Guest Author - Theresa Faulkner
There are many terms used to describe different secular viewpoints. Most people are familiar with the terms of agnosticism or atheism. But how many of you are familiar with the terms of Secular Humanism, Spiritual Atheist, or Freethinker? These terms have come about as a way to expound on the individual’s beliefs than just the typical terms of agnosticism or atheism. They are also newer and “softer” terms that the secular community hopes will have a better impression on the theist community. Although they are all secular terms, they have different meanings.
Secular Humanists are atheists in the sense that they don’t believe in a god. But it goes beyond this. A Secular Humanist is someone who, in general, does not feel that atheism is enough. They believe in doing good and being ethical towards their fellow human beings. Of course, many theists and atheists believe this, but humanists use this term to describe who they are and their naturalistic world view.
Freethinkers encompass all those who consider themselves secular and is a term chosen to describe those who don’t follow religious dogma and have chosen to think for themselves using logic and reasoning.
A Spiritual Atheist, in general, is someone who does not believe in a god but believes there is a spiritual connectedness between themselves and the universe. Spiritual atheists, according to some people I know, can also be considered by the term “spiritual, but not religious”. However, I dislike using that phrase. I take it to mean that that person believes in a god but they just don’t go to church, whereas the term of Spiritual Atheist brings both points of spiritualism and atheism together.
All of the above terms are based largely on the personal preference of the person. Some secularists may use these interchangeably to describe themselves, as I do. I have called myself all of the secular titles mentioned above as they all describe what I believe and who I am. I do find that using any of the terms, except atheist, helps make it easier for my Christian friends to relate and accept me better; which I find interesting, because I'm still the same person.