve sobriety through AA, I used it as a launching pad. I’d be in meetings with those who have 40 years sober and attend 5 times a week and thought to myself “I desperately want 40 years sober but I DO NOT want to be sitting in this chair 40 years from now”. Some will say it’s the only way. Ones recovery is like a fingerprint, no 2 are alike. With some diseases the answer/cure is a pill, or surgery, or cognitive behavioral therapy. For me the answer/cure is my yoga mat and meditation station and haven’t been to a meeting in over 2 years.

Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on ritual behavior/acts. Addicts are HUGE on rituals, independent of religion. We are soaked in rituals. Recovery taught me by switching one healthy ritual for rituals which would have sent me to an early grave actually gave me life. Addiction is a tricky beast. It’s selfishness which can only be cured by selfishness. When you first get sober you have to face everything you’ve ever done, the remorse, shame and guilt keep the relapse, recovery vicious cycle rolling. The worst thing you can do in the beginning is go around apologizing to everyone. They don’t want to hear ONE MORE LIE. It takes diving into yourself and a lot of time with yourself to get to the point where you can be believed, forgiven or trusted. When you forst get sober the LAST thing you think of yourself is being deserving of health, sobriety, or trust. It’s a tricky balance with a bafflingly simple concept. I earned all of it back by simply showing up for my life every single day.

Not sure if that answers your question, but it is what it is. I’ll close with the 9th step prayer also known in AA as The Promises.
“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. Big Book pg. 83 & 84 Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Ed.

@SarahSiddons Obs.

I'm a practicing witch, who focuses on energy work rather than any dieties. I know your position. 🙂

I was a practicing Taoist for many years. I enjoy being "centered," which is mostly what I got out of it. (that and "we wash the dishes so we can use them again" ideology)

I still use many of the skills I learned, such as, "don't force things to happen." That "shit happens," it's what we do after that matters. "Cottleston pie." 😉 and Wu Wei, "the uncarved block."

I don't net in spirituality since there is no spirit.

19

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 -
a certainty.
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.

@mbergwell - I love your post. I'm just not interested either, although theists still annoy me. I shall be a "non-believer" from now one. Thankyou.

@mbergwell exactly!

Pretty much how I see it, too. I just don't really care, because to me it's simply mythology; and beyond what we can learn from religion in a historical context, it means nothing more to me. I have no more connection to God or Allah than I do Zeus or Poseidon. So I'd say non-believer works just fine for me also.

Perfect! I don't like any label that assumes a strict tenant of belief. I'm sure my beliefs are not like all others. Just like the label Christian does not detail everyone's individual beliefs. Non believer is ok, I like Freethinker best though.

Saying "god" or "gods" gives an air of superiority to something. The question will always be posed, "where did we come from?" Someone or thing created life but do we have to bow or serve it? Not in my world. Sticks and stones ... the word Atheist shouldn't hurt and it's a powerful label to wear.

I use the word agnostic to mean I don't know; but that does not mean I care. I take agnosticism to be the freedom to believe whatever I want, whenever I want. If I want to worship the sun goddess with my body on a beautiful day; or if I want to see mischievious sprites in a stream or forest; or if I want to be a part of something part of the time; or if I want to believe there is just one main deity for me to talk to, I can do any of those things. They are not incompatible because they are fleeting, and do not hold much import except a way to channel feelings inside my head and heart.

19

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.

18

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.

My feelings to the letter.

Hello I read your common and I have also had similar thoughts and reservations as you are stating however it occurred to me and perhaps it has not occurred to you that maybe God isn't perfect. Have you considered that and what would be the consequences if in fact there was a God and that God was not perfect.? I mean myself having thought this through I could mention a few consequences right off the bat

@Nothing isn't it pretty clear that 'God' isn't perfect? No entity is perfect which performs such vile and unspeakable actions on humans and animals from tiny infants on up; either 'God' is not all-powerful or 'he' is good, but 'he' is not both, which makes 'him' very imperfect

15

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.

Dylan Level 5 Oct 16, 2017

So true. You are what you believe yourself to be.

Btw, Non-believers are the third largest group of people in the world next to Christianity and Islam.

@SonnyMlaPH where is this stat from?

13

I'm not happy being labelled for something I don't believe in or do.

It's like saying I'm an aphilatelist because I don't collect stamps.

I prefer to be called a free-thinker.

edgy

Working from the 'Enjoys' section of your profile, would you call yourself a non-smoker?

(stirring it, just a little 😉 )

@Godot - I've never smoked, sooty if your comment has gone over my head, but I don't get it I'll have to check my profile -

11

Very. And I'm happy enough with "heathen", "unbeliever", "hellbound liberal'....

11

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?

Very, very well said. Very informative. Thanks

"I'm on that hunde'd?"
???

Why not use the word atheist though, it would be more brief, I'm not following your point as you still say that you don't believe in deities in your longer reply?

