Words that I dislike

Words that I dislike very much

New (Gnu) Atheism – What’s new about it? Sure, we have better knowledge and understanding of the natural world than people in the past, but the fundamental argument of atheism is the same (and just as simple). Read the philosophers of the past, and you’ll also find out that many of them weren’t any less passionate or public about their ideas. I think some people in this weird American culture can’t understand why suddenly, with the advent of technologies like the internet, they are losing ground in the free market of ideas. So they have to rationalize this phenomenon by labeling it as an organized popular movement, which it isn’t at all.

Militant Atheist – Militant religious leaders are often people who will readily abandon all reason and notions of human decency to get their way by violent force. When was the last time prominent atheists, inspired by and in the name of atheism, gas-bombed a girls school, blew up a church, beat up cartoonists, or sought the death penalty for homosexuals? I get upset when people label me this because I believe the term “militant” ought to be reserved for people who actually have weapons in their hands.

Words that annoy me

Interfaith – It’s a very tricky word that is supposed to win over our hearts and minds. The problem is that faith itself requires groups of people to arrogantly believe in things that they cannot possibly know or understand. Therefore, the “inter” part often means finding common ground amongst a set of different beliefs that all contradict each other. If I had my way, I’d get rid of this “interfaith” stuff and admit that yes, as humans, we do have a lot in common indeed. These things have absolutely nothing to do with any particular religious fantasy. Why not call it “humanism” and move on with life? Not to mention that “interfaith” seems to exclude secular points of view.

Metaphysics – I often get questions out of nowhere like “how do you explain the metaphysical realities of human desire?” Well, for there to even be a comprehensible answer to this incredibly loaded question, one not only has to establish that there is something “metaphysical” (which is not much different, IMHO, than “supernatural”), but one also has to define what this metaphysical universe is. Of course, people have had thousands of years to bring up a good, coherent argument for metaphysics and they’ve literally only gone in circles. At the same time, real discoveries in natural science have accelerated to warp speed.

Words that I am skeptical about

Bright – This is the proposed analagous word to the term “gay” for homosexuals. It is supposed to bring a positive image for atheists, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I mean, come on, how successful was the word “gay”? Not at all. In fact, the word is so easy to pronounce that it is easier to use it in a negative fashion (e.g., “Ewww, you’re gaaaaay”). Also, although it is clear that the secular community tends to do pretty well on measures of well-being, intelligence, education, etc., I find the term “bright” to be unnecessarily condescending, and it may make us vulnerable to further misunderstanding.

Agnostic – I’m okay with the word. I don’t like it as a category or label for people. Some people think agnosticism is in-between belief and atheism, but that is so incredibly wrong. Anyone who does not believe in god(s) is an atheist, including so-called “agnostics.” Agnosticism is a position on knowledge, not belief. Atheists are those who lack belief in god(s), while agnostics hold that knowledge about god(s) is unattainable. So technically I’m an agnostic atheist, and I shouldn’t have to choose one or the other on a form.


Posted on January 9, 2011, in Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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