Atheism is colloquially a swearword. This is a result of McCartheism and the challenge to communism. That religion and economics have gotten scrambled within our propaganda machine would explain a lot. Still, publicly we know that religion is no longer very relevant. Well, amongst the spooks and moles this may not be the case. They are the control freaks who have been twisting the world up. Some are sadists who get off torturing their enemies. But you see that would be embedded in an assumption of what good and evil are; one defensible by an old book of old beliefs. I don’t think the youth are buying into that crap anymore. Plus there’s a reformist Pope that has a lot of the zealots left scratching their heads.
More to your point of awareness: In the ideal atheist world the term ‘god’ would not carry any heavy connotation and might not even exist. Again though in common verbal intercourse it does not show up in American society, so we may as well admit that we are essentially atheistic now. That’s a bit broad, but I think from my own local experience it holds. The holdouts do still exist and a mere five percent of the population can be responsible for a movement. Doesn’t help when the Trump cabinet all line up to the cross. The military Christian identity is still there too, but I suspect it is fading out. Don’t have much proof there though, and maybe it will be inflamed via the Islamic movement, but when the Abrahamic religions are exposed as branches then I believe we can anticipate that an atheist movement will be successful and can still tolerate the Abrahamics, though they really keep asking to be marginalized further. We exist in a technocracy now and technology has always been the ultimate distinguishing factor of the human state.
I came across a website recently that used the word non-belief (and non-believer) when referring to my or anyone else’s position on a god or god-like figure (or even an “intelligent designer”)—though it is a commonly used term. I and others who have no belief in god have used the term on many occasions, usually for lack of a better word, but it suddenly occurred to me that there is a good argument that there is something fundamentally wrong with it—at least from the standpoint of those of us who have no positive belief in a god or designer of any description. Non-belief implies that theistic belief is the accepted standard and non-belief is a deviation from it. To my mind, that gives a lot of unearned and undeserved credit to the belief position. In fact, the word atheist does the same thing. It implies that theist is the accepted standard and atheist is a deviation from it.
I’m not sure if there is another word to use that is positive and not negative and doesn’t imply a deviant position. “Freethinker” and “rationalist” may be the best of a bad lot, but they are problematical, too. Neither specifically addresses the existence of a god (or non-existence, but there we go again with a deviation from the implied norm), many people don’t know the actual definition of either word and both terms have been corrupted. I wonder if others here have any suggestions for a word that describes the “atheistic” position without the implication that it’s a deviation from a norm. Any ideas? I fear we may have to use “free thinker” or “rationalist” with the burden of having to define it almost every time we use it, in the hopes that it will eventually seep into the vernacular.
Any opinions or suggestions will be appreciated.