More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops – (From Sunday’s edition.)

“It’s not about carrying banners or protesting,” said Herb Silverman, a math professor at the College of Charleston who founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, which has about 150 members on the coast of the Carolinas. “The most important thing is coming out of the closet.”

Of course, this will be alarming for some people; for others, a welcome sign of things to come.

I’m a relative newcomer to the “free thought” movement (such as it is, and to the extent that I’m a part of it). One thing I’ve noticed is that atheism and agnosticism are understood by believers to be belief systems in their own right. This of course isn’t true; both are terms for the absence of a particular kind of belief.

This has led some people — specifically, Sam Harris — to looking for terms other than “atheist” to describe themselves. After all, as Harris points out, we don’t have terms for people who don’t believe in alchemy or astrology.

However, I can’t get on board with the term “bright” that Harris, Dan Dennett, and Richard Dawkins have adopted. It’s corny and nauseating.