Both of the terms in the title of this blog post describe me, but after reading an essay in Christopher Hitchens' latest book I have decided that the first one (naturalist) better describes me than the second one (atheist). More on that in a moment.
The book, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, is highly recommended reading. It is a compendium of articles and essays written by a variety of different atheist luminaries. The book is thought-provoking and easily digested in small bites.
Anyway, one of the essays toward the end of the book succicntly discusses why the term naturalist is better (for atheists) than the term atheist. Basically, it is because the term "naturalist" defines the person in terms of what s/he embraces and not in terms of what s/he does not. A naturalist "believes in" the natural world around him and what can be viewed, measured, and enjoyed in nature. I like this and it defines me well.
Secondarily, being defined as a naturalist allows me to define theists as supernaturalists. That is they "believe in" things that can not be seen or measured in nature. It lumps them in with believers in ghosts, fairies, unicorns, and leprachauns. And rightly so, for these things are all supernatural.
Ahh.... do you feel it? I feel all refreshed and redefined heading into the holiday season and next year...