We have a winner!

July 17, 2009 • 11:04 am

Well, there were several hundred entries to the contest, but it’s time to declare the winner of the autographed hardback first-edition first-printing mint copy of WEIT.  First, a reminder of what I was looking for:

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.

Almost immediately there were two cute responses, Jesuits (by Darkling) and Unitarians (by blueollie).  Funny, yes, but not good for discussing the problem, as these terms already refer to something else.

Reader Rieux pointed out that Dawkins himself discussed the variety of of accommodationist “I-am-an-atheist but”ers on his website (Screechy Monkey suggested the name “Butters” for this), but Dawkins never came up with a name.

A very popular entry was the suggestion Templetons (Adam M). Sadly, it is inaccurate because many Templetonites are in fact religious, and so don’t fit the bill as atheists. Moving on to the near winners:

RUNNERS UP (in no particular order)

Godlycoddlers (by Kitty’sBitch), also winner of the Most Mellifluous Entry

Placatheists (by Todd Shackleford)

Credophiles (by Thanny). Winner of the Most Pejorative Entry Prize

Betraytheists (Macronencer)

Muzzle-ems (Sigmund) Winner of the Especially Cute Award

But one entry clearly stood out as being not only snappy, but also short, to the point, and clever.  There were several versions with different spellings, but I gave the award to the first entry that was spelled in the proper way.

And that winner is . . . . .

** FAITHEISTS,** contributed by Divalent.

This will be the word that I use from now on, so I expect everyone to learn it.

Divalent, please contact me (a little Googling will produce my email) so that I can get your address.

And thanks to all for your brainpower, which just goes to show that atheists are indeed funnier!

103 thoughts on “We have a winner!

    1. I’m surprised people are having trouble with the pronunciation. Just put an “F” in front of “atheist.”

      F + atheist = Faitheist

    1. Or faith theist for that matter.

      I don’t actually like the selected term so much. Because the spelling would suggest it describes som kind of theists rather than atheists.
      But of course, if you want to tag this kind of people as closet theist it would make a point.

      I doubt though that such is the case regarding most of them even.

  1. And thanks to all for your brainpower, which just goes to show that atheists are indeed funnier!

    Or at least more self-congratulatory!

    So, now what shall we pick for a snarky moniker for you guys?



    I’d suggest more, but I want a shot at that next prize.

    1. Well, the faitheists are already using “Militant,” “Fundamentalist,” “Angry,” and numerous other pejoratives. If you guys could settle on just one, that would simplify things a bit.

      1. “Uppity” does seem to capture the elitist exclusivism, but it has some unfortunate cultural baggage with it.

        What about superciliatheist?

      2. I know!
        Lots and lots of bagage from all kinds of ‘faiths’ and religions right there.

        Maybe uppityuppity?

    2. Where I occasionally hang out we gathered some of them up into one snappy phrase: Pantomime Fundamental Atheists of the New Evangelical Tribal Militancy.

      Well, maybe not so snappy.

  2. Of course, we already have a perfectly good word for some of the most prominent ones: “concern troll.”

  3. Good choice. I suggest my offering be used as a zinger when needed. Though I honestly didn’t see the rhyme until I typed the word out based on the Greek roots as I remembered them.

  4. A poor choice considering that fundies are always saying that it takes faith to be an atheist. In fact, the first time I ever heard this used was precisely for that reason.

    This term is preadapted to be used against even the common-sense atheists. I can picture the quote-mine already.

    “…atheists, or as fellow non-believer Jerry Coyne calls them, faitheists…”

    1. That was my favorite too. In fact, I was going to post it but was beaten to it.

      I just love this though:

      This will be the word that I use from now on, so I expect everyone to learn it.

      When I use a word, it means precisely what I take it to mean!


  5. I’m shocked that it wasn’t “accommodatheists.” A portmanteau containting the favorite term of derision? Seemed like a shoo-in.

  6. I have to disagree with this choice. Beyond the fact that people already aren’t sure how to pronounce it, it just doesn’t self-explain or amuse the way several others did. Hate to be a wet blanket, but just sticking with accommodationist seems preferable by comparison. (I’m sensible enough to know my entries didn’t deserve to win.)

