I'm not an atheist. How can you not believe in something that doesn't exist? That's way too convoluted for me.


 This quote by A. Whitney Brown really got me thinking about this again.


What is atheism? Do we really need a special word to describe our lack of belief in something? Why aren't all the people that don't believe in Santa Claus called by a special word? Should we come up with a new word to describe the people that don't believe in flying pigs?



The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society.


If this is true, then we were labeled by our "enemies" but we still use it. What's up with that?


I can see the point of having the term 'antitheism' which is supposed to mean the active opposition to theism, but why do we need the term 'atheism'? Can't we just say something like 'God doesn't exist.' or 'I don't believe in god.'? It sounds cooler when you say 'I'm an atheist.'? I don't get it.


Isn't atheism just advertisement for god? Wouldn't it help more if we just forget about god and live our lives without thinking about it? I'm not saying that we shouldn't take a stand against any harm religion does, but not considering a god wouldn't make it go away faster?


I really need some strong (and founded) opinions on this, as I seem to become more and more confused about it.

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Why should they be called theists then if you have so many words that perfectly describes their state? Irrational, crazy, etc...

Hmm, that is a good point. However, just as civil rights is usually about disempowering the tyranny of the majority, so too does atheism seem (to me) to be about disempowering the tyranny of the theist-majority.

You're using the term wrong. By 'atheist' one means to say that one doesn't believe any god exists. By 'atheist' one doesn't mean to say that one is against religion and religious people and their tyranny. At least if you use the term by it's correct meaning.


You know, I have read a lot of posts here on Think Atheists in which was stated that Atheism is not a doctrine, has no values and no teachings of its own, it doesn't demand anything of those that wear it as a label, but it's seems that a lot of those people think exactly the opposite here, that it actually stands for something more than just the lack of belief in the existance of any god. Well, you're wrong, it doesn't stand for anything more than that!

Well... the term "Christian" was originally coined by the enemies of the followers of Christ who lived in Antioch, yet they now proudly carry the label, so maybe that's not so important. It really is an apt title; we are "without god(s)".


I dunno if we should call ourselves atheist or not, but I personally don't mind. In a world where most people believe in some kind of deity, it quickly relays that I do not believe. Most people identify their entire being with their belief. Since belief is assumed, it seems necessary to have a term that conveys non-belief. No one believes in flying pigs or Santa (not really), and so there doesn't NEED to be a word for people who don't; it's the norm NOT to believe those things.


I have to say, my biggest issue is the way people phrase the statement that they do not believe. Most times, people say "I do not believe IN God". The very structure of the sentence suggests there is a god to be acknowledged and I am rejecting, or not putting my faith in, a being that actually does exist. My opinion is that people should say "I don't believe there are gods" or "I don't believe there is a god". That way, the very idea of a god or gods is dismissed outright.

Sure, 'I don't believe there is a god' is better, I guess 'I don't believe in god' can be interpreted how you say, but only by nitpickers. And saying that you think there are no gods it is way better than saying 'I'm an atheist'. Atheism has a bad connotation and people would understand easier what you actually want to say. Atheists are viewed as very bad, immoral and any other term you can come up with that is opposed to being decent, good, etc.; they are often viewed as worshipers of the devil. At least that's the way people view atheists where I come from. I don't know how things are in other places, but from what I've read people have very misinformed and completely opposite to the truth opinions about atheists and what we really represent. That's why I don't see how using the term 'atheist' really helps. Saying something like 'Hey, you're wrong, uninformed, and you should really do something about that if you want me to acknowledge you from now on. Enough with the bullshit.' would have a greater impact.


I would not have any problems with the term 'atheist' if its meaning would be known by everybody. But if you think you are an atheist as a non believer in god and the others see you an atheist as a devil worshiper, I don't know how that does any good to anybody.

I feel ya. All those negative connotations seem almost impossible to overcome. From a Christian perspective, I actually don't think it would matter what we did or did not call ourselves though. I used to be a Bible Thumper, and the Bible says all people who don't believe are evil, fools, deceived, misguided, etc. It was actually almost a shock for me, when I finally did completely lose my faith, not to suddenly become a murderous, drunken, sex fiend with no morals. For me, the word "atheist" carried no more implications than the term "non-believer".


