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Aug 27 2012

No better than the bigots they claim to fight

Addendum: Ask an Atheist now has been added to the partners page. A shame it took a little public shaming to accomplish it, but for now, hold off on the email and Facebook abuse. Thanks.


Okay, try this on for size. And pay close fucking attention, because this shit is why we need Atheism+, in my not-so-humble opinion.

So the crew of Ask an Atheist up in Seattle host a 24-hour fundraiser for Washington United for Marriage, a marriage equality group. Because marriage equality is a thing atheists, in general, want to get behind.

After they have the money, what does Washington United say to Ask an Atheist? “Thanks for your wonderful support!”, perhaps? Or how about, “FUUUUCKK YOOOUUUUU!”

Come on. Guess.

Aw, how did you guess?

According to Mike Gillis at AAA, the response they got from the people they helped and supported was that Washington United “could not risk any negative publicity that may come from association with an atheist organization.” Because, of course, it is far more in the best interests of the LGBT community to pander to the theists who don’t fundraise for them, don’t support them, and would happily see them all die in a ditch for the greater glory of Jesus.

Seriously, people. Think long and hard on this one. Let it sink in.

Briefly to why this underscores and validates the Atheism+ concept: You might want to sit down for this, but there is a shit-ton of anti-atheist bigotry out there. People simply have this prejudice that, because we reject belief in an invisible magic man in the sky, we are thus irredeemable, immoral, corrupt and despicable monsters. Period. And this prejudice, as we can clearly see, extends even to the people you’d think were on the same side (and who apparently are, until the fucking check clears).

What Atheism+ seeks to do is counter this cultural bigotry through associating atheism with positive social causes. No, it won’t be an immediate mind-changing magic bullet. But, as Dawkins stated in The God Delusion, hopefully it will start to raise consciousnesses. Maybe you still think that’s a needless effort. I disagree, and present this situation as exhibit A. No, I’m not trying to guilt anyone who doesn’t want to adopt the A+ moniker into doing so if they still think it’s not for them. I just want you to understand why those of us who do want to adopt it find it useful to do so. That’s all.

As for Washington United, well, fuck them right back. Feel free to disagree, but I think the public shaming should be heavy on this one. They have a Facebook page. How about that? They also can be contacted here. Just a polite note to the effect of “Thanks for being total douchebags towards Ask an Atheist, that was really nice” ought to do. And if you’re a Washingtonian and still want to support equality in that state, apparently Equal Rights Washington are the good guys.

189 comments

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  1. 1
    Mike Gillis

    Thank you, Martin.

    This was not an easy thing to go public with, and it still hurts. You expect to be treated this way by the Religious Right, but the LGBT community leadership should know what this feels like almost better than anyone.

    We want to let people know that the producers of “Ask an Atheist” haven’t changed our commitment to save-sex marriage equality, and we haven’t changed our votes on Referendum 74.

    We want all of our listeners to continue to support marriage equality in our state and vote accordingly in November.

    But we can’t sit back and just accept being treated like lepers by people in positions of power, even when they might otherwise be our allies. Especially when they might otherwise be our allies.

    And the only way to eradicate a stigma put on you, is to refuse to accept it.

    If you’ve given to their campaign, please ask for your donation back. Let them know you’re giving it to Equal Rights Washington instead.

    Like Martin said, ERW are the good guys and they were happy to acknowledge our support on their Facebook page and worked tirelessly with us to try to resolve this privately.

    It’s incredibly heartening to see people supporting us on this, because the whole situation just hurts. It hurts to be treated like this, and it hurts to go public.

    But staying silent was never an option.

    Thanks, guys!

  2. 2
    FTLNewsFeed

    You seem to be going to an unnecessary extreme on this one. First, there isn’t an only them or us mentality going on here — Washington United does not have to partner with theists if they reject the AAA funding, they could be deciding to remain neutral. Second, Atheists do have a very negative public perception that we have to deal with, and that’s why your call for Atheism+ is needed. When we have billboards taken down that we put up, and an overall negative public opinion on what it means to be an atheist can you really blame them for not wanting to be associated with us? Finally, I’m not going to tell them to go “fuck themselves” or call them a “douchebag” when their cause is just. While I dislike that they did this, what they are fighting for is a worthwhile and needed cause and their decision to distance themselves from us while short-sided is what they believe they need to do to keep their organization credible in the public eye.

    1. 2.1
      Martin Wagner

      So you don’t find anything disgracefully hypocritical about an organization ostensibly in business to fight bigotry practicing bigotry themselves?

      You don’t find anything ethically questionable about the fact they took the money and then decided it was too risky to be associated with atheists?

      Seriously, your accommodationism isn’t the solution.

      You’re damn right I can blame them for caving into public prejudice against atheists. Hello? — ding ding ding — they’re already a group advocating for gay marriage, a movement that has a strong “overall negative public opinion” facing it. So are we now being selective about which of our bigotries is still acceptable? I know! Taking a page from Todd Akin, maybe anti-atheist bigotry is legitimate bigotry! Well, that’s all right then.

      So their cause is just. Fine, I’ll go with the organizations supporting the same just cause who aren’t hypocritical, dishonest sacks of shit about it, and you can stick with these guys. Let us know how that works out for you, in the back of their bus and all.

    2. 2.2
      Orion3T

      While I can’t say I entirely agree with Martin’s assertion that they are ‘just as bad’, nor am I convinced that namecalling is the way to go, I do think it’s worth calling them on.

      They do openly endorse Theistic organisations – more than 80 by my count:

      http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/category/coalition/faith/

      So the ‘staying neutral’ doesn’t fly. Its entirely not wanting to be associated with Atheist stigma.

      But worse still, they are actively perpetuating and endorsing the harmful ‘atheists are immoral’ myth with this exclusion.

      1. Martin Wagner

        Well, I didn’t literally mean you should email them to say they’re douchebags, and longtime readers familiar with my penchant for sarcasm and snark will hopefully know I only meant to write to express your disapproval of their actions. If you didn’t know that’s what I was saying, that’s what I was saying.

        1. Orion3T

          Don’t worry Martin, I didn’t think you really meant that. Especially since I had seen the comment you wrote on their FB page, not a douchebag in sight.

          It was more the general tone, which often wouldn’t concern me, but in this case I was trying to think from their perspective. If they followed the trail of complaints back here and saw you calling them bigoted douchebags, and a few hundred comments from atheists following suit, that might not be the best way to convince them Atheism isn’t an immoral worldview and deserves to be represented. ;)

          But either way it seems to have worked, and if they have basically fessed up and made amends, and AAA are happy with their apology, I’ll happily remove my comment from their FB page if they haven’t done it already.

  3. 3
    Orion3T

    Done:

    “Atheists do NOT deserve the same respect and dignity as their peers” …. apparently. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  4. 4
    annabucci

    This is bullshit. I’m headed to their fb page now.

    How ridiculous are they? Yea, let’s stave off the negative publicity by creating negative publicity on how dickish we are. THAT WORKS.

  5. 5
    John

    I will say this once Foundation Beyond Belief. Check it out.

    http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/

  6. 6
    Gralgrathor

    associating atheism with positive social causes

    No offense, but that’s the whole problem. That’s what people like Sam Harris and others have been arguing against. The association of basic human decency with atheism, as if theists lack the capability. The establishment of an us-vs-them mentality that keeps fence-sitters from acknowledging the fact that they might just be something other than theists.

    1. 6.1
      kagekiri

      How does saying “atheists can be good without God” mean “You’re no good with God?”? Oh wait, it doesn’t at all!

      And the assumption from the religious majority ALREADY IS that atheists are fundamentally indecent and immoral.

      I had my mother question why we should even be family because I told her I was an atheist and humanist instead of Christian last week, along with accusations of arrogance and predictions of depression and nihilism, and my father questioned my intentions/love and basically accused me of being totally untrustworthy.

      So, to sum it up, you’re wrong. My atheism DOES inform my morals and my views on social justice, and that claim doesn’t magically mean that Christians who base their morals on God must have all horrible values; in my experience, the accusations of immorality are flying the other way from Christians to atheists.

    2. 6.2
      Martin Wagner

      Wrong. It is absolutely NOT meant to imply theists lack the capability. It is only meant to counter the prejudice that atheists lack the capability.

      1. Kaj

        Indeed. If we had a banner “Atheists: We don’t eat babies”… it doesn’t mean we are saying theists do.

  7. 7
    Eric

    “What Atheism+ seeks to do is counter this cultural bigotry through associating atheism with positive social causes. ”

    Isn’t that exactly what AAA was already doing? How would the existence of an “Atheist +” label have changed what happened?

    1. 7.1
      Martin Wagner

      The label may or may not do any better, but it cannot do worse. AAA was already promoting positive, socially conscious atheism…and you see how well it worked.

      1. Billysugger

        “The label may or may not do any better, but it cannot do worse. AAA was already promoting positive, socially conscious atheism…and you see how well it worked.”

        Well now it’s worked. Tell me again why the free thinking community needs an unelected politburo…

        1. Martin Wagner

          Again with the politburo BS…

          Come back when you’ve taken care of those bogus preconceptions. As we’ve seen with today’s Washington United flap, bogus preconceptions do no one any good.

          And reversing their decision worked because a lot of others in the community like us got involved.

      2. NH

        What happened to “this shit is why we need Atheism+”? Now it’s just “well it couldn’t hurt”.

        I feel for the people at ask an atheist and problems they’ve gone through with this whole thing. But I also really rubs me the wrong way that you had to use this horrible news as an opportunity to push your pet term. Adding a plus will not magically get rid of these problems.

        Honestly, the more you push for the term, the more I’m convinced that it’s really a bad move. To make it clear: I’m not saying the ideals it stands for are bad, I’m saying pushing for the label isn’t the way to achieve those goals.

        1. Martin Wagner

          Looks like you missed this:

          I’m not trying to guilt anyone who doesn’t want to adopt the A+ moniker into doing so if they still think it’s not for them. I just want you to understand why those of us who do want to adopt it find it useful to do so. That’s all.

          If you like the ideals, don’t bother with the moniker.

