July 10, 2009 • 1:49 pm

o.k., time to unload another autographed copy of WEIT, made out to the lucky winner of this contest:

Provide a snappy, one-word name for those atheists who are nonetheless soft on faith (i.e., atheist accommodationists).  You know them — the kind of people, like Michael Ruse,  who say, “I am an atheist, but . . .”.   In other words, the folks who, says Daniel Dennett, have “belief in belief.” That’s a snappy phrase, but it ain’t one word.

RULES:  Contest open for one week, answers on this thread.  Only two submissions per person.  Be clever, as it’s the word I want to use on this website from now on.  PLEASE do not post anything on this thread except your entries.

305 thoughts on “Contest!

    1. I just noticed the typo. Here is the corrected version:

      athebeliefist = an atheist who has a “belief in belief,” i.e. an atheist who is soft on faith

      pronounced (ae-the-be-leef-ist)

  1. My own sad portmanteau:


    It’s not particularly slick, so I’ll try and think of another one later.

    1. DevonR

      “Accommodatheist” is very slick; it just rolls off the tongue.

      I vote for “Accommodatheist.”

  2. I got my two entries here:


    or (my favorite)


    (the last not only being true, but it also works as a bad pun on the “…atheist, but…” position too)

  3. Several possibilities come to mind (or at least my mind). Here goes;






      1. But ‘Faitheist’ dosn’t in any way imply that it’s about atheists. It actually seem to imply theists with faith. How novel is that idea?

  4. I sometimes call them “Atheist Butters,” but since you’re forcing me to go with one word:


    It helps that their “gosh, fellers, can’t we all just get along” rhetoric sounds a lot like the South Park character.

  5. Ooops! Reading-to-the-end-of-the-rules fail. I missed the two submissions per person bit. Rats! now I have to narrow it down. Okay, Cardinal Biggles,my two chief weapons are;



    1. Well, since you abandoned the one I liked the most:

      I’ll take “Faitheist”.

      I’ll also propose a variant: “profaitheist”.

      1. I was thinking “Faitheist” as well. They obviously don’t think they have objective reasons for being atheist (or those reasons could be offered to the religious). So *their* atheism is apparently a form of faith (but mine isn’t).

  6. (To expound: Fides, faith, of course, should be pronounced “fee-de”; thus apart from suggesting an unhealthy love of faith, in British English it will rhyme with “pedophile”.)

    1. You’re mixing Latin and Greek! That’s almost as big a sin as mixing creationism and science – that will be 100 years of listening to Sarah Palin speeches for you!

  7. I’ll be straightforward and go with “believists”.

    My backup would be Wagerists, as everyone of the type I’ve experienced seems to be inclined to not want to rule out religion in case they’re wrong. Better to leave the option of faith open so they won’t feel silly when they convert on their deathbed, when they finally give in fully to Pascal’s Wager. I think that’s more implicatory than you’re aiming for, though 🙂

  8. My favorite is one proposed by Dawkins, but it is much longer than one word – “I’m an atheist butheads”. Like Faithheads for regular believers.

    Maybe just
    Atheist Butheads

  9. Compatheist.

    Derived from the Late Latin word ‘compati’ (compatible); which meant “to suffer with”.

  10. Toleratheists:
    to connote the lack of aspiration to be petty toward, insult, or shut out believers… Downside is that it contains “atheists” – which is pretty much beside the point. (since it is supposed to be a position on philosophy of science, not religion).

    Methodologicals: to connote the focus on science as a method rather than a philosophical system.

    Anyone want to lay odds on whether either of these two terms will actually win? I’d lay them mighty long.

    1. A note in favor of my entries, and others who will bear the nomenclature – it can be a point of courtesy and respect to refer to people by the names they recognize.

      Of course, I understand you guys don’t much care for the term “new atheists” that seems to have attached itself to you…

      I guess we could use “insufferable self-righteous antagonistic unreflective pricks” for just about everyone involved in either side of this debate, but it’s kind of a mouthful.

