"It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God." Denis Diderot [i]

One of my sons asked me if I was a nonbeliever and of course I asked, "a nonbeliever in what?" I was not trying to be flippant, but there are so many things not to believe in that it is difficult to pick a place to start. Then I said, "I suppose you’re asking me if I believe in god?"

He was trying to find a way of categorizing me to a few of his friends that read my books. I had not given it much thought, but I have shunned traditional labels since college. What am I? Although born and baptized into the faith, I am not a Catholic.

If I must be labeled as something when it comes to theological questions, dogma and beliefs, I am an apatheist. I have no interest in belief or disbelief in any supernatural entity because the existence of gods is neither meaningful nor relevant to my life. When it comes to the realities of the world, I am more of a humanist because I believe morals and ethics are present within human beings without a supernatural genesis.

I don't care for the word "atheist," not because it is a bad term, rather, because it says little but has connotations attached to it that extend beyond the word's true meaning. Of course, atheist is the reverse of a theist, which describes a belief in one or more supern

atural deities. Both words spring from the Greek word "Theos." So what?

That's a good question. So what? Physician is a term that has significant expansiveness in that it encompasses a wide range of knowledge, activities and expertise. Scholar is another word that speaks volumes. Scientist, teacher or hobo hold more meaningful description than atheist because they represent life directions; whereas, atheism, as strongly as some may assert their position is little more than that—a position.

Everyone has a position. In fact, they are very much like colon exits—everybody has one, which signifies nothing except membership in the human race. That brings me back to where I started. I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am a teacher. I am a salesman. I am a father and I am a brother, but I am not a true atheist.

Theism, theists and theocracy play such a limited role in my existence as to be almost nonexistent, except for when they intrude into my life. Otherwise, they are not important to me in any way. That does not mean I will not speak out when they become irritants or become ridiculous, which is often.

Again, what am I? I'm not so presumptuous to think I'm Bright nor am I significantly motivated to turn it in to a career. For years, I have tried to find a word or invent one that indicates no interest in any theism of any kind and that word was apatheist.

Religion may provide a "comfort" for many people around the world, but I do not need it to guide, comfort or help me in any way. At most, I consider arguments as to the existence of gods, “. . . argumentative, incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial” to me. Thank you Perry Mason.

[i] Herrick, Jim,.Against the Faith. London: Glover & Blair. p. 75, 1985

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 30, 2014 at 8:01pm
Surely, they know how obnoxious they are. No they don't because if you believe bullshit like the a I Le story, more than likely you will try to pass it on.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 30, 2014 at 10:42am

Sentient--you always see through the crap and there is a truck load of it. I've never been a needy person, at least nothing the way religious people tend to be. They need an invisible person to hold them up and then are surprised when they  find the footprints in the sand were nothing but an overactive imagination and fall flat on their ass. Of course, then they claim the lord works in mysterious ways when in actuality he doesn't work at all. He's retired along with Zeus, Odin, Neptune and many other as they still trek to the graveyard of the gods. It is becoming quite full, figuratively speaking, because we all know it doesn't take much room to bury nothing.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 30, 2014 at 10:04am

God bless America! It, he, she or something needs to put a rock in these people's pie holes. They've had the floor for a few centuries in this country, but their filibuster is about to end and they don't like it too well. Muslims drive Christians crazy and for most it is a short trip. There are too many views coming to the "spiritual" marketplace and most have nothing to do with god, jesus, zeus or any of the sky entities. I just finished a piece I sold to a Dallas magazine entitled "Who is a Christian" in which I examine the disunity among "Christian" groups.

Comment by Luara on January 30, 2014 at 5:33am

A.C. Grayling says that it would be better to identify ourselves (we atheists) as "naturalists"

"Naturalist" already has a meaning: a close observer of Nature. As in Curious Naturalists, a book I enjoyed as a child. It was full of interesting stories about spider behavior, etc.

"Brights" also has an already-taken meaning, of being smart.  That is half-true - nontheists do seem to be smarter than average.  I enjoy this site because it has relatively thoughtful, intelligent discussions.  Much of what passes for discussion on the internet is simply the throwing around of pejoratives or praise.  It's a kind of bullying:  "You think as I do or you are Bad or Stupid.  To be OK, you have to agree with me". 

And it's an aspect of intelligent thinking to be OK with a confidence value for thoughts - to hold things not either true or untrue when you don't really know, but to give them some in-between probability of being true.  That kind of thinking tends to inoculate a person against religion. 

I like the term "unbeliever".  It was part of a book series that meant a lot to me, the Thomas Covenant novels of Stephen Donaldson.  To me, it has a connotation of resisting belief in general, unless something is proven - so it's better than nonbeliever, which specifically implies not having religious belief.  Stephen Donaldson seems to have rebelled against some aspects of his religious upbringing and assimilated other aspects. 

Comment by Anthony Jordan on January 30, 2014 at 3:19am

Though I prefer the term atheist for myself, A.C. Grayling says that it would be better to identify ourselves (we atheists) as "naturalists", because it tells others that we believe that nature and the laws of nature is all there is, as opposed to believers who can be identified as supernaturalists, who believe in supernatural entities, and that there is something beyond nature, such as the afterlife.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 29, 2014 at 8:28pm
I think some religionists are starting to get the message. If they keep their mouths shut, religion is alright with me, but we that isn't going to happen. So, I keep a notebook of snappy rejoinders. The idea to spread the word is one of the worst parts about Christianity and it keeps me in a militant mode. Keep it to yourself and no one will be hurt.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 29, 2014 at 1:26pm
I hadn't heard the "blessed and highly favored" until a few years back. I was incredulous when I first heard it. One of my replies has been, "I'm handsome and very rich." That ones gets the eye rolls. I don't know where it came from, but it needs to go back. By the way, I am anti-religion. Over the past decade,I Find it increasingly difficult to hold my tongue when talking or corresponding with family and friends. It's like Saturday Night Live news. I want so badly to say, "Jane! You ignorant slut!
Comment by Dustin Roy on January 29, 2014 at 12:23pm

I don't usually refer to myself as an atheist because it seems too narrow of a term to describe my position against religion. Atheism is just the rejection of belief in the existence of God(s). Thus I usually consider myself an antireligionist or irreligionist.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 29, 2014 at 8:27am

Original Text: "I am blessed and highly favored."
Translation: "I am so full of myself that I sound like a caricature!"

Comment by Luara on January 29, 2014 at 7:03am

Put it this way:  for me, my apatheism is composed of an interest in science, my belief in finding things out by investigation, a dislike of untruth and illusions, and trying to avoid assuming I know more than I do. 

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