          1. Eric

            “I just want you to understand why those of us who do want to adopt it find it useful to do so. ”

            That’s sort of the point of my original question though…how would it have been “useful” in this case? Do you think they would have been more willing to publicize the donation if AAA said they were “Atheist +” ?

          2. Martin Wagner

            Useful in the sense of consciousness-raising. If it helps motivate a person towards pursuing social justice issues where it might not have occurred to them to do it before. Not everyone has done the A+/positive atheism thing in the way ACA/AXP has been doing it for years, nor will they have had the ideals that the A+ moniker seeks to represent as part of their everyday experience of life as an atheist.

            Look, I can understand some of the resistance to the idea of A+. Atheists are highly conscious of wanting to avoid even the appearance of groupthink. But A+, contrary to everyone wailing and gnashing their teeth about politburos and in-group/out-group cliques, doesn’t demand groupthink. At best, it can be a way to help some folks understand why, beyond dictionary atheism, godless people could do a lot of good pursuing ideals that benefit people all over, particularly those disenfranchised by the mainstream. And unlike plain old humanism (a label even Christians can adopt), it doesn’t feel the need to hide the fact that those of us doing this identify, quite proudly, as atheists.

          3. NH

            And unlike plain old humanism (a label even Christians can adopt), it doesn’t feel the need to hide the fact that those of us doing this identify, quite proudly, as atheists.

            Do you realize you’ve just insulted the vast number of humanists who also proudly identify as atheists. Way to go there alienating your allies.

          4. sqlrob

            @NH

            BS. Humanist doesn’t imply atheism so even if they self identify as such, unless they’ve been calling themselves “atheist humanist” instead of “humanist” and rarely calling themselves humanist how is there any issue? OK, so maybe you’ve offended both of them.

          5. NH

            @sqlrob
            In case you missed it, Martin claimed (or at least heavily implied) that atheists that use the humanist label are purposely hiding their atheism, which simply isn’t true. There are a large number of people that identify strongly both as atheists and as humanists. These people are not hiding behind the term humanism, they are using it because the term atheism only addresses their position on a singular question (as the people on Atheist Experience have often said on the show). These same people will also proudly proclaim the atheist name AND the humanist name. They are not hiding anything in doing so.
            .
            It’s also worth noting that when comparing Atheism+ to Humanism, what we are really talking about is Secular Humanism. The term “Secular Humanism” is often shortened to “Humanism”, and so the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. One of the things I’ve seen in these arguments over A+ is that people opposed to the new term will bring up humanism as a shortened term for secular humanism, and the pro “+” side will grab that and and insist that the comparisons were including the non-secular variety. To do this is bordering on dishonesty.

        2. mas528

          Amazing how many people that don’t know the difference between “humanist” and “secular humanist”. .

  8. 8
    The Logical Mind

    I thinI think all of us in the free-thought community should adopt the Atheism plus connotation. In the long run it would serve a greater purpose as we keep putting ourselves in the lime-light for the issues we take a stand against.

    Just let me know how I can do my part, Martin. I will change things around on The Logical Mind FB page if I can to show the support. Thanks for all you do Martin.

  9. 9
    Russell's Teapot

    http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/coalition-partners/

    At the bottom is the logo for Ask An Atheist.

    1. 9.1
      Martin Wagner

      Hmm. Did that just happen? I will query Mike.

      1. Russell's Teapot

        Might have. People should probably hold fire on the emails/FB comments for now though, imho.

        1. Becky

          It took us 2 months of private phone calls and emails to get…a reiterated decision not to include us. It took 1/2 a day of internet to get it changed. Post is shortly going up at http://askanatheist.tv explaining. Now, please considering supporting the campaign, especially since for the rest of the month every donation is being matched!

  10. 10
    Owen Atkin

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=520458451313044&set=a.520458444646378.135017.100000466811177&type=1&theater It’s up now, we can put away the torches. keep those pitch forks handy

  11. 11
    CC

    I am so disappointed by this. I just moved from Georgia to Washington and I was under the impression that Washington was different. I thought I could live in the open as an atheist here without being reviled. I am so, so disappointed to be proved wrong.

  12. 12
    Chimbley_Sweep

    From WUM:

    “We’ve received some questions about a particular organization that has endorsed the Approve Ref. 74 campaign. Ask an Atheist is one of over 500 organizations that have endorsed our campaign. We will continue to do our best to honor everyone’s support for our cause by featuring them on our website here: http://goo.gl/8L0EU

    The ultimate not-pology.

  13. 13
    Mike Gillis

    Yes. We won.

    It’s clear that the campaign has scene a respectable show of strength from our community and is willing to associate openly with us now.

  14. 14
    sharkjack

    To me the ‘atheism is just a lack of belief in god’ is fun for debates with theists who don’t understand the burden of proof, but beyond that it’s useless. I live in a country where people who actively identify as the believers are viewed as the exception, not the norm so just saying you don’t believe in gods doesn’t mean much and almost nobody labels themselves atheist. I’ve always loved how the atheist experience addressed lots of issues from an atheist perspective. I don’t find the atheism+ label visually appealing, but it does bring across that it’s more than just atheism without distancing itself from atheism as part of it’s roots. People like the amazing atheist and thunderfoot are atheists. I wouldn’t want people to no true scotman their way out of that, but there was a need to distance from that if atheist activism is to become a relevant force in social justice.

    It’s too early to tell what atheism+ will turn into, but I’m glad this is happening. It also has the potential to become more relevant in my meatspace, something regular atheism never really was.

    1. 14.1
      Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

      It’s too early to tell what atheism+ will turn into, but I’m glad this is happening.

      I’m supporting A+, but I also agree that the label itself is less important than the goals of bringing together atheists who want to focus on social justice and increasing diversity in the community.

      And it’s prompted more discussions about those issues in the last week or so than had happened in the year since Rebecca Watson uttered those fateful words. So, even if it went away tomorrow (even though I know it wont’), it’s achieved something.

      The reactions to it should also have made those atheists in denial about there being a problem with the community start to wonder, but I’ve realised lately I’d previously been very generous in my estimation of the overall level of empathy and perspective amongst that particular group.

  15. 15
    1. 15.1
      sqlrob

      *headdesk* The A+ is feminism trope is there in comments even with this being a direct counterexample.

      1. darkstar

        @sqlrob

        *headdesk* The A+ is feminism trope is there in comments even with this being a direct counterexample.

        Shame on you

  16. 16
    The Woodzman

    That’s Washington for ya.

  17. 17
    Gralgrathor

    If it helps motivate a person towards pursuing social justice issues

    Still, I remember a speech by Harris in which he argued for the combating of social injustices – which he argued are *often* inspired by religious motivations – while *not* drawing attention to the label atheism, precisely for the reasons (I think) that this label has drawn such an ambivalent response. No matter how it’s intended, from where I sit I see all too many people perceiving it as either a bunch of kids boasting (“look, see, we can be moral too!”) or a smug elite (“look, *we* are moral”). And as you already noticed, I myself (“yes, *the* me”) experience a somewhat irrational fear of labels (is there a good latin-derived word for that?).

    1. 17.1
      Anonymous Atheist

      I’m no Latin expert, but label = titulus. So how about ‘fear of labels’ = ‘titulophobia’? :)

    2. 17.2
      satanaugustine

      Keep in mind, though, that Sam has also argued against using the term atheist in any context by arguing that we shouldn’t label ourselves based on what we disbelieve.

  18. 18
    roggg

    So if atheists are being treated in such a bigoted fashion, then the answer is to re-brand atheism as something more palatable? That’s a piss-poor solution if you ask me.

    1. 18.1
      sqlrob

      Atheism+ really doesn’t sound like a rebranding of the big scary atheism as far as those who hate atheists are concerned

    2. 18.2
      Sassafras

      He didn’t say that. He said associating atheists with working for positive causes is what will help. This isn’t like the “Brights” who just came up with a new term to hide behind.

      1. roggg

        Many atheists have always been working for positive causes. That’s what this was all about… an atheist organization fundraising for marriage equality. How does Atheism+ help in this instance, and how is it more than a re-branding?

        1. Sassafras

          And this very page is full of Atheism+ supporters who added their voices in support of the AaA group.

          You specifically said: “So if atheists are being treated in such a bigoted fashion, then the answer is to re-brand atheism as something more palatable?”

          Aside from the fact that that misses a hell of a lot of the point of the post, Atheism+ doesn’t count as that kind of re-branding because when you say you’re for Atheism+, you’re still saying you’re an atheist. You don’t escape religious bigotry by using the word “atheism” in your group’s title.

          1. Gralgrathor

            you’re still saying you’re an atheist

            The problem is compounded by the “hijacking” of the (neutral) term of atheism by a group with definitive socio-political motivations. Not that I disapprove of those motivations in themselves – I mostly support them. Not that I disapprove of showing that atheists are/can be moral people – I entirely support that too. The problem is entirely one of perception – and most specifically with how people will perceive the word “atheism” to mean something other than what it does or should mean, purely through association.

          2. Sassafras

            That’s why the term includes atheism but has a plus to show that it’s atheism with an extra component. And frankly, if the association that people make with atheism is “doesn’t put up with sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.” then good. Maybe less sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic assholes will feel comfortable in the atheist movement.

  19. 19
    Hybrid Vigor

    Highest honors to the Ask an Atheist crowd for getting a positive result here. Seriously, you guys convinced a group in an intense battle for equal marriage rights to risk losing a critical source of support (liberal christian’s) in order to advance our cause. I mean, after all, the atheist’s interests in their own public image should rival the central objective of a separate organization when considering the best course of action, right?

    Calm down, half-serious, half-joking. The only transgression I see here was the broken promise to acknowledge AAA as a supporter, and I’m tempted to congratulate the person from WUM on a quick recovery from his ethical cerebral vascular accident. However, that would likely give him too much and too little credit at the same time, as this wasn’t a simple bait-and-switch, and I doubt he had a moment of clarity where he realized that it was better to honor his word (and risk jeopardizing the dreams of millions who have fought to be recognized as equals).

