"Not Superstitious" is a better way to say Atheist
The word atheist has a lot of negative baggage and generally comes across in a negative way in spite of the fact that everyone is born atheist (a newborn can't possibly believe in any gods and therefore is atheist by definition).
A better way for the atheist to answer when asked if he is a "believer" is this:
I'm not superstitious. I don't believe in tarot cards, voodoo, astrology, psychic powers or religion.
This has many benefits over the word atheist as follows:
- Being not-superstitious is a positive thing. Would anybody distrust a non-superstitious person? Would anybody say, "oh, that's terrible! you should be more superstitious!"
- It differentiates between people who say they are not religious yet believe in astrology, voodoo, reincarnation or any of the other superstitions that are just as silly (though less evil and less dangerous) as religion.
- It puts the religious person in the position of trying to explain why his religion is any different than other superstitions. That might actually cause some of them to start thinking.
- Since religion is no different from any other superstition, there can be no rational, objective explanation of how religion is not superstition and the religious smut peddlers will be embarassed and religious institutions will begin to look silly instead of occupying an unearned exalted position in our society.
- The word "superstition" is well known and well understood. It needs no further explanation and instantly and accurately belittles religion as silly nonsense but without sounding too negative.
- This is a crystal clear and absolutely true characterization of religion.
If all atheists start calling themselves "not superstitious", religion will come to be associated with other superstitions like astrology, fortune tellers, voodoo and other such nonsense just as it should be. It will be knocked off its lofty, respected perch which it didn't earn and doesn't deserve. This little thing just might reduce the level of religious fanaticism in the world and make the world a safer place for all of us. Let's get started before it's too late!
I just read a post at: Atheist Revolution that made me realize I was unclear in what I'm advocating here. I'm not trying to say we should do away with the word "atheist", it's a good word that simply means without theism. Hopefully someday, after we rid the world of insidious superstition, it will come to have a positive connotation in the public at large as it deserves. And in any technical conversation, such as when newscasters are talking about the various religions of political candidate, atheist is the correct and proper technical description of an atheist. But I think that when a stranger on the street asks you your religion, "not superstitious" would be a better answer than atheist. And when presidential candidates list their religion in their little bio section on the network news, "not superstitious" would be better than atheist. Why? Because simply answering atheist allows the questioner to shrug and mutter under their breath "oh, he's one of those." But, answering "not superstitious" casts a negative connotation on religion (as it deserves) and forces another question - "is religion just one of many superstitions?"
We, the reality bound, are in a battle with the forces of unreality-based superstition and words play an important role. These two simple little words, "not superstitious", can do a lot to help the side of reason and reality.
Labels: atheist "not superstitious"