It was interesting to try to navigate morality after losing my faith. Since I didn't suddenly want to become a criminal, what was more difficult was actually figuring out what things I could finally allow myself to do or think. I was almost stuck in Christiany's standard or morality, and I had to force myself to accept that some things really weren't wrong... even though I'd had it pounded into my skull that it was.


Sooo... yeah, I just don't think that using euphemisms is going to change Christian's view of those who don't believe. That's why I don't worry about the title. I know what they think and why. I never grew up with the idea that atheists were Satan worshipers, just that they must lead sad, meaningless lives. HA!

I'm not an atheist. How can you not believe in something that doesn't exist? That's way too convoluted for me.


Basically what A. Whitney Brown is asserting is a false dichotomy. Brown is saying either you have to believe that something exists or you have to believe that something doesn't exist when in fact the third option of not believing or disbelieving or lacking belief that something exists is entirely possible and people (atheists especially) do it all the time. Austin Cline explains it better then I can.  


If you put it that way, making such a big deal out of atheism makes even less sense. As you say it, you're not rejecting the belief, you're just lacking it, which can be done even involuntarely. Then why all the fuss about it?

The solution is negative atheism which is like negative theism. I cannot say anything about gods in negative theism because everything I could say

1. Pins down gods for falsification

2. is the wrong thing to think about anyway since I need to clean my side of the street by rules (but not rational rules)


I cannot say anything about not gods because tea cups can be in orbit and I cannot with certainty say that is not the case.

i think it's sad that we DO need the word atheism. It's because we are the minority and we actually need the term in order to recognize like minded people. Maybe one day the word wont be necessary.
Maybe one day the word 'theism' won't be necessary, or would become archaic. That's the day we should fight for. And that's the bigger issue. That we still call theists theists and not irrational or simply crazy.

I agree that we need to stop giving it so much attention. Most people who know me know that I do not believe in a god. They know that I don't support a religion,  I for the most part do not label myself as an Atheist. Even though that is what I am, but I am an anti-ismist.

The biggest problem with labeling yourself as anything is that it has strong connections attached to the word. When you hear the term Atheist and you are a believer you have all these programmed images in your head of what it means, Who the person is no longer matters because they have now stuck a label on their head marking them as something that is outside of your boundaries and principals of life.

It is the same way with alot of Atheist and christians though, The minute we hear what religion they belong too is the moment that we stick a label on to their head as being something other than a human? It really is an unfair thing to label someone, and when we label our selves I often think that we have taken our credibility of who and what we are away.

Though the term Atheist has its many uses, I would not have found this site with out it, and it is nice to find people who fall together under the same beliefs, however I have found just as much as we fall together under the same logic as there is not a god, a lot of us differ on what it means to be an atheist and the rules that should apply to us because we carry a label.

I live my life as being a human first. Period, I am here and I have a brain to decide what is right and wrong with.

I do agree with you on the whole by carrying the name and the label we give more credit to this imaginary friend because we are seen as something other than human, we are now seen as a human with a label that differs from many.  Carrying that label can be easy or it can be hard it is up to us just how easy or hard it is..  Great post!

It is the same way with alot of Atheist and christians though, The minute we hear what religion they belong too is the moment that we stick a label on to their head as being something other than a human? It really is an unfair thing to label someone, and when we label our selves I often think that we have taken our credibility of who and what we are away.


It is not the same way at all. When atheists hear that someone is part of a religion, they have many reason to forget everything else and stick a label on to that person, because atheists actually now what they're talking about. We either have been part of a religion for a big part of our lives, or we have informed ourselves by reading the bible and other religious texts, so we do know what we are talking about. Theists have no idea what an atheist is or should be, so they can't really make the difference between us and let's say the devil worshipers. That's the problem. Not the terms. The fact that a term is not being used by everybody with the correct meaning. And it is true. I have now reached a state in which I can't really have any respect for a religious person, no matter who that person is, and for good reasons. That's exactly what I started this topic. We should start seeing religion as a mental disorder (because it's nothing more than that), and start the healing process.


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