    The real kudos I’m giving to Ask an Atheist is for the job they’ve been doing all-along in their community. They’ve clearly helped foster an environment where it wasn’t political suicide to be associated with an Atheist group, and that, to me is the key determinant here. All the guilt-pressure in the world could not have achieved this result if the other supporting groups thought that Mike et al were evil incarnate. Was the initial balk on AAA acknowledgement a cowardly act, yes, but it could have been a necessary act, if AAA (and the larger public movement) hadn’t elevated the public perception of Atheists. Something to keep in mind should A+ adopt an aggressive position regarding collaboration with other groups in the future. How much is your pride worth?

    And, no, I don’t think A+ will make a positive impact in the future. At least not in its current nebulous incarnation. As it is imagined (or as best as I can establish), it appears to me to be a collection of humanist/progressive/skeptical ideals without a cohesive philosophy or explicit rationale. One of these components, skepticism/rationale inquiry, is presumably the most common (but certainly not the only) method used by members to arrive at the atheist position with respect to commonly encountered god claims. It is this single position on one question that is now being used as the anchoring identity for this new group, but with the exciting twist of adding a “+”, which seems to accurately convey what? An infinite elasticity without meaningful content?
    Atheism is a simple position that doesn’t make positive claims, or unnecessary assertions about the universe, so it’s easy to defend. I can see how the version of A+ that’s running around may seem compelling to a small group of like-minded, well-intentioned people. However, trying to condense a group of progressive social ideals around Atheism (itself a position derived from one of the ideals, but largely philosophically independent from others) will require a lot more work than what I’ve been able to find so far. Otherwise it may just be a club for liberal Atheists who are ok with protecting large portions of the group’s interests from the skeptical/rational approach that is the only real connection to Atheism. That people are endorsing “A+” before establishing its identity seems silly.

    I want a viable form of A+ to emerge, but the dominant tenor on FTB pages, and in much of the online Atheist community, is not consistent with a productive, honest dialogue. I have seen a large number of irrational and unfounded assertions made by FTBloggers (not picking on you guys, this is just a prime example, happy to provide examples and counter-literature) with respect to non-Atheist positions, and it is rare to see disagreement resolved by calm presentation of evidence. What’s worse, personal attack seems to be accepted as a valid argument against anyone who deviates from what is accepted opinion, even when that opinion has little evidentiary support. Makes me wonder if A+ will just be Newspeak for moral religion?

    1. 19.1
      Martin Wagner

      Well, for now I’ve decided I’m pretty much done with the A+ discussion, if only because I feel I’ve explained what it means to me dozens and dozens of times by now, and every time I do, a meet a chorus of people who inform me there is no way it means that, nor could it possibly mean that. So I don’t see A+ discussions as being productive. If the label alone is something that’s going to get in the way this badly for so many people, maybe it’s not a good idea.

      1. Hybrid Vigor

        Sorry to bum you out, Martin, it wasn’t my intent. Let me try a different approach…I’ve heard the AE hosts give precise definitions of the word “Atheist” many times on the show, and the rationale by which one gets from that definition to the A+ view may arguably be too nuanced for individuals who are new to blending critical thinking and moral reasoning. I’m still mulling this over myself. This isn’t abstract for me, I’ve recently brought my mom to the point where she is testing the once unthinkable proposition of being an atheist. She would almost certainly see A+ as a group name describing a bunch of people who reject god claims and also subscribe to liberal policies. She wouldn’t connect these components into a cohesive moral view, largely because of the damage that 65 years of bible lessons have done to her moral compass. Explicitly stating the moral/logical justifications for the A+ positions and values would help. This would be such a refreshing change from the old authoritarian religious models, and will prophylactically put a cork in some of the religious challenges to the “+” components. It will also give some meat to your values statement as you guys move to the action phase. After all, it’s easy to get agreement on something like “compassion”, but what that translates to in terms of behaviors or goals is less clear. I’m brainstorming on an alternative to the + symbol, but don’t have anything novel.

        This, I guess, leads to my personal problem with atheism as the central component. My atheism stems from a commitment to moral precepts (honesty,integrity), so the + aspects aren’t derived from my atheism, . Therefore, atheism+ would be superficially true, but an incomplete descriptor of some aspects of my personal moral philosophy. This isn’t just an aesthetic point, it can provide a source for future conflict, particularly when a possible component is an inflexible policy prohibiting collaborations with opposing groups. If one makes a policy such that it is acceptable to decline an opportunity to help the suffering in order to avoid potential compromises in atheist ideology, then I could not find this a moral act, as the + values are independent to me.

        Not sure if changing my approach helped communicate some feedback, just thought I’d try changing the vex-situation of stating the same thing over and over in response to identical critiques. Along those lines, multiple proponents are answering questions about A+ with statements like, “I’m for justice, fairness, and equality” implying that anyone concerns over A+ identifies one as embracing the opposing ideals. This seems to be a fallacy built around a distinction between concepts and their application. The ideals appear noble, but are almost useless for helping me judge whether I think this is a workable formula in practice. I mean, just for starters, justice: this can easily encroach on compassion, fairness: as determined by whom, and equality: of what/who? I see these as competing in many real-world scenarios, and I’m not sure how they specifically relate to atheism outside reacting to religious behaviors. These sound like reasonable premises, but as stated, give me almost zero predictive value on whether the actions of this group will do anything to actually promote these ideals. Isn’t there a cliche about roads to hell being paved?

        I hope this isn’t taken as being overly critical, but making positive claims can be tough business, and I think the A+ proposal could use some support in the way of constructive critique. My comments on last post about personal attacks were an observation about the low yield for constructive feedback that seems to flow from the aggressive snipes and defensive retorts of some. It seems there’s even some “reactionary emotionalism” circulating in the A+ lovers group, too ;)

        Best of luck to you.

  20. 20
    thalamay

    Martin, I think you’re missing several boats here. First of all, whether or not there is anti-atheist bigotry out there is a non-sequitur regarding the idea of A+. You might as well start an Atheism+Deity movement, because once people equate atheism with a belief in a superior being, they might be less bigoted towards us…yeah, I don’t think so either…

    But secondly, ignoring that it’s a non-sequitur to begin with, I think you’re argument misses some key issues. For one, the ideology included in A+ is nothing new, it’s simply liberalism. So what you’re in effect trying to do is to tie atheism to the extreme political left. But how will that help? In fact it would play into the evangelicals’ hands. They’d say that they always warned us, that atheism really is nothing but another term for socialism, etc. At the same time there are the religious left who will do everything to not be branded with the atheism label.
    I think you’d do the movement a great disservice by politicizing it in such a way as you’d open up several new flanks that are begging to be attacked.

    1. 20.1
      Martin Wagner

      I’m for justice, fairness, and equality. If that’s a thing some people want to condemn as being part of the “extreme political left,” that’s on them. And I can’t imagine what extreme they think I should be part of. “Fuck yeah! Oppress the gays! Treat women like shit!” No thanks.

      And in case you hadn’t noticed, the evangelicals already think we’re irredeemably evil, so I don’t see A+ making that situation any worse.

      1. thalamay

        Well, everybody can get behind the labels. The question is how you fill them. Everybody supports equality, but not everybody believes that we’re living in a rapist culture.

        But be that as it may, these are two separate issues. Tying them together will only hurt both causes because it’ll open up new and unnecessary flanks. You’re free to found a new feminist club that is fighting for women’s rights, and I may or may not join it (looking at the feminists within the FTB circles and their ideologies, I probably won’t). But bundling it with atheism makes absolutely no sense. The religious right will say that you’re really out to fight the moral fabric of the nation and evade the issues that atheism is about, namely rational belief by concentrating on how bad feminism is, while the anti-feminists will concentrate on the atheist part and evade the issues relevant to the feminists. And the more sub groups you include, the harder it will be to get any message across.

        1. Martin Wagner

          But bundling it with atheism makes absolutely no sense.

          Well, I suppose that depends on whether someone wants to be only a “dictionary atheist,” or thinks that social justice is a thing atheists ought to support, and that atheism itself supports. In a world where theists are only too happy to engage in social injustice based upon their religious beliefs, I think it’s naive to insist that irreligion has no social justice component. If you believe, or if you don’t believe, in a God, that fact is going to affect decisions you make on how you live your life and interact with others. Where religion oppresses gay rights, I want my atheism to stand up for gay rights. Where religion encourages cutting up women’s faces and burning them with acid, I want my atheism to stand up for women’s rights and equality.

          1. thalamay

            First of all, I want you to remember that my initial point was that bigotry towards atheists is a non-sequitur regarding the adoption of the A+ idea. You’re now essentially making that very same point in that you argue that it’s more important to communicate your convictions than to appease the other side. So with that, the entire premise of your blog post falls flat.

            Secondly, I’m not saying that any person can or should only be one thing. I’m not only an atheist, but I also hold other (non-)beliefs. What I’m saying is that a movement should concentrate on one issue if it wants to succeed. I don’t believe in god and I love eating cheesecake. That doesn’t mean that atheists should add the encouragement of cheesecake consumption to their agenda, these are two separate issues. If I also want to encourage consuming cheesecake or find likeminded people, I better join a second club for that goal.

            Thirdly, when religion encourages immoral behavior, atheists (in their function as representatives of an atheist movement) should indeed stand up and call people out on that. But they should stick to the religion related issues. For example, one could argue that since we don’t believe in Allah, we see no reason to oppress women the way islamic countries do and keep the discussion on the point of the existence of Allah. Or one could turn it around and ask a moslem how a god who commands such a cruel behavior can be considered good.
            However, it’s quite another thing to bring in radical feminism at large and bring up ideologies like male privilege in secular countries or rapist culture or whatnot, all of which has nothing to do with the existence of god. If you want to communicate such beliefs, there are other movements to do that, but not the atheist movement.
            What’s worse, when you read something like Richard Carrier’s (whom I deeply respect for his scholarly work and his contributions to the atheist movement) manifesto for A+, that’s not only advocating using the atheist mantle in order to press issues that have nothing to do with atheism, but also calling to actively disenfranchise those atheists who don’t want to come along on that trip. That’s divisive and hurtful to the cause of atheism, not to mention that it’s neither rational nor moral.

