Why I am an atheist – Garry J. VanGelderen

Let me digress just a little right up front……I do not like the word “Atheist” as it sounds so negative. I have considered words like “Naturalist”, “Naturist”, Universalist”  but these have all been appropriated by other groups for other reasons. I certainly do not like the word “Bright”, advocated by some atheists, as I really don’t think I am that bright most of the time. A more positive sounding epithet is still looked for and I would welcome suggestions.

The main point is…if there is a deity, why would it bother creating anything at all? Surely it would be more trouble than it is worth. If such deity created the universe for personal amusement, like a piece of art or a game, it would be a sad and cruel joke, considering the reality of the consequences.

I cannot accept such a deity.

Garry J. VanGelderen


  1. says

    While I don’t want people to jump down my throat for even mentioning him (and of course I think his most recent actions were quite disgusting), I rather liked the one that Thunderf00t adopted a while back: PEARList, standing for Physical Evidence And Reasoned Logic

  2. anotherbayesian says

    PEARL is a programming language though. We’d get all kinds of people asking us what was wrong with Python and had we tried Ferret!

  3. Dick the Damned says

    I like the name “Bright”, not because the antonym is, or might be, (depending upon context), “Dim”. The term for non-Brights is actually “Supers”. The Brights movement is quite respectful of Supers, so might appeal to more people than the name initially suggests, particularly where religion has a strong hold, such as in the USA.

    As for your question, Garry, as to why would a (theistic) deity bother creating anything at all, the answer is that they all were created in the image of man.

  4. jaybee says

    Of the batch, atheist is best because it has a meaningful derivation, and isn’t some forced acronym. The only problem with it is the massive cultural bias against it in some places, where atheist=immoral.

  5. johnniefurious says

    I don’t think you need to sum up your whole persona with a single label, you label yourself in the context of the conversation or environment. If your label needs to be explained, what’s the point of it? Atheist is succinct. People know what it means, generally, and if they jump to a conclusion about it defining your character, hey, what a great opportunity for education. PE(A)RList doesn’t counter any of the negative stigma of being godless, however accurate it is, so it’s really not a step away from negative as much as a step toward, “Huh? Whuzzat? Oh.. well, why didn’t you just say atheist?”

  6. grignon says

    For me, skeptic works just fine. I know there is a cadre of atheists that embrace woo of all sorts so they may have to keep the more loaded title if they’re interested in honesty.

  7. steve oberski says

    If such deity created the universe for personal amusement, like a piece of art or a game, it would be a sad and cruel joke, considering the reality of the consequences.

    This immediately brought to mind “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”, a novella by Robert A. Heinlein.

  8. says

    Atheist has the advantage of being already well known. However I rather like godfree & faithfree for the implication that I am rid of something undesirable.

  9. raptor says

    Would you prefer the term ‘Heretic?’ ;-)

    For some time I was wary of using the term ‘Atheist’ to describe me, because I wanted to add that “I’m not declaring there is no god, I just don’t see any evidence to support that belief so I am extremely agnostic” – way too wordy… and frankly, to mushy.

    With time, I became comfortable with being an ‘Atheist’ – a “non-theist” As others have mentioned, the term will have less negative impact if it is associated with more people – especially when it is associated with people who are perceived as ‘good’ … or perhaps “otherwise good”

  10. Aratina Cage says

    I prefer Gnu Atheist myself. Another one that fits with gnu that way is nullifidian (gnullifidian). A more positive term that embodies the same meaning as the words you list is realist.

  11. allencdexter says

    Atheist is what I am, and as more join me and we become known as worthy moral participants in society, the name will be accepted more and more. I’m also and anti-theist, a humanist, a secular free-thinker. I wear all those labels proudly.

  12. robster says

    I can’t see the problem with the word “atheist”. It simply describes people that have grown beyond silly superstitious belief. It’s something to be proud of. I’d be more embarrassed to admit I believed the baby jesus, joseph smith, zena, mo and the rest of the nonsense so loved by the godbots. Admitting belief in all that is akin to wearing a red t-shirt with “I’m a bit silly” in big letters on the front.

  13. Crudely Wrott says

    . . . if there is a deity, why would it bother creating anything at all?

    For the same reason that a child will make a mud pie. And then abandon it as soon as Mommy makes lunch.