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The Sunday Planet - So You're an Atheist - April 3, 2016

So you're an Atheist

Good news! You've decided not to be wasting oxygen whining to your invisible friend all day. The earth would shout hallelujah if it was able. You've decided that living your life according to myth has some very bad consequences and that you'd rather take a pro-human stance in living. Congratulations.

There are many non-believers whose daily thoughts never center on religion. In fact, I would bet that most atheists would never think about the subject if it wasn't for the minority that would like to control our lives based on their imaginary friend. Many of us now did not grow up with prayers and church. Many of us never bowed our heads to anyone or anything, except possibly for parents while they were correcting our bad behavior. We do not bow our heads to nothingness, we do not raise our hands to touch the glory of nothing. We live here and now and are proud to do so. 

Yet, is there some delight in standing for nothing? This conversation comes up every so often on this site and others. People get indignant about definitions and labels, but we are something as opposed to nothing. Atheism is just the acknowledgment that there are no gods, nothing more. It is not negative "belief" since using that term signifies that belief means something when it pertains to the unknowable, and at best, that is a slightly awkward stance to take.   

In everyday conversation, is it not difficult to only maintain what we are not, instead of what we are? If we only concentrated on what we are not, we would never make any inroads towards a society that fears the reality of life and death. Many of us decided we'd had enough of religion's encroachment into civil society, we attacked, and still do, the weak premise of the supernatural with logic, with critical thinking, with common sense. How that translates to a society that is seemingly becoming more uneducated every year is a mystery. If they do not share our desire to look at the world and see what it is, then what we say becomes increasingly important when it comes to society accepting non-believers.

Many dislike the term atheism. They believe that it stands for nothing, that it only says what we are not. We are not believers. It is true that people may not understand the nuances of the term. Saying we don't believe in myth also means we believe in this world and only this world, but people do not understand that. I think that by using the term atheist without longwinded explanations does not help us.

I've come to use the term secular humanist. It may not explain everything we really are, but when it comes to understanding it may help. Many believers - those who are not fundamentalists - can be and are humanists. They can understand the desire to be concerned about our fellow man, about the world we live in, about poverty and disease, about what makes us all the same. It is a term that is understood to stand for something. It is something that can be shared with our religious friends that they can grab onto, something that will resonate with their worldview.

We should be able to join hands with those who promote the same values that we hold, regardless of belief our lack of. To integrate into society, at least, American society, we need to make sure people know who we are, not what we are not. We should be an example of how humans can be full of grace, without needing a flawed deity to direct us. In fact, we should be better because we understand the harm that thoughtless belief and subjugation can, and does, bring to the world. 

Tell us, who are you?

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Loren. I'm down with the term Atheist as well

Thanks, Loren.

To understand "I'm down with", I can start with a statement such "I agree with...." and add adverbs such as "strongly" or even warnings such as "Get the hell off my property or you will soon want to get the hell off my property!"

I understand.

This is a excellent comment. One with which I completely agree. Thank you, Loren. I've always been disgusted by my fellow atheists who feel obligated to sugar coat their atheism and go out of their way to not offend theists by proudly proclaiming our atheism. We should know by now that theists will often go FAR out of their way to BE offended. It makes them feel Jesus-like and persecuted.

Although I've already stated, using the term atheist doesn't bother me, it doesn't bother me being a secular humanist either. I think that is even more in your face, "I don't believe in god, and am good without the freaky bastard. 

Wow !@  Never heard of 4 J.W.s going around together.  Usually just 1 or 2.  For years I kept 'non-tracts' handy for anyone peddling religion. 

I live in a building with a intercom system and when JWs try and get in, usually nobody opens the door to them.. That is until a family of JWs moved in, now we get them monthly and they are let in by that family. Sneaky or what. 

Not certain here, but that MAY constitute a form of harassment which may be actionable, especially since the JWs who live in the building are collaborating with those doing the visits.  I'd have a long talk with your superintendent about that, at minimum.

I did ask them about it, and being good religious people they said they didn't let them in. Mmm should I believe them.

"I hope you didn't let them in, because the next time I'm confronted with Jehovah's Witnesses at my door, my next phone call will be to the police to file a formal complaint against the local Kingdom Hall."

A "No Solicitations" sign on your door might be advised as well, though it wouldn't surprise me if the JWs ignored it.

I found that if you politely ask them to leave and not bother you again they will graciously do so.

I posted the following previously. It applies to this topic.

Stephen, you might try answering the door naked with a can of beer in your hand - that has always worked for me.

With my body that would be too much of a shock. I just couldn't inflict that on my worst enemy.

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