Why the term "atheist" is not a good term
I think this is one of the most interesting points that has been brought up recently and I've thought about it a lot thanks to Sam's AAI speech. I've heard Brian make the point that our group may be larger than any other group if we didn't divide ourselves so much. I think the term atheist does exactly this. An atheist can be a Buddhist, astrologer, holocaust-denier, or even someone who thinks the world is still flat. It is not necessarily a term that describes someone who advocates reason and intellectual honesty. A Unitarian Christian can be far more rational than an atheist if that atheist believes Elvis is still alive and spends her life searching for him. An atheist can be someone who commits a genocide of intellectuals for the sole purpose of bringing society back into the dark ages (Pol Pot). Not only is the term atheism highly misunderstood, but it does a poor job of describing who we really are. We advocate reason and intellectual honesty and we urge others to do the same. We don't just oppose belief in god but also the belief in reincarnation, homeopathy, divining, and the millions of other irrational things out there. I mean, why is "The Rational Response Squad" a much better name than "The Theism Busters" or "The Atheist Response Squad"?
Yes, we are all atheists, but that doesn't mean we should call ourselves that. It's like a group of vegetarians calling themselves the "non-chicken-eaters". Yes, vegetarians are in fact "non-chicken-eaters" because they don't eat chicken, but that doesn't define the group well at all. There really is no accurate term to describe our movement which is why the problems exists in the first place. The closest term there is to describe us may be rationalist. I don't really know.
But even if we did find the perfect term to unify us all, I still think we wouldn't be utilizing our full potential at whacking down religion. Astrologers can be on our side when we talk about how ridiculous virgin births are. Look at how many Christians are out there that agree with us when we say the Koran is a fairy tale. To a certain degree we have already been in agreement with many fundamentalist Christians on many points. If any of you have heard Sam Harris on the Michael Medved show, you probably noticed that Michael (a fundamentalist Jew) was pleased with some of Sam's comments. He agreed with Sam that the 9/11 theories are ridiculous and that it was ridiculous that liberals think that Islam has nothing to do with suicide bombers. I believe a fundamentalist Christian group not too long ago was pleased to see Hitchens putting the smackdown on Chris Hedges' defense of Islam and even promoted the highlight videos from that debate.
However, it may seem a bit delusional to think we can unite with those who hold beliefs we oppose, but it has been done before and actually by theists; http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/11/09/jews_muslims_join_to_fight_gay_parade/
We don't have to seem dishonest to people when they ask us if we are atheists. We can say yes while pointing out that many Buddhists are also atheists. I think we have spent way too much time defending atheism and not enough time talking about how ridiculous the concept of "virgins giving birth to a cosmic superman that later turns into a zombie" is. The religious know that once the argument goes in that direction, they are screwed. Todd Friel knows this and that is why during his appearance on the Infidel Guy Show, he constantly demanded that Reggie defend atheism or secular humanism. If someone compiled a video that had every instance of a theist using the "atheism is bad" argument, it would probably rival in length (if not exceed) a compilation of theists defending their own beliefs. Once we begin to talk about reason instead of atheism, we will start discussing the relevant issues at hand.