One of the raging debates in the atheosphere, not to mention the rest of the reality based community, is what atheists should call themselves. One might say “Well, duh! Atheists!” However for a number of reasons that has become more and more unsatisfactory.
First, there is the baggage, unjustified, but nevertheless there, that seems to tag along with the term. Negative connotations abound, from the fact that various mass murderers in history self-described as atheists, to the general feeling, again unjustified, that atheism is equated with immorality. Usually, it’s religious people who think the latter, due to the indoctrinations of their various cults, (I’m looking at you, Christians) and even if the sentiment is not rationally supported, it’s there. A stigma attaches to the word, and it’s hard to shake.
Second the term itself is simply the negation of the word theism, which by itself presumes and gives validity to the root word. As some of us have been discussing here, the term implies a lack of something that atheists feel no lack of. We are not missing theism, because theism is actually a virus that has attached to humanity that we have simply and successfully inoculated ourselves against. We’re deficient in theism only in the same sense that we are deficient in cancer.
Attempts have been made to find another term, the most well known being advanced by the Bright campaign. However, that term just hasn’t caught on, I think, because of its condescending implication that those who are not bright are, well, dim. It’s well meaning, yet ultimately falls a bit short of the mark of attempting to have the world accept and embrace a term for atheists as it did for gays.
making we atheists, faithfreeists, who regularly discuss their freedom from faith in the Faithfreeosphere. The pronunciation is with emphasis on the first syllable so that it rhymes and sounds like atheism. Thusly:
FAYTH ′ free izm
It has the advantage of being self-explanatory and self-defining. It’s not the negative of a positive worldview, it’s simply a statement that the proponent is free of faith, and instead uses logic, reason and critical thinking to structure his/her life. Initially, it doesn’t slip off the tongue as readily as atheism, since one has to get one’s tongue around those two “f”s in one word, but with a little practice, it works quite well.
I like the word. I like it enough to blog about it, and try to get it out there into the faithfreeosphere, and better yet, into the MSM (Main Stream Media).
I think others should do so too. Pass it along.