What We Call Ourselves and What Others Call Us April 25, 2009

What We Call Ourselves and What Others Call Us

Here’s an interesting project that could be used in a variety of ways. Reader Chiara was trying to come up with two separate, alphabetical lists — one is a list of what atheists call ourselves; the other is a list of what others call us.

Can you help her fill out the blank cells?

Also, if you don’t like a certain word in a cell, what would you suggest as a replacement?

What We Call Ourselves What Others Call Us
Atheist Antichrist/Amoral/Anarchist
Cynical Cynical
Disbelieving Demon/Distrustful
Freethinker F
God free Godless
Humanist Heretic/Heathen
Irreligionist Infidel/Immoral
Leftist/Libertarian Lecher
M Misanthropic
Nonbeliever Naughty
Philosophical/Philanthropist Pure Evil
Questioning Q
Religion Free R
Skeptic Sodomite/Sinner
Unbelieving Unsaved
Z Zealot

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Reginald Selkirk

    B – baby eaters :: baby eaters

  • Eliza

    B = blasphemers

    F in the R hand colum could be, “formerly false Christian” 😉

    J in the right column could be “Jesus-deniers” or “Jesus-haters” – ?

    Gotta point out that a number of us call ourselves heathen, heretic, and/or infidel, as they are technically accurate descriptions (& any negative connotation only exists because of the primacy of religion in culture). So those terms could go into both columns.

  • Jeff Satterley

    B = Bright :: Blasphemous

  • Us:
    E=Evolutionist, Evidence Based

  • SarahH

    F – Foolish/Fools (“The fool hath said in his heart…”)

    R – Redeemable (as in, we need redeeming)

    Q – Queer (taken either way, really)

    Z (on the atheist side) – Zesty!

  • Grimalkin

    oooh, not sure I like “Leftist/Libertarian” and “Philosophical/Philanthropist.” I don’t think that either are particularly tied to atheism.

  • Twewi

    A good deal of those in the “what they call us” category are ones which I’d refer to myself as with pride. (Blasphemous, cynical, godless, heretic, infidel, sinner, unsaved, and, in some scenarios, naughty.)

  • F – Freethinker vs Foolish
    G – I call myself Godless…
    H – Humanist/Heretic/Heathen vs Hellbound
    I – I also call myself infidel
    J – Jennifer! …Oh wait, that doesn’t work for everyone

  • Caitlin B

    perhaps logical might be a better atheist L–conservative atheists may not be vocal/common, but i’m sure they’re out there

  • CBloom

    E: Educated, Enlightened (Us)
    E: Empty (Them)

  • Epistaxis

    “Cell,” not “cel.”

  • I’m surprised nobody thought of “Evil” for the “E” under “what others call us.” I mean, they did use Pure Evil already, but it still fits, ya know?

    “O” for “what they call us” could be “overconfident.” “W” could be “wicked.” I can think of a couple for “F” but they’re not worksafe. “T” could be “truth-seeking” (on “our” side).

  • Miko

    I don’t think that either are particularly tied to atheism.

    Depending on how broadly one defines atheism, isn’t that true for most of these?

    What does cynicism have to do with atheism? Are all atheists humanists? Are all atheists questioning? Many Buddhists are atheists but certainly can’t be said to be “religion free.” And while we’d like to think all atheists are skeptics, we have our share of nuts too.

    On the other hand, if you take atheism as a positive philosophy with a common set of shared values, a fair number of these seem worthwhile to include.

  • Froynlaven

    Educated | Elitist /Egotistical

  • Hound Doggy

    US: O=Open? or Open thought

  • Atheists come in all flavors:
    Left (not the same as Libertarian)

    Though I see many atheist site assuming we all fit their political club. We need more inclusiveness here.

  • The Rebel Teapot

    B: Bright?

  • Agnostic — Amoral
    Non-Religious — Non-Ethical
    Non-Theist — Negative
    Secularist — Scary
    Naturalist — Nudist
    Rationist — Ridgid

  • Todd


  • W (others) – Witch. The other side seems pretty fond of confusing atheists and pagans.

  • Oh and C (others) – “Confused” instead of Cynical.

  • I would take out:

    Philosophical/Philanthropist — religious people are often both of those.

    Questioning — religious folks can be that too.

