Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Trouble with "Atheism"

The trouble with the whole concept of Atheism is that its very name only makes sense in the context of a society where religion is widespread or at least fairly common. Atheism literally means the absence of god or god-concepts. If religion ever went away, what would the word Atheism mean then? Why should people be characterized by their nonacceptance of one particularly absurd, albeit popular proposition, in this case, the existence of a god or gods, from among so many other bits of nonsense they undoubtedly also don't believe?

Perhaps a more positive name would make more sense - a name that would still mean the same thing if there were no religion. Some have proposed other -ism type names, such as secular humanism. I think though that the concept of an -ism suggests an exclusivity, a tribalism or grouping, clique or elite of sorts, when what we really need is a way of thinking that embraces reality and appeals to everyone.