One of my kids asked me if I'm nonbeliever and of course, I asked, "A nonbeliever of what?" I wasn't trying to be flippant, but there are so many things not to believe in that it is difficult deciding where to start. Then I said, "I suppose you mean am I a nonbeliever in god?" That prompted a long discussion, but I think he understood when we finished talking.

He was trying to find a way of categorizing me to a few of his friends that read my books. I hadn't given it much thought, but I have shunned traditional labels since college. What am I? To be truthful--I don't know. I can tell you what I'm not. Although born and baptized into the faith, I am not a Catholic. Although I am human, I am not a humanist. Even though I carried my brother's lunch to school, I am not very Bright.

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 theist, which describes a belief in one or more supernatural 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. So, 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 an atheist.

Theism, theists and theocracy play such a limited role in my life aas to be almost nonexistent, except for the areas they intrude into my life. Otherwise, they aren't important to me in any way. That doesn't mean I won't speak out when they become irritants or ridiculous, which is often.

So, again, what am I? I'm not so presumptuous to think I'm Bright nor am I significantly motivated to turn my disinterest into a career like a politician. I've tried to find a word or invent one that indicates no interest in theism. It is incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial. I had to say that because I like Perry Mason, but I would like a word that indicates an absolute disinterest in theism.

Any ideas?

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Comment by Alan Perlman on July 27, 2012 at 11:30am

Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of Humanistic Judaism, used (and may have coined) the term "ignostic" -- you just live your life without any attention to or interest in the question of God's existence. 

He also disliked the negativity of "atheist" because, as you note, it stakes out a point of view from the point of view of believers.  Much of religion, he noted, could properly be characterized as "ahumanistic." 

Good post!

Comment by Donald R Barbera on July 27, 2012 at 11:21am
Perhaps, I put too much emphasis on the word as being all encompassing and overriding the person beneath it. If that is the case, then our educational efforts must be improved and compelling. I have a Christian friend that wouldn't even go to my blog site because--she is a Christian! I thought and still think of all the reasons she could have given that one had to be the most ridiculous. I guess she believed she would be overcome by reason and be sucked down the tube of reality. We have been in the attack mode for so long that it is difficult to put the safety on my weapons.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on July 27, 2012 at 9:35am

I did not even know that there was a large community outside pennsylvania.

Even if the quakers have done some good work and the Amish notwithstanding hair cutting violence or the Jains with their admirable sentiment are generally good there is no value unless incidental in leading a life based upon faith. If Luther said reason is the devil's whore and ________ said an unexamined life is not worth living then I say a culture immersed in religion is one that ought to be exposed to reason. And not by avoiding the awful word atheist!

Within the fabric of faith based existence is wanton violence, cruelty and discrimination. When it exists unchecked by secular influence the potential is always there as purists will differ in interpretation and resort  to whatever means to prevail; its integrity being paramount will feel utterly justified for their barbarism. And of course outsiders need a bit of correction if not a wee bit more.

Not exactly apropos but science just had an article suggesting that repetition of involved and time consuming rituals are more convincing. They induce credulity. No wonder the catholic church was so successful. Psychological secrets are no doubt waiting to be uncovered. And meme lickers have support in natural selection operating at that level too.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 27, 2012 at 5:32am

Don't know if you heard about it, Glen, but there was actually some Amish-on-Amish violence here in Ohio recently.  So it would seem that not even THAT supposedly placid sect is free from infighting.  I know that Harris is found of mentioning the Jains as it comes to an utterly non-violent lifestyle.  My question would be: has their been any kind of Jainish kerfuffle that simply hasn't made it to the press?

I have noted with interest that there is currently a fuss going on between Thunderf00t and PZ Myers about a blog which Tf was banned from recently.  Needless to say, if that were to break out into fisticuffs or something like, I would be rather badly disappointed, though I seriously doubt such might happen.  And the fact is that I've yet to hear Story One about a life taken purely because of or in support of the concept of atheism.

We still hold the high ground.  I'd like us to keep it.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on July 26, 2012 at 10:09pm

Grinning cat, for once Sudden sam Harris failed to carry the argument.

And while it is true that Amish are low risk on terrorism and they produce fine popcorn they share with the rest of the stinking superstitions faith FFFFAAAAAAAIIIIIITTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. And about that commonality we needn't be selective. Until religions embrace reason and require evidence and verification, ridicule from all of us is all they deserve. Of course they will cease to be such when they have adopted reason.

Comment by Grinning Cat on July 26, 2012 at 9:55pm

... except for the areas [theists/theocracy] intrude into my life.

Sam Harris argues that defining ourselves, not as "atheists", not as against something, but as advocates for reason (if we must label ourselves at all), frees us to be more selective in countering particular harmful beliefs rather than "having to" be "evenhanded" towards/against theists in general. Religions aren't equal. (And "on the ground", what their adherents actually do, is what counts.) You don't hear about Amish people strapping bombs to themselves and committing suicide/homicide in public places.

Ruth and Loren, I agree: there's no reason to call ourselves "non-astrologers" or "non-flat-earthers". Professional astrologers still exist, but using astrology as grounds for government or public policy would draw ridicule or worse. Believe what you like in private, but letting your superstition impact my life (our lives) becomes socially unacceptable.

Until we get there, labels like "atheist" (or, better, "rationalist" or "secularist"?) could still be useful.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 26, 2012 at 9:43pm

Ya wanna get ME?  Come to CLEVELAND, bubby! [giggle-giggle ... GUFFAW!]

Comment by Frankie Dapper on July 26, 2012 at 9:39pm

Loren, I lost all chance to get you.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 26, 2012 at 9:25pm

"For once?!?"  I'm miffed, Glen!  Miffed, miffed, MIFFED!

:-P~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ [grin!]

Comment by Frankie Dapper on July 26, 2012 at 9:10pm

I think for once Loren is correct. Ruth your analogy is inapposite.

Religion will not fade away without opposition. I dont give a good goddamn about any meme theory.

I got no problem with the word atheist. When in the course of human events it becomes prudent to oppose injustice and in so doing overcome say atheist twelve times from the highest bell tower.



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