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I am the world’s second Pink Atheist

I’m on a reading binge, and have just finished Nothing: Something to Believe In by Nica Lalli, the world’s first Pink Atheist. I would like to officially declare myself the second Pink Atheist.

(P.S. I’ll also be interviewing Nica soon.)


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. I think I am more of a navy blue atheist but I like a lot of what Nica has to say. Maybe I can start saying I am a purple atheist?

  2. I actually struggle with what kind of atheist I am quite a bit. I agree, for the most part, with what Dawkins and Harris have to say, and have said some of the same things in my own rants. But in general, I find — possibly because of my own religious background and the fact that I still have religious relatives — that I take a more nuanced view than they do.

  3. I think we're moving beyond 'herding cats' now and into neutrino-gathering territory with all of these different flavors and colors of atheists.

    I'm just an atheist. I do not have a belief in a god. To me, that's all 'atheist' describes. I can understand, to a degree, wanting to stand out and not be lumped in with people whose reasons for coming to that conclusion are different than your own. Likewise, I can understand perhaps worrying that others will assume that you share the harsh-seeming and potentially isolating views of a Dawkins or Harris if you simply call yourself an atheist. These are justifiable concerns.

    However, as much as I know that feeling this way is NOT an indication of shame, I can imagine theists seeing it as such if one tells them 'I'm THIS kind of atheist.' I think it might come across as 'I'm sorry I'm an atheist, but I'm not one of those mean ones!' Neither Nica Lalli, nor anyone else here (I'm sure) is ACTUALLY ashamed or apologetic about their lack of belief. It just seems problematic and potentially weak-looking to hem and haw about one's position from the start.

    For me, if I'm asked about faith I will generally say 'I'm an atheist' and leave it there. If the questioner is curious or concerned, they will ask for more details and I can explain a bit more about my reasons, opinions, and anything else. If, for some reason, they are threatened by the potential implications of my non-belief, I let them tell me, then clarify my position in conversation (or, at times, debate). I feel that, personally, I'd rather have the discussion and let details out that way than lead in with a disclaimer.

    While most of us feel that 'atheist' (or humanist, agnostic, whatever else we may be) is a strong position from which to argue, not all people do. That's why I represent it with a solid, affirmative, unqualified statement: 'I am an atheist.' It shows that I've got my ground staked out, and that I'm not aggressive, defensive, or ashamed. I'm simply THERE, and must be accounted for. That's more than good enough for me.

  4. thad: Back in the day (about a century ago or so), the association was actually the other way around. What I find a more interesting question is why, starting around the beginning of the 20th century, people felt the need to assign colors to genders (or vice versa).

  5. Expatria,

    I must gently disagree. I don't think most theists would see it as a indication of shame if someone were to describe themselves as a "this" or "that" sort of atheist, any more than I would expect an atheist to see it as an expression of shame if I were to describe myself as a Pink Christian. Given how broad the meaning of both of these words (atheist and Christian) can be, it is not unreasonable to add a modifier or two in the appropriate circumstances. If nothing else, it can help to derail the Preconception Train that so many people have running around on a track in their brains. Every atheist and every Christian I know (and I know lots of both) have certain pictures in their minds of what the other word means and what someone who describes themselves with that word MUST be like. If I want to have an open discussion/debate with someone on the "other side" of ANY issue, then it's always easier if we can both avoid mentally pigeonholing each other before we even start.

    Your way of simply describing yourself as an "atheist" works fine for people who are already open to discussion, but I often find it more interesting and valuable to have such debates with people who need a little effort to bridge that gap. Maybe the best description of these people would be ones with a thin crust of certitude on top of a more malleable center of inquiry.

    In any event, I wanted to say that I like the concept of a Pink (or purple!) Atheist. It reminds me of the similar (but less euphonic) "Christian-with-a-big-but" that I have heard used by some on my side of the fence.

  6. Expatria, I think you're taking it more seriously than I (or Nica) intended this to be. For me, it's an idea of a way to get attention or press, just like being a "skepchick". It sounds catchy, and will get people to ask questions like "What the heck is a pink athiest?", "Don't you think using the color pink – or the word chick – is demeaning to smart women?", or even "Why am I hearing so much about atheists these days?"

    I actually just tell people I'm "nothing" when they ask my religion, which is why I bought Nica's book in the first place. I usually only say I'm an atheist if they are confused or ask me outright. Before I use the word atheist, I normally prefer to explain that I don't believe in gods or the supernatural at all.

    I have never had anyone freak out or give me a negative reaction when I tell them this. Most people are just very intrigued, and surprised that I "dont' believe in anything" — not God, not goddesses, not pantheism, not homeopathy, not angels, not heaven, etc.

    Either that, or they're also nonbelievers. I meet a lot of skeptics, amazingly, in all kinds of situations like writing groups and knitting clubs. So I tend to think there are more of us than we think. But most don't mention their own nonbelief until I out myself first.

  7. I was going to say I'm definitely a navy blue atheist, but after some consideration I've changed my mind. First of all it's clumsy and doesn't roll off the tongue. Second there are so many associations with just blue that that doesn't work. (m-w definition of blue: "5 of a woman : LEARNED, INTELLECTUAL" wft?) And third my old definition works fine, I'm a rabid atheist.

  8. writerdd, SteveT:

    I understand what you're saying. Perhaps I am taking it a bit too seriously. I just tire of the constant division of 'atheists' into this and that…I've seen it both attacked and defended all 'round the Blogosphere and wanted to contribute my own two cents on the subject.

    It wasn't the attention getting term 'pink atheist' that bothered me so much as what I saw it conveying. I guess I still encounter more people who attempt to put me on the defensive upon learning that I'm an atheist rather than those who do otherwise, which is silly, on the whole, since the burden of proof is on their shoulders, not mine! They are the ones making a proposition in need of defense.

    I understand the need for gap-bridging, but I don't know that more labels are the right way to do it. People are still confused and misled enough about the character of atheists, so I'd rather work on fixing that before branching out and making it more complicated. As the 'Pink Atheist' thing sounds to me like a way of saying 'I'm a SAFE atheist, not like those others,' I guess it's not the best fit for me. I want people to know, first and foremost, that almost all atheists are 'safe' atheists, and that the word itself isn't the negative or heartless thing they might think it to be.

    I can totally see the use in saying 'I'm nothing' as you do, writerdd. It's a convenient way of condensing 'atheist and skeptic/scientific naturalist' into one word. I guess I just keep my atheism and my skepticism as separate issues whenever possible, as the two don't always go together. At least, in my circle (particularly since coming to Britain) I've encountered many people who aren't religious and/or consider themselves atheists, yet still think belief in alternative/complementary medicine, homeopathy, astrology, and psychics is perfectly reasonable. I suppose I try to cross (or, on occasion, burn) one bridge at a time :-D

    Regardless, I'm not the sort of person who tells others what to do. People can market their own beliefs as they want to and, since it does help get the word out, I don't care if people call themselves green pastafarians, pink atheists, orange agnostics, purple horseshoes, or yellow moons. I just know that, for me and for my 'agenda', the simplest description I can muster works best.

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