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?
I never feel negative about calling myself atheist, short & to the point.
I live in a small city where I have run across many who call themselves atheist too, although I'm not the one who brings up the topic.
I lived my day to day life never thinking of religion after I left moronism. Then my daughter married the religious nutto & became one herself, which makes me think of it now every time I think of her. To keep things civil between us, the topic has to stay closed.
We know their stance, they very well know ours, & it will never meet.
Here an atheist is at the bottom of the ladder. We are the least liked group in the U.S. Although I do not have a real problem with the term, it is as Don says, "skunked."
The question is still, does atheism as a term express any positive thoughts? When proselytizers show up at my door, the simple quick statement is to say I'm an atheist. They always seem confused, and quickly leave. I've made no connection with them, no understanding.
To stay apart from society doesn't do anything if one wishes to join; not that many atheists have a need for others. We are very individualistic. Yet without joining society the skunked moniker will stigmatize us, we will always be separate. Join and conquer eh? =)
Teasing somewhat, but we cannot change people's thoughts about who we are unless they understand there are shared goals, shared thoughts, and dreams, shared humanity, that we all share.
I guess the waiting game is working, we can stay aloof and wait for others to join us, but I think that road would be troublesome.
I, for one, have never fitted in anywhere, church, school, the work force, none, so am very comfortable with my own company. My husband is also a loner.
Every time we, or I, have tried to socialize with others, it never works for long. The friend list is short, & we like it that way.....no groups.
As for door knockers, I just admit atheism, & tell them to look it up, they might learn something, & shut the door.
Lolz! Yep, that works. And you are not alone, many atheists feel the same.
Yes, we can be alone without loneliness. I have my cats, my music, my books, my pc, & my husband has our mutual cats, his yard work, gardening, model trains, & mini helicopters, None of which tries to change us.
Do you live in a particularly inhospitable part of the world with respect to atheists and atheism? That is, is the the fact that a person never attends a church or mentions prayer or piety a notable attribute?
Here in northern Vermont, I've found most theists quite accepting (to the extent that they care at all) of the atheists in the communities (schools, workplaces, town meetings, and so on) we share. Vermont, of course, is the least religious state in the country, and Vermonters are famously part of a well-established, live-and-let-live culture. That makes a difference. We have many friends and plenty of involvement in local community organizations. Religion (one's beliefs) rarely come up. They're just not a big deal. We have a non-believing senator (Sanders), for example, and no one seems to mind at all.
I am in small town Canada, & religion doesn't seem to be much of a factor here.
Implicit and explicit atheism
There was a time when I was young I didn't put much thought into my disbelief, but as I got older it became a conscious rejection in the existence of a deity.
Picture from Wikipedia
SECULAR HUMANIST SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT FOR ME. OR JUST NON-RELIGIOUS.
Many people tried the term Bright's but it just never took hold. I think we're stuck with Atheist.
"Brights" was presumptuous and precious--and implicitly insulting to believers. It was never going to fly.