Does it matter what we refer to ourselves as with one another? Believer, non-believer, atheist, theist or agnostic? does anyone really care about these labels outside our own social group? I sometimes think it doesn’t matter. Do I choose my friends based on any of those labels? No. I do think there are people that will choose their social circle based on the shallowness of some label. That’s fine for them. Please stay away from me.
As I’ve mentioned before, after I became a non-believer, I didn’t refer or even think of myself as an atheist. I don’t know why, I just never thought about atheism or anything else related to it. I was just someone that no longer believe in any god anymore. Why do I need a label for something I am already familiar with? FOr other people? What business is it of theirs what I believe or don’t believe. It’s like asking someone how they voted: It’s none of your business.
Of course it’s easier for all of us if we can categorize each other. Believer, non-believer, liberal, conservative, pro-this, anti-that. I mean, think about it, do you know anyone that you cannot place in at least one category? Most likely several. And don’t you dare get it wrong! Call a liberal a conservative? I actually heard that happen once, on a podcast I was listening to. The interviewer was British, the guest an American. The American guest referred to the host as conservative simply based on comments he made. Yeah, you can imagine the response. It made me think about labels in general. A liberal in the UK sounds awfully like a conservative in the US.
Without certain labels, it’s difficult for people to be able to pigeonhole someone else. I’m a conservative, but some conservatives don’t believe that because I’m not a believer. See how that goes? Conservatism equals believer, pro-gun, pro-death penalty, pro-life…you get it. In that list, I am pro-gun. but that’s about it. I can’t be a conservative in some peoples mind. With other people, because I am pro-gun, I can’t be a liberal. I exist in ideological purgatory. Or I don’t exist at all.
I’m very much unconcerned with what other people think about me. How they tend to categorize me is not a concern I have simply because I already know who I am and if other people don’t want to take the time? We each move on. I will admit I have few people I call friend, but that’s okay as well because these same are not liable to try and place me in a box and I’m the same with them. I’d rather have a few people around me that don’t try and judge me than a large number who are always attempting to make me into something I am not.
So okay, I’m an “atheist” or whatever. So what? Does that label make me anything other than exactly who I am? I don’t believe it does. It’s like any label; they can be attached and torn away at a moments notice. Liberal, conservative, what do any of these actually mean? Do we actually allow these labels we either voluntarily take on or are assigned by others, seriously? Whether I or someone else refers to me as “atheist” or just “non-believer” is meaningless to me and I have never let any of them, atheist, conservative, whatever define who I am. I think like you, I am way too complex for that.