  11. “Sympathizers” comes to mind, and “apologizers” (sort of like apologists, and referring to the “atheist, but” portrayal (which may not be accurate)).

    Whether they’re clever or not I don’t know, really more like serious entries.

    “Sympathizers” might trouble some as McCarthyist, yet I’d think we could put that nonsense behind us 20 years (or so) after the fall of the Berlin wall.

    To be sure, you might even call me those terms, because I do care about the sociology of this matter, and getting along sometimes means not saying everything that might be “true.” I’m not Ruse, though (I wouldn’t say many of the things he’s said), and I wanted to join the contest regardless.

    Glen Davidson

    1. Following up on that if I were using one word I’d be tempted by Protheists, but a weakness in that is that implies an opposition to antitheists rather then atheists. Much as I like Fatheists (a variant on one above) or Templetons (see below), I’d rather use a word that doesn’t automatically mean someone taking the position is a jerk rather than mistaken.

      Of course that doesn’t stop some people being jerks, but those would be the militant Protheists. 😉

  12. I would like to propose:


    As in they change their beliefs to suit their need (or for an audience).

  13. I didn’t want to post my second attempt so soon, in case something clever popped in my head later, but then I realised that I’m really not that clever so the chances are slim. How about this one.


  14. How about ‘hesitheist’, hesitant toward theists.
    Second option ‘reluctheist’ (I think you have the idea).

  15. sycotheist

    The OED has an interesting etymology for sycophant – the insulting gesture of “making a fig” or to an obscene alternate meaning for ‘sykon’ as c**t.

  16. Cowherds, they put themselves forward as
    the minders of the sacred cows.

    or second submission:

    Minders, in that they presume to filter
    and frame science to appease.

  17. *sigh* I’ve probably been guilty of being one of those “faitheists,” but that’s lately changed as I hear more and more incorrect and downright unkind things said about nonbelievers. When an xtian friend of mine complained “I wish those damn atheists would shut up” I had to tell him that they’re only words–how could they possibly affect his faith? Of course, my question was rhetorical.

    Call the soft ones among us what you will. I can live with that, I suppose, but if religionists want us to shut up, they have to do the same. Mooney, et al, are WAY off base, IMHO.

  18. Atheaser

    A portmanteau of “appeaser” and “atheist.”

    It’s good because the accomodationists are atheists who are trying to appease theists. It’s also good because “appease” often has a negative connotation to it, implying that you don’t want to be in this category of people.

    It’s bad because someone who hasn’t seen the word probably would need it explained (it isn’t immediately obvious.) I like it nonetheless.

  19. They’re usually called “fideists”, I think – they have faith in faith as mentioned upthread. The “Atheist Butts” are nice too (but of course two words – even if they’re by Dawkypoo).

    My entry (I really want that book): err-theists

    Or for you rhotic types: uhhhh-theists.

    1. No, a fideist is something else. It’s someone who thinks it’s epistemically legitimate, in at least some circumstances, to believe on the basis of faith. The sort of people we’re talking about don’t necessarily go that far. They’re usually more into sheer political expediency.

      1. I see. Thanks. That’ll learn me to not spout off about stuff I don’t know (for now …).

        It’s good that there are always smart people around to correct me.

      2. political expediency.

        Defined as allowing fideists their own epistemological standards instead of insisting that they adopt mine.

  20. Christians have “apologetics” who wiggle and worm their way around them inconvenient “facts” and “logical fallacies” to attempt to keep their faith unsullied, and it appears to me that accommodationists do much the same thing, trying to wiggle and worm “well, we may be atheists, BUT…” in order to never offend any single offhand belief anyone else might have.

    So… “apologetists?”

    If you’d like a harder edge, I’m keen on “spineletheists.”

  21. Second submission (just a variation on my first one)


    I like this one even better because, in context, it doesn’t have to be explained to figure out what is meant.

      1. You’re right. Sorry about that! Consider that entry withdrawn.

        I hope you win, since that means that Coyne agrees with my (our) assessment that it is appeasement.

