Atheist Catchphrases

Catchphrase
n.
A well-known sentence or phrase.

Theists have catchphrases. So do atheists.

The difference, I would argue, is that theist catchphrases are meant to limit thinking and/or reinforce orthodoxy; atheist catchphrases typically have the opposite effect.

Orthodoxy
n.
Authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice.

I think my claim can be demonstrated in two ways: philosophically and by examining representative catchphrases (hopefully selected at random).

Philosophically

There is no such thing as atheist orthodoxy or dogma, by definition, as we all know atheism is simply the rejection of a theism’s revealed gods and religions. Atheism requires no leaders, books, or even thoughts to exist, as it is the default state, the lack of certain beliefs.

Of course, most (but not all) of the atheist community embraces rational, scientific inquiry. We also place value on such an approach to belief; I would personally go so far as to call doubt a virtue.

Without orthodoxy, an atheist catchphrase that reinforces dogma is a contradiction of terms.

By Example: Christian refrains

“It’s God’s plan.” / Mystery

Don’t worry (think) about it; it’s not for mortals to control or even understand. Sometimes this is even used to cover up contradictions inherent in belief.

God/Jesus loves you.

Dogma.

Sins / “Died for you” / Sacrifice

Instill a sense of guilt and create an obligation/debt; thinking doubtful thoughts is thus ungrateful. (Thus, reason is cut off and dogma is enforced.)

“Pray for understanding”

On the surface, it sounds like a call for reason. But then why include prayer? Because the only response to prayer is imagined — “pray for understanding” really means “go rationalize this or ascribe it to God’s plan.”

“Think with your heart, not your mind”

Don’t think at all. Let us guilt you into belief.

By Example: Atheist catchphrases

“Correlation is not causation”

Encourages reasoning: Is there evidence of an ultimate cause? What other ways might trends be related? Could the causation in fact be the opposite of the assumed or wished direction?

Proof / “Do they have stats on that?”

Challenges assumptions.

“Why?”

Leads to greater understanding, enabling better (informed) reasoning.

IDiot

Used to refer to “Intelligent Design” or creationist proponents. This is one case where it actually makes it easy to dismiss opposing beliefs out-of-hand. Personally, I think we should avoid such language if possible. And yet, the scorn comes from what we perceive as the “IDiot’s” inability to see facts and reason with them, so there is still very much a sense of valuing science and reason over assumptions and faith.

Disclaimer

Admittedly a lot of the atheist catchphrases are not specifically atheist in nature, but heard often within the community as a result of the scientific inquiry process which can often lead to atheist beliefs.

Fair enough?

Please let me know if I am being unfair, if I have missed anything, or if there are atheist catchphrases that do dead-end reasoning (I’m sure there out there).

3 thoughts on “Atheist Catchphrases

  1. GreenOdonata

    In response to the so-often used theist catchphrase “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!” my usual response is “Absence of evidence is not evidence for existence.” Just figured I’d throw that out there.

  2. theadividual

    It’s interesting to note that you correctly put the emphasis on “ID” in the word “IDiot. The original Greek meaning was “private person,” and then Freud gave ID new meaning when he came up with Das Ich, the ID/ego. So to use the term as Nietzsche did when he said, “Jesus was an idiot” caused furor although it was meant literally: Jesus was of the ego, of the senses. It’s the perfect term to use when referencing theists. Atheists who are critical thinkers, question any kind of idiotic activity. Great post.

  3. Mr. Atheist Post author

    @GreenOdonata — Funny, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” works quite well for evolution defenders when a creationist asks for “missing links”.

    @theadvidual — Thanks for pointing that out and for the kind words. I hadn’t thought about the id in relation to IDiot. I understood it was only meant to stand for Intelligent Design.

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