A.K.A. Atheist

scarlet_AAtheists go by many names.  Below I list some of the most common terms atheists may use. For each I list their pros and cons.  I tell you how I rate the word with green up arrows or red down arrows.  I also share when I use them if ever: it all depends on what I am trying to accomplish at the moment.

Some of you may not like the term “atheist” or feel you aren’t an atheist by some strict definition.  I use the term to mean all the things below, you may use it as you like.  My use of these has changed over the years.

Please suggests more terms or pros-and-cons and I will edit this table if I agree. Thank you

Terms Atheists use to Describe Themselves:





— good if you are trying to be gentle or want a theist to like you.  Makes you should more humble, open-minded feel.

— some atheists feel that since you can’t have proof of no god, they prefer this term.


↓↓↓ – I never use it

— etymology is too weak:”Do not know” whereas I know many theist claims are wrong. Certainly there is no theist god: all knowing, all powerful, all loving.

— Be strong, stop trying to stay friends with theists at the expense of your intellect and honesty.  Remember, they may think you are going to hell no matter how you try to sweeten it up!


↑↑↑– I use it often: esp with another atheist or with in-your-face theists at times.

— bold, no mincing words. strongly speaks against theism and thus challenges societies to make room for non-believers.

— a long tradition of sharp thinkers rebelling against the superstitions and religious abuse throughout the ages.

— defined by “Not being a Theist”. Who wants to define themselves as NOT being something else? That would be like calling yourself an “a-unicornist” or an “a-fairyist”.

— Can be embraced by those who reject religion for the wrong reasons — who reject any moral restraints on their lives as below:

— Strong Atheists claim that gods CAN NOT exist — wow, pretty strong (though probably right)

— Weak Atheists claim that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of any gods (definitely right)

— Impersonal Deist: Some people don’t believe in Theist (so they are technically A-Theists), but they may entertain impersonal source of the universe, sort of a Deist. don’t believe in a god(s). Some deists may want to call the origin of the universe as the matrix (their god) which is impersonal, not possessing any human qualities, non-interfering, non-interacting.


— sounds nice– positive, not defined by negative notions ↓↓↓ – never use, hate the term

— recently coined failure:this word died out (thank goodness)

— pretentious, snobbish

— a set-up for sarcasm


— Someone who tells the truth, albeit in a dark way ↓↓↓ – never use – I am optimistic and hopeful

— negative image

Free Thinker

— Very positive image

— Not limited to religion

— Directed at the core notion of a method of thinking

↓ – never use

— I contend that none of us are free of superstitious or faulty thinking and thus none of us are “free”

– it hints of a bit of superiority.


— Points to an alternative to spirits. “human” in contrast to “gods”

— values by humans, not by gods

↓↓ – never use

— Many humanists mix their politics with their humanism.  I separate my skepticism from my political insights — I think keeping these separate is essential.– Think humans are the crown of evolution.


— Not religious

— right to the point

↓↓↓ – never use

— sounds immoral



“Enchanted Naturalist”

↑↑– I use it

— Pro-science

— Positive, not defined by negative notions

— respectful of our place in nature

— points to a methodology

— Click here to read about the enchanted version.

— Sounds like you are a biologist or nature loving outdoor person — while you may not be.

— Can be seen as only trusting things you can sense and things you know presently. Doesn’t tell how you’d approach things outside of your view of nature.


↑↑– I use it sometimes

— Avoids the word “Seeker” (see here)– Emphasizes Naturalist– Allows you to distinguish between explorative and seeking.

— “Explorative” may make the believer just think you are seeking anyway.


↑↑– occ. use

— Separates from people who believe in religions.

— negative definition, and only addresses religion. I also doubt bad medicine, astrology, and football superstitions !

— Some forms of Buddhism, for example, can be embraces without belief in gods or spirits but many would still call it a religion because of its emphasis on morality, introspection and discipline of mind.

Non-theist ↑↑– occ. use

–Not as negative a “atheist”, for some reason.– “Atheist” almost comes across as one morpheme but “Non-Theist” tells it like it is

— against Theists. Not necessarily against Deists?

— Again, defining as something you aren’t.


↑↑– occ. use

— I don’t use this too oftehn.– Speaks clearly

— Again, negative defining yourself as something you aren’t.


— a commentor, Simon, wrote: “I use the term ‘Seeker’ exactly to allow the believer to feel safe in continuing to relate to me. But to call myself an ‘Explorer’ as you suggest in that post risks being thought of as unsafe or heretical. Rather than do that, typically all I have had to do to counter the zealous would-be evangelist is to ask them for unambiguous empirical evidence of God. They usually shut up, figuring that someone more knowledgeable than themselves will eventually lead me to the light.” ↓↓↓ – never use I don’t like it at all (see here)



— emphasis on reason

— emphasis on the method

↓↓↓ – never use

— too strong and pretentious

— everyone’s ideas are vulnerable

— theologians may claim to be rationalists too.


↑↑↑– I use it often

— “Free” is positive and puts the burden where it should be, on the believers.


