Get Your Secs Here

December 21, 2008

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Who are we? How should we describe ourselves? Perhaps no movement has spent more time agonizing over what to call itself than the humanist/atheist/freethought/ skeptical/ Brights, etc. movement. That last sentence illustrated the problem nicely.

I am an atheist. (Note the small “a” — capitalization is another issue, but don’t get me started on   that .)  But I am not primarily interested in persuading people to be atheists. Let’s say we wake up tomorrow and everyone in the world is now an atheist. Has the world become vastly improved? Will there be an end to all violence, hatred, poverty, misery? Somehow, I don’t think so. I’m not saying that, on the whole, there might not be   some improvement in our condition—if only because we have divested ourselves of harmful false beliefs—but atheism is not an end in itself.

Secular humanist is the phrase many people in our movement use to describe themselves, and it does have the virtue of describing accurately the overall goal many of us share. We want a nonreligious world, but we also want a world in which reason and critical thinking promote human interests. But let’s face it, “secular humanist” is a mouthful. And “eupraxopher”? A four-syllable neologism based on classical Greek is not likely to catch on—however, thoughtful and descriptive the term may be in the abstract.

“Brights” has the virtue of being short. Unfortunately, it has not been especially well-received, especially because   it has an air of condescension.

If brevity is what we want, why not “Secs”? One thing we all share, presumably, is a commitment to secularism. For those who also think of themselves as secular humanists, “Secs” is a mere abbreviation. For other nonreligious, the term should be sufficiently vague that they can embrace it without feeling they are betraying some fundamental principle. And unlike “Brights,” the term is descriptive and offends no one,

Does anyone else want Secs? Let me know.