Get Your Secs Here

December 21, 2008

Who are we? How should we describe ourselves? Perhaps no movement has spent more time agonizing over what to call itself than the humanist/atheist/freethought/ skeptical/ Brights, etc. movement. That last sentence illustrated the problem nicely.

I am an atheist. (Note the small “a” — capitalization is another issue, but don’t get me started on   that .)  But I am not primarily interested in persuading people to be atheists. Let’s say we wake up tomorrow and everyone in the world is now an atheist. Has the world become vastly improved? Will there be an end to all violence, hatred, poverty, misery? Somehow, I don’t think so. I’m not saying that, on the whole, there might not be   some improvement in our condition—if only because we have divested ourselves of harmful false beliefs—but atheism is not an end in itself.

Secular humanist is the phrase many people in our movement use to describe themselves, and it does have the virtue of describing accurately the overall goal many of us share. We want a nonreligious world, but we also want a world in which reason and critical thinking promote human interests. But let’s face it, “secular humanist” is a mouthful. And “eupraxopher”? A four-syllable neologism based on classical Greek is not likely to catch on—however, thoughtful and descriptive the term may be in the abstract.

“Brights” has the virtue of being short. Unfortunately, it has not been especially well-received, especially because   it has an air of condescension.

If brevity is what we want, why not “Secs”? One thing we all share, presumably, is a commitment to secularism. For those who also think of themselves as secular humanists, “Secs” is a mere abbreviation. For other nonreligious, the term should be sufficiently vague that they can embrace it without feeling they are betraying some fundamental principle. And unlike “Brights,” the term is descriptive and offends no one,

Does anyone else want Secs? Let me know.



#1 Jeff P on Sunday December 21, 2008 at 4:23pm

Personally, I rather enjoy secs!

#2 mckenzievmd on Sunday December 21, 2008 at 7:52pm

Of course, amoral atheists like me hear “sex,” so I can forsee some problems with the moniker.

Personally,I’ve given up on any pithy marketing-friendly label for my thoughtful, ever-evolving world view. Isn’t the whole point to think freely, inquiry actively, and not settle for simplistic, ready-made categories? It’s a disadvantage in the marketplace of ideas, for sure, but it also seems an intrinsic aspect of the ideology.

#3 Lucretius on Sunday December 21, 2008 at 8:44pm

Secular or Sec works for me. Good points.

#4 jared (Guest) on Sunday December 21, 2008 at 10:37pm

You’ve taken the first step towards proper secs education. But I think the name lacks charm and has an unsettling resemblance to the word “sect” as in sectarian. An idea rather contrary to the one I think we’re working for. I ought to suggest a viable alternative but my bedtime will probably come before I am able to unify this variegated crowd.

#5 Luke Vogel on Monday December 22, 2008 at 11:46am

I take it this is a joke?

If not, then by virtue of the final playful innuendo, the answer is available. Or anyone want to join a sec, give me a sec, secs anyone…

#6 Scott Campbell (Guest) on Monday December 22, 2008 at 12:43pm

I rather like this and think it has a lot of marketing potential because of the play on sex.

We have secs appeal.

New martini - Secs on the beach

etc, etc, etc.

#7 Teamonger on Monday December 22, 2008 at 12:49pm

I think “secular” is a much better term than “sec”; better to spell it out and avoid confusion.

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#9 joshualipana on Tuesday December 23, 2008 at 2:24am

Cool. Haha it does sound a bit like “sex” but I guess Scotts right we could have “secs” appeal. But I prefer usually to be called a “communist bastard who’s going straight to hell” there’s something very comforting about that.

#10 Shay (Guest) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 at 12:53pm

I don’t like “secular” because it has connotations of non-reflective consumer of common culture.  A secularist reminds me of someone who gets their values from the TV set.  I know this will not be received well in these circles though.

#11 Chris Crawford on Wednesday December 24, 2008 at 10:31am

I fear that calling oneself a “sec” would suggest that one is only half-sexual.

#12 Kevin (Guest) on Friday December 26, 2008 at 3:35pm

Let’s all get picket signs and march to Washington to cheer on FFRF with their “secsy” slogan.

#13 jared (Guest) on Thursday January 01, 2009 at 7:19am

I like “freethinker.” I think its a good general umbrella that nearly all of our philosophically related fellows can get under. It has the added advantage of being affirmative. Is it too limiting?

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