saying the A-word

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saying the A-word

Stumbled upon this... It's a portion of Dianna Narciso's "The Honesty of Atheism." Apparently is it to be part of a book called "Everything You Know About God is Wrong".

Just wonderign what you all think.  I do feel uncomfortable sometimes if I'm being told I'm being prayed for (due to a medical condition) or in a large group of theists (like at a wedding or funeral) but at the end of the day I don't see why we should beat around the bush - why deny who/what you are?


Some time ago, after American Atheists president Ellen Johnson made an appearance on a national news program, an acquaintance of mine opened a conversation by saying, "I saw your leader on television last night." I was duly confused. Few, if any, atheists look to any particular person or organization as representative of their "beliefs."

But, then, atheists aren't so very different from any other group of people. While I've heard, and made, attempts to label us as fiercely independent, in reality we're pretty much like everybody else. As in the religious community, there are atheists who congregate with the like-minded and those who don't feel the need. Like the religious with their labels, atheists disagree on exactly what atheism is and who is and isn't an atheist. One thing that sets atheists apart, I suppose, is that, while the religious may claim other people of their faith are not truly a part of the flock, it is often atheists themselves who claim not to be atheists. I've yet to hear a Christian say he isn't one — in fact, they all seem to be clamoring for defining rights to the word. On the other hand, many atheists run from their label as if it's diseased.

A lot of atheists just don't like the word. They use various other labels to get around it: humanist, freethinker, agnostic, nonreligious, secularist, materialist, and rationalist, to name a few. When put on the spot during the early stages of my atheism, I once told a woman, "We're not church people" in a polite attempt to turn down an invitation. Sometimes polite is an excuse for gutless.

Often we use one of our other labels as a "polite" way of saying we're atheist. For some reason, using the word that best describes our position with regard to the existence of gods is considered in-your-face — rude. Some atheists use these other terms because they don't want to alarm the general public. While I can sympathize, it's clear that the general public wouldn't be so outraged by the word if we'd use it more freely.

While it's frustrating to have atheism misunderstood and mischaracterized by the religious, to hear it maligned by fellow atheists is disheartening. Much of the trouble in which atheists find themselves can be laid at their own feet, it would seem. Too many insist that atheism requires an absolute certainty or belief that gods do not exist. They prefer the word agnostic, mistakenly thinking it describes a skeptic, a doubter, or a person who just doesn't know.

The reality is that atheism is the only intellectually honest position a person can take — it is the only logical stance.

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I personally never deny that I'm an atheist. I don't care if it offends people, if they can't deal with it, fuck'em. I have been invited to chruchs and told the person who was asking the reason why. I have gone to funerals and weddings and make a point of it to keep my eyes open. When being told that i will be prayed for I usally ask them not to bother and do something useful with their time, like work out or charity work.

I suppose that I would rather be hated for something i am than assumed to be something I' m not.


Morte alla tyrannus et dei

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The book is already

The book is already published.  I don't like the format or the presentation very much, but that is neither here nor there.  I can agree with the author's conclusion, 'The reality is that atheism ... is the only logical stance.' and I have noticed people avoiding the word atheist in favour of other terms for whatever inane reasons (the author sympathizes, but I don't).  I initially found it to be an eyesore and it looked rather like a picture book.  However, with excerpts like this filling the volume, I should perhaps give the garish book another chance.  (Much like people should give the 'garish' word atheist another chance.  After all if it is not adopted to mean exactly what it means, then like so many other terms it will be misused and those whom identify themselves by its intended use will be misrepresented.)

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."

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Tomathy -  Thanks for the

Tomathy -

 Thanks for the insight on the book... didn't know it was published yet.   I guess I've never really noticed people avoiding the word Atheist because I don't know that many atheists - other than a select vocal group.


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I guess I don't have a

I guess I don't have a problem with the term, but it's only a very small portion of who I am.  I'd probably rather be described as thoughtful or intelligent, but I've accumulated all sorts of labels. 

People think your job is what you are, your music is what you are, your friends are what you are.. and lump you into a category that their brain can easily sort.   

