Should we stop calling ourselves atheists?
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11-08-2014, 10:31 AM (This post was last modified: 11-08-2014 11:32 PM by Imaginenoregurgitation.)
Should we stop calling ourselves atheists?
I just finished watching a video in which Sam Harris gives a talk on what he thinks are liabilities in calling ourselves atheists. The video is called Sam Harris on the "dangers" of "atheism" If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. One of the points he made is that there is no equivalent label for someone who isn't racist, or who doesn't believe in astrology, so why should there be one for someone who isn't religious? You don't hear people going around self identifying as "non-racists", or "a-astrologists". At about the 22 minute mark in the video, he says something which I thought was very intriguing. Instead of calling ourselves atheists, what would happen if we simply used words like 'reason' and 'evidence'? The religious have no problem calling themselves enemies of atheism, but how many would be comfortable calling themselves enemies of reason?

What do you think? Should we dispense with the title? Is it even realistic at this point to do so?
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11-08-2014, 10:50 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
I've watched this video. I think Harris makes a good point. It makes sense.

But, not all atheists are reasonable, and not all atheists are basing their atheism on evidence.

So, if we decide to call ourselves something other than atheists, then each person would need to pick a word that describes himself accurately. Me, I might pick skeptic. But many other atheists would certainly pick other descriptions.

Maybe that would still be OK. Who cares what we call ourselves? But, websites like this one, and the various books, conventions, etc., that are aimed at the atheist target market, would still want a single, catch-all word to get the attention of the correct market.

I think even Sam Harris would agree; he'll sell more books to atheists than he would to reasonists.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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11-08-2014, 10:51 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
No, No, No! That would make it appear that you want to impress the Gaytheists (happytheists) by confusing them about who you really are.
That's like going incognito on their ass to avoid getting burned at the stake.

Not cool!

Be proud of who you are and don't try to hide behind false titles Thumbsup

That is a disgrace to every Atheist in your country Big Grin
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11-08-2014, 11:05 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
Skeptic, rationalist, humanist, secularist... All perfectly good alternatives.

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11-08-2014, 11:05 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
I like the term "Critical Thinker", but I prefer Atheist because it already has a long held definition with the public, even if that definition gets misconstrued at times. People immediately know that I'm not religious and that I don't hold a belief in god. They may also have any number of other things associated with the word.

But if I followed Sam's example, I would change my label to Critical Thinker.
If a theist disagreed with me, I could simply say. I understand that you disagree with critical thinking and want to believe in things that don't exist. I want to believe that there is a million dollars in the trunk of my car, but using critical thinking and the requirement for evidence, I can show that I don't have a million dollars in my car. You, on the other hand might go on believing that I do for a very long time and that's sad. I wish you could think critically like I do, but faith has you locked in a cage. When you want the key, you can find it in the trunk of my car.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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11-08-2014, 11:09 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
No no no!
A lot of Christians call themselves Critical Thinkers. (Not bashing you because you prefer Atheist)

I bet there are people that when asked about their Religious beliefs they say critical thinker as if Atheist isn't politically correct.

Atheist is such an offensive word to them lol.

Be blunt! If you say Atheist they know EXACTLY what you mean.
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11-08-2014, 11:13 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
I have no problem calling myself Atheist. It's what I am. If that offends someone thats not my problem. I can understand the reasoning behind what Harris said (I've seen the video before) But there are a lot of words that lots of groups have "reclaimed" to a positive place. Be a good person. Be a good atheist, show people they are wrong to think what they do.
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11-08-2014, 11:15 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
Some people, you tell them you're an atheist and they give you this horrified look like you said "I rape Chickens"! Laugh out load
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11-08-2014, 11:16 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
(11-08-2014 11:09 AM)Wicked Clown Wrote:  No no no!
A lot of Christians call themselves Critical Thinkers. (Not bashing you because you prefer Atheist)

I bet there are people that when asked about their Religious beliefs they say critical thinker as if Atheist isn't politically correct.

Atheist is such an offensive word to them lol.

Be blunt! If you say Atheist they know EXACTLY what you mean.

Actually they generally don't know what we mean. Most of them have a very warped definition of Atheist. Don't get me wrong I'm in the camp that fully believes that the word should be used, should be used often, and should be used with a degree of pride.

I like the baggage that comes with the word, cause I like shaking the flock by the scruff of their neck.
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11-08-2014, 11:20 AM
RE: Should we stop calling ourselves athiests?
Although Sam Harris makes a good point he is forgetting that these terms come about because of an existing imbalance in society. Feminism may be about gender equality, but the word and the movement came about because of a lack of women's rights.

We're all born naked and all other animals are naked, but naturism / nudism came about because the majority of people would be too embarrassed to ever be seen naked. If this wasn't so and nudity was as common-place as wearing clothes then no one would ever call themselves a naturist or nudist.

And so it is with religious belief. Most people in the world believe in the existence of a god or gods. Atheism is a counter-balance to this and makes its position clearer than 'critical thinker' (much as I like the term). Although with the collapse of organised religion maybe it should be replaced with a-wooist.

The advantage of calling yourself a critical thinker though is that you are implicitely suggesting that the other person is gullible. For example:

"Do you believe in God?"
"No, I'm a critical thinker"
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