    1. I don’t much like it either. It’s off-target as a criticism and confusingly similar to “fideist,” which is something else entirely. Godlycoddlers, butters, or Accomodati (cf. Illuminati, “the enlightened ones”) would have been more apt.

      Criticism expressed. As you were…

  7. I’ve been cast out from the heavens!!
    Mellifluous? Hmm…I can see that.

    Well, I’ve already got the book anyway. This just means I’m gonna corner you one day and make you sign it. Perhaps I’ll make you write a note about not recognizing my genius until it was too late.
    Congrats to all involved. It was fun. I actually liked several of the options that weren’t listed.

  8. A worthy winner – congratulations!

    I was pleased to see my entry in the runners up, although I thought it was a little awkward.

    It’s a shame “credophiles” was too pejorative (I agree, actually) because etymologically, it was probably the most apt.

  9. Accommodationist isn’t so good because science isn’t about accommodating any idea but, finding one correct or best answer. When instructing children regarding how science is practiced, allowing for accommodation is confusing at best.

    I’m not too concerned with christians distorting the meaning, there isn’t anything that they won’t distort.

    Faitheist seems descriptive of what those formally known as accommodationists believe.

    1. Notagod, their confusion regarding science’s lack of accommodation is one reason why their position is so poorly regarded. The accommodationists are *not* promoting good science when they argue for leaving religion alone. Therefore the term accurately describes what they are about, and what science is not (ignoring for the moment the conflation of science and atheism).

      1. Mark, your comment isn’t necessarily incorrect but it misses the point. The faitheists (accommodationists) are wanting to include religion within science. The atheists want to leave religion alone, that is, atheists don’t want any mention of religion at all (no christian, no faith, no any other religion, not even atheism) within the public school science classrooms or when discussing science classroom standards. That’s because that stuff isn’t science, which the atheists realize but, the faitheists think it is. Review the past postings by Jerry Coyne on this blog for more accurate and complete information.

      2. No, I understand that. My point is two-fold. Firstly, that when someone tries to include religion in science, they are arguing for the *accommodation* of latter to fit the former. The word accurately describes their attitude, regardless of whether or not they’re right. Therefore “accommodationist” is fine. More than that, to those who know what science is about, it highlights the illegitimacy of the accommodationists’ position.

        The second part of my point was implied but easily missed, so I’ll make it explicit. For those who don’t understand what science is about, one simple term isn’t going to change that. It’s our job to educate them on a deeper understanding of science so that they aren’t mislead by people simply calling a particular group of people by a particular name.

      3. More than that, to those who know what science is about, it highlights the illegitimacy of the accommodationists’ position.

        Yes, you are correct however, they aren’t the ones that need to be enlightened. The ones that don’t understand won’t understand the illegitimacy of accommodation in this case.

  10. Still think accomodatheists is better and will be using it in my own minor writings. It is both descriptive and mellifluous.

  11. When I first read the word “Faitheist” on PZ’s blog, I thought it was referring to those theists who’s only explanation for anything was that they had faith, which everybody knows is just another way of saying they don’t know.

    It also occurred to me that perhaps it was referring to atheists who clung dogmatically to their atheism as if it were a faith, which didn’t make much sense to me considering who it was coming from. The meaning just doesn’t click into place as quickly as it ought to.

    I like the suggestion “accommodatheist”. Although it isn’t as snappy and perhaps doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as faitheist, its meaning is more clear.

  12. Accomodatheists was my favorite. Faitheists sounds like these people have faith too, whereas I thought the point was that they were athesits who were cool with OTHER people having faith. Oh, well. Faitheists it is…

    1. I agree. Accommodatheist probably works better when one wants to be less disparaging. Faitheist is stronger but also has that questionable connotation. I’ll probably use faitheist only when I want to stick the knife in (to me it seems too much like misrepresentation to use the term for all atheist accommodationists).

  13. Yrrrr! One of the slavering Horde here, armed with brass bosoms and pitchfork. Haul out yer gawdists!


    You didn’t invite us for supper and an orgy?

  14. I like it… atheists who still give lip service to the idea that “faith” is good for something.

  15. The Great and Terrible PZ has commanded my appearance!

    Faithiest… that kinda works.
    Weakkneedpearlclutchingninny is too big a word I guess.

