This is not my deconversion story. I’m sure I will share that, in pieces and over time, as would be fitting. But this is not it.
Instead, this is a simple address to the advice my kind, compassionate and insightful father posed to me on the night I came out as an atheist. “Perhaps you could cool it on the A-word? It scares people.”
Theism is the “belief in a god or gods”. Etymology tells us that adding the prefix “a” negates the meaning. So, atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s all. It is not a claim that no gods exist. It is a belief statement only.
Why not identify as agnostic? That’s not so scary. Agnostics don’t eat babies. Or at least as many babies.
A gnostic is one who claims knowledge. About anything. So an agnostic is one who does not claim knowledge. Since so few claim to know with 100% certainty if there is a god, most of the population is agnostic on the matter. Most people are agnostic theists (I don’t know if there’s a god, but I believe there is) or agnostic atheists (I don’t know if there’s a god, and I don’t believe there is).
Agnostic is not a softer form of atheist.
Owning labels changes minds. Slowly. Ever so slowly. But eventually.
I am not convinced of the claim that a god exists. I am an atheist.
You know an atheist. Do I scare you?
(Huge thank you to every atheist ever, of whom this post is completely and utterly derivative.)