March 2014

Just a thought: The label ‘atheist’ covers what you don’t believe. The label ‘secularist’ covers whatever you believe at this point in time; it serves as a parent label for all the child labels that apply, such as humanist, realist, hedonist, etc.. While arguable, and likely off-pissing to many atheists (and seculars), understanding it in this way clears the picture by presenting a pattern of relationships for all the kinds of beliefs that atheists may (or may not) support. Try it; you’ll see how many things become easier to explain to people who have trouble seeing anything.

I try to think of words in a relationship to the positions they might occupy on a category tree, a practice that designers of reference tomes like encyclopedias and lexicons use for laying out their projects. In general, the term of interest gets the top position. Related categories get placed on a downward staircase according to the amount of their expected usage. That way, terms expected to be of greater interest get positioned closer to the top. I have adapted that process, below, to present a parent/child scenario for the word atheist in the way I perceive it, as described in the first paragraph, for the reasons also given there. Secular serves as a parent word. They are not synonyms, the way most people seem to try to use them; they are relatives.

What we need is a well-considered dictionary to work from, as produced by a group of knowledgeable persons capable, authoritative, and willing to define words in accordance with a secular vision of our world. We do not have that, else it has not been well promoted. Until that becomes available, we must suffer with what we have and

From somewhere on the web. I will post credit when I learn of the original artist.

From somewhere on the web. I will post credit when I learn of the original artist.

make ready to state why we disagree with the often accusatory tone inherent to the way definitions are often expressed. In a world where the word ‘spiritual’ offends seculars the same as ‘fuck’ offends the religious, this need will not get addressed very soon. I doubt I’ll live long enough to buy a first edition. I’ll keep watching for “SECULAR VERSION” stamped on the spine and front cover.

A category tree presents a layout of a block of information in a simple way that enables interactive searches in a way that makes things easier to find. Think of the nested lists of folders on your computer, for example, where folders and their subfolders are shown in side-by-side vertical rows, any folder of which can be opened to view its contents.

 Category trees for [   atheist]

NOTE 1: All the categories shown in a parent/child category tree may be definable in both religious and secular terminology, which may affect parent/child and sibling relationships.

1 (religious); Noun: one who disbelieves and/or denies the existence of God (Merriam-Webster and a composite of others). As promoted in Christian literature:

 Type of: [unreligious, disbeliever, sinner, amoral] [person]

 Category Tree:

Resister, evildoer, atheist

Satanist, demon lover, libertine

threat, pervert

pornographer, womanizer, criminal, arrogant

╚atheist, agnostic, disbeliever, amoral, nihilist

            ╚sinner, disbeliever, secularist, worldly


            2 Secular: Noun: Type of: [nonreligious, unbeliever, skeptic, godless] [person] One who cannot believe those who are represented to be messengers of gods, nor make a logical or causal connection; “I cannot connect any of this with evidence in my mind”; “I cannot relate to these events as true at all”

Category Tree:

Nonreligious, unbeliever, reasoning, atheist,

secular, irreligious,


            ╚reasoning, atheist, ecology student, scientist


            ╚reasoning, humanist, realist, hedonist, doubter,

unbeliever, heretic, sceptic, agnostic, infidel,



╚Brights, non-believer, paynim, nullifidian, heathen



            ╚Christian hedonist, naturist, nudist

╚ religious

╚atheists for Jesus, pagan atheists, some Wiccans, Spiritual Humanist

Laying out secular labels in the fashion of a book layout clears the confusion away from the process of figuring out where we belong in the maze. Surely, many more labels exist than what the example shows. Surely, many Christians will feel upset over the mean intolerance displayed in the religious categories; that was taken from personal history and from the Internet. Maybe you who stay quiet need to dare to speak up and make the real truth be known.

Surely, also, disagreements will arise about the placement of some labels. If you endeavor to author this book (and, why shouldn’t you? Go ahead!), no reason exists to think you’d not have something to say about a label in only one place. Why solve a layout problem only to create a problem with context?

A book about atheism alone would be very short and easy to write. One sentence would tell it all: “I simply refuse to be so dishonest that I would make myself pretend to believe any of those implausible tales.”

A meaningful accounting of atheism requires that label to be placed in its relationship(s) among all the other secular labels, the way it might be found in a secular thesaurus, if one truly did exist. The term, secular, serves as the parent, in my view, for which all the other applicable term relate as children, grandchildren, and so forth. Even the New Oxford Thesaurus follows a churchly, negating approach wherein most of the terminology tells what something is not: “non-religious, lay, non-church, temporal, worldly, earthly, profane; unsanctified, unconsecrated,  unhallowed; (rare): laic”. We use words related to natural to talk about our secular selves; earthly and worldly are of religious origin that imply a negative, deprecatory value.

Check these out:

Natural: normal, ordinary, everyday, usual, regular, common, commonplace, typical, routine, standard, established, customary, accustomed, habitual, run-of-the-mill, stock, unexceptional.

Nature: THE NATURAL WORLD, the living world, Mother Nature, creation, the world, the environment, the earth, Mother Earth, the universe, the cosmos, natural forces; wildlife, flora and fauna, countryside, landscape, scenery.

Actual: REAL, true, genuine, authentic, verified, attested, confirmed, definite, hard, plain, clear, clear-cut, undeniable, veritable; existing, existent, manifest, substantial, unimaginary, non-fictional, factual, unquestionable, indisputable; effective, realistic; (Latin): de facto, bona fide; (informal): real, live, honest-to-goodness.

Objective: (1) Impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced, non-partisan, disinterested, non-discriminatory, neutral, uninvolved, even-handed, equitable, fair, fair-minded, just, open-minded, dispassionate, detached, impersonal, unemotional, clinical.

(2) the world of objective knowledge: FACTUAL, actual, real, empirical, verifiable, existing, manifest.

When you make that secular version of a dictionary for me, choose your words from secular language to define secular words. Otherwise, it will be disbelieved and folks like me won’t buy it.

Copyright ©2014 by Lloyd H. Whitling. Permission to excerpt is granted if accompanied with credit to the author. Permission to reuse is granted only if accompanied with this notice. All other rights reserved.


Nature was meant to be experienced naked. I miss the life I began as a Naturist, by which I know the truth expressed at the other end of that link. I miss roaming naked in the woods behind my parents’ farm, skinny dipping in the creek, wondering where I’d left my clothes, knowing my parents would not approve. I had no awareness of Naturism then. Go ahead, click the link, then visit my FaceBook page at ‘hedonics’ and let me know what you think. Spend a day naked inside your own home, preferably with a trusted friend to get a small taste, then decide whether to dare a naked adventure.

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