            Or to get away from the radical feminism, let’s look at another example. Say gay marriage. All atheists agree that all consensual partnerships should be given equal treatment because they don’t have a god to tell them otherwise. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to support gay marriage, one might as well oppose all kinds of marriage.
            To illustrate that point, what would you think would the reaction be if I wrote a manifesto demanding that atheists will from now on fight for the official recognition of polygamy? There is no reason for an atheist to oppose polygamy just as there’s no reason to oppose gay partnerships. But that doesn’t mean that all atheists have to fight for my right to marry more than one person. If I want to do that, I have to look for a different club.

            To boil this point down: The more goals you have in your organization, the fewer people you’ll find who can identify with all of them and who are willing to fight for them, reducing the impact you can have on all of these issues. That’s why these movements should be separated. So by adding the plus, you’re reducing the impact of the atheist movement as a whole, because not all atheists can rally behind the additions. At best you’re fracturing the movement, at worst you’re making people turn away from it altogether.

            To sum it up, when you understand A+ as a general approach on life like “advocating equal rights”, the moniker is rather useless and might as well be ignored. Of course we’re all for equal rights. But the more specific you get, the more you splinter the movement, because there is no correct atheist approach to equal rights.
            For instance, I cannot possibly align myself with people like Surly Amy, Rebecca Watson or for that matter PZ Meyers on gender issues because to me, their views are sexist. In an atheist movement that’s not a problem, we can agree to disagree and focus on our common goals (which vastly (!!!) outweigh our differences). In an A+ movement however, that is indeed a problem as it leads to infighting and fracturing over the meaning of “equal rights” and what it entails, all the while the religious right is giggling and continuing to influence society. I mean we can all see it happening right now. Totally unnecessary if you ask me.

          2. Martin Wagner

            You’re now essentially making that very same point in that you argue that it’s more important to communicate your convictions than to appease the other side. So with that, the entire premise of your blog post falls flat.

            Then you’ve misunderstood my premise wildly. One result of atheism+, if it becomes more the norm among the general public to associate atheists with good deeds and social justice, is that prejudice against atheists as a harmful force in society will be lessened. Bigotry towards atheists is hardly a non-sequitur as regards the long-term goals of A+. It’s a raison d’etre.

            However, it’s quite another thing to bring in radical feminism at large and bring up ideologies like male privilege in secular countries or rapist culture or whatnot, all of which has nothing to do with the existence of god.

            So its okay to oppose the oppression of women as long as it’s only religious radicals doing it, but as soon as I address sexism in a broader secular context, I’ve joined the “radical feminism” camp and am doing atheism wrong?

            After being told so many times it’s A+ that’s trying to force people into specific, inflexible definitions as to what atheism is allowed to be, this is more than a bit ironic.

            For instance, I cannot possibly align myself with people like Surly Amy, Rebecca Watson or for that matter PZ Meyers on gender issues because to me, their views are sexist.

            Are they now? Examples?

          3. thalamay

            Then you’ve misunderstood my premise wildly. Then you’ve misunderstood my premise wildly.

            I understood what you said, I simply challenged your reasoning. IMHO, A+ achieves the exact opposite, it doubles down on those elements that inspire bigotry in others while at the same time alienating part of your natural allies.

            So its okay to oppose the oppression of women as long as it’s only religious radicals doing it, but as soon as I address sexism in a broader secular context, I’ve joined the “radical feminism” camp and am doing atheism wrong?

            I’m not saying that sexism is OK, simply that it’s not an issue for an atheist movement as long as it’s not tied to religion. You can fight against sexism, but not as part of an atheist platform as it leads to division because there’s no objective definition of what sexism actually is. For example, I have big problems with what the vocal feminists within the A+ group are defining as sexism. I simply disagree with them and I think I have good reasons to do so as they’re drifting into ideological territory where their beliefs are based on faith rather than facts. If you’re interested, we can look at some of these issues in more detail, though I think that wouldn’t advance the argument we’re having here.

            Bigotry towards atheists is hardly a non-sequitur as regards the long-term goals of A+. It’s a raison d’etre.

            Again, I think A+ is counterproductive towards that goal, but even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t subscribe to the patriarchy ideology, even if it would decrease bigotry, because I simply think that it is false, more akin to religion than anything else.
            The only thing that really helps in the long run is more and more people outing themselves. Dawkins out campaign is so much more suited towards your goal than A+, but somehow he’s no the enemy, because he’s a privileged, old, white man…how is that attitude helping with your cause? To me that is bigoted in itself.

            Are they now? Examples?

            For example the Schrödinger’s rapist idea, that every man is seen as a potential rapist and that men are therefore required to go out of their way not to intimidate anyone. That is BS and it is sexist. If the same point was made about blacks being criminals, the person making such a claim would be called a racist and rightfully so, but here it’s somehow different.

            Or another example, just the other day I turned into PZ’s Google Hangout and I immediately had to turn it off again, because the first thing I heard was that free speech is bad, because people shouldn’t say anything that could be hurtful to someone…well if that was the case, we should just scrap the entire atheist thing as our message is bound to be hurtful for theists. It’s really baffling how this is accepted in the context of gender issues when we’d clearly not accept it anywhere else.

            No, I cannot and will not align myself with positions as crazy as these. And I haven’t even mentioned some of the slurs agains men that are somehow OK, because men are privileged…

          4. tracieh

            >For example the Schrödinger’s rapist idea, that every man is seen as a potential rapist

            If you had a toddler, and an adult stranger came up and asked to take your child, without you, to a local park, would you not be an irresponsible idiot if you said anything other than “no”?

            Why do you think all adult you don’t know are a child molester?

          5. thalamay

            Bad analogy, because unlike flirting (or any other social exchange between man and woman), asking for a stranger’s child is not normal behavior. I certainly wouldn’t be afraid of a stranger who’s asking my child for its name while we’re waiting at the bakery.
            That’s why the black person asking for the time is a much better analogy. Am I not racist when I suspect him of trying to mug me only because he’s black? Should blacks have sympathy for white juries who hand out much harsher sentences to them than for whites for exactly the same crime because it’s a natural reflex, just like Schrödinger’s rapist? After all, the black guy could potentially be much more dangerous than the white guy.
            How about the Boss who refuses to hire atheists because they have no morals? Is that valid?

          6. Martin Wagner

            Any other social exchange between a man and a woman?

            Okay, let’s try an experiment.

            This week, go out in public and chat up ten women at random. Ask them, after only about 3-5 minutes of friendly conversation, if they would be willing to go for a ride with you in your car. See how many say yes. Are the ones who don’t being “sexist”?

            After all, you said “any social exchange” between men and women.

          7. thalamay

            Yeah, that’s what I said. And the answer is no, because not wanting to go for a ride is not sexist, there are all kinds of good reasons not to do that (including precaution). If they think I’m a potential rapist because I’m male, then it would be debatable. However, if they made a big deal out of it, say on their blog, and made a point that men should never ask women for a ride after five minutes of chat because that’s threatening to them, then definitely, that would be sexist.

            I mean we can turn this around and see what happens. What if I demanded from women to wear a burqa, because otherwise I might get the impression that they want to seduce me in order to take advantage of me. You know, women are Schrödinger’s seducers, they might employ their looks in order to exploit men they don’t actually have any feelings for…that is pretty common after all. So even though I’m well aware that the vast majority of women are not like that, they should still all wear a burqa out of respect for my sensibilities and fears and if they don’t, they’re insensitive jerks who should be banned from attending atheist conventions.

          8. Martin Wagner

            Yeah, that’s what I said. And the answer is no, because not wanting to go for a ride is not sexist, there are all kinds of good reasons not to do that (including precaution).

            Yeah…and that precaution is based on…what, exactly?

            If they think I’m a potential rapist because I’m male, then it would be debatable.

            Not just that you’re a male, but that you’re a male they don’t know. And since, statistically, they are more likely to get raped by a male than by another female or a beagle, you can’t claim that being male plays no role in the situation, or that acknowledging the reality of that is sexist. There’s just no debate. Any woman who wouldn’t err on the side of her own physical safety in considering an offer from a strange man would simply be an idiot. She doesn’t know you, has no reason to assume you’re a great guy out of the gate, and has every justification to insist you demonstrate you’re a good guy before entrusting you into her personal space. And even then, she won’t be 100% safe, because most sexual assault victims know their attackers.

            So by all means, piss and moan about the “sexism” of this reality, but that won’t alter the reality of it.

            However, if they made a big deal out of it, say on their blog, and made a point that men should never ask women for a ride after five minutes of chat because that’s threatening to them, then definitely, that would be sexist.

            So…a woman’s objection to going for a ride with a strange man is only valid as long as she never discusses it publicly? The fuck?

            That’s quite simply the most arrant bullshit you’ve uttered in this entire exchange.

            What if I demanded from women to wear a burqa, because otherwise I might get the impression that they want to seduce me in order to take advantage of me. You know, women are Schrödinger’s seducers…

            And if we lived in a world where women wantonly seducing men and taking advantage of them was an actual act of criminal sexual assault that occurred with anything like the regularity with which women are raped by men, your analogy might be something other than a false equivalence. (And this isn’t even addressing the rather obvious distinction that seduction, which is about persuading the other person to grant consent, is a little different from rape, where consent is generally ignored in favor of force. So turning the example 180° doesn’t exactly work for you the way you think it does.)

          9. thalamay

            So according to that logic, I would NOT be a racist when I initiated a big public movement demanding that blacks should not approach whites, for example to ask what time it is, because I as a white person will feel threatened as statistically I’m much more likely to get mugged by a black person than by a white person and they should respect that.

            Also, statistically women are much more likely to poison someone than men, so is it justified to demand from them to go out of their way to not make the impression as if they’re about to poison me?

            What about arab looking people? Should they get out of their way not to appear as terrorists? Am I justified in demanding that they don’t enter the same plane as me because I’m afraid that they might fly it into a building?

            Statistics are an excuse for discrimination. You’re trying to have your cake and eat it too by cherry picking the cases where it’s legitimate to judge an individual person by statistics and where it’s not, it’s as simple as that.
            Making a judgement of an individual based upon your perception of the group that individuals belongs to is the very definition if bigotry.

