Why is atheist a bad word? How do we flip this word because I don't think I can (honestly) call myself anything else!

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I can't imagine calling myself anything but Atheist either.
A=no/without theist=god.
It's not really so much the word, but the stigma attached to it. "Oh, he's an Atheist. He eats kittens for breakfast and babies for dinner."

I keep toying with "non-theist," but it has the ring of "you are trying to fake me out, when you are really an atheist."

I really want to be called the Anti-Christ, but that doesn't work very well either.

I am old enough now that I may try "Reprobate," that has a certain ring to it.

Atheist isn't a bad word in and of itself.   Some people like to denigrate atheists because they think only religious people can be moral, ethical, good, trustworthy, kind, law-abiding, etc.   Accordingly there's a stigma attached to the word atheist.  We just need to own it and turn things around, much like gay people have been working to do for so long.  Don't let the bigotry of others define us, but instead insist we define ourselves.   Show people that we're no different than anybody else other than we believe in one less god than most of them.

I am with you, but only when they use it to show how wonderful they are, which is probably any time that person feels the need to reveal moral superiority over the soulless. Hmmm, sounds like I totally agree with you. Ha.

I would go so far as to encourage other people who are using labels such as "agnostic" to call themselves atheists if they really are. Of course, only the person can decide how they want to label themselves. I just think it's responsible to call it like it is, be yourself, and allow other people to be more and more "exposed" to atheists. People who are afraid of atheists may find their best friend, family member, neighbor who they already love is "one of them".
I identify as a Secular Humanist. I also don't identify as a not-elephant or as a not-brain surgeon. Dude, who needs an other-defined rejection as a core identity?
Good point, Ruth. Identifying as a not-something does seem a little ridiculous. But I do think it is a movement 'against' something. It is a response to a popular delusion. If there were never any belief in gods from the beginning of humanity, there would be no reason to have any such label at all!

Dude, who needs an other-defined rejection as a core identity?


Couldn't agree more, I'm a skeptic secular humanist and a a scientific materialist.


Je suis un Athée Napoléonienne.

Les Athées Napoléonienne

I am an atheist.  I love saying it, and I love telling people whom I trust.  Some people shudder, but it's just the stigma of the word and not the meaning. Normally those whom I trust and care about take the time to find out what I believe. As I share my thoughts they can see where I am coming from, and their stigma around that word begins to change. I think that is how we flip this word.  One person as a time.  The more who identify, the more the stigma will change.  I do agree with Ruth that to identify as a non- is silly, but when religion is the norm, the word atheist is a clear stand as a complete rejection of religion.

The main reason atheist is a bad word is because, unlike religion, we have no formal organisation, no community, no standards. We exist purely in the negative (we're not religion). We are individuals instead of a group. We are "moral nihilism", etc.

If we had atheist communities that we could point to and say "that's who I am, that's what I stand for" then people would respect us more.

That is the main challenge for atheism/humanism in the future. We do have humanist/atheist groups but few with a clear identity and community that can rival religion.

Not that I think there should be one homogeneous strain of atheism/humanism. No, diversity and competition between groups is healthy.

A lot of atheists become nauseous at the thought of something resembling religion, but we really do need communities to educate our kids in an increasingly diverse and complex world, otherwise they'll be attracted to religions simply because they are organised and articulate.

So, it's not really word choice that is holding us back. Rather, it is a lack of values, organisation and community behind the word. The best thing you can do is help push the atheist community towards better organisation/community.

Folks like Alain de Botton and James Croft understand this problem.



As for an ideal label, I start with humanism, and then I can explain myself further from there.

It's sort of the same thing with Libertarians, as an example. Part of the reason why they have a hard time gaining political momentum is because they're so independent and suspicious of authority by nature. It's tough to corral them all and organize them.


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