I am not ashamed of being an atheist. I'm ok w/being rational. But I had a discussion with my sister in law today regarding having been Roman Catholic. We both come from Catholic families -- she is SBNR (spiritual but not religious, a point of view that I find to be namby-pamby), and I am an atheist. I caught myself candy-coating my point of view. I said that I was extremely agnostic. And as I was saying it, I was thinking, "WTF? Atheist!". Now, to a degree, I didn't want to offend her. And to a degree, I didn't want to get into a discussion, muchless an argument, about it. But I do feel cowardly. 
Any body else been here? 

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But I guess that this is why I like labels like "skeptic," "freethinker," and "humanist" more than just "atheist".... at least those labels can provide a logical framework within which to work.

Agreed. I shy away from most labels, including the humanist one. As you will undoubtedly agree, labels can not capture the sum of one's opinions, thought processes, beliefs, et cetera. I have no idea all that entails being a humanist, therefore I won't use it. Atheist is simple and accurate, but says nothing on the positive side. Skeptic does say more, but it isn't something that is dogmatically defined. It more describes a process of thinking than a belief or an opinion, which is probably why I am happy to identify as a Skeptic.
I have no idea all that entails being a humanist, therefore I won't use it.

This is the problem that I keep running up against in trying to choose a positive--or active--label! At this point, I'm just ready to abandon all labels and start rambling the minute someone asks me what I think, lol.

Wait...I do that already.
This is thread is getting very interesting. *Lurks around*
Quit sitting there poolside and jump in!
What is funny is there is not much, if anything, I disagree with there. But for some reason I can't bring myself to use the label. I don't mind saying that I agree with Humanistic values, but I feel uncomfortable saying "I am a Humanist". Not really sure why.
I do agree with most of that description for humanism; where is it from?

I guess my reservation with the label humanism come from being introduced to it via the study of Thomas More; I wrote a term paper on Utopia last year which involved an extended biographical sketch of the author, including his philosophical alliance with the Dutch humanist Erasmus. I guess I just associate humanism--probably erroneously--with More and his decidedly inhumane massacre of heretics in Tudor England. I know that his persecution of Protestants was not necessarily driven or condoned by his humanism, but I still have misgivings at sharing a label with such a brutal legacy.

I'll have to research it more; I know that it is unfair to apply historical context to modern labels. Am I projecting Catholic humanism from the Renaissance onto a modern secular movement? Does this modern secular humanism ultimately have roots in past Catholic humanism?
I think part of the reason I've never been willing to apply the term humanism to myself is that I'm not very comfortable applying labels that can't be distilled down to about single sentence. I think this is because the more complicated a worldview gets the more afraid I am that I don't really know what it means or that I missed something.... if you understand what I mean.
Bingo, Becca! I think you just articulated the main reason why I am uncomfortable with it, too.

Also, there can be something akin to Nationalism tied into some labels like that that makes me uncomfortable.
Let me try to refine what I mean. When I mentioned Nationalism, what I mean is that subscribing to the label Humanist evokes similar feelings of caution and alarm as does subscribing to Nationalism. The reason being is that, like Becca, I do not like having so many nuanced and complicated matters being packaged in sweeping statements, labeled, and then offered as my opinions on them.

In some cases, I may not have given sufficient thought on a certain topic to say that I am in line with Humanists. But, by claiming the label, I am in effect endorsing a position I may not necessarily agree with. I could become an a la carte Humanist, much like how Christians tend to pick and choose, but we don't respect that in Christians and expect them to accept all the good and bad that their self proclaimed label comes with.

I guess simple labels, again like Becca mentions, work best because they are precise and specific. This is also what I like about science and how it operates, too.

If people want to know my thoughts on a particular subject, they can ask. How to decide to support movements or groups that may agree with my values and opinions and can affect change politically and socially is all the more daunting because of my apprehension of aligning myself intimately with Humanists, Democrats, or other groups that tackle a broad range of topics.


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