          10. Martin Wagner

            I’m sure all of these arguments would be tremendously persuasive to any strange woman you’re trying to get to ride in your car with you.

        2. thalamay

          So what? What do YOU think about it? You’re not addressing the points I made. Is it ok to demand from blacks, arabs, etc. to be considerate of my fears of them? Is it ok to judge individuals by the group they were born into?

          1. Martin Wagner

            Generally, no, but that doesn’t mean that the right thing for a woman to do is get into a car with a strange man, because it’s more important for her not to unfairly prejudice him as a potential danger because of all the men out there who don’t do rape than it is for her to consider her personal safety in isolating herself with a stranger she doesn’t know.

            Avoiding prejudice does not obligate someone to disregard their own safety and common sense.

          2. thalamay

            I agree, that’s why I made the distinction above. It’s not sexist to refuse to take a ride out of caution. It is however sexist to demand from men never to ask them for a ride.
            One is your own prejudice that may or may not be justified. The other is a demand from everybody to act according to your own prejudices.

            I hope you now understand the difference.

            Just like it’s not racist to turn around when you walk into a dark alley when a black guy is standing there because you’re afraid of getting mugged. It is however racist to demand from blacks to avoid standing in dark alleys.

          3. Martin Wagner

            I agree, that’s why I made the distinction above. It’s not sexist to refuse to take a ride out of caution. It is however sexist to demand from men never to ask them for a ride.

            But Schrodinger’s Rapist is only about the former. You’ve been insisting on straw-manning (-womaning?) it into this thing that turns it into some kind of totalitarian reverse-sexist control freak behavior by the Femistasi. That’s a situation that only exists in your imagination. Nobody’s saying men should never ask women for a ride for the remainder of humanity’s time on earth. They’re simply saying that if a woman doesn’t know you, don’t be surprised if she declines to be whisked away by you in your car.

          4. thalamay

            If what you say were the A+ consensus, I guess I could agree with that. However, I seem to remember a very different vibe in the aftermath of elevator gate…words like “misogyny” were handed out in large numbers…thank goodness this is the internet and we can go and check it out. One example:
            Stef McGraw commented on elevatorgate which also contained this quote:
            My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her. What’s wrong with that? How on earth does that justify him as creepy? Are we not sexual beings? Let’s review, it’s not as if he touched her or made an unsolicited sexual comment; he merely asked if she’d like to come back to his room. She easily could have said (and I’m assuming did say), “No thanks, I’m tired and would like to go to my room to sleep.”

            To which Rebecca Watson replied:
            I hear a lot of misogyny from skeptics and atheists, but when ancient anti-woman rhetoric like the above is repeated verbatim by a young woman online, it validates that misogyny in a way that goes above and beyond the validation those men get from one another.

            And from what I can tell in the wake of the thunderf00t fallout, unfortunately Rebecca Watson’s view of sexism is the norm here at FTB and by extension also at A+, not yours. Maybe you want to check out what you really singed up for with A+…

      2. Tomasz R.

        “I’m for justice, fairness, and equality.”. Then your goals are contradictory. Justice + fairness lead to inequality. Equality might lead to unfairness and injustice.

  21. 21
    benjdm

    Saw the update, so I gave them $10 with ‘Ask an Atheist’ in the ‘in honor of’ field.

  22. 22
    algi

    So, why do you call it A+? Why not liberal atheist? What’s the difference?

  23. 23
    chaos_engineer

    For instance, I cannot possibly align myself with people like Surly Amy, Rebecca Watson or for that matter PZ Meyers on gender issues because to me, their views are sexist. In an atheist movement that’s not a problem, we can agree to disagree and focus on our common goals (which vastly (!!!) outweigh our differences).

    I think you’re missing some of the history here. One of the goals of the atheist movement is to hold conventions. Over the past several months, there’s been this huge argument over whether these conventions should have policies against sexual harassment.

    Some people say that they should have the same basic harassment policy that’s been in place at every single job I’ve had since the early 90′s. Other people say that sexual harassment isn’t a problem, and even if it is a problem, who cares?

    This sort of dispute is why people felt the need to create the A+ movement. There’s no way the two sides can compromise; the only solution is to have separate conventions for each group.

    Even if you don’t want to join A+, it can still be useful to you: If the A+ community endorses a convention, then you can assume that there’s a sexual harassment policy in place, and that people like PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson will be there, and you can decide if you want to go or not.

    In an A+ movement however, that is indeed a problem as it leads to infighting and fracturing over the meaning of “equal rights” and what it entails, all the while the religious right is giggling and continuing to influence society. I mean we can all see it happening right now. Totally unnecessary if you ask me.

    The religious right hasn’t even gotten as far as arguing about sexual harassment policies at their conventions yet. They’re still stuck on Premillennialism vs. Postmillennialism. They’re just as fragmented as atheists; they’re only more influential because they’re more numerous and because their leadership has a unique talent for fundraising.

    1. 23.1
      thalamay

      I completely disagree. I don’t think that sexual harassment policies are the cause of the rift. Nobody is in favor of sexual harassment or even tolerating sexual harassment. The issue was in how it was presented by the feminists as they painted these conventions as a cesspool where women have to constantly fear of being raped.
      If these policies had been introduced with less vitriol, there would never have been any controversy whatsoever. Nobody would have defended the notorious groper after he was kicked out.

      But once the controversy kicked off, it soon devolved into something else entirely. It wasn’t about sexual harassment anymore, but then elevatorgate was dragged up again by the one side while the other side felt victimized after being ridiculed on t-shirts and jewelry. As I said, this would have easily been avoidable. The rift was caused by bringing controversial issues regarding gender relations on the table that have nothing to do with atheism or rationalism or skepticism. A+ is facilitating these rifts rather then working on solving them.

      1. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

        You have got to be kidding.

        1. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

          Well, that entire word salad he posted before was a mischaracterization of Shroedinger’s Rapist, couched in more lies about imaginary misandry. So, no, he’s not kidding. he’s just not living on the same planet as everyone else.

          1. thalamay

            I’m looking forward to your attempt at spinning Schrödinger’s rapist in a way that is not sexist…

      2. speed0spank

        I mean…don’t bother to explain your ridiculous statement about how *nobody* is against sexual harassment policies and instead ask everyone else to explain something that somebody else said. PZ’s blog is not this one, you might have noticed.

    2. 23.2
      tracieh

      >Even if you don’t want to join A+, it can still be useful to you: If the A+ community endorses a convention, then you can assume that there’s a sexual harassment policy in place, and that people like PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson will be there, and you can decide if you want to go or not.

      AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! A thousand times, AMEN!!!

      People can go and have their own conventions. Nobody is stopping anybody from hosting whatever they like. Attend the “plain ol’ atheist conventions” or the “A+ conventions.” I’ll be at the ones I prefer, and nobody has to put up with me that doesn’t want to, and vice versa. I do not want to be within spitting distance of someone who does now share my understanding of what constitutes a basic social boundary, any time I can avoid it. And if I see A+, I will assume that people in attendance agree that elevators are for moving people from one floor of a building to another, not to create a captive area in which to socialize with others, because *somebody* was unable to bring their adult selves to speak up in the bar when it was totally appropriate to do so–in a recognized social venue.

      And again, the beauty part is nobody has to agree with me about what constitutes rudeness. Just respect my right to exercise my freedom of association to not hang with anybody I don’t want to–whether *they* think they’re being rude or not. *I* decide who I spend time with–not *you*. So, we don’t even have to argue about it. I will handle the heavy lifting by never darkening the door of someone I think is an ass. I promise not to go up to them and bug them about changing anything they think or do. I’ll just steer TOTALLY clear of them–so they don’t need to worry about one little ol’ thing.

      1. tracieh

        *who does not share

      2. thalamay

        Yay, let us all create our own little echo chamber where we can pat ourselves on the back and rejoice in how much we agree with one another. Much more convenient than having to argue your beliefs anyway…
        If that’s what I wanted, I might as well have stayed in church where there were only nice people and none of these Satan worshipping atheists that are out to spread immoral heresies.
        /sarcasm

        But seriously, elevatorgate was more about social clumsiness than anything else. Do you really think there are no clumsy people among the A+ crowd? Also, and this is an honest question, did you ever feel unwelcome, harassed, objectified or something of the sort on any atheist convention you attended?

        1. jdog

          But seriously, elevatorgate was more about social clumsiness than anything else.

          And WW1 was all due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and had nothing at all to do with international politics.

        2. Muz

          Yeah, Elevatorgate -was- about social clumsiness, with a little bit of podium ethics on the side. But that was right up until a whole lot of people went completely batshit, and stayed batshit, and did their level best to stir up other people to batshit level with their freaked out hearsay and distortions.
          Which took about a day and is still going.
          After that Elevatorgate was about a whole lot of other things.

          1. thalamay

            Definitely. But I was responding to Tracy’s remark about elevators.

          2. Muz

            Hmm, yes it is probably better not to drag it into the harassment policy biz.

            Still, I don’t know what this making supposed echo chambers problem is. The whole Atheism+ discussion seems to be a reaction to the fact that atheism is mostly already an echo chamber and when people try and be feminist et al in that space a whole bunch of angry people show up and tell them to shut the hell up.
            The anti-echo chamber cry is the product of an echo chamber.

          3. thalamay

            When all people have to say is “shut the hell up”, they’re no concern to me, or at least the position they hold is not, because they obviously ran out of arguments.

            That’s why I also wrote that nobody is against harassment policies. Sure there are exceptions, there always are, but they not only lack any arguments, they’re also on the fringes of fringes. But nobody with half a brain would endorse sexual harassment.
            The question was more about what constitutes sexual harassment. For example, is hitting upon someone in an elevator harassment or is it merely social clumsiness? Unfortunately, both sides (or elements of both sides) then tried to attack the other side as monsters (femnazis vs. oppressive patriarchs) instead of openly arguing their points which made it impossible to come to an agreement.
            The fight over harassment policies is a case in point. At the end of the day, everybody wants the same thing, namely conventions where everybody feels safe and welcome and nobody would tolerate attendees who harass others. It really was more a semantic argument than anything, but the result was that large parts of the attendees at TAM felt offended by one side or another. Visible for example by the now notorious “fake” jewelry and certain T-shirs.

