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Author Topic:   An Atheist By Any Other Name . . .
Taq
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Posts: 8097
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 1 of 209 (657424)
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


It has been suggested that the title "Atheist" has a negative connotation, so much so that we need to come up with a new name to describe those that do not have a positive belief in any gods.

So, what should it be, or is Atheist just fine?

Some suggest using the term Heathen. IMHO, this has even more baggage than Atheist, although the term has fallen out of common usage.

Another possibility is Brights. Although this isn't strictly Atheism, it does come very close. The Brights Movement is defined as

quote:
1. Promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements.
2. Gain public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance.
3. Educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such people.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brights_movement

There is more than just a lack of belief tied to the Brights, but it comes very close.

We could also come up with our own term and see if it increases in usage. I, for one, would lean towards "Normals". It's a bit snarky, but then aren't we atheists all a bit snarky? What about Neo-Atheist?

What do you guys think?


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Message 2 of 209 (657512)
03-29-2012 9:03 AM


Thread Moved from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

    
Percy
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Message 3 of 209 (657513)
03-29-2012 9:08 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


Suggestions:

  • unbeliever
  • areligiousist (areligious is fine, but areligiousist is unpronounceable and must be rejected on those grounds)
  • doubter
  • faithless
  • seeker
  • questioner
  • skeptic

Is "bright" really any better than "we're better than you"?

--Percy


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Heathen
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Posts: 1062
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 4 of 209 (657514)
03-29-2012 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


"Godless"?

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Stile
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Posts: 3847
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
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(2)
Message 5 of 209 (657516)
03-29-2012 9:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


...is still an Atheist
I think Atheist works just fine.

From the other thread, this was one of the reasons for switching to "Heathen":

quote:
we should look to other groups who have reclaimed mocking nicknames, such as gays, Methodists and Quakers

...which doesn't really jive with the other reason which was "because the term 'Atheist' comes with negative connotations."

So, they want to change the name because it comes with some negatives to another name which used to come with some negatives so that they can "reclaim" a word and turn a negative into a positive?

Sounds like they have all they require to do that exact same thing with the original "Atheist" term.
To me, the whole thing just sounds like that guy at work that makes stuff up so that it looks like he's busy and important.


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nwr
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Posts: 5586
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


(1)
Message 6 of 209 (657520)
03-29-2012 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


I never did like "brights". It comes across as arrogant.

I tend to describe myself as non-religious; "irreligious" seems a bit too strong.


Jesus was a liberal hippie

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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 7 of 209 (657522)
03-29-2012 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


I'm a Heathen!!
"Brights" just seems arrogant. But I quite like "heathen" as a term to describe subset of atheists who are actually challenging religious doctrines and promoting evidence based inquiry rather than just passively not believing in gods.

I'd be happy to be called a "heathen" in that sense.


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Heathen
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Posts: 1062
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 8 of 209 (657526)
03-29-2012 9:50 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Stile
03-29-2012 9:17 AM


Re: ...is still an Atheist
Sounds like they have all they require to do that exact same thing with the original "Atheist" term.

I guess the notion that "heathen" has been out of common use for a while, allows for easier re-definition. i.e. any connotations it may have/have had are not so fresh in the psyche.

Because atheist is still very much in use and has the supposed connotations freshly in tow, any use of it carries those connotations.


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Heathen
Member
Posts: 1062
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 9 of 209 (657528)
03-29-2012 9:51 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Straggler
03-29-2012 9:31 AM


Re: I'm a Heathen!!
"Brights" just seems arrogant

it does have kind of a "we know best" feel to it like whoever is saying it is looking down their nose as they say it.

Reminds me of the south park episode where all the Prius drivers love the smell of their own farts...


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1.61803
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From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


(1)
Message 10 of 209 (657531)
03-29-2012 10:09 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Straggler
03-29-2012 9:31 AM


Re: I'm a Heathen!!

This message is a reply to:
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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 11 of 209 (657534)
03-29-2012 10:16 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Heathen
03-29-2012 9:51 AM


Re: I'm a Heathen!!
I do know best. I am looking down my nose. I do like the smell of my own farts.

But I still quite like the term "heathen".


