I recently heard a discussion on christian radio about a person calling him or herself and atheist. The gist is that to call yourself what is essentially a negative, discounts your ethos. People in sobriety do not call themselves "non-drunks" but the more positive and self-affirming "sober". So, the question is, what do you call yourself and why? Personally, I refer to myself as an Evangelical Atheist because I am actively expressing my position and am always willing to join a religious conversation to expound the Atheist point of view. My wife, on the other hand, prefers nontheist. Whether there is a god or not, she could hardly care less and gives neither side any thought.

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I personally think labels suck and only serve to pigeonhole people for quick identification.

But with that said, I think "skeptic" most accurately describes my outlook.

Atheist, plain and simple: no god, the universe is awesome.  I am happy and comfortable with who and what I am.   This argument implies that Atheist is a negative entity, this is true for god-lovers, but it’s a positive to me.  The same can be applied to any group; there will always be another group that associates another with a negative mark.  I understand the point the discussion was trying to make but in a way that’s forcing yourself to explain your actions and sugar coat it for people.  I am happy with myself and calling myself an Atheist, yes that will get me lots of ridicule and stink eye from theists, but honestly, frack them, the only person who really matters in the end is yourself (after all, who's voice and thoughts do you hear 24/7/365?).  

Funny how over the years when people say they're a "Christian", I tend to want to cringe and think, "Oh no, not another illiterate, non-thinking, anti-science, fairy tale believing, non-logical, anti-evolution creationist-egg-head!" Christianity has its negative label also, particularly around people who get tired of the religious strife and bullshit that goes on in the world.

It really is, I can’t help but feel the same way.  A label is a label is a label.  It really doesn’t matter what label a person uses, once they open their mouth the truth comes out anyway and what they really believe will come out.  I know we shouldn’t, but everybody judges a book by its cover to some degree.  Once someone says: "I'm a (Insert group, religious or not)" some opinion ends up flashing in your head, even if you ignore it, it’s still there.  If I can scare away a theist by telling them I’m Atheist, woot! Only thing is that fact tends to draw the witnessing factor at times as well... a double edged sword names are.


Richard Raymond - Excellent reply, my thoughts exactly! 


Either Atheist or Non-Believer.

I choose Non-Believer at times when I want to be sure that the door is left open. When you say Atheist, connotations are drawn up and arguments are being laid in their head before the next word leaves your mouth. If I want to say anything of impact, sometimes, scratch that. Often, the path of least resistance will get your further and then you can later use the more correct term. If I assume that the conversation is going to be benign, I just flat out say Atheist. 

Atheist is only negative if you take the viewpoint that Religious is positive.Religious people are actually non-rationals, or non-skeptics, or theist. All those terms are much more negative to me.


I tell people proudly im an atheist and am overwhelmed by pity when someone tells me they are religious.

I hate to admit it, but I had never given this any thought. You're absolutely right. The mere statement that Atheist is a negative is implicit that religious is a positive. (I hate those "so obvious you cant see them" things.)

Darrell, do you mean that we are defining ourselves by what we are not (believing/doing/affiliated with) rather than what we are (believing/doing/affiliated with)?


Perhaps they're looking for a world view, the name of a system of ethics, or system of thought?  that it is not enough to call oneself an atheist or skeptic would be like saying it is not enough to call oneself a scientist or a philosopher, instead you would have to identify yourself by which school of thought or theories you agree with...


I don't interpret atheist as "not theist", but rather "no god/s".  To my way of thinking being misinterpreted or misunderstood is reduced as I claim to be "anti-theist".  I want no one to doubt where I stand on issues of theism.  

I prefer the term FreeThinker.  I find that this is a positive affirmation of my position in freeing myself from the prison of religion.  I will however defend those who call themselves atheists and claim the title if I or they are attacked for their position.


Atheist really means the same as nontheist and doesn't imply the term anti-theist.  I try to separate the person from the ideology meaning that I accept the person and not the ideology that they claim. I realize that a good person is not dependent on their religious ideas and judge them according to their actions rather than their dogma.


As to taking an evangelical position, I prefer to let reason, science and logic guide my conversations with those who don't agree with me rather than adopt a confrontational approach.  There may come a point in the conversation that is vitiated by hardened opinions about religion in which case, if the conversation breaks down, I opt out.  Steven Pinker and others have shown that religion can change the brain, fixing it (idee fixe) so that a legitimate exchange is impossible.  When this occurs, I content myself with working with those on the same page with me to separate church and state, share similar reading, and turn the discussion toward other subjects with those entrenched in their dogma.

I prefer to live and let live until provoked but it is not uncommon to hear me say, "oh no, let ME tell YOU about jesus."


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