    1. Hey that one was really funny.

      Just remember that I’m the most athiest of all.
      Because I’ve allways been the most FkukingFaithAthiestThiestestestest.. ever imaginable.
      Go figure!

  16. We need a word for spineless, toothless and lacking genitalia. I mean other than accomodationist.

  17. YAAAARrrr… rrr.. erm… oh.

    Hi. Um. Say… did anyone see a horde around here? Largeish, disorganized, cutlasses in hand, daggers in their teeth, murder in their eyes, a certain garish sense of sartorial style?… They would probably have been screaming ‘Yar’ or somesuch…

    Yeah, about that… Funny thing… See, the Dread Pirate Myers called for this storming ashore thing, and I was in the bathroom at the time, and… well…

    Well, anyway, seein’ as I overheard… Re faitheist, howinhell can anyone not know how to pronounce that? Don’t make me run anyone through, now…

    As to the term itself, it’s okay. Me, I was always partial to ‘Mangy, lubberly, cowardly curs’… But truth is, it did take a while to type. Lessee… ‘Die, ye mangy faitheists, we’ll be escorting ye t’ Davey Jones Locker…’ Hmm…

    Ah, it’s okay. I can get used to it. Anyway. Evening all. (Tips hat.)

  18. Hey, I’m impressed. Your own form of the Spanish Inquisition. Watch out for the heretics!!
    You guys aren’t any different than fundies. Just the other side of the same dogmatic coin….

    1. right, totally man. oh, except for that whole scientific method, empirical, reality based thing. but other than that, yup. just like fundies. you are wise beyond your years!

  19. Now see here! I understand that you want PZ to send over his whores.

    Well, I never! Minions and sycophants and ass-kissing acolytes and fawning dirty-mouthed fanbois and fangurlz we may be, but we are NOT PZ’s whores! And furthermore…

    What’s that?

    Oh, you wanted PZ to send over his “hordes,” not “whores.”

    Never mind.

  20. Well, it’s flattering to read the accolades, and get an autographed copy of WEIT (I already have a non-autographed copy) but I think the honorable thing for me to do is to pass the honor to the person who should be (IMO) the rightful winner: “Your Name’s Not Bruce?”.

    He listed 5 entries in his original post, with “Faiththeist” as his first, and then later went with his 4th and 5th entries when he discovered the rules limited you to two entries.

    (subsequently others noted that the double “th” was redundant).

    I merely recognized (as did many others) that it was a very good choice and was fortunate to be able to claimed it when he apparently abandoned it. But I didn’t “coyne” the word, and I’ll note that at least one other independently proposed it after “Your Name’s Not Bruce?” posted his (and so would arguably have a better claim if “Your Name’s Not Bruce?” has to be eliminated on this technicality).

    So, “Your Name’s Not Bruce?” really deserves the win (IMO) because he did the creative act (not me). But if he doesn’t show up to claim it and you still need to unload the signed copy of WEIT, I know of any number of good high schools in my state (including a few in Cobb Co, GA) that I would prefer to be the recipient.

    1. That’s a very christian gesture Divalent 😉
      I was pleased to get my ‘Muzzle-ems’ on the final list but I’m not sure how to treat being called “extremely cute” by Jerry Coyne – the last time a figure of authority called me that I immediately resigned from my job. Then again it was no loss – it was a few decades ago, back home in Ireland, and I never really liked being an altar boy anyway.

      1. Dear Sigmund,
        It is people like you that make me glad that I am not prone to violently expel my tea.


    2. Thanks Divalent! Sorry it took me so long to acknowledge this, but I only have regular, reliable internet access through the week at my place of work. I didn’t find out about your gesture of generosity, kindness and honesty until Saturday on a public library computer that is rather limited in its capabilities (that system won’t accept my full name!)

      So thank you very much!

  21. How is this one of the fastest growing posts on WordPress? It’s a pointless made up word about someone who somewhat believes in religion.

    1. Yeah!
      It would possibly have been. If there really had even been a hint in the word that you were talking about a minority group among atheists and not the majority if not even all of the theists.

      The spelling is an epic mistake.

  22. As I’ve said above, I love this great new term “faitheists,” even though it sounds a bit derogatory. Oh wait, did I say “even though”? I meant “because”!

