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….

    1. Yeah, it is a continuation of the framing nonsense. (“We’re not so interested in reasoning, argumentation, accuracy — what we really need is glitter and spin.”)

      “Framers” sounds better than “framists”, I think.

  42. My first entry got lost somewhere, so I’ll re-post it:

    Shaytheists –

    Shy about their own atheism

    Shhh! to others about atheism

  43. Damn, I was thinking “agnotheist” – people who claim to be atheist but also claim that they cannot know anything about the mythical world and therefore must accept rather than challenge mysticism. Unfortunately the word is already taken.

    What about a “sindeodonist” (sine deus, without a god + donato, he gave) – someone without a god but who believes in giving (or giving in) to god. Render to Cesar what is Cesar’s! Just remember that God demands the larger portion of your earthly possessions.

  44. The intended referents are not really atheists. Would they be better named as (if the rules allow hyphenated words):

    (1) Neo-theist

    just as they rename atheists as New Atheists;

    (2) Pseudo-atheist

    if you want to keep up appearances of disbelief?

  45. Professor Coyne:

    Since you’re obviously talking about people like me, maybe it would be nice to let people like me name ourselves.

    I wouldn’t mind, for example, being called an empatheist. It blends the words “empathy” and “atheist” perfectly and is not inherently derogatory or dismissive.

    An empatheist is an atheist or agnostic who, in disputes, tries to walk in the shoes of others and tries to stay open and empathetic to points of view different from his or her own (and not treat the world in Manichean terms). An empathiest is a person, in short, who has absorbed liberalism and atheism in a way that makes him or her in favor of social pluralism. He or she doesn’t want a world without religion, but a world that speaks from diverse points of view.

    An empatheist believes that a society that speaks many religious languages is better than one that speaks only one language (such as monotheism or monoatheism).

    Camus was an empatheist. He famously told a group of Christians that he thought it was important for Christians to stay Christians and speak from their tradition, even as he spoke from the vantage of his lack of faith. He wanted dialogue and alliance with reasonable religionists, not combat.

    Barack Obama is almost certainly some sort of empatheist.

    The Berkeley philosopher, Richard Rorty, was an atheist, and I don’t believe he would have been offended to be called an empatheist.

    Empatheism is a way of being in the world that blends atheism and pragmatic liberalism. It’s vaguely secular, but doesn’t want to rhetorically go after the juggler of moderate or liberal religionists. An empatheist tries to see what’s good in religion, not just what’s bad. An empatheist recognizes that there is an ontological mystery that empiricism cannot quite reach, and that religion, in its diversity, attempts to approach. The gestures of religion the empatheist does not scorn, but understands.


    1. “He or she doesn’t want a world without religion, but a world that speaks from diverse points of view.”

      Including the point of view that science and religion is incompatible? If yes, presumably you’d disagree with Mooney that people like Coyne should hush up a bit about their opinion?

      1. There’s wishy-washy liberalism – cant (not Kant) – and then there’s the liberalism that dares to speak its name. Yes, by all means let’s attempt to understand where someone is coming from but if we believe they are wrong or not wrong but indulging in cant then let’s speak out loud and strong. Let those who want to believe that God is behind evolution do so, but scientific institutions should not appear to endorse the view that because some scientists share this belief this means that science is or can be compatible with religion.

        Personal philosophical or religious positions are just that. Let’s all express them freely, but let’s not have the AAAS et al expressing a view ex cathedra.

    2. foolfodder:

      An empatheist is someone not personally inclined to go after religion’s juggler. I’m okay with a world where others do this rhetorical work (Dawkins, Coyne etc). I like these guys. I read them. I think about what they have to say. I’m just always going to be the kind of guy who looks for complexity, nuance, and middle ground. I think you need all kinds of rhetorical strategies at work in the world. Truth comes from lots of viewpoints contending, including empathic ones. Bulldogs and mellow dogs make for a more interesting world. I just hope that Coyne doesn’t pick a term for people like me that is dismissive and contemptuous.


    3. Santi’s Kitchen

      Start with the filling/feeling of existential angst and despair; Roll it all up in the stale tortilla of ontological mystery; Slather generously with metaphorical poetry salsa. Bake at room temperature for decades in the ‘be nice’ oven; Slam it into the gaps of scientific knowledge; Enjoy. Serves no one.

      The above is parody, but it seems to me that you are missing a great opportunity to improve this world, now and in the future, by resigning yourself to current levels and forms of religiosity.