      2. I figured out what happened–I just got back to the computer where I submitted the suggestion from, and it said I would have been comment #37, but you (and several others must have still be awaiting moderation). My first comment, which ended up immediately after yours was listed as being #34, instead of its current #40…

        I still like Appeaseists, but looking through the other entries I also like Todd’s (#66) Placatheist.

      3. If belief in God seems like a respectable idea to you and it’s those who agree with PZ Myers you can’t stand.

        You’re an aPZist

    1. That would be me! I actually have nothing against deists (who believe in some kind of non-interfering Creator). It’s the particular doctrines of the actual religions that are hard to reconcile with the scientific picture of the world. Deists don’t subscribe to any such doctrines, and they don’t usually try to impose a religious morality.

  22. The accommodationists seem to have a much more post-modern take on epistemology than the New Atheists, so might they be Post-Atheists?

    A second try is syntheists.

    I really liked Faiththeists from above (#8), but think it works better as Faitheists.

    1. Just a note on syntheists, if it’s not obvious… I thought “syn” was a more appropriate prefix (meaning “together”) than “a” (meaning “not”), since they seem to be more concerned about making nice with theists than opposing them.

  23. metatheist: the metatheist, like the theist, argues that theism constitutes a valid context for the search for truth. However, the metatheist, like the atheist, does not believe that any truths so derived are, in fact, true.

    metagnostic: even more confused than the metatheist, the metagnostic is uncertain whether God exists, and is furthermore unsure of his uncertainty. This paradoxically causes the metagnostic to be absolutely certain that no one can be both certain and correct. Thus, the common complaint about the “new atheists” and all their gosh-darned confidence.

  24. Incidentally, I would consider each pair of possible pronunciations acceptable.

    (meta-theist vs met-atheist, meta-gnostic vs. met-agnostic)

  25. I didnt bother to read all, hope these arent taken:

    (atheists that may be a little theistic after all)

    (atheists that put theism first, and the a later)

    1. How’s the epistimutt work? epistulam = the letter (which is why the “epistles” have titles like “letter of Paul to the Corinthians”)

      1. damn again! that should have been Epistemutts, as in epistemology. I think that I like NutterButters even better, though.

  26. For my second suggestion (after theophiles, above): Opiatheists — those who think that THEY can handle atheism, but apparently think that the masses need the opium of religion. Let us not forget the condescension implicit in their position.

  27. Hmmm…


    …though perhaps the neologism isn’t strong enough in its implication…

    So, though it isn’t a neologism, I’d simply say…


  28. Ambiguists – meaning a bit like Dennett’s “murkies”.

    But I like “Credulists” best, as it encapsulates ideas like gulliblity, naïvity and lacking skepticism.

  29. Is it just me seeing this, or is Jonathon’s “syntheist” post moving *down* the list, somehow? My last post (#64) was written in response to it, but Jonathon’s post is now #69, *after* mine!

    I mention this in case position enters into judging, and in case “syntheist” wins the day.

  30. I like “appeasers”. I realise that the, well, appeasers consider this to be inflammatory, but I’m not sure I should worry too much about that. These people are typically prepared to hand over a huge amount of territory to religion without a fight (here, you can be authoritative about the whole supernatural world (whose existence we won’t deny), about morality, and the meaning of life).

  31. “Godlycoddlers” is such a great word! Love it. Thanks KB.

    Other excellent words that roll off the tongue (and aren’t to clever for their own good) are “Faitheists” and “Fidephiles”. The both rhyme nicely with associated words.

    Credulists is quite good, but maybe a bit plain.

    My vote and money is on the sublime put-down of “Templetons”. It coins a new noun with great new meaning, tars the John Templeton Foundation with the same brush, and ends in ‘ton’, like simpleton. It’s perfect!

  32. Commathist – a slight contraction of the obvious that rolls off the tongue easily, and particularly lends itself to hurling with a pejorative sneer (which, after all, is the purpose of the “New” prefix – Godless Atheist must have been losing its punch, besides being redundant. And, it also rhymes with comminist (Southern dialect for any who don’t recognize it), which adds a nice Back At Ya touch.

