Well said, “PZ” ! Just saying you are an “Atheist” isn’t enough, but laying the groundwork so that there is some respectability can be crucial. This often means establishing relationships of trust.
It’s a complicated issue though, because there is no agreed upon definition of atheism. And the most common understanding of the word means something that most atheists don’t actually affirm, namely, that we believe, actively, that there is no god. Most atheists simply don’t believe in God: they don’t need or have to make broad claims to hold or defend their lack of belief. If “atheist” represents, to many people, a specific ethos or a philosophy, then I think that might be precisely the wrong idea to get across.
I’m happy to call myself an atheist most of the time, but I still find myself leaning towards words like non-theist or non-believer just for the sake of clarity.
Frankly, I don’t care what “everyone” thinks the definition is. Did anyone ever ask me my opinion? No. Did anyone ever ask any atheist’s opinion? Probably not. The full definition should be nothing more than the Greek “a-theos” without god.
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