      1. eenui:

        Your recipe analogy is clever. I laughed. But I really think that an atheism that is not in touch with the irony of its own positions (and not just the positions of religion) is not really an atheism engaging in fully critical thinking. Empatheists like myself, by critiquing atheism from within, are important to have in a movement (lest group-think becomes the norm). Atheism should be characterized by rigorous self-criticism, not just criticism directed outward. This is why I think it is a mistake to find a derogatory word for people like me. It’s like having a bad word for your own immune system.


      2. Atheism should be characterized by rigorous self-criticism, not just criticism directed outward.

        Can you look up the word “atheist” for me and, using the definition, defend this sentence?

        I’ll save you the time. You can’t, and you are educated enough to know it.

        Atheists are, in the real world, *all sorts of things*, but nothing is implied in our shared lack of belief in deities
        that would direct us towards any world view. There are, in short, as many characteristics” to atheism as there are atheists.

        You can see this in the fact that some want accommodation with theists, some don’t, and some (who aren’t involved in or concerned with science) don’t care one way or the other.

        You can also see it in the fact that I’m a secular humanist, but that many (maybe most) atheists are not. Secular humanism is *not* an emergent property of atheism.

        Now, you *could* say to me – as a secular humanist, you should be characterized by self-criticism, not just criticism outward. You would be right. I am. And, that said, I feel more than comfortable *also* directing criticism outward.

        I may at times even use mockery to make a point or to help someone see something in themselves that I find silly… rather than treating it like it has value.

      3. John Evo:

        It might be comforting to you personally to say: “Nothing is implied in our shared lack of belief in deities
        that would direct us towards any world view.” But it’s not true. Atheism sets you in a very definite relation to the chessboard of the world, and so necessarily offers you a different set of moves than theism. For example, atheism has to commit you to a very definite range of views concerning the ontological mystery surrounding the beginning of the universe. It has to be non-teleological. Atheism is not just disbelief in gods, it’s disbelief in the idea of God or gods writ large, which cancels options for seeing the world in teleological terms. Thus the laws of physics have to have just happened or evolved. They must have a material explanation. Also, to be an atheist means that you believe that everything that exists is in this one universe (or our universe is part of a multiverse). In any case, there is just one big thing, and it consists (crudely) of atoms and the void. These are some of the commitments entailed in calling yourself an atheist. You are committed to explaining all phenomenon in the terms of naturalism within a singular closed system (however you define the universe).

        In terms of ethics, you are also committed to a certain limited range of moves that most intellectuals find leads to either some brand of nihilism or existentialism or evolutionary psychology justification.

        When somebody says “I’m an atheist” you may not be able to guess their politics, but you can be pretty clear on the intellectual moves that they are most likely to make in regards to metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.


      4. “When somebody says “I’m an atheist” you may not be able to guess their politics, but you can be pretty clear on the intellectual moves that they are most likely to make in regards to metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.”

        Nonsense. As an atheist I could be a strictly rational Humanist, a devout Buddhist, a woo-loving pomo New-Ager or a nihilistic anthropophagic serial killer.

        The only thing my atheism tells you is that I don’t believe in a god or gods. It doesn’t tell you why, you don’t know how I arrived at that lack of belief, nor what it implies or suggests to me. You’ve decided, apparently, that all atheists are “rational atheists”. Not so.

  46. Only 2 submissions?
    What do I get for a knock-out?

    1) Theopratt *1
    2) Liarbator
    2) Bendoverer
    2) Fableenabler
    2) Tetrahippocrit *2
    *1 May only be meaningful to British Commonwealth readers.
    *2 An obscure Greek reference to the Four Horsemen.

  47. A term from 1980’s British political history, now completely redundant (hence could be re-used in a new context):

    The ‘Wets’

    These were originally old style Tories who thought Mrs Thatcher’s Conservatism too fervent. The term summed up their lack of courage rather well.

  48. I like to think of accomodationists as akin to Sisyphus — they work this task up the hill in order to make an evolutionary point, only to lose all that progress the moment they concede any room for theism.

    So how about: Sisyphists.

    You can call them Sissies for short, which drops the portmaneau in favor of a double-entendre.

  49. From what I read above “templetons” is certainly my favorite.

    I’ll give it a try with the two allowed entries here:

    PRatheists, for “Public Relations atheists”

    The second one a little bit more obscure:
    proscienligious; scienligion/scienligious is the obvious contraction of science & religion, a neologism I use since 2005 (is it always neo?) to describe the JTF’s and JTF’s minions efforts to regain some of the lost credibility/respectability of religion by associating it with science, whatever the need of redefining both terms are. Proscienligious thus for those that don’t clearly oppose the efforts to “muddy waters”.
    A double hit, scienligious for the templetons (I really like this one, more and more) and proscienligious for those who passively support their misdeeds.

