October 5, 2003

Witty Title Using Stupid Name

A group is pushing for the widespread use of a name for people who hold a non-religious worldview.

The widely respected philosopher Daniel Dennett and a number of others this past summer pushed for the adoption of a new term to signify someone who holds a naturalistic (as opposed to a religious) worldview. Dennett defended the need for such a term by noting that a 2002 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that approximately 25 million Americans are atheist, agnostics, or (the largest category) have no religious preference.

I’m all for it, but please don’t call me a “Bright.” We don’t conflate Christians with Catholics, or Jews with Muslims, so I see no reason why we are obligated to conveniently conflate atheists, agnostics and no-preference persons. Giving one name to a group of groups that have little in common (aside from the fact that all reject conventional religion) doesn’t go far enough. I think it is our duty to educate ourselves about the core beliefs of these three different groups, and simply lumping them under one gross heading does not facilitate understanding.

There is a huge difference between an atheist and an agnostic, and anyone who claims that they’re all the same because they don’t believe in religion needs to be thwacked upside the head. We don’t tolerate that sort of behavior in regards to race or economic status, and there’s no reason it should be tolerated in regards to naturalism.

Why is everyone so set on labeling people? How about just not having a name for not believing in anything. It is that simple!
>>Where do you go to church?
I don’t!
>>Don’t you believe in God?
I don’t believe in anything!
>>So you are an atheist?
No, I don’t believe in anything.
>>Are you agnostic?
I’m invisable! I put up war with you!