"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 Luara on January 29, 2014 at 6:53am

"Apatheist" is a term that needs redemption.  I think of it as a negative, scornful thing, because "apathy" is pejorative. 

But we are not obligated to take up an anti-religion cause.  Different people have different priorities, and we are entitled to spend our energy as we will.  My attitude towards religion is similar to yours.  I engage in discussions about religion here, but mostly because most of the discussions here are about religion and anti-religion.  I've gotten lots of new insight on religion from discussing it with atheists, but the subject is still peripheral to my life. 

Most of the atheists who are passionate about anti-religion, were brought up with religion and had to rebel against their upbringing.  So their anti-religion passion is personal.  If you don't have that personal passion, that's your own business and it doesn't make you any less an atheist.  Neil Degrasse Tyson expressed a similar attitude.  He has other things to think about. 

It sounds like you don't think of "apatheism" negatively, and that's good :)

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 29, 2014 at 6:28am

Booklover--I certainly do not mean to give up the fight. Just the other day I said, "How are you doing?" to a person that is not even a casual acquaintance and she replied, I'm blessed and highly favored."I hate that reply and for reasons that you understand. It especially pissed off because of where I stood. I was at a local titty-bar (yes, I like to see flesh now and then). It burned enough for me to ask her, "Do you know where you are?" I HAD to point out to her where she was. "Since you're 'blessed and highly favored' what the hell are you doing here. Why is one of God's children working in the closest thing to a whore house? Are just happy that you woke up this morning or that you get to come to this place, show all of your private parts, have men pawing on you and facing indecent proposals all day long?" She got angry and walked away. I didn't care. I hate that response. In effect it says, "You are just a piece of shit and I am special." Anyway, I'm still in the fight, aggressively and actively.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 28, 2014 at 6:07pm

Cory--I stole it anyway! I pray the Mighty Odin doesn't strike me down. Wait a minute! Who is that has the thunderbolts? Mars? Neptune. No. No. Ah, I got it, Zeus! Live long and prosper--Don

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 28, 2014 at 5:45pm

Anthony--I agree. My apathy is not aimed at religion, it is aimed at me. I really don't give a crap about religion, its beliefs, their gods or dogma. However, that is the only area where my apathy extends. It is mainly to point out to religionists that I don't give a damn about their god because it is not worthy of filling my time. That said, I also believe that religion is a scourge to us all and needs to be silenced or at least diminished to a point where it is no longer obnoxious.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 28, 2014 at 5:41pm

Napoleon--I think you stand in a good place. I am not familiar with that type of atheist, but it sounds much like where I am at this point. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 28, 2014 at 5:38pm

Loren--yes, we are forced to shoot stupidity, foolishness and ignorance down. In many ways, it burns me up that it is so necessary, but I don't mind. I have a disposition that enjoys punching holes in the ridiculous. I have a certain amount of warped fun doing it. Should I admit to that? Still, I like to hear the hiss of air as the tire deflates.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on January 28, 2014 at 5:35pm

Ted--that is also my position, but as you said, when speaking god-based individuals--then I am an atheist. Referring to myself as an apatheist is a way for me to keep myself as an individual who doesn't give a rat's ass about any gods. It just doesn't figure into my life except when I deal with religionists. Still, I am active in shooting supernatural ideas out of the sky just because I feel the world would be a better place living in reality. However, I think many Americans celebrate their ignorance regularly and it shows in how we entertain ourselves, our leaders and a bunch of other things.

Comment by Anthony Jordan on January 28, 2014 at 11:19am

I tend to agree with Loren. We have, what I think, is an obligation to actively stand against religion and belief in God. If we don't, if you don't, all those things you said you were, if religion does take over, you will no longer be those things. You will have no rights in that event, but the right to be a Christian (unless, of course Islam takes over, in which case your only right will be to be a Muslim). You better think about that thing. Apatheist looks to me like the combination of the words apathy and theist. We cannot afford to be apathetic with what is at stake. And though you may think so, don't make the mistake of thinking I am exaggerating the gravity of the situation. Religion has big money and big lobbyists in DC.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 28, 2014 at 9:29am

Before I identified myself as an atheist, though I never used the term, "apatheist" would probably characterize my attitude toward religion, for the large part.  Now, while I may be indifferent to the concept of god, I don't see that I can afford to take the same attitude toward those who advance the idea of god or his supposed tenets, particularly when that happens in the public sphere.

I would LOVE to be just a guy, who is who he is and does what he does, and to see both the terms "theist" and "atheist" fall into the dust bin of history.  But so long as irrational belief is being pushed by those who want to insist that their god truly is, I will gladly identify myself as an atheist, nor will I made any apologies about doing so.

Comment by Ted Foureagles on January 28, 2014 at 9:08am

Thanks Donald.  I sometimes refer to myself as 'atheist', but really that term has no meaning or power of description of me personally.  I've not had to extricate myself from god belief because I never had any.  When I call myself an atheist, it's a description only of how I relate to theists.  If they want to see that as my relationship to their god, well OK.  What it represents is my relationship to their psychology.




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