The following definition of atheism is drawn from a 1959 lawsuit initiated by a family who challenged prayer recitation in a public school. Murray v. Curlett was a landmark in American jurisprudence on behalf of our First Amendment rights.
“Your petitioners are Atheists, and they define their lifestyle as follows. An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now, here on earth, for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer, but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it. An Atheist accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to reach a life of fulfillment.”
This is beautiful and poetic, but I opt for something far more basic…and honest.
Terms of Belief or Lack Thereof
Let’s start off by covering the terms that describe belief.
A theist is someone who believes in the existence of a named (or what I call an “uppercase”) personal god or gods, like the Judeo-Christian deity (Yahweh or God), the Islamic deity (Allah), the Hindu creator deity (Brahma) or any of their polytheistic avatars (e.g. Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha). This is just a partial list of theistic gods from the three largest world religions, but recognize that there are in fact many more who are revered around the world.
A deist is someone who believes in the existence of an impersonal god. This is a god having no particular name (i.e. god with a lowercase “g”) who remains uninvolved and disinterested in our lives. He created the universe and left us to our own devices. He neither judges nor punishes nor rewards.
A pantheist is similar to a deist, except their impersonal god is nature deified. The pantheist god is not a sentient, anthropomorphic being. It has neither a conscience nor free will. I grudgingly include it in the list of terms that describe belief, but only in the abstract and by strict definition. However, in intellectually honest contemplation, a pantheist is effectively an atheist – perhaps minus the attitude. I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion.
A panentheist is the masturbatory cousin of the pantheist. This crankcase isn’t satisfied with the deification of nature. Their sense of the divine extends to the universe for some weird psycho-sexual need that is beyond my comprehension. The panenthiest does not believe in a sentient, anthropomorphic being, and that makes him an atheist. Again, end of discussion.
A religious humanist is the most egregious of bet-hedging cowards. I won’t get into it here because it’s not terribly relevant, but there’s some serious cake eating with these jackasses. Taste their hedging and hypocrisy here.
A non-theist is another bet-hedging asshole (one notch less offensive than a religious humanist) who claims to have no particular belief in god – but refuses declare disbelief. Non-theists are an annoying logical contradiction of their own insistence. They want to define and embrace the concept of god on their own biased terms. And the only thing “non” about them are the precepts and explicit rules and practices that they choose reject for matters of convenience. Admittedly some lean toward disbelief, but the overwhelming majority opt for the “spiritual but not religious” label.
And now we come to the terms that describe disbelief.
An atheist falls into one of two categories:
- A strong atheist declares that there are no gods.
- A weak atheist declares that they do not believe in any god.
I won’t open the debate over the terms humanist and secular humanist because I’m taking a defiant position of arrogance on this one. Both are atheists. Period. I have no problem with either term and I understand why they opt for them, but my peeve here are the disingenuous (and wholly unnecessary) arguments they spew to qualify and justify it. Secular humanists admittedly don’t make too much of a stink over it and embrace the term as essentially being synonymous with atheist, but humanists are generally full of dodge-the-question shit. (Take a whiff of it here.)
Unitarian Universalism is not a religion. Its followers claim that it is, but it isn’t. You can eat beef and call yourself a vegan if you’d like, but you’re not. Theologically, universalism is all religion, any religion, and no religion. You can be a Christian or a Jew or a [any religion] and also be a universalist. Okay. Fine. I can make my peace with that. But you can also be an atheist and also a universalist. BUZZ! Sorry. Not a religion. Call it something else please.
So, who are these people?
Universalists are fucking morons who don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. They are bored jackasses with empty lives desperately seeking some flowery masturbatory truth that they couldn’t find elsewhere. Fuck them. Throw rocks at them.
To those who claim to be agnostic, no, you’re not. You’re a fucking atheist. And a bit of a bet-hedging asshole too.
You’ve earned your own page for this one.