— hints of criticizing religion in general and some forms of religion are benign, if not very helpful.


— Rightfully claim that governments should not be used to force any particular religion on anyone. – never use except when referring to political issue

— “secular” can imply  valuing “common culture”, much of which I don’t. It can imply mindlessly following the fad around you.

— could imply that government should be secular: which I agree with, but I don’t want government enforcing non-religion either.


— Addresses all areas of knowledge: Skeptical not only of religions, superstitions but also of claims of scientists, politicians, common cultural claims and most importantly of themselves.

— Has a humble connotation

— Focuses on method

↓ – rarely use

— sounds wishy-washy

— image of inability to make any claim


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

19 responses to “A.K.A. Atheist

  1. sfrman

    visited your blog

  2. godlessgirl

    I liked seeing your personal opinions and reactions to these words. I must say, I chuckled at “Bright” because I personally can’t stand that term. It makes me think of prancing, egotistical geniuses who are trying to take over the world with 80s toys.

  3. Thanx, GLG, yeah, I agree with your perception of the term “Bright” !

  4. Pingback: Common Sense Atheism » My Top 10 Atheist Blogs

  5. Do you think the terms “apatheist” and/or “ignostic” should belong here?

  6. @ Adam,
    Fantastic!! Indeed — those are probably the major default positions. It is the position which all children start at and too which many adults return to.🙂
    But on a serious note, if the Rhetoric of God did not affect politics, history, economics and much more, then I may be apathetic too, just as I am apathetic about Big Foot.

  7. To me Skeptic is too similar to Rationalist and theologians will also claim to be those too, I would most likely go with saying “Philosophical Naturalist” (to avoid appearing as a biologist by accident) which has no really bad cons.

  8. Yeah maybe I should add that “con” to Naturalist — sounds like you want to be an ecologist.

  9. petraylvasteele

    I’d not heard of “bright” before. I was raised Christian, but over the years I think I’ve become much more a deist than a theist. I’m not an atheist, as I believe there’s a higher power, but I don’t claim to understand it’s nature, and I certainly don’t believe it’s what I was taught in Sunday School.

  10. Yeah, petra as long a gods are gutted (no miracles, no special people, no punishment — and especially not in my face), then I don’t care what version people keep in their head for comfort purposes.

  11. Simon

    I sometimes call myself a ‘God Seeker’ around Christians, and then further explain that I remain unconvinced. The term is somewhat accurate since I remain open to evidence of a God, even though I no longer expect to see such evidence. And the term has the advantage of some degree of acceptability to the Christians I live and work around daily (I live in the bible belt)

  12. I can see that, Simon, but consider this post and think about “Explorer of the Amazing ” — or some other use of Explore rather than Seeker. Just a thought. But I get it . Thanx for sharing.

  13. Simon

    That’s what I like about you, Sabio, you DO get it. I have quietly followed your blog for a long time now because I find you have already put a lot of thought into things that have only recently occurred to me.
    So, yes, as you say in your linked post, I use the term ‘Seeker’ exactly to allow the believer to feel safe in continuing to relate to me. But to call myself an ‘Explorer’ as you suggest in that post risks being thought of as unsafe or heretical. Rather than do that, typically all I have had to do to counter the zealous would-be evangelist is to ask them for unambiguous empirical evidence of God. They usually shut up, figuring that someone more knowledgeable than themselves will eventually lead me to the light.

  14. @ Simon,
    Well thank you mate. I may have put lots of thoughts into things, but the sad thing is how often I still get stuff very wrong. 🙂
    I get what you are saying again — it sounds like a fantastic response — I may borrow it sometime. Keeps you safe and yet put the burden to thing on the overextending Christian. Good luck in Bible Country, mate — I am not envious!😉

  15. PS, Simon: Thanx for reading. I took 20 minutes and cleaned up the formatting on this post after you visited. Thanx for the inspiration

  16. Oh yes, Simon, thanx: I added your suggestion and explanation.

  17. Sabio, nice post! I didn’t know Skeptic referred stuff other than science. Before I thought it was sort of unnecessary, as any good scientific study has a mention of limitations and bias, so it has “skepticism” built in.

    You might want to induce under the Secular category, the primary definition. Merriam Webster, Dictionary.com and all of those have it as “not spiritual” or in the case of others, comparing it to others, as separate from Atheism. Atheism being an active disbelief in God or religion, Secular being indifferent or not caring about religion.

    I didn’t get from any particular definition that Secular had to do with religious oppression, at least no in the U.S. where it simply means that the Church does not control aspects of government.


    As you know, I’m not an Atheist but I am Secular. I tend more towards the mellow non-religious. 🙂

  18. As for the cons of the term “naturalist”, I would add that it makes you sound like a biologist. Clearly this is only a con when one isn’t a biologist; however, I personally am not one, and depending on my audience, it may come across as claiming something I’m not. This also may confuse some audiences depending on their usual depth of interaction with the term.

  19. @ Theo Fortier,
    Thanx. I also mentioned that in my reasons but you inspired me to make it more clear and to clean up the chart once again.

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