Obama used the term “non-believers” in his inauguration speech to be inclusive of those who don’t believe in a God. Ok, so why not just call them atheists? I’m not a fan of using negative speech, the “non” the “anti” stuff. Is the term “non-believer” offensive to any atheists out there? I admit I wouldn’t like it if that descriptor was used for me. I’m sure atheists believe in a great many things…just not God. But then, how else would it be phrased? Are there non-believers that fall outside the atheist category??

Just curious.


3 thoughts on “non-believers

  1. Todd Hebert says:

    I took note of that too. If you look up non-believer in a dictionary, (as I did) most will define it as not believing in God or any philosophy.
    You’re right, most Atheists have a philosophy that they believe. Atheist is a philosophy within itself.
    Buddhists don’t necessarily believe in a supreme higher power, but they certainly aren’t non-believers.
    I think you’re definitely right about Obama’s word choice not being the most appropriate.
    Instead of saying “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers,” he should have just said something like: “we are a nation of many beliefs.”
    Don’t you think?

  2. jilliew says:

    I am curious why people worry about being non-believers, atheist, etc. I call myself a realist, refusing to believe in all the Christian crap. I’m quite comfortable in my belief and have no regrets or guilt.. People have tried to change my beliefs about religion but none have succeeded. I feel sorry for them being sucked into religions that don’t teach you the truth, want to control your life (and your money also). And what pisses me off the most is how they are told that our nation was founded on Christianity. I usually keep my mouth shut, even though I want to scream out “don’t you know you are being suckered” But when they start trying to push their religion down my throat, then I am forced to tell them to shove it.

    As far as the inauguration went, I think all mention of religion should have been left out completely. As an avid activist and volunteer for Obama, I felt him having Rick Warren there was a big slap in the face.

  3. Mark says:

    “Non-Believer” is about as beside the point for me as “Atheist”. It’s just a restatement of the same faulty assumption.

    I usually refer to myself as a non-theist rather than an a-theist, because I don’t find the concept of “God” particularly meaningful, by which I mean I don’t believe the word “God” describes adequately a concept which can cogently be articulated and expressed.

    Put another way, I’m not on the same chessboard, and I’m not even playing chess. I tend to think a great many theists have a lot to say to me, but “God talk” is not always helpful in saying it. A great example would be two famous Unitarians of the last century, James Luther Adams (“The Prophethood of All Believers”), and Charles Hartshorne (my favorite is “Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes”).

    Was the Buddha a “theist”? Who knows? Is it important? I’m okay with whatever Barack Obama wants to call me, theologically. I’m not sure it really matters. Do I believe in an “afterlife”? No; I know enough about quantum physics that I no longer believe in “after”, and I know enough about the nature of sentience that I’m not really sure I even believe in the existence of “life”.

    I do believe in chips and salsa, though. And in the health benefits of watching chickens at feeding time.

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