What’s in a name


It was Shakespeare who wrote the immortal words in Romeo and Juliet

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

which raises the question of what the godless should call themselves. I know fully well am not the first one to write on this topic, but that has never stopped me from adding my two cents to any topic.

Many of us identify as atheist, the problem with this label is that it doesn’t tell you what I believe. As has been said by other interlocutors, it has a negative connotation. It doesn’t tell you also that I don’t believe in ghosts, unicorns, fairies which would raise the interesting question whether I should call myself a-ghost, a-fairies and so on. It also doesn’t tell you what I think of the Hindoo belief of reincarnation or nirvana and so the like.

The second very interesting issue here, is the fact that it the Judaic cults that have the issue of a personal celestial dictator who is concerned about who you have sex with, sends a son to die ย and preaches that you shouldn’t get married if you can because the world is about to end and has its chosen people. In this respect I should be Non-Judaic. I have no belief in the existence of their cults’ god and so much more.

What then do I think we the godless[ whatever god means] should call themselves, if they must, which in my view is both an affirmation of belief and also deals with all the superstitions that have been with us since man began to believe and think. This label is Naturalist. It is an affirmation that you believe that nature is all there is, no ghosts, angels, afterlife and that phenomena follow religiously according to the laws of nature everywhere all the time. Together with being a naturalist, I subscribe to secularism that is state and church should be separated and am also a humanist.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

36 thoughts on “What’s in a name

  1. john zande says:

    Yes, i like it. I’ve always been fond of the term, Humanist, but i think Naturalist sums it up even better. Now, my friend, we need the beginnings of a manifesto… something in-line with Grayling’s earlier quote on humanism.

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  2. fabryhistory says:

    Naturalist is a great name – I’m going to use this next time I’m asked what I (don’t) believe.

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  3. I identify as a Humanist but I like the term Naturalist, not to be confused with naturist! I love nature and love how nature has its own rules. I like the first 3 statements of the manifesto. I have always been taught to ‘do as you would be done by’ . ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • makagutu says:

      It is evident you love nature, your very beautiful nature photos attest to the fact. There is a little contention on that golden rule dictum, that there are times you may like something that you’d not want done to you, am just yet to identify one such scenario.

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  4. Liberty of Thinking says:

    I’ve had a rather long argument with some folks a few months ago, who were fairly displeased with my stand for agnosticism as the only philosophically and rationally fair definition for someone like the above mentioned a/non/less etc…
    My point was that true knowledge must be experimental in order to validate one’s stand. Atheism declares an invalid stand, given the rather non-experimental and non-objective nature of theisms in general, as opposed to subjectivism, where theoretically everything’s possible.
    This is why after nearly 20 years of (now defunct) theism I can theologically adjudicate agnosticism.

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    • makagutu says:

      The problem with atheism is, unless the god is properly defined, it is like fighting with air bubbles or a sponge, the opponent can always morph into something else. I think though it is a valid stand given that the religious makes claims about how there god or gods affect the natural universe, this claims can be tested and if they don’t pass muster, then the claim is said to be irrational and this is true of almost if not all religious claims.

      I don’t think with regards to belief, agnosticism is a valid position. The say that the nature of god is unknowable, which assumes that a god exists and one of it’s attributes is un-intelligibility. It also assumes that the probability of god’s existence and non existence is 50-50 which I don’t think is the case.

      The idea of god, is from revelation alone. Forget the natural theologians who are trying to prove the existence of god without referring to scripture, they are engaging in tomfoolery and they are headed nowhere with their arguments. So the question really is do you think the books of scripture provide sufficient proof for a good and do you find it rational? If not then, the only valid position is the atheistic position, that is, lack of belief in the existence of gods.

      Those are my thoughts

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      • Liberty of Thinking says:

        I agree with you IF the above stand for agnosticism is valid. Nevertheless, core agnosticism assumes the existence or non-existence of a transcendent, supernaturally powerful being cannot be satisfactorily be proven. I stand with you in the rather impossibility of accepting a definition of what “god” would be, therefore an attempt to define atheism is futile, the usefulness of the term being rather utilitarian.
        Until I can’t be an omniscient god, KNOWING there is no other, I must stay a humble agnostic, or to put it the English way, “ain’t got clue, mate”:-D
        Having said that, I take a step further saying that, if there be a god who deistically speaking left this crap behind a terribly wrong experiment, I stand with Pullman: some Lord Azriel should go and have him done.