  50. ‘Accommodatheists’.My second suggestion. The firts was ‘Buttatheists’.
    I hope I haven’t stolen anybody elses suggestions.

    1. ‘Accommodatheists’ is indeed already taken by DevonR early in the thread. So I take back that suggestion.

  51. ‘Nevilles’ after Neville Chamberlain who was accused of having tried to reach an accommodation with Hitler.

  52. Ok, Nevilles is too harsh! Perhaps just ‘teapotters’ after Russel’s celestial tea device that we can’t prove *doesn’t* exist?

  53. Since hedging their bets makes them walk funny owing to having provided a crack for the wedge creationists,


  54. For my second entry, I think I’ll go with:

    Godnosers. In their efforts to suck up to theists, they can’t help but get a little God on their noses.

  55. fAketheists


    I want the book, and I like fAketheists, but I think Praytheists is probably best.

    Also, religiolous or religulous (I guess Bill Maher would win).

  56. I’ve just realized the source of resonance in my suggestion of “faith-hugger”. It has an echo of the Alien “Face-Hugger”, injecting its accommodationist poison into the healthy thoracic cavity of science.

    I want that book!

  57. @ Dave B.

    While I tossed a few into the pile myself, I will admit that none of them were “Top 5” material, while I certainly have Faith-huggers in there!

    Unfortunately for you, I’m not on the committee.

    @ Sigmund

    Muzzle-Em’s is funny too. Goddamn you people are creative.

  58. OK, for my second entry:

    “homeopatheist”: the more you dilute atheism the stronger you claim it to be.

    1. Oh, definitely – this has got to be the winner. It’s witty, nicely critical and has a genuine representative meaning.

    2. Like this one. Should come in close second to one of mine. I’m keen on getting Jerry’s autograph myself. #180

  59. UNFAITHFUL (used as a noun, of course)

    It has two meanings:

    1. not the faithfuls, including athiests

    2. those who are dishonest, inaccurate, always moving the goalpost, refusing to confront the arguments put on the table, resorting to other dirty tricks, etc.

    1. My first thought was that these folks are Uncle Tom Atheists (which is what I’ve been calling them when I rail about them to my partner) but I couldn’t quite make a word out of it.

  60. My entries:



    I tip my hat to these previous entries:


    It’s a little troubling that some folks here don’t understand that we’re not discussing people who accept theistic evolution or are agnostics.

    We’re talking about people who self-describe as atheist, have a pro-science activist urge, use their real names, and for various reasons (empathy, patience, realism, tactics) oppose emphasizing the implausibility or wrongness of theistic beliefs in the competition for political influence. Please get the distinction.

  61. Well, my “faitheists” entry was already taken early on.

    How about “Caspertarians” — friendly to ghosts?

    Or “NevilleChamberlainists”?

  62. In search of a cheap joke:

    Antidennettists- those who are
    antidennettic by not believing in God but believing in the belief of God

    or perhaps

    Ruseialites – belonging to the school of Ruse

  63. This is my second submission. (I hope hyphenated words are OK. If not, remove the hyphen.)



    fetish : something regarded with irrational reverence.

    1. Thanks Ian
      I was actually working from mollycoddle, so I went with Godly.
      I think it adds a cute factor that makes it more condescending.
      Kind of a verbal pat on the head.

    2. I actually almost replied to Ian earlier today to explain that one. I like it too! I have to admit there are several good ones that I could be happy with. Some really creative ideas in this thread. Yours is a definite “top 5” and I’ll be happy if you win.

    1. “Faithtool”. Nice one. Tools is what they are. They act in the interests of religious memes, but at a distance. It’s the memetic Extended Phenotype. The Long Reach of the Meme indeed!

      1. Using “meme” & “phenotype” in the same paragraph…

        Just to bring you up to date, “meme” now refers to a trend on the internet, and little else.

        I hate to tell you there’s no Santa Claus, but the proposal that “memetics” could describe the flow of cultural thought in a way similar to genetics with biological information was not borne out by fact.

        It was an interesting hypothesis on the part of Dawkins, but one that eventually bore no fruit.

  64. Well, I’ve used up my two official entries, but I thought I’d throw an unofficial entry into the mix:


    Those who want scientists to tip toe around the faithful are like abused spouses tip toeing around their abusers. Mooney, Nisbet et al want scientists to act like those abused spouses and not do anything that might trigger the wrath of their abusers. I think we can do better than acting as though we all have Battered Scientist Syndrome.