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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 2199 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


(1)
Message 12 of 209 (657538)
03-29-2012 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by 1.61803
03-29-2012 10:09 AM


Sam Harris' take...
This is one of my favorite videos of Sam Harris.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KG5s_-Khvg&feature=related

The second half is about Harris' particular weirdness but the FIRST part is a really good argument IMO about the "atheism" label. He starts at 4 mins and the relevant argument ends at about 24 mins.

Here is a good quote at 21:45

"Why should we stand obediently in the space provided? Why should we stand in the space carved out by the conceptual scheme of theistic religion. Its as though our opponents, before any debate, have drawn a chalk outline of a dead man on the side walk and we just walk up an lie down in it.

Instead of doing this, think about what would happen if we simply use works like reason and evidence. What is the argument against reason?"

I am increasingly accepting the term atheist for myself because I think Harris' argument is not practical. But it is worth talking about.

Its a good video, well worth watching the whole thing.

ABE: Sorry 1.61803 meant to reply to post 1.

Edited by Jazzns, : No reason given.


BUT if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born --a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun; that pour down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to, us? Can our gross feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator? --Thomas Paine

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subbie
Member (Idle past 32 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


(5)
Message 13 of 209 (657544)
03-29-2012 10:44 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Taq
03-28-2012 12:46 PM


Rebranding is a pointless exercise. The problem isn't the term. The problem is that so many people have a bad opinion of the people the label refers to. And changing the label won't change that.

Faggot. Queer. Homo. It doesn't matter if we change the name. As long as the hatred is there, the new name will just take on the bad connotation. Rebranding is such a gay idea.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

Howling about evidence is a conversation stopper, and it never stops to think if the claim could possibly be true -- foreveryoung


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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 209 (657550)
03-29-2012 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Stile
03-29-2012 9:17 AM


Re: ...is still an Atheist
I think Atheist works just fine.

Carl Sagan would disagree:

quote:
An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.
Pulled from the wiki page on him

"By some definitions..."

Sometimes, you'll see people trying to narrow the definition of atheism. Like Rahvin did in Message 27:

quote:
"Atheist" simply means "no belief in god(s)." That's it.

But if you look at the wiki page on atheism, you'll find that it can mean a lot more than just that.


quote:
A diagram showing the relationship between the definitions of weak/strong and implicit/explicit atheism. Explicit strong/positive/hard atheists (in purple on the right) assert that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement. Explicit weak/negative/soft atheists (in blue on the right) reject or eschew belief that any deities exist without actually asserting that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement. Implicit weak/negative atheists (in blue on the left) would include people (such as young children and some agnostics) who do not believe in a deity, but have not explicitly rejected such belief. (Sizes in the diagram are not meant to indicate relative sizes within a population.)

So, as you noticed:

they want to change the name because it comes with some negatives to another name which used to come with some negatives so that they can "reclaim" a word and turn a negative into a positive?

Sounds like they have all they require to do that exact same thing with the original "Atheist" term.

You're right. Today's non-believers are already reclaiming the word(s) atheist/atheism. One of the negatives of the strong atheism position, is the irrationality of comming to a gnostic position that god does not exist (as Carl pointed out). So its not just negative connotations with the word, its also negative aspects of the position that need to be "de-claimed".

I think the man-in-the-street associates the word atheist with the more gnostic position. I've been talking with people in person and had a guy chime in with "Oh, well I'm an atheist"... to which the others reply with disbelief: "How could you know that god doesn't exist", and then he goes: "Oh... No, I don't know that he doesn't, I just lack the belief that he does" *trollface* Its a "gotcha" moment, but the others just roll their eyes.

I think that adds to some of the appeal of using the word atheist in particular; being a smart-ass and playing gotcha with people (in the off-line community) On the other hand, in the online community, its becomming much more popular these days to don the atheist label and just be plain old mean to religious people. Just take a look at some christian videos on youtube for some quality examples.

I find the agnostic atheists to be a much better group of people. I think the other groups of atheists are gonna smear your reputation a bit, so it might be a good idea to find another word. Be it via reclaim or whatever.

The word "heathen" isn't doing it for me, it implies more than just not believing in gods. I think the simple "non-believer" works well.


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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 209 (657553)
03-29-2012 10:59 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by subbie
03-29-2012 10:44 AM


The problem is that so many people have a bad opinion of the people the label refers to.

And part of that problem is that there are plenty of jerks running around waving the atheist label and making the more palatable of the bunch look bad.


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