When did 'atheist' become a bad word?
I'm actually looking for specifics here. Saying you're 'not religious' or an agnostic isn't regarded as being offensive the way saying you're an atheist is. I know that during the cold war, religion was used to root out communists, but at what point in history did the word 'atheist' get associated with something negative?
I recently deconverted from Seventh-day Adventism to atheism. Early in my Christian experience I never met atheists, never thought of them. Within the past few years, however, people I knew were starting to leave church, and some left religion altogether.
I think the answer to your question includes the threat that Christian churches have become to themselves by becoming increasingly irrelevant. It also probably has something to do with the upsurge of the religious right's influence on politics in this country.
It is a little bit that atheists threaten the way of life for churches. Religions in general, not all, rely on fear and ignorance to keep going. When people are unsure why something happens or scared about what will happen to them after they die, religion gives them comfort.
Another, and probably much bigger, reason is because the atheists that are the most outspoken, are a**holes. There's no nice way to put it. I'm an atheist, I always have been, and I can't stand talking to most of them. The loud few give the rest of us a bad name.
As atheism continues to grow, it will become more and more acceptable. There has already been a huge change from just 10 or 15 years ago.
Ummm.... This might seem a little upsetting to some people but after reading this question I had to ask my husband this question with sarcasm and he gave me the same answer I did. "When has it not been a bad word?" My husband has been called an atheist as an insult before because he doesn't go to church. But we never go to church unless dragged there by our families. We made sure not to be married in a church because we don't like the church society yet we are Christians. Anyway, being atheist has always been an insult. In our society here and in most of history, the church has been linked to saving your soul. By being an atheist, you were going against not only the church but those around you and, sometimes in history, the government. The idea is that if atheists don't believe in God, their values are entirely different from those of believers and it threatens their perspective on life and the lives of their children.
I suppose it depends upon the environment you live in. Perhaps in the Land of the Free where large numbers of the population attend mega Churches an atheist might find themselves in a minority. In the Middle East I imagine that atheists might well have a hard time. But here in Europe where people are truely free to be what they want to be and people generally couldn't care less what religion you follow, atheism is probably the norm anyway and certainly would never be considered a bad thing by society.
Atheist is not really a bad word at all, it becomes bad only because the atheist themselves think that they are labeled as bad, but that is to be expected, because if you stand in opposition to the believers, you cannot expect that the believer love you for it. In a way atheism is an exaggerated way of expressing their views of dislike to the extremist religious fanatic, who sometimes do really terrible things, therefore atheism could be a good thing for the community, just because they balance somehow the spiritual needed in the world.
Atheist a bad word? No, but I do think as a christian, atheism is a bad philosophy to adopt.
I think it all depends on interpretation of the person. Why do you feel like its a bad word? I personally don't see it as negative. Theism is the believe in God. when putting an "A" in front of a word usually means anti, not, or without. In this case atheism would literally mean without not, or the unbelief in God. I just see it as a term that says a person that simply doesn't believe God exists.
An atheist is someone who believes that god doesn't exist and has never existed. It extends to gods of other religions as well.
Atheists disbelieve in all the same "false gods" which theists normally reject, except for the God they've chosen to believe in. The atheist just adds that one additional god to the list of rejected deities.
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