  65. My entries:

    DEAF (acronym for “Deluded Evolutionist Accomodating Faith”) Can be used as adjective or noun, and carries the obvious secondary meaning that they just don’t listen to other (or their own) arguments against accomodationism very well.

    Zaphodists (or Zaphists if you like it shorter) Named for Zaphod Beeblebrox, two-headed denizen of HHGTTG. I was looking for some two-headed, mythological creature to depict their two-headed faith/science view of the world, and came across Zaphod in my internet searches. I thought he fit the bill nicely with a tip of the cap to our friend, Douglas Adams.

  66. Agnostic

    (the same position each atheist able to reason, e.g. Dawkins or Russell, holds).

    It would be better to coin a pejorative term for militant atheists.

  67. Squishies

    Because they are so sensitive to what the new atheists say. Also, once an atheist says something they think is slightly rude, that becomes more important than the truth of the statement, or why it is deserved. Also, a squishy person would be a sensitive person, and if you poked them, it would leave a mark there for a while, just like a soft sponge.

  68. Another suggestion:


    This gets at the inherent contradiction in the “belief in belief” mindset, since there is an element of rationalist (e.g. “scientific”) and religious/believer (“theist”). Hence, science + theism = scientheist.

  69. My first thought was ‘beliefists’, and I see that has already been suggested (I suspect the winning entry is among the first 50 attempts).

    Frankly, since there don’t seem to be any religious people who go on and on about wanting to accommodate science and atheism (“Come on, my religious brethren – we know they’re wrong, but it alienates the scientists to say so!”), it seems to me that ‘accomodationist’ itself, without the ‘atheist’ modifier is not at all ambiguous.

  70. Pacifiers

    Desperately silencing others to manufacture a sham peace. (This label cuts both ways—we come off as immature and loud. Maybe it’s good to have a label that cuts both ways.)

  71. 1. From contest description:
    “Provide a snappy, one-word name for those atheists who are nonetheless soft on faith”, as opposed, I suppose, to those who are hard on faith (we all know good examples). I particularly favor ‘hard ons’ for reasons obvious to species propagation and more enjoyable, well, you know. ‘Soft ons’ are by contrast, generally undesirable for the above tasks. Essentially a useless condition, save for when a male wishes to empty the morning bladder. Therefore, submission one is derived thus:

    “soft on” + “atheist” = sofatheist

    (Also, sofa is like couch and if, in this case, theist is potatoe… generally lazy form of either).

    2. PZ used a great word recently.
    From Wikipedia:
    Tergiversation refers to the evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement. Alternatively, it can refer to the desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith. Its verb form is tergiversate.

    The word “tergiversation” originates from the Latin word tergiversatio, a noun corresponding to the deponent verb tergiversari, which means “to turn one’s back, to be evasive”. Tergiversari is a composite of tergum, meaning “back,” and versare, the frequentative of vertere, meaning “to turn.”

    Therefore, submission two:

    “tergum” + “atheist” = tergatheist

    Like a “back-sliding” atheist.

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Good luck to all. Lots of great stuff here.

  72. I’d call them “Coma-NOVAs”

    It sounds cool, and Mooney does exhibit that “lack of response to stimuli” (refuses to hear or respond to criticism), that a person in a coma has.

    Accomodationist arguments are rather boring and so when you hear and read the same banal statements over and over again, it does kinda induce a coma.

  73. Centrationists.

    According to Alfred Piaget’s theory of child development, children in the pre-operational stage of development display a characteristic mode of thought (among others), called centration. This is the tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation while neglecting others.

    For example, if you show a typical four year old two glasses each containing equal volumes of liquid, (s)he will claim that there is more liquid in whichever glass is taller. This occurs even if you start off with containers of equal size and shape, and pour the liquid from one of these into a taller glass right in front of their eyes. Similarly, if you have two rows of coins, both containing equal numbers of coins, and ask a child which row contains more, then they will say that the row in which the coins have more space between them has more.

    I think this is something analagous to the way accomodationists think. Someone like Eugenie Scott will focus on the fact that, for example, there are good scientists and otherwise smart people (e.g. Francis Collins) that also are deeply religious… therefore religion and science are compatible. However, they ignore the fact that it is possible for people to hold contradictory beliefs! Even smart people.

    So, just as pouring liquid into a taller glass does not mean it now has more liquid inside of it, pointing to an accomplished but religious scientist does not mean religion and science are compatible. In both cases these erroneous conclusions are arrived at because these people are failing to decenter – to think about different aspects of a situation at one time.