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        • makagutu says:

          I would also stand with Pullman, someone should actually help kill such a god!

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          • Liberty of Thinking says:

            Actually I think Pullman is the ONE single sane intellect of this age with enough courage to be a voice for the untold, unjust suffering of mankind, pointing so sharply to the true culprits, the Vatican, that not even Hollywood had the guts to repeat it.

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            • makagutu says:

              Is this Pullman, Philip Pullman?

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              • Liberty of Thinking says:

                Yes, the “His Dark Materials” trilogy’s author. If there has ever been an intellectual by pure definition, I can’t think of another. What surprises me, is that he doesn’t seem to even grasp the depths his writings are touching. The idiotic media and ultraidiotic literary/editorial establishments have defined him as a children’s author, when in my oppinion he is by far our generation’s Tolkien. A day’s gonna come I hope, when HDM shall become nevertheless a mandatory reading for all children, if we want to raise them truly FREE. Without him I would have probably never shake of the religious blindfolds and shackles suffocating and poisoning my life even after dumping christianity to the garbage pit where it belongs.

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                • makagutu says:

                  Sometimes you think of it, I like the idea of being considered a children author. The thing is to get as many children to read his works or to have the works read to them instead of stories of Noah’s giant sheep or Jonah’s transport arrangement with fishes. There is actually a silver lining. I will look for his books and add to my growing list of to read.

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      • Liberty of Thinking says:

        Ah, and four more things:
        1.After Katrina & co, I don’t want to be naturalist. Nature sucks…
        2.After Hitler and co, I don’t want to be a humanist. Humans suck…
        3.After all, I ain’t got clue what I am, so I’ll stick with Agnosticism, even if agnosticism sucks, too…
        4.I love Fairies. So I’ll remain fair…

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        • makagutu says:

          No comment, you win on those 4 counts my friend!

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          • Liberty of Thinking says:

            You know how wonderful it is to actually believe with my 6 years old, in the Toothfairy, and running around at each new tooth for golden coins?! And to love her “magic tricks” where she hides behind the sofa while I close my eyes, and reappears after I close them again after saying “please magic my princess back”. My other children are exasperated, but my heart is bleeding because I robbed them of the same joy as I raised them to believe “jesus loves you” and Santa, the Toothfairy, the Easter Bunny are demons, and all who allow their children to believe in children’s stories are worshiping the devil… I told them, and I apologised for their stolen childhood, and I am trying hard to make back what I can, but my heart is crying tears of blood, every day, hoping for their children at least to be left with their childhood happiness…

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            • makagutu says:

              I am sure they know daddy didn’t mean harm when he told them there was a celestial dictator watching them as they act or even think, it would be criminal only if daddy continued to tell them the same story when he knows better.

              Magic tricks with kids is good play any day ๐Ÿ˜›

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  5. Mordanicus says:

    It wouldn’t surprise you that I consider myself to be a humanist.

    Like

  6. Ishaiya says:

    I have not yet found a label or title that I’m comfortable with, even my own name does not fit with who I am and what I believe. But then maybe labels aren’t really that necessary. Labels to me are a way to categorise, and to me that means limitation. The moment you define who you are, you limit yourself. It’s not for me.
    I do like the inference to Shakespear’s quote though. I used part of the same quote in my About page on my other blog, in reference to my own changing name. I like that everyone has a different name, or label for me, I feel it expresses who I am in a broader sense.

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    • makagutu says:

      It is hard to find a label that would represent us fully, but I think naturalist is a good starting point. I like the idea of different people having a different name for you for it means correctly that for different people you represent different things which is, I think, a true representation of our relationships.

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  7. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Very provocative! When asked, I always tell people that I’m a humanitarian. If pressed, I then add that I’m a nudist. That bit of information usually manages to end the conversation then and there. A great question, my friend! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. violetwisp says:

    That’s a fitting label I can certainly relate to, but atheist has more punch! I like being confrontational – no-one would argue much with a naturalist.

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  9. holly says:

    I like naturalist. I generally go with humanist, http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=main&page=affirmations
    I agree with this set of affirmations .
    I refer to myself also as agnostic atheist because religion is rather an important part of the American way. And that title clearly identifies me as nonsupernatural. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • makagutu says:

      I like agnostic atheist, but I will go with naturalist until I a more appropriate label maybe conceived.

      Thanks for visiting and be well.

      Like

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