Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"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:

  1. 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!"

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.



At 4/06/2006 04:16:00 AM, Blogger thinkanythingonce said...

Isn't this the whole point of the Brights movement?

At 4/06/2006 06:35:00 AM, Blogger David said...

I don't know anything about the "brights" movement.

I've heard of it and I think they are atheists but it sounds ridiculous and doesn't satisfy many of the points above. For example, is it well known and clearly understood? Obviously not. Is it a positive word? Nope. Does it differentiate between people who claim to be non-religious but believe in reincarnation? Nope. And most important of all, does it put the religious smut peddler in the position of having to explain why he is not a "bright"? Not in the least.

I don't consider the "bright" movement even worth the time to investigate.

At 5/05/2006 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Rusko Elvenwood said...

Your right about the negative 'baggage' that comes with the term. I had to laugh out loud at the ignorance of a group of christians oneday. When I told them that I was atheist, they said, "You worship the devil?". I used to call myself agnostic to avoid that kind of conotation, but I've recently been corrected. Agnostic is without knowledge and Atheist is without belief, so you can be both at the same time. The ones who really scare me are people who claim to be gnostic theists!

At 6/03/2006 10:59:00 PM, Blogger devineallthetime said...

Why dont you just look them strait in the eye and say "I dont believe in God". I'm a Christian. If you said that to me, I wouldnt change my expression, or body language a bit. Im not surprized that in this world, people verbaly state whats on their heart. I appoligize on behalf of other believers for such harsh reactions to your views. The truth is, we are all born not knowing God. Even when we are educated, we still have a choice to make. So many believers forget "we are saved by His grace". How could I ever look down upon you, or any of your atheist friends as though I am better? Hey man, I'll pray for you, and PLEASE keep seeking truth.

At 6/04/2006 11:35:00 AM, Blogger David said...

defineallthetime, you made a couple of interesting points worth responding to:

1) "... we are all born not knowing God."

This is true. We are all born atheist!!! Atheist means an absence of belief in gods. Since a newborn has not yet learned to believe in gods - the newborn is atheist.

2) "How could I ever look down upon you, or any of your atheist friends ..."?

Are you not aware that the bible says you should NOT associate with nonbelievers? I suppose you're also not aware that the bible says if people in another city serve other gods - you are to kill everyone in the city and burn the city to the ground. (Deuteronomy 13:12-16) Perhaps you are aware of the vitriolic evil espoused by the bible but you simply choose to put blinders on and believe in just the parts of the bible that appeal to you.

Anyway, I just wanted to quickly point out a few of the inconsistencies in your comment that jump out brashly but might go unnoticed by someone unfamiliar with your particular superstition. They are just too absurd to let pass.

But, the real point it this - christianity as well as all other religions are nothing more than silly superstitions. The only difference between christiantiy and islam versus astrology and scientology is that christianity and islam have more followers. The difference is simply in the number of followers.

So, devineallthetime, would you care to enlighten us all by explaining how your particular superstition of choice, christianity, is any different from astrology and scientology and voodoo and all the other superstitions???

At 9/07/2006 02:15:00 PM, Anonymous Deepak said...

Hi David,
Got to your site while browsing.
You are great! You are doing a lot for the evolution of Humans. I think all of those who believe in unverifiable things and who are superstitious belong to a sub Human species.
The word faith is an archaic word used by those who cannot prove their point. I am also working with an organization called
Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith our web site is www. antisuperstition .org. Please do visit our site and let us network for ridding this planet of backward thinking superstitious people who have caused a great loss in the development- evolution of the Human species.

At 9/29/2006 02:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to sound negative or anything, but since religion's most powerful tools are semantics and hypocrasy, won't they just utilize those tools to defeat the new non-superstitious movement? Back in the day of "Free Thinkers" like America's Founding Fathers, we learned through religion that "Free Will" was granted by God and therefor Free Thinkers were anything but. Anything atheists call themselves will quickly become negative. Perhaps a two pronged approach. Redefine faith as belief without reason to make it sound really bad. That'll show them!


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