            So back to the echo chamber: It can of course be nice to have an echo chamber and if that’s what people want, so be it. But at the same time, this is against what skepticism is about, this is exactly what skeptics always criticize, because it means that people won’t hear positions different from their own which in return leads to dogmatization. At a certain points, beliefs simply become “given” and you don’t see the need to challenge them anymore, everybody agrees after all. This would only cement the split and prevent us from ever reaching common ground, even though we’re all so close.

            So on the one hand, I’d certainly disagree with atheism already being an echo chamber. This infight is prove of that. The atheist movement is populated by all kinds of people, although liberals seem to make the vast majority. On the other hand, if anything, this infight is the result of already existing echo chambers, let’s call them the skepchick chamber and the thundef00t chamber, both of which have created their own dogmas, their own faith if you will, and they’re incompatible with one another. And as always when dogmas collide, there’s no room for an honest and open debate, and certainly no room for compromise, it’s all or nothing.
            So IMHO, the answer should not be a further separation and fracturing of the movement as with A+, but the exact opposite. At least if being skeptical and pursuing atheist goals is still our main objective. Then we need to be as inclusive as possible in order to gain momentum, not fracturing off into obscurity.

          4. Muz

            I am completely confused by how something that is little more than a slogan does any of the negative things people are ascribing to it. You might as well say there should be a Secular Student Alliance because that’s fracturing the movement. Everyone should only join American Atheists. Only this isn’t even an organisation.
            Where I think we’re going to differ forever is that I see what you’re saying as “We need to be inclusive by -not- including the things these people want in, and feel are being actively excluded from, the atheist conversation. And we certainly can’t let them adopt a tag for this contested/excluded stuff because that will exclude all the people who don’t want anything to do with it in the first place”.
            I may be mischaracterising, but that’s what I get from the anti position. Feel free to disabuse me.

          5. Muz

            (of course, that ‘should’ up the top there is meant to be a ‘shouldn’t')

          6. thalamay

            By inclusive, I mean that in an atheist movement, we should tolerate other people’s opinions on things that have nothing to do with atheism. That doesn’t mean that any issue is banned from being discussed, but it means that I can’t force my dogmas onto others. It doesn’t hurt to debate the issues of sexism for example, what does hurt is to adopt a certain definition of sexism and disallow all other definitions or debate on those definitions. For example, it is my opinion that the “patriarchy” is mostly a myth, at least in Western societies. Now I’m happy to debate the issue open mindedly and I’m willing to work towards atheist goals with people who disagree with me in that respect but apparently the skepchicks are not willing to do either, they rather want to divide the movement so that they don’t have to defend their opinion and they rather split the movement than to even tolerate other opinions within the movement.

            The Secular Student Alliance for example is a sub group that focuses on student related issues regarding atheism. But they’re not out there to disenfranchise everyone who doesn’t care about their specific issues and when it comes to atheism at large, they’re views not any more or less important than anybody else’s.

            Similarly, there wouldn’t be any problem if the A+ people would instead found a Secular Feminist group that specifically tackles the issues of feminism from an atheistic point of view. But that’s not what is happening. What A+ is trying to do is to hijack the atheism label and redefine it, making feminism an integral part of it, even though it has nothing to do with the existence of gods and furthermore disenfranchise those who don’t want to come along on that ride. Richard Carrier’s “us vs. them” comment illustrates that perfectly. A+ is not striving to be a subgroup of the atheist movement with their own specific goals, but to force their dogmas onto the movement as a whole.

            So yes, labels are important too, because they imply a lot in and of themselves, whether it’s intended or not. But in this case, it’s very much intended I guess…

          7. Muz

            I find your version of events wanting. You assume a certain feminist dogma (and a particular approach to feminism at that) is necessarily part of this and I’m afraid I don’t see it. You could cite posts by people who are tired of putting up with certain things I suppose, but that’s not the same thing. I don’t see the debates about these things ending at all. So your assertion that those who do not toe the party line will be disenfranchised doesn’t follow. Since that’s the core of your argument there’s not much else to go on.
            I don’t really care to elevate Carrier’s post to gospel for damning A+ with, as so many do. It seemed more like a guy having a bit of rant about enjoying telling the assholes to go the hell (so to speak). You seem fine with excluding them already.
            Really, are you so short of outlets for putting your attacks on the roots of feminism in front of feminists themselves? Would atheists broadly agreeing with said roots and getting together really harm atheism? I can’t see how beyond you and other merely stating it will just because.

          8. thalamay

            As I said, should they only come together and work towards their goals like the Secular Student Alliance, it wouldn’t be a problem. But as I said, they want more than that. And it’s not only Richard Carrier’s comments. There were also comments from all kinds of other sources regarding A+ and that it’s the “third wave of atheism” and that we should leave the Dawkinses behind (since he’s an old white privileged man) and move on in a new direction and that sort of things.

            That doesn’t sound at all like a bunch of atheists who share some views on feminism coming together. That sounds like an attempt to force their views on feminism down the throat of the atheist movement at large.

            As for the disenfranchising part, it might be interesting to watch their new forum and their policies regarding polite but dissenting voices regarding feminism, male privilege, the patriarchy, etc. That could be an indicator. My bet is that they’re not to keen to listen to such voices.

          9. Muz

            There’s at least a couple of strands to all this, it’s true. Much does seem to have come about because some of the FTB writers are sick of the crap they have to put up with and want to talk about certain things in peace. I don’t know why this ought to surprise or dismay anyone.
            But atheism itself as a movement was going to have to grasp the nettle of civil life sooner or later, if it was ever going to replace religion in a meaningful way. When I first read the goals of the A+ things my first thought was it’s heading towards the attitude of the ACA (not that I really know much about that). Matt and co confirmed that. This next part of the conversation should also be no surprise to anyone.

            These two aspects are routinely mingled in the things the leading lights say about A+: Address sociological/social justice matters from an atheist perspective; escape the haters who think this stuff is bad somehow.
            They may well be at odds, ultimately. Only time will tell. The urge to assert what they think the movement ought to include above the cacophony of shit is certainly driving it at the moment. Exasperation of this sort kicked off many a political movement, after all.

            What the anti crowd need to figure out is how five or six female bloggers and a few others making a forum is going to destroy atheism. Even if it were heavily moderated in a prickly fashion (as some of their blogs are already), so what? They have to come out sooner or later and deal with everyone else. How does making a few statements and a forum give them this sudden awesome influence to alter the game for everyone? Did you feel so much more able to combat their attitudes when you thought they were just individual bloggers? Give it a name though and look out! Sudden irresistible influence.
            This makes no sense to me. The goals of this concept are mostly fine, by anyone’s measure, even if some of the members seem a bit overwrought and highly strung about some things.

            I’d have to see this from the perspective of someone who thinks feminist theory is fundamentally wrong in every way and probably shouldn’t exist to have any real problem with it at this point. Which is the rub, I think. Whatever the stated goals of this, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the blue stockings fortifying their position to spread that mind poison of theirs that some folks cannot abide. But I don’t think feminism is basically wrong, so I can’t see it this way.

  24. 24
    Concepcion Oppenheimer

    It doesn’t only punish responsible owners, but in addition add to already overloaded shelters which just end up killing the dog.

  25. 25
    Jason

    It appears to have been added, right at the bottom: http://washingtonunitedformarriage.org/coalition-partners/

  26. 26
    tracieh

    It is standard Christian orthodoxy in nearly every Christian denomination (Jehovah’s Witnesses not withstanding) that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, and that this was required because our inherent sinful natures make us deserving and worthy of death (specifically the death that Jesus endured in our steads).

    I continue to be utterly baffled at how atheists can so consistently lose a P.R. battle against a group that teaches every human being ever born, with the exception of Jesus, *should*, by rights, be nailed to a cross and executed.

    It boggles.

    1. 26.1
      thalamay

      It’s things like A+ that contribute to the problem. You’re not only fracturing a movement that isn’t very large to begin with but you’re simultaneously opening up new flanks for attacks. By combining liberal political views with atheism, you make it easy for the right to derail any conversation about religion and make it about the pros and cons of socialism, whether you like it or not. So you’re automatically losing that part of the audience that would in principle be open to listen about atheism but that’s opposed to liberal policies.

      But worse than that, you’re also hurting your political goals. Assuming A+ gains track in the public sphere, all the right will have to do to attack liberal policies is to claim that “they’re all atheists anyway” and all of a sudden the part of the audience that would be open to liberal ideas but that’s deeply religious will stop listening to you.

      1. jdog

        This is because it’s become clear to the people who support A+ that atheism alone is no longer the platform we wish to support. The “standard atheism” movement is now completely free to become the portion of the atheist movement that disregards the concerns of their female members, which should increase their appeal to some conservatives.

        1. thalamay

          1) It’s not about the concerns of the female members, but about the concern of a small group of highly ideologized members, both male and female, regarding issues that have nothing to do with atheism.

          2) It still hurts the “standard atheism” because you’re abusing the atheism label for your own agenda, creating a connection where there is none.

  27. 27
    Oppi

    Let me see if I got this right:

    You’re angry that the a gay rights organization refused to acknowledge the monetary support they received from an atheist organization. So now you want to annex an already disenfranchised group to associate with you to f̶u̶r̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶a̶g̶e̶n̶d̶a̶ , sorry, raise consciousness?

    1. 27.1
      Martin Wagner

      No, you haven’t got this right.

      Thanks for playing, though.

      1. Oppi

        Then please explain to me how I failed to summarize your article

        1. Martin Wagner

          One of the goals of A+ — regardless of whether you like the label and think it’s worth adopting — is combating the prejudice that atheists are morally bereft monsters by increasing atheist involvement in the pursuit of social justice. The reason Washington United initially declined to acknowledge Ask An Atheist’s support is that they were afraid of public backlash based on exactly that kind of anti-atheist prejudice. In other words, they thought it more in their interests to pander to the people bigoted against atheists, even though those same people are bigoted against gays and lesbians. That’s some pretty bad prejudice, when it makes potential allies go against their own best interests and side with a mutual enemy to avoid association with you.

