What to call ourselves?
There has been a lot of debate one many of the prominent atheist blogs (Friendly Atheist and Pharyngula) about what atheists, specifically the louder Dawkins types, should be calling ourselves. Personally, I have no problem with 'atheist' since most of what we talk about is purely anti-religion. At least that's what I do. For the louder atheists, 'fundamentalist atheist' makes no sense, though 'atheist extremist' or 'militant atheist' would be possible for those who are trying to oppress religious people or blow them up, respectively; I've just never heard of either of these in practice. PZ likes 'uppity atheist'.
On Pharyngula, Hank Fox weighs in on the topic and explains quite well where most of us atheists are coming from, and the shortcomings of the 'atheist' label:
This is an echo of something I posted recently over at Unscrewing the Inscrutable - a few new thoughts I had on the subject.Good food for thought, that is.
Say you're talking about slavery, there are two ways you can look at it. You can see it as a social phenomenon, or you can see it as a personal condition.
In SOCIAL terms, the opposite of slavery is anti-slavery.
But in PERSONAL terms, the opposite of slavery is freedom.
A man freed from slavery is not just a non-slave. He's a FREE MAN. The one implies a restrictive, walled-in life determined by the will of someone else. The other implies not just a non-slave, but a person faced with infinite possibility, someone who can do anything HE likes with his life. Slavery is a small box; freedom is the universe of self-determined choices outside it.
Likewise with religion, you can see it as a social phenomenon, or as a personal condition.
In social terms, the opposite of religion can be called atheism. But in personal terms, the opposite of religion is, again, freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom of ... everything.
Just like slavery, religion is a small box. Freeing yourself from that box presents you with infinite possibilities.
Because they're the words most people know, I'll probably still use the terms "atheism" and "atheist" to describe myself and my non-theistic beliefs. But I'm gonna try more often to also define myself and my fellow atheists in these grander terms: We're free men. Free women. Free thinkers. Free selves. With all the universe of self-willed choices, thoughts and possibilities that implies.