What’s in a name? Or a closet?

Question from Jim:
Thanks for the work and effort that goes into your podcast, I enjoy it immensely. I’ve found that using the term “coming out” as an atheist, always requires a lot of explanation. But that’s alright, because it opens up the conversation, to other issues. Such as the issuance of titles. Namely why we have to use a title. Would titles be necessary if it weren’t for the title “Christian”? Did this title not open up this Pandoras Box? Or maybe even the title “religious”?

Answer by SmartLX:
I don’t think the term “atheist” would be needed if there weren’t a large number of people with opposing viewpoints.

The term “abolitionist” was relevant in the United States only until slavery was successfully abolished. Nowadays it’s assumed that (nearly) everyone there is opposed to slavery and would work against it if it returned, so everyone’s an abolitionist and there’s no point using the word to refer to individuals.

Likewise, “atheist” is a term for someone who rejects a popular position, namely theism. If religious belief declined until it were as rare as, say, political anarchism, there’d be no more reason to call someone an atheist than there’s reason to call someone a non-anarchist. It would already be assumed, and instead the theists would need to speak up.

As for “coming out”, its meaning for gay people is common knowledge, so it shouldn’t be too hard to transfer it to other revelations of people’s private nature. Atheists in certain places have just as much reason to be “in the closet” as gays, so it’s just as meaningful when they “come out”.

By the way, we don’t do a podcast, so the one you enjoy is by someone else. Jake did a few short videos some years ago, but that was it.

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