Is that a question...?
I'm not saying I don't believe, I'm saying they don't exist. Religious claims have zero validity. And I don't let them have a nuanced shred of thinking they do. Saying things like, "I [don't] believe" or "I'm an atheist," gives the illusion that their claims are valid, that we are on equal grounds philosophically, and that it is some kind of personal choice and therefore should be left well enough alone. Quintessentially I'm saying the same thing, but in the background it's a much deeper communicative battle - just like the connotative differences between "fat," "obese," "chubby," et cetera. They present the same thing in different ways. My way is to shatter the comfortable illusions that a lot of religious people round my way have. Most religion is never a a personal choice, it's an indoctrinated aspect to one's identity. And they are off their rocker if they think their not-so-personal not-so-choice is anywhere near actual facts and grounds for nonchalant dismissal - as based on my experience. And it is a disservice to my fellow man to allow them to keep riding that train of thought - cuz fuck them.

10

I prefer to describe myself as a Humanist. Call me chicken 🙂

ags2 Level 5 Dec 12, 2017

I have worn out the topic of "atheist". I refuse to comment on gods that do not exist, or have never existed- I am NOT an atheist. If I am going to waste time---- it's going to be on something that is pleasant- not profound foolishness.

I don't care if Donald Duck wears rubber boots when he is swimming, so that his feet will not get wet. And I feel that the discussion about gods is even more absurd than the foregone premise.

I like it!

me too... I have the unfair advantage of being at least 4th or 5th generation atheist, but it gets tiresome to explain it doesn't have any meaning in terms of how I live - whereas I do what I do from humanist principles as far as possible in all ways. When society has a default position of atheist as in most of Europe, what you do is much more important that what you do or don't believe.

10

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 have to agree with you on that. I am 65 and have been an Atheist for 58 of those years. So it's all I know. I do not know where you are from, but I grew up in southern Arkansas, and it's a LOT better now , than it was back in the 60's and 70's!

10

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.

10

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.

8

I prefer godless heathen.

another good laugh

8

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 see this as rather simple- and concise. All man-made gods are foolish nonsense. If Nature is 'cognitive'- and not the smartest person on earth, or any person that has ever been on earth, knows this- that would make Nature a god/creator- or whatever you want to call 'it'.
And the lesson in composition: "an" is the article that replaces "a" when the following word starts with a vowel. Ain't difficult.

It is not mandatory to use an article such as "an" in the case of the statement "I am atheist." Just as the article "an" is not necessary for the following statements, "That shape is asymmetrical" or The patient's symptom is atypical.

In fact, when you break down the meaning of the words, placing "an" in front does not make sense. I am an non-theist. The patient's symptom is an non-typical. That shape is an non-symmetrical.

Yes, Mr. Allen, you figured it out- apparently by accident. Yes you do not put "an" in front of a word beginning with a consonant such as "non-typical". I think that must be pre-kindergarten grammar.

@Diogenes that was not the point he made, the point was that an is the indefinite article (for words beginning with a vowel), rather than the definite, which is implied by saying "I am atheist" thus apparently in Texas claiming also a capitalized form of Atheism... ah well, only in Texas?

@Allamanda I took a teaching course about three decades ago- and I've forgotten most of it. Ah, poor me! LOL, but I am not presenting my thesis in the Agnostic room, anyway.

My cardinal point: I am NOT going to argue with anyone about man-made gods (Nooooo, I did not put a capital on "gods"; that word deserves no capital) I am a "believer"- in reality! Persons that will argue with a theist obviously have too much time on their hands. I am not an atheist.

I am an agnostic. The smartest people in the world can only speculate about how many "Big Bangs" there have been- and a plethora of other, currently-unknowable subjects.

8

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

AntiX Level 3 Oct 26, 2017
6

Proud atheist practicing tolerance and kindness!

6

Words are but words, each of us has a different image of each word in our mind, so who cares what label people wish to play with ?

6

I fond it is teh word that shuts people up who are on my case they back off when I say I am atheist so I use it when I need to - otherwise I am quite happy without a label and knowing that I don't have a god.

6

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.

yes its real and it stops most people from answering I do only use it as a last resort though

6

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.

I used to feel that way, too, but then I realized that most atheists would gladly change their minds if given irrefutable proof of the existence of god(s), so I stopped splitting hairs and started referring to myself as atheist. I mean, there are atheists out there who would refuse to accept proof if it existed, but I think the majority of us are rational human beings who put our faith in science and are willing to change our minds when presented with new information.

That having been said, you won't find me holding my breath.

@Nottheonlyone surely this begs the question of whether science can ever be equipped to provide the type of proof sought? I would say it cannot, it doesn't concern itself with proofs of the impossible. It's just a comfortable social elision, is it not?

@Allamanda Hence, my decision to describe myself as atheist. ?

6

I'm proud to call myself and be called an atheist.

6

Atheist is the term that I used to describe myself. That being said, I don't throw the word around casually. The word comes with so much baggage I don't typically use it unless I need to.

5

I usually refer to myself as a realist, believing in that which is real.

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