Isn't the label "athiest" counteractive to your ultimate goal?

It’s abundantly clear that religion needs to be swept under the rug of folklore where it belongs. I feel I need to make that clear.

But my concern is that the people holding the broom right now call themselves “atheists”, and thereby instantly associate themselves with the one thing they don’t believe, albeit in a contrary position. I feel this is counter intuitive because in order to be an atheist, you need to study religion, which is what they want. I think that time would be better spent on… well… just about anything else… like making me a sandwich!

Wouldn’t it be better to come up with a label that speaks towards what you DO believe rather than what you DON’T?

Posted: October 2nd 2008

Dave Hitt www

It may be, but only because of the negative connotations religious people apply to it.

If we chose a different name for ourselves, those negative connotations would still be applied to it.

Several years ago there was a rather brief movement to call ourselves “Brights.” The idea was that we were a beacon of light to the world, not that we were “brighter” than believers. This was nonsense, of course – the connotations of the word would have made us look arrogant. The idea was tossed around briefly and, thankfully, rejected by most atheists.

As for coming up with a label describing what we do believe, we already have one. The only thing common among atheists is a lack of belief in gods, and we already have a word for that: Atheist.

Posted: October 10th 2008

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Reed Braden www

The other answers speak for me as well, so I won’t repeat them. I do, however, want to address this:

I feel this is counter intuitive because in order to be an atheist, you need to study religion, which is what they want.

I think the religious are actually scared when they see sceptics of any kind studying their holy scriptures. Whenever I meet theist friends or ministers for lunch or coffee, I make sure to show up before them and read my Bible as they come in. It’s always good for a laugh to see them try to hide their looks of fear.

I think all Atheists should study religion. It’s foolish to be incompetent about the other side of any argument you might find yourself in contact with.

It’s also fun to make comparisons of LaVey’s Satanic Bible and the Holy Bible and point out the areas on LaVey’s book that are almost certainly morally superior to the Christian texts.

Posted: October 8th 2008

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I am a humanist.

I am also an atheist, but that label only comes out when I discuss religion.

Posted: October 5th 2008

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John Sargeant www

Secularist, humanist, Rawlesian, liberal, vegetarian, cyclist environmentalist, economist, free thinker.

Plenty of labels that come across when talking about public policy, a way of life or moral issues.

As Sam Harris has said, there is not always a need to wear your atheism on your sleeve to win an argument rationally. As a tactic, not falling into the atheist/theist trap is a winning one for public policy.

Thing is, it is not clear to a large number of people that religion is an antiquated and bizarre way of looking at the world – one that may be counter productive when facing humanity’s problems.

When you go beyond atheism then it descends into trying to herd cats. It is not enough of an idea for mass political mobilization.

But if there is one thing that may make more sense it is pushing secularism and it’s benefits to a free and equal society of liberty. That is one that can include more than atheists. Where numbers matter that could be the winning approach.

Posted: October 4th 2008

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SmartLX www

A great deal of atheists agree with you. I think the label is necessary as long as the subject of its negative exists.

To use a more extreme example, I would have been proud to call myself an abolitionist back when slavery was commonplace. Now that it isn’t (although it does persist in places), nobody bothers to use this label even though just about everybody is in favour of eliminating what slavery remains in the world.

In an ideal world, the word “atheist” will be used less and less as religion becomes less a part of our daily lives, until it is as obscure and unnecessary as the word “abolitionist”. Until then, I think we need it.

Posted: October 3rd 2008

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