This essay explores an emergent black atheist, secular humanist, and naturalistic imagination. Based on a 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that measured the percentage of African Americans holding such views, I refer to this group as “one percenters.” Broadly speaking, one percenters view human nature and destiny (necessity and historical contingency) through an anthropological rather than a theological lens. As three perspectives on the same phenomenon, they are the dialectical other of theism and conventional forms of religion. In all three cases, negating theism does “positive” productive and creative work, energizing a different kind of affirmation. Nuances in rhetoric, emotional color, and practical engagement with religious cultures and institutions create distinctions among atheists, secular humanists, and naturalists that are more than merely artful and stylized. These nuances reveal different understandings of what nonbelief entails in matters of conduct and whether the negative and epistemic category of “nonbelief” properly describes their difference from theists.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.