    1. FWIW & for those who have noted the shifting order, right now I’m 74, having somehow come in above at least a couple with earlier timestamps. This isn’t the only odd thing on the site today – I expect this post will drop to a slightly larger number when the server re-sorts things.

    1. I like the eponymous use of Ruse’s name, but “Ruseists” is a little clunky.

      Why not just call them “Ruses”? That way you get the double entendre.

      And making sophistical arguments about how since science doesn’t know everything, that makes it okay to believe anything, could be called “pulling a Ruse” or “Rusing the issue” or something like that.

      Or we could just call them masturbatheists, and refer to desperate attempts to coddle religious believers and act like their beliefs might be true as “masturbatheism”.

      1. For masturbatheists, you would need to be “hard on” something, I thought we were talking about being “soft on faith”. See post #180 below. Cheers!

  33. Well wouldn’t Dennett’s classifications work here? “Bright” like “gay”, an upbeat word to mean rationalist, “super” as the opposite, for theists, who believe in the supernatural, and he uses the word “murky” for people who have a soft spot for the mysterious. I prefer “misty” for the obvious reason! It even sounds like a word they’d like.

    So that’s my one suggestion. “Misty”, a word for those who like to dwell in the misty area between stark rationalism and pig-headed theism. There’ve been plenty of good suggestions from others, I’ll leave it at that.

  34. Atheisn’ts

    With a nod to Terry Pratchett, who coined “charisn’tma” to describe Corporal Nobby Nobbs.

  35. I think the reordering must occur because I have to manually approve the first post of anyone who has never posted before, and I do that only when I check email. Everyone else’s posts go through automatically.

  36. I have seen it here a few times already in the comments as an entry but it is the one I use as well…

    “beliefers” – defined as those people who have an actual need to believe in something regardless of its reality

  37. got one! You can’t use Moonies, but surely, you can use…


    I can’t believe no one else suggested this. The term obviously signifies people who follow the “mooney doctrine”, but they are also the annoying, self-absorbed cartoon villains from the popular Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

    The Mooninites are absolutely convinced that they are more sophisticated than everyone on earth, and whenever anyone disagrees with them about how badass they are, the Mooninites dismiss it as evidence of how primitive earth people are.

    Best of all, the two Mooninites have to “come together” (sound familiar?) to form their ultimate weapon, a “quad laser”. Problem is, they are two dimensional, and their quad laser is built for a two-dimensional world.

    They say “Ignignokt: No one can defeat the Quad Laser. Err: Jumping is useless.” Without realizing that anyone can just step to the side.

    Some other select Mooninite Quotes

    “We don’t listen to people who don’t like us.” -Ignignokt

    “Let’s leave this primitive rock because there’s nothing but cavemen here.” -Ignignokt

    “Well for one thing, the moon has one third less gravity than your earth, I don’t know if you can understand that, but our vertical leap is beyond all measurement.” -Ignignokt

    Ignignokt: “Is your ego satisfied?” Err: “Damn no!”

    1. Also, Mooninites only “come together” with other Mooninites when they form their easily-avoided quad laser. (And, of course, they think their two-dimensional quad laser blast is unstoppable.)

  38. Shaytheists:

    Because they are shy about their own atheism


    because they tell atheists who are not shy to ‘shhhh!’

  39. “Gaytheist.” And I don’t mean “gay” in that awesome dick sucking sort of way. More in that happy, jolly, everything must me happy and jolly or the world crumbles, sort of “gay” way.

  40. Backseaters (or, long-form: backseat atheists). Like back seat drivers. They keep telling us how to drive the debate, but we’re the ones doing all the work driving it.

    Eggshellers (or eggshell atheists). They want us to walk on eggshells to avoid hurting the fragile egos of the goddists.

  41. Nadaist (from the spanish Nada=Nothing. Not to be confused with the Colombian literary movement from the 60s “Nadaismo”)…the only problem with nadaist is the connection with nothingism and nihilism….

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