    BTW, I put a little list together called THE LEAGUE OF SKEPTICS with pros and cons for various names of skeptics. I would love it if people could make suggestions and corrections.

  • Well I also call myself a heathen. 🙂 And Nothing.

  • AnonyMouse

    I was thinking “Freethinker | Fornicator”, but I like “Fool” better, really. Or perhaps “Fallen”.

    M: Moderate/Moral | Misanthropic
    T: Truthful | ???
    Z: Zesty? (Well, we taste good with ketchup.)

  • Chiara

    Thanks for all the comments guys. I too would be proud to call myself some of the things in the ‘what others call us’ bit but I suppose to ‘others’ it would be an insult.

  • Citizen Z

    Column A
    E = Empiricist
    L= Logical

    and in Column B
    F = Fundamentalist atheist

  • Brian

    I have to quibble with the titles for the lists. It looks sort of like “Positive terms for atheists” and “negative terms for atheists,” rather than what we call ourselves and what others call us.

    If it is indeed positive versus negative, some of the terms we might consider positive would be used as pejoratives by those who feel threatened or bothered by atheists. For example, calling atheists “liberal” or “leftist” would be an insult coming from a conservative. Also, I agree with previous posters who have pointed out that atheists are anything but uniform in their political leanings, even if they are far less likely to be conservative than are the very religious.

    Atheists are sometimes considered allied with communists, so add “communist” under C in the negative column. Don’t forget:
    Moral relativist

  • I think we could have stopped at A but

    B: Bright and Blasphemer
    E: Enlightened and Evil or Evolutionists
    F: Fools (cause they always pull out that silly bible verse)
    J: ?
    K: ?
    M: ? and Materialist is a the common term they use.
    O: ?
    Q: For them, Quixotic
    R: ?
    T: Truth Seekers vs. Truth Deniers
    V: ? vs. Value-less
    W: ?
    X: ?
    Y: ?
    Z: ?

  • dvsrat

    A: I’m an Atheist
    B: I’m a blasphemer
    C: I’m a critic
    D: I’m discerning
    E: I’m eccentric
    D: I’m dynamic
    F: I’m phantasmigorical
    G: I’m gyrating
    H: I’m hysterical
    I: I am I and also indispensable

    OK, I’m going to have to get some sleep so I can get to fucking work tomorrow.

  • Jodie

    Perhaps this shows my negative attitude for religious folks, but here goes
    E: Evolved (as in me, personally, beyond my religious past).

  • Gabjoh

    perhaps logical might be a better atheist L–conservative atheists may not be vocal/common, but i’m sure they’re out there

    Yeah, there’s this guy, Christopher Hitchens. He’s written a couple of books about atheism, but I don’t know if anyone’s heard of him :).

    And about the first entry, I am an anarchist, in addition to being an atheist.

  • Luke

    This may not be an alphabetical list, but anyone who wants a bracing and sobering look at what the stereotypes of the non religious are:
    An article in 2007 authored by Harper found that the most common stereotypes are:
    Study in South Africa of terms associated with non religious
    Judgmental Cads: hard hearted, hard headed, judgmental
    Cynical Critics: cynical, critical, argumentative, opinionated
    Hedonistic Bohemians: daring, rebellious, pleasure seeking, radical
    Skeptics: faithless, non spiritual, non religious
    Straightforward Individualists: Independent
    Seekers: looking for something, questions everything

  • Them:

    Intellectual Elitist

    Maybe we could also make a chart of what “they” call themselves and what we call them.

  • Jeannette

    I’ve been called a Terrorist!

  • Dan

    C should be Critical Thinkers, not Cynical!

  • Column B for C: Close-minded
    Column B for J: Judgmental

    Column A for O: Open-Minded

    And for both columns: To quote the great Shel Silvertein, X is for Xylophone. Because X is always for Xylophone.

  • column B for K – kafir

  • I think the left side could just have one term “Atheist”. It’s the one thing all atheists have in common.

    As for things we get called:

    *Militant*. I hear it all the time.

    I also got “recalcitrant” recently.

  • Agnostic definitly needs to go into the What We Call Ourselves section, for those who don’t identify as Atheist but are still on the “us” side!

    Evolutionist/Emancipated :: Evil
    Friendly :: Freak/Fundamentalist
    …….. :: Yearning for God

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