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.