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The comment "I saw your

The comment "I saw your leader on television last night" is pretty funny, actually.

That the word 'atheist' has a negative stigma attached to it mostly is not, IMO, because of atheists, but because of those who are not atheists. There are those who simply don't know what atheism is about, and those who intentionally distort what atheism is and isn't, for their own agenda. I think it's up to us, as atheists, to educate and inform those who are ignorant about the subject - whether that ignorance is unintentional or not. However, with that said, we absolutely need to hold responsible those theists who purposefully misrepresent atheism and try to tell the rest of the world what it is and isn't - take 'em to the woodshed.

When I first 'returned' to being atheist, as I like to call it, I tip-toed around actually calling myself atheist to a lot of people for a while, but I haven't done that for a long time now. The word 'atheist' is not negative to me at all, and I rather like it and prefer it. I have no problem telling anyone that I am atheist, and if anyone has a problem with me being an atheist, or telling them I am atheist, I figure it is exactly that - their problem. People are big boys and girls and are responsible for their own feelings. I refuse to be apologetic about my atheism by saying things like, "I'm not religious" rather than "I'm an atheist", and I'm certainly not going to coddle them and make them feel better that I'm not a theist.

I only go into churches for weddings and funerals. I show respect of what takes place as far as the religious goings-on by remaining quiet and observing, but I don't bow my head, kneel, pray or close my eyes. Naturally I'm not going to participate in those things, so therefore there's no logical reason anyone should be offended.

It's the same for prayers being said at the table - I sit quietly and observe, but I don't bow my head, close my eyes or pray. That is quite enough 'respect'. It is to myself, for who and what I am, that I owe respect first. Anyone offended by that can kiss my cute little round rosy reds! Wink



Keep your theology off my biology.

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I'm not afraid to use it,

I'm not afraid to use it, but I must admit I still get a little tense when I say it. The word has been so twisted by the religious that when you say it, people take it as a personal moral offense. Its the same way the conservative people around me have twisted the word "liberal" into something disgusting. They use it like its a bad thing.... "'re a liberal....*gag*" Frown

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I don't really like the term "atheist," although thanks to the RRS I've learned I am one. I'm getting used to it.

It is true that some people incorrectly believe that atheists affirmatively assert the non-existence of gods. Some do, at least as to some versions of gods, but it's not a requirement. It's this misconception that allows so many Christians to call atheism a "faith" or to suggest it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a believer. It seems that the more typical "atheist" approach is to start with an admission of ignorance and see how that ignorance can be resolved, if it can. "I don't know if there's a god. There's no credible evidence that there is. I'm going to try not to believe anything without credible evidence." I don't know, or "(e) It cannot be determined from the information given." is often the correct answer.

My reason for not liking the term "atheist" is that the incidental fact that I don't happen to believe in any gods isn't a major part of my personality. I don't believe in werewolves either, but I don't call myself an awerewolfist. I think the term "atheist" only serves to define people by contrast to those who believe in gods. I don't think I should be judged by that measure.

Still, I have come to recognize that it's an accurate description, if not name, for people who don't believe in gods.

I kind of like the word freethinker. I also like "Rational" and "Rationalist." Sure, I recognize that everyone thinks s/he's rational, so it's hard to distinguish yourself from everyone else on that basis. Even the guy with the tinfoil on his head so the CIA can't implant thoughts in his head is, in his own mind, rational. After all, how rational is it to leave your brain wide open for the CIA?

RRS has associated the methodology of "rationalism" with a particular way of thinking. It's not the results that make you "rational," but how you get to those results. You can apply rational thinking--or irrational thinking for that matter--to any subject matter. That is what the RRS seems to be advocating. I've seen innumerable theistic challenges to atheists, but none of them ever try to show how they got to their belief system using the methodology of rational thinking.

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I should read before I start responding

I wasn't aware of this talk by Sam Harris when I wrote that.

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I cannot state my position

I cannot state my position at work at all. I have been placed in many positions where I have had to be "neutral" or "politically correct" at work.

Outside of work; friends, family, doctors, people in line at the grocery store, I do not hesitate to explain my non belief with the word Atheism.

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