What is an atheist?

This is the question that has launched innumerable intensely boring screeds across the world wide web.  Most end up being one of two things: The first is an overly long and mildly apologetic article attempting a desperate neutrality of tone which explains the rich history of non-theistic belief and why atheism won’t hurt anybody.  Written by an atheist, this article is quick to point out all the very nice and influential atheists the author can find, and is very respectful in its treatment of alternate points of view.

This is a man
Fig.1 — This is a man.

The second type is the somewhat snooty believer’s attempt to simultaneously explain and subtly belittle atheists. This is usually accomplished by talking about the “different types of atheists”.  They divide atheists into two or three groups, each one clearly flawed in some way or other. Each of the groups is explained in terms that only barely mask the author’s exasperation that anyone would believe this crap, and usually at the end of the page somewhere you’ll find a harmless looking link offering more “information” about atheists which will direct you to a list of reasons why the bible is way more logical than anything science can come up with.

All these articles are good for a little bit of a laugh (provided they’re not too long), but none really hit the mark for our taste.  That’s why we’ve decided that, since we’re doing an atheist website here and everything, we’d better make it clear what we mean when we use the term.  Here, then, is a glossary of terminology that we’re sure will make frequent appearances on this site (in quasi-alphabetical order):

Glossary of Religious Terms 

 

 

Glossary of Religious Terms

Atheist
noun
1.    A rational, active thinker who has examined whether or not it actually seems likely that a god or gods exist, and has come to the only logical conclusion.
2.    A person who has had the good fortune of having been raised without indoctrination into an irrational and baseless belief system.
3.    Someone of a theistic background with an interest in really pissing off his or her parents.

Agnostic
noun
1.    An atheist who can’t quite shake the fear in the back of their mind that Jesus or Allah may still be able to get them.
2.    A fence-sitter who wants to please everybody, but ends up just equally annoying all sides.

Believer
noun
1.    A person who believes in magical beings or supernatural powers for which there is no evidence and which usually claim benevolence, but end up being pretty shitty a good deal of the time.
2.    Someone who subjugates their own powers of logic and reason in order to be included in a community of equally gullible peers.  Characterized by a willingness to believe or do anything they’re told by a single man or small group of men who claim (without offering any evidence) that god communicates to them directly.
3.    A member of any of a number of groups who commit frequent acts of horrible injustice and often violence in the name of a just and peace-loving deity.

Bible [see also: Qur’an]
crazy noun
1.    A compilation of stories (frequently impossible) purported to be the history of ancient people in the middle east.
2.    A confusing mishmash of parables and dogma which often contradicts itself and makes it very clear that life in ancient times really sucked.
3.    A book frequently cited by believers in support of the hatred and/or persecution of anyone who is different in belief or situation.

Buddhist (Asian)
noun
1.    A subscriber to the teachings of the Buddha; a man of Indian descent who looks like a fat Chinese guy.
2.    Someone who tries to stave off the boredom and tedium of daily life by tricking his or herself into thinking that mundane things are interesting.

Buddhist (American)
lame noun
1.    Someone who realized that the Christianity they were raised with was bullshit, but was too used to somebody else telling them how to live and how to think to just quit religion cold turkey.
2.    Someone who likes to seem “deep” and “spiritual”, but who doesn’t really care for yoga.
3.    A person who really likes the feeling they get when they’re on a mountaintop or in a forest, but wants it to mean more than it actually does.

Catholic
noun
1.    A believer who puts no pressure on his or herself to actually act in any way that would indicate their belief.  Except on Christmas and Easter.
2.    [Archaic] Any participant in or subject of a Western European political structure, characterized by protracted and extremely violent campaigns to bring others into their belief system and then take their stuff.

Fundamentalist
scary noun
1.    A believer who refuses to acknowledge that any truth exists outside of their uneducated back-woods understanding.
2.    A person incapable of venturing into the realm of free or open thought.  
3.    Someone too crazy or stupid to see any contradiction between their desire to do violence to those unlike them and their desperately held belief in a god who insists on peace and love.

God
fictional noun
1.    A magic person, usually male, who lives in the sky and grants occasional wishes to those who are extra special good.
2.    The infallible creator of all things who sometimes destroys a bunch of what he created because he doesn’t like how it’s going.
3.    The least likely explanation for why we’re here, where we’re going, and what rainbows are made of.

Hinduism
noun
1.    A belief system that involves worshiping men with elephant heads and a chick with six arms and possibly cows… who really knows?  Anyway, they’re in India.

Qur’an [see also: Bible]
crazy noun
1.    A book similar to the Bible but which differs in that the hero is named Muhammad instead of Jesus, and it has a different dress code.

Zod
noun
1.    Head bad guy on Superman II who, when he realizes that on Earth he has powers comparable to Superman's, develops a god-complex.  Following christian architypes, he would be the satan character, but he's way cooler.  Also the only entry I could think of off the top of my head for the letter z.