I listen to the Chariots of Iron podcast (thanks for the link Jason) and they have coined a word – atheiskeptihumanist to cover the idea of including atheists, sceptics and humanists in the one group.
“It’s a big tent” or a “broad church” are also phrases I’ve been hearing a lot lately since atheists are about to set up an organisation of their own. What the term seems to imply is that there is a big tent of Freethinking which can accommodate all kinds of different groups, but each of the groups has its own distinct outlook or role. The phrases have been used as a form of reassurance to people who have been expressing worry about the division of membership between organisations or the danger of misunderstanding among the public (and politicians) of the nature of atheists and humanists. Needless to say I take a different view and needless to say it’s got the cat herding characteristics associated with freethinking. I believe that we can wear multiple hats. Take me for example:
I am an assertive (not MILITANT) atheist because of the repression and mental pain religion inflicted on me and on so many other people. I want people to know that religion is a controlling mechanism and a sham and that they can be free of it.
I am a sceptic and as far as possible apply reason and logic to the decisions I make and situations I am presented with. I believe that science and reason offers humans their best chance of understanding the world and improving their lives individually and collectively and as a result that nonsense should be challenged where possible and reasonable.
I am a humanist because it is the life stance that best reflects who I am.
I am a secularist. I believe that humans are a social and gregarious animal and must live in an organised society and that society must be regulated. This regulation should be the minimum necessary to allow people to pursue happiness for themselves without inflicting harm on others or society as a whole. For that reason the ethic underpinning society should in no way be connected with religion but derived from human need as tested by experience.
I can wear these hats and more and this is why I believe that the Big Tent analogy should be replaced by the Many Hats one because it more nearly reflects the real nature of the atheiskeptihumanist.