          So anything that helps the public change its mind about how evil atheists are is a good thing. And the more minds are changed, the less likely we are to see situations like this in the future.

          1. Tomasz R.

            People who claim atheists are moral monsters are conservative religous fudamentalists. The same people are totally against left-wing positions. So your goal of combining leftism with atheism creates a perfect beating-boy for them! The attacks they had to spread over a vast group of partial-allies (christian leftists, atheist pro-business people) could then be pointed directly at one movement. And this guys are powerful – they can WIN. This way you are willing to create movement, that looses your 2 cases at once.

          2. Tomasz R.

            “Social justice” is an oxymoron. Justice means that lazy bums die of starvation while hard-working people enjoy luxries. Its opposite to what socialists (like your new mutant movement) want.

          3. Martin Wagner

            O_o

            Can I buy a ticket off your planet?

          4. Muz

            It’s clearly planet Rand though, so can’t really exist.

          5. Cylis B.

            I fully acknowledge I may be feeding a troll here, but when I see a blatant flaw in reasoning I like to try to explain the flaw, before giving up… so here goes:
            The “social” in “social justice” is not the same as the “socialism.”
            One simply means a group of people, the other is an economic policy.
            And before you go off saying something along the lines of “I meant that A-plussers are turning the movement *into* socialism,” unless you can demonstrate that A+ is attempting to establish an economic system… you are still getting your meanings mixed up.
            I’ll leave your rather questionable definition of “justice” for others to tackle.

          6. Tomasz R.

            To Cylis B. – Social justice definition on Wikipedia includes:

            “Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution.”

            “The term and modern concept of “social justice” was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas”

            Basically A+ guys are trying to associate atheism with high taxes, punishment of successful to lower them down to “equality” level, buget deficits, parasite classes of permanent welfare extractors, government bureaucracy running this and all other stuff PROVEN TO HAVE SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE EFFECTS, and that has an army of opponents.

            In most practical cases (most socialist countries) this indirectly this leads to discrimination of people who have profits of X of money as compared to corporations who have the same profit of X of money, with corporations paying much lower tax rate from the same amount of X of money – this is supposedly “moral”, and “humanist” for A+ people?

          7. Martin Wagner

            If you were honest, which we already know you’re not, you’d have told people that the Wikipedia article you cite has been flagged twice for having “an unclear citation style” and needing “additional citations for verification.”

            The definition of social justice that appears in the Wikipedia article is not what is meant by proponents of A+. What is meant has been discussed in detail by Jen, Greta, and other proponents on their various blogs.

          8. Cylis B.

            Thanks for the help, Martin, but even taking what Wikipedia says is fine.
            Socialism (economics) IS a derivative of social justice (general)ideology… but social justice is NOT a derivative of socialism.
            You’re playing on the fact “socialism” has become a loaded word in the American vernacular (the fairness of that particular stigma I have no desire to go into).
            The point is you have you’re direction on influence bass-ackwords.
            If you would like to discuss how to AVOID socialism through social justice, that would be dandy. If you’re going to insist social justice IS socialism, I’m afraid you’re just wrong.

          9. Muz

            There’s no reason at all to shy away from notions of social justice implying such terrifying things as progressive taxation and welfare. Say it loud and proud. Everything we know about a free, democratic society and liberal economy will lead us there eventually.
            It’s only anarcho-capitalist weirdos who have any real problem with this and they use a lot of terrible economics, ethics and psychology to back it up.
            The pervasive shaming of these ideas has been one of the more insidious wedges driven into US politics. It’s time to stop being on the back foot about them. (although, it’s easy for fur’ners to say I guess)

          10. Tomasz R.

            Martin – when theists call an atheist show, they are obliged to provide a definition of god. According to hosts of such show without definitions a discussion doesn’t make sense. May I remind you that god is a quite difficult concept to define, and such definition will be processed by the logic/coherence/relation to reality checker soon after being given?

            Now when some atheist propagate their A+ idea they apparently think they don’t have to provide a definition of what this whole thing means. Instead they feel it’s good to confuse people by referring to quite ambiguous terms like “social justice”, which they apparently redefined in a way not compatible to what it practically means in a real world on some obscure blogs, that few read.

            I’ve read some of these blog’s posts. They are not fully agreeing between each other. But many things they agree on are not acceptable to any person with proper moral values. One of the “eliminators” that make the movement unpalpatable even if other parts are OK is the promotion of “diversity”. Basically it means making decisions concerning people or groups of people based on information about their race, sex, age, gender, ethnicity, class, status in order to achieve some pre-conceived proportions of each. Thus leading to rejection of certain people from certain positions because their race/sex etc. apparently doesn’t fit; and artificially controlling movement by some diversity officers to fit its characteristics to the desired patterns. In practice the only people too loose from this would be white and asian men – currently the majority of atheists. This is not only eliminator, it is also what makes enemies for this movement.

            The second eliminator is frequent nagging that the movement is not a boys club, especially white boys club, that one of main goals are women rights (without mens rights even mentioned), by deintegrating Richard Dawkins for being a white priviledged male etc. So it’s simply a movement that gives clear signals of ignoring my and my groups interests.

            They don’t welcome you Martin too – you are in the not desired group. By diversity standards you should be replaced by some black transgender young immigrant woman as a host of Atheist Experience. It’s suicidal to support such movements for a white man.

            The third eliminator is a heavy influence of feelings on that movement. It was jumpstarted because some women felt bad, which made some men roar with rage (like Richard Carrier), followed by accusing the opponents of movement of acting because of feelings (of hate etc.), rather than as a conscious decision. The movement apparently requires it’s members to have certain feelings – like “sensitivity” to “marginalized people” and have to interpreting someone else feelings in order to check what they feel is offensive, uncomfortable, disconcerting, stressful, troubling, and then are forced to modify their behavior to suit someone elses feelings etc. I’m against valuing feelings, acting on feelings, being forced to hear about feelings or have people heavily emoting to me. I see it a total reversal of a positive trends in classic atheism, that puts huge emphasis on reason and logic. Besides this feelings stuff sounds hypocritical especially from the mouths of atheists who frequently break religious feelings of believers…

            The fourth eliminator is too politicized ideology of movement. The set of what they promote clearly has a huge common area with classic left-wing politics. This leads to a danger of atheism case loosing along with left-wing politics by the guilt of association, of making it less likely for people leading conservative lifestyles to convert to atheism – while they are the future because of their tradition of having large numbers of children, by reinstating the false association of atheism to communism in former communist countries, by making “Western” atheism incompatible and difficult to cooperate with others, who don’t like feminism etc.

            [...Many more eliminators could be put here...]

            That said it’s not like atheism cannot be combined with some other activities, not related to view about supernatural. I’ve given some safe bets, that benefit everyone in the movement, don’t prevent capturing full 100% of the population by atheist organizatons, that have no proven negative consequences. Activities like caring for health, or learning to make rational decisions rather than be guided by advertisment, emotions, biases. This should be Atheism+!

  28. 28
    Tomasz R.

    You need to add vaccines and consumption of GMOs to the mix. Atheism+++. That would definitely increase unity of the atheist movements.

  29. 29
    Jim

    If this issue was resolved without “AskAnAtheist+”, how could it possibly be used as an example for why Atheist+ is necessary?

    Unless you’re going to move the goalposts and say that, well its not necessary, but it would help in future in cases like this. Or that it would be necessary for something like this never to happen in the first place (regardless of whether it was resolved or not).

    This is an example of a problem of bad perception of atheists. This is simply an example of a problem, not which solution is necessary. How do we know people will be more responsive to the A+ brand than simply continuing efforts to improve the perception of Atheism?

    Considering what little evidence there is that this re-branding will do anything good (and is mainly based on peoples personal preferences), I can’t see how it can be so ardently pursued as a necessity for the atheist movement.

    In fact it seems like quite a waste of time when we know things like fundraising drives do actually achieve their stated objectives.

    When you consider on top of this that this is actually hurting the atheist movement by turning allies into enemies*, I think it might be worth taking a moment to dispassionately evaluate what good the movement has done so far and what evidence there is to believe it will do good in future.

    * = whether you agree with the criticism/dissent or not you have to admit that it IS currently a divisive force whether that’s the intention or not, which has to be weighed against other factors. who’s “fault” it is for this division is immaterial. The fact is I’ve seen no evidence that this movement is helping anything (admittedly its early days), no evidence it will help anything, and some (relatively weak) evidence that it is doing harm.

  30. 30
    Tomasz R.

    There are great ways to make a joint-venture between an atheism, and undivisive, non-political positive values.

    Like Atheism + Health. A possible movement in which atheist actively care about their health: excercise, eat natural, chemical free diet, avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs. These two are fully compatible – atheism means you don’t count on an afterlife, you only have one life here on eart – so you need a good health to make it long and comfortable. Besides a reason requires a strong brain, for which health is necessary. And think about the impression such movement would create by the presence of its members itself – with all those fit, healthy bodies, full of energy! To Martin – you are too fat for such movement – feel excluded.

    The other combination might be atheism + good money management. In such movement atheists would learn how to optimally manage money – what are reasonablt safe investments and how to recognize scams. How to not be controlled by advertisment, and what are the methods they try to control you with it. How to buy based on analysis, rather than on emotions. How to manage risk. These two are fully compatible, not only because atheists want money, but also because analitycal thinking, a necessity for money mangement, also supports non-belief.

    You can also create much more entertaining combinations, like atheism+travel, or atheism+music (including learning how to compose).

    So if you are bored with atheism itself there are many valuable activities that can be combined with atheism without negative effect of associating with some political agenda and dogma.

    1. 30.1
      jdog

      I’m fairly sure you’re just trolling by now.

      However, if health and/or money management are issues that you care deeply about, you’re certainly welcome to advocate them alongside your atheism.

      1. Tomasz R.

        I’m just spreading some good ideas, and opposing bad ones.

