Just What Do All those isms Mean? September 24, 2012

a·the·ism (thzm)


1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.


secularism [ˈsɛkjʊləˌrɪzəm]


1. (Philosophy) Philosophy a doctrine that rejects religion, esp. in ethics

2. the attitude that religion should have no place in civil affairs

3. the state of being secular

secular humanism


1. An outlook or philosophy that advocates human rather than religious values.

2. Secularism.

secular humanist adj. & n

There are more –isms, like Pantheism, Agnosticism, even materialism, but those three above  are the major non-religious –isms, in my opinion, in the world today.

Despite these definitions, people in general have different views about atheism. My own definition is slightly different than the two given above. Disbelief and denial are simply not strong enough. Disbelief and denial would actually be the definitions given to non-believers by believers. To disbelieve in something leaves room for the existence of that something. Denial implies that it exists but that the atheist does not accept its existence. Atheist, in my view, is someone who asserts that God does not exist. I assert that none of the Gods humankind has invented, exist. This of course leaves some unknown entity, somewhere in the Galaxy, that might possess attributes beyond what we possess, the possibility of existence. Atheism: the assertion that there are no gods.

As far as doctrine, pertaining to the second definition, what doctrine? Atheism has never had doctrine, as it is not a religion. Why would the religious be so adamant that atheism is a religion? If atheism can be labeled a belief, a religion, then it helps to legitimize their religion. If atheism is a worldview, as a religion is a worldview, religion is put on equal footing. Equal footing? Is that even appropriate here?

Secular is sometimes looked upon as atheistic, when, in its truest sense, it denotes more of a neutral stance. The United States Constitution is a secular document. It neither promotes nor opposes any belief system.

There are religious humanists who practice religious ritual minus the belief. I think there are some Jewish believers of this sort, and I imagine there might be a number of Catholics as well. There are many reports of Pastors in the pulpit who have lost their faith and simply go through the motions. Perhaps they are all religious humanists?

Secular humanism is pro-humanity. Yet, though secular in name, most secular humanists are simultaneously atheists. This is not a neutral stance. Perhaps they would be better named atheist humanists. Perhaps the name Secular Humanists has caused many a religious individual, upon hearing someone say that the Constitution is secular, to think it atheist. Next we will have to call it neutral secular, even though secular is already neutral, in my viewpoint.

Secular Humanism has adopted doctrine and the label of religion. While I personally agree with most, of what they have to say, I do not call my self humanist, though in fact I am pro-humanity. Each and every atheist is different. Each atheist has different ideas as to what is moral, or immoral, what is right, and what is wrong. Most atheists also think that no one should tell someone else how to live their lives.


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