    Plus I like how “centrationists” rolls off the tongue. It’s also provocatively similar to a word that describes people who employ even more erroneous forms of reasoning…

  74. My 2 terms:
    1. Squares
    2. Foilists (or Foyalists)

    I think we could reappropriate the term “square” for them. No one really uses it for nerd anymore but it’s appealing because it does still have the negative connotation. But the main reason for it is because they are trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole” as the saying goes. Thus, they are “squares.”

    Another term for them could be “foilist.” You could also spell it “foyalist” to give a more obvious connection to the loyalist Americans who sided with the divine-right monarchy rather than the revolutionary (and largely secular) patriots. Other reasons for the term (either spelling) come from Hamlet. Shakespeare writes, “I’ll be your foil, Laertes: in mine ignorance.” So in their ignorance, trying to unnecessarily accommodate religion into science, they are truly neutral scientists’ foils. Lastly, foilist/foyalist works for them because according to the dictionary foil has these fitting definitions: 1. To prevent from being successful; thwart.
    2. To obscure or confuse (a trail or scent) so as to evade pursuers.


  75. I think I like “godlycoddler” the best so far… because that’s what they are doing (coddling the godly) and it sounds rhymey and silly.

    (But I want to win a signed book so I hope there is another contest soon.)

  76. I immediately thought “accomodatheists” upon reading the post 5 minutes ago (sorry, I’ve been busy). Soon saw it was one of the first suggested and it has my vote.

    So instead I will suggest my own bastardized portmanteau of “moonbeams” based on Mooney and Kirshbaum, the currently most ridiculously vocal accomodatheists.

  77. If my first suggestion was:


    my second is inspired by Ophelia Benson’s to-the-point questions for Mooney and his ilk:


    Looking forward to seeing what wins…

  78. We don’t need to invent new words for them, there are a few good ones already in the English language.





    Personally, I’d go with spaniel — it carries that hint of obsequious mindless devotion that’s so appropriate.

  79. spoontheists (for spooning with theists in a loving embrace)


    5.5ers (out of 7 on the Dawkins atheist scale of non-belief)

    accomodatards (A-com-o-DAY-tards)



  80. First choice:


    (A variant of a soft squishy marshmallow with a deity for good measure.)

    Second choice:

    Accommodeists or ADs for shorts:

    (The name speaks for itself)

  81. Just for fun, here are my favorites by others, roughly in order:

    placators (Mike Barnes, #191)

    Templetons (Musicmancz, #55)

    accomodatheists (DevonR), believists
    (Paul, #18)

    Sissyphists (Ovyt, #121) — not bad considering the “Sisyphean task” of reconciling science & religion

    atheoids (Your Name’s Not Bruce?, #8) & invertebrathiests (Keith J Barry, #174) — since they’re like atheists but fail

    godlycoddlers / godcoddlers (Kitty’sBitch, #26), godnosers (Screechy Monkey, #131)

  82. “Caveatheists”

    Blends atheist with “caveat” (as in “I’m an atheist, but…”) and “cave” (as in caving to religiosity).

    I leave pronunciation up to others!

  83. (Sorry, I’m just too anal-retentive not to clarify my above submission.)

    “Godnobber” is derived from the innocuous “hobnob,” though overtones of “knob” and “goober” make it *suspiciously* insulting. I thinking here of those atheists who “associate familiarly” as it were, lending unwarranted credibility by virtue of their involvement. Co-editing a creationist book, for example, is godnobbing. Michael Ruse is a godnobber.

    Maybe too far afield of what you’re looking for, but it seems like a useful pejorative.

  84. My first ideas also immediately occurred to many others. “Faitheists” fits the bill nicely and succinctly, but I quite liked the suggestions of “placatheist” and “homeopatheist.”

    How about “athy-faithy” / “athy-faithies”?

  85. I love “The Accomodati”
    How about a term associated with the fact that they are sophisticated atheists defending sophisticated believers?
    Lets just call them sophists.

  86. Cogdissophiles – those who have a soft spot for people that can hold contradictory religious and scientific views in their head (derived from cognitive dissonance).

    Credofides – loosely means to believe in belief (from the Latin words Credo: to believe, Fides: belief/faith).

    Credophiles – to love belief (from Latin Credo: to believe, and Greek phile: to love/have an affinity for)

  87. My top ten in descending order:
    accomodatheists (all of whom are atheish)
    buttheads (Dawkins)
    AND they all suffer from a brain tumor known as religioNOMA!

  88. suavoatheists

    for soft atheists. My preference since there is nothing pejorative.


    for lovers of shitty thinking. In case you want something with a bit more of a biting edge to it.



    1. BBGUNN – a little late, but the humor was right on time!

      Actually, I kind of wish Jerry had done a Top 10 Humorous. There was some very funny entries.

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