    But the term “accomodatheists” is also great, and a bit more civil, and can be deployed for more moderate disputes. (Which means, totally unsuited for the Colgate Twins.)

    I can even imagine using both terms together in contrast, i. e., “faitheists” for those atheists who nevertheless believe in belief, and “accomodatheists” for those who think you have to tiptoe your way around even the most egregious nonsense on stilts in order to not offend anyone. Both can be held simultaneously, but don’t necessarily have to, so to have both terms might come in handy.

    So let’s just go and use our brave new words! As Donald Barthelme wrote in his short story “Report”:

    [“]We have a secret word that, if pronounced, produces multiple fractures in all living things in an area the size of four football fields.”
    “That’s why—”
    “Yes. Some damned fool couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The point is that the whole structure of enemy life is within our power to rend, vitiate, devour, and crush.[”]
    (Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts. New York: Atheneum, 1982. p.61)

    1. Yes and I who thought that my single contribution with double of possible interpretation and all was really witty:


      Butt (sic), what do I know? I do though realice I’ve just experiancing a slam dunk defeat on that one.

  23. I am the very model of a militant New Faitheist
    I won’t accommodate the dissing of accommodationists
    I frame my science papers to appease the fundamentalists
    Believers Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Calvinist

    I’m very well acquainted with faiths Islamist and Brahmanist
    I’m tolerant of anything but cracker-mocking atheists
    I’ll silence P.Z. Myers Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins too
    And any atheist who likes to criticize religious woo

    And any atheist who likes to criticize religious woo!
    And any atheist who likes to criticize religious woo!
    And any atheist who likes to criticize religious Bible woooooo!

    I am the Jedi Knight who knows the secret things that you should do
    My book will show you how to make believers love the science too
    In short, in matters of communication use my To Do list
    I am the very model of a militant New Faitheist

  24. I think “faitheist” is clever, but I think it could easily be miscontrued as faith + theist, which isn’t the point. I prefer “placatheist”.

  25. May I suggest a minor change in spelling of the winning contribution?

    If it was spelled ‘fatheists’ rather than ‘faitheists’ it would become more obvious in writing (as this is a written blog), that the word is supposed to describe some kind of atheists and not som kind of theists.

  26. Oh, I like the contest! And the repartee, especially Sigmund and KevinC.

    About the term catching on, it can happen. But other terms have had difficulties (“brights”) and in fact “accommodationist” was itself one of the winners.

    faitheist := those atheists who are nonetheless soft on faith (i.e., atheist accommodationists). […] the folks who […] have “belief in belief.”

    My only problem with this excellent term is that it excludes other nominal atheists who are soft on faith in the sense that they entertain beliefs.

    More precisely philosophical agnostics. You know the ones well, those making an unsupported dogmatic faith claim, a religious statement of the Church of Philosophy/Theology (“science and religion doesn’t conflict”, “science can’t say anything on supernaturalism”, “category error”).

    Falsely masquerading as an _empirical_ atheist position, and thus being a pet peeve of mine. Now there is in all likelihood a great overlap between these two …, um, faitheist, … groups. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they were indistinguishable, as if you believe one thing you can in principle, and in practice often do, believe anything. But in my mind these separate concepts will be conflated.

    Sorry, if faitheist catches on I would have to stick with the old “accommodationist” to make myself clear. “Belief-believer” or more simply and funny “butter” would be feasible variants.

    1. I don’t understand what you’re saying.
      How are these philosophical agnostics you’re talking about excluded rom the term new term fatheists?
      Forgive me, faitheism I mean.

  27. dogofman, I’m sorry if I’m unclear, ironically in an attempt of making myself clear.

    No, they aren’t excluded, and as I mentioned there is probably a huge overlap to the point that they could be the same group. But there is, in my mind, a meaningful distinction between trying to accommodate religion by perverting factual science and trying to accommodate religion by perverting factual religion.

    The former is what accommodationists at large do when they claim that science should be silent on some factual claims, say the fact that religion in general makes factual claims. And the later is what philosophical agnostics do when they claim that religion doesn’t make factual claims.

  28. How about those of us who don’t believe in invisible sky fairies but really don’t give a damn what other people believe so long as they keep it out of our living rooms, classrooms and courtrooms?

    ‘I don’t give a damniests’?

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