The subject of words comes up here and in other Humanist discussion groups over and over. One objection to the use of certain words, like “Faith,” “spiritual” and now even “belief” is that most people do not understand these words as we do, so that if we use them we will have to explain ourselves. That is not my experience most times. Much depends on how I use the words, and in what context.
Let’s take an example. Someone asks if one of us believes in God. We might say “No.” The person might then ask “Are you an atheist.” Most of us would say “Yes.” Or at the very least, we could.
At this point, we could easily be met with a derisive snort and comments about how atheists have no values and no reason not to engage in unspeakably evil acts. Our response, I would hope, is that atheists have values that are as good and as decent as anyone else’s, including kindness, generosity and respect.
Maybe our listener won’t understand that, or won’t be persuaded. The problem isn’t with the word “atheist.” It’s with our listener’s understanding.
We can’t force other people to open their minds but we can offer them our vision. Every time we have the chance to do that, we have taken another opportunity to change a mind. Many people are open-minded enough to change their minds.
The same is true for words like “Faith,” “spiritual,” “belief,” “religion” and even “God.” Those of us secularists who use these words, even if only on rare occasions, have a different view of them than the popular view. I welcome every chance I get to offer a Humanistic worldview to people who have asked me what I believe.
Why shouldn’t we all?