There being one, single, lonely, all-encompassing trouble word for the atheist community – no, not that hoary figment labeled “Gaah” – the epithet “smug” is eclipsing the standard riposte of “nihilist” to the increasingly vocal, mainstream atheist movement, though it is mired of course in the low-single digits US-side by the strictest of definitions.
Yes, we are “Smug Atheists.” Or, at least, a few flotillas of atheists male and female are, while the others languish in accommodationist wonderland. There is a line of “Smug Atheist” coffee mugs, T-Shirts, and Internet Meme delivery services coming soon to grab some needed money to finance the worldwide A-takeover, in conscious aping of the models forged by the other marginalized identity-group formations appropriating their much more violent monikers of oppression.
Do we super-intelligent , evolved, rational atheists feel “smarter” than our benighted, ignorance-saturated, foolish theistic hobgoblins? If so , and we let this secret out, we strike these spouses (American Atheist president David Silverman confesses that he is married to a theist), friends, family, and future antagonists as, yes, unbearable, insufferably, “smug.” It has even become a portmanteau – a Smugatheist, those this is not to be confused with a “Smuh-Gaytheist,” though there are certainly those among us of that sexual persuasion.
We should apologize deeply and humbly. Of course there are entire continents of knowledge upon which we Smug-As are struck as dumb as our rodent forefathers. Atheism is a good measure of a working, skeptical mind against the forces of traditional authority, but it can also lead to the equally vacuous, irredeemable conceptions of Ayn Randian libertarianism, the pathetic nostrums of Michael Shermer, and Chinese state communism. However, like a licensed plumber who has learned quite a bit about his or her field, we atheists who have “put that work in” are entitled to be smug bunny rabbits in this one domain, happy and virtuous and all-so-pleased to have arrived at clear, irrefutable informed perceptions about the nature of human existence. There’s still a whole of space, time, spacetime, exoplanets, and the dramas of human suffering to contend with, to relieve us of any greater certainty about our momentary rectitude, so, don’t worry, we will get some doses of comeuppance, but not in this domain. Damn right we’re smug.