        In case of A+ many people believe (stressing BELIEVE), that they values are good, positive, because they are blind to their negative consequeces, things they block, prevent, destroy, marginalize etc. For example their value – compassion – marginalizes justice, their values of humans well-being and environment have a big resource conflict, their social justice in practice has always meant ripoff taxation of successful, hardworking and supporting welfare parasites, their diversity is a form of hurting the best by replacing them with more politically corect people etc. Notice some of the hurt or marginalized people might be members (eg. not hired because a different race was needed to fill criteria of diversity).

        Notice there’s never any proof of evidence that shows why A+ movement should bother with “diversity”, or “sensibity”. Evidence is important only when taling to theists?

        Such broken and dangerous values are completly unnecessary if you wish to go beyond atheism into doing something better in the real world. I’ve proposed some activities that have huge positive consequences for everybody practicing them, that do not have negative consequences, that appeal to close to 100% of population, are compatible with goals of reason, logic etc.

        1. jdog

          Oh, you’re a libertarian and/or objectivist. So, you’re not trolling and genuinely have your head up your ass. Would it surprise you to discover that noone who supports A+ agrees with your opinion (which you’re trying to pass off as fact) that these ideas are bad and yours are good?

          I’m sorry that you don’t like liberal values, but you don’t get to determine whether other atheists do or don’t support them, nor to what degree.

  31. 31
    RyGuy

    When I read about what A+ is on this page, it sounds like something I can get behind. But then when I go read about it on Greta’s page I was to run for the exit at full speed.

    You guys make it sound like allowing the world to get to know us through good social works and what not…. show them we’re not going to eat their babies.

    Greta talks about a wide range of social issues and what sounds like out right social policing. I really hope I am misinterpreting her.

    Atheists as social police is no different than theists as social police….. you know, the same thing we’re been battling since forever.

    So what is it? Is A+ spreading the message we’re not raging monsters, or making it socially unacceptable to tell us we’re monsters? Because there is a MONUMENTAL difference.

    Thanks.

    1. 31.1
      jdog

      When is it socially acceptable to tell someone who isn’t a monster that they are?

      1. RyGuy

        That whole “Freedom of Speech” thing is a real pain in the ass isn’t it.

        1. LykeX

          Freedom of Speech refers to laws and government action, not the opinions of private citizens. Punishing speech with social stigma is not a violation of free speech. If it was, that would mean that you are violating the rights of neo-nazis anytime you’re not attending their rallies.

          As long as people do not break the law when showing their disapproval, there’s no conflict.

        2. jdog

          Equivocation. Whether a given item of speech is permitted and whether that speech should be accepted are not the same thing.

    2. 31.2
      Muz

      “Greta talks about a wide range of social issues and what sounds like out right social policing. I really hope I am misinterpreting her. ”

      Where do you see this?
      Seriously it’d help. People react to minutiae in this like every blog posts’ subtext is Mein Kampf and I’m left blinking in disbelief at the interpretation. Help me out.

      1. RyGuy

        I can’t find the link to the post on her blog, spent all darned day looking for the one but no luck. With the way some of those comment feeds degenerated in the last few days maybe she removed it…. I dunno.

        If memory serves she made mention of a list of hopeful avenues of potential influence for A+. For the most part they were all benign things, though their relevance to atheism was hard to see…. but whatever. But I’m positive there was also mention of “social justice” (aka policing) and alluding to acceptance of the LGBT community. I could be wrong and please Greta if you’re reading this, tell me I’m on crack. I really want to be wrong on this interpretation of the A+ mission.

        But like I said above, you can’t go around forcing people to swallow your views on society as the only righteous path to take. That borders on a theocratic mandate. People are free to be intolerant pricks regardless of if I like it or not. All I can do is try to change their perspective and hopefully that is the direction A+ is really going. We all want proper acceptance of everyone regardless of race, sexuality, faith/lack of, etc.

        But when you get a group of people like atheists trying to force a point, like acceptance of the LGBT community…. it has ZERO difference over a theist group trying to force the point of suppressing gay marriage. Both sides claim the right, but who acts as the judge? As atheists we simply cannot go around telling theists and other atheists how to act socially, I’m sorry but no one has that right over anyone else.

        We have elected governments who are the closest thing do doing this (within reason). Maybe an atheist lobby group to put the screws to the system legally, but I can’t see any other way of going about it without atheists coming across as the biggest hypocrites of all time.

        As I said, I really hope I have this all wrong as far as the A+ mission directive. Spread knowledge of atheism through good works and charity for various groups (yay!) but please for the love of Zeus…. don’t try policing society or it’ll backfire big-time.

        1. Muz

          You seriously took all that from the term ‘social justice’? “aka policing”. What?

          So much of these debates the last year or so are mainly “explain what X actually means, to people who osmosed some other fearmongering definition from some amorphous source”.

          Acceptance of the LGBT community would also seem to be beyond question on a TV show blog which has a few such folks as actual hosts, after all. I don’t what the problem there could be.

          Your worry seems to stem from a chain of misconceptions. Social Justice isn’t about forcing or policing anything. So A+ doesn’t plan on forcing people to think their views are the only right ones. They’ll probably argue that theirs are the right ones, but seeing as that’s what most intellectual movements do, including Atheism, it should really be a problem.

          1. RyGuy

            Very true, like I said I could be out to lunch on how I am interpreting things here. And you’re right, social justice to one person may or may not equal social policing to another…. which is why I am here looking for clarity.

            ….I finally found the original blog post of Greta’s I referred to earlier, complete with her answer to my question that fills in the void I missed. I think I pissed her off a bit with my misconceptions… but she’ll get over it I’m sure.

            Thanks for helping out. Best of luck to the A+ folks!

          2. Muz

            Which one was it, if I can ask?
            Just curious really.
            (yeah, there is some bristling around in people. Understandable I think, but hopefully it dies down)

          3. RyGuy

            It was the one titled “What Atheism Plus Might Mean for Atheist Organizations”

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/22/what-atheism-plus-might-mean-for-atheist-organizations/

          4. Tomasz R.

            From this blog:

            “At a minimum, it means they would pay attention to social justice issues with their own internal matters: hiring, event organization, community structure, etc. They would pay conscious attention to questions like:

            How is the diversity among our own staff?
            How is the diversity among the speakers at our events?”

            A+ leader does not encourage to HIRE for staff and speakers JOBS by qualifications, by price/performance, engagement/enthusiasm level or whatever merithorical aspect but according to her dogma of what the distribution of races/genders/ages should be.

            This is extremaly damaging in many ways. The best people for the jobs are hurt by not getting a job, handed to people less competent but whose race or sex is more compatible with the dogma. The limited resources are wasted, as some diversity bureaucrats are needed to check that the hiring is compatible with the dogma. Debates are lost because “diverse” debaters were hired on A+ side rather than the best ones. Would they go as far as putting out a mentally disabled debater in the name of “inclusivnes”, “caring about disabled”, “diversity” etc.? Who knows – this people look like fundamentialist crazies after all.

            A+ approach to freedom of speach:

            “An atheist movement cannot be inclusive of atheist women… and also be inclusive of people who publicly call women ugly, fat,sluts,”

            means that the members are not allowed to be honest about the beauty level, promiscuity level or bad health issues of female mebers or outside females. Notice that such limitations are not mention when it comes to speaking about men. Coincidence?

            “Do we have a mechanism in place for educating members of our community who are acting insensitively or offensively towards marginalized people? If these education efforts are not effective, do we have a mechanism in place for eventually ejecting these people from our community?”

            So basically if you simply don’t care about their socialist goals (thus being “insensitive” about “marginalized people”) you won’t be a member for long. You are going to be indoctrinated before being “ejected”. This means it’s not a primarly atheist movement with some optional, lower priority things added, but rather it’s a political socialist movement where coincidentaly members are atheists. Your membership relies not on atheism plus being neutral or passively tolerant to “values”, but on actively supporting socialist ideas.

            Notice also the whole text is loaded with sectarian, left-wing code words like “diversity”, “social justice”, “bigotry”, “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia”. You know who approximately these guys are from code words use itself.

  32. 32
    davidct

    I am all in favor of the concept of Atheism+ that you presented but that does not exactly jive with what I am seeing. The problem is what has been put on the + side and what is the agenda of those making the list. So far it seems weighted to gender and sexual rights issues. When it comes to economic attacks on the poor based on Calvinist/Buddhist ideas that the poor deserve to be poor – not on the list. You could say that is covered by social justice. It this decision of what is listed separately as important and what is not that sets the emphasis.

    If the stated goal it to enhance the image of atheism, I find it odd that list of issues on the plus side include some of the most hotly contested issues available. The polarity these issues inspire heated emotions on both. Of course if you intent is to capture the support of the growing atheist movement in support of your agenda, it makes perfect sense.

    I have already been roundly chastised by the head bigots over at the ACA for daring to question this wonderful new initiative. I have been assured that my opinion is sexist and wrong. Thank you all so much for pointing out that I should stick to the + issues I care about an leave the Atheism to the professionals. I will do just that.

  33. 33
    randomguy

    testing

  34. 34
    Sonorus

    *sigh*

    I’m afraid that a good many gay people are theists of some sort. They are as subject to the kinds of prejudices about atheists as everyone else. Obviously there’s lots of work to do in that regard.

    But even without that, there’s the very likely chance that any association with atheists would be used against them in ads and topedo any chance of fighting back yet another anti-gay referendum.

    It’s scummy. Honestly, gays and atheists ought to be partners. Both suffer from prejudices from the same sources. It reminds me of the closeted gay kid only too happy to help bully the obviously gay kid. Anything to stay on the good side of the bullies. At this point there is still racism in the gay community and homophobia in minority communities. And who benefits from that? Certainly neither the minority groups nor gay people. At some point people will realize that equal rights for all benefits all. We just aren’t there yet.

    I really am sorry. I just can’t say that I’m surprised.

  35. 35
    sharkjack

    In what I’ve seen from atheist+ discussions and the like, I feel it can’t really directly aid in the way people percieve atheists.

    Instead the label has a lot more use internally. Projects can be A+, a forum can be A+ and an organisation or an event can be A+. It can be used as a signal inside the community that the people who are in charge care for more than atheism. It is then up to then to define this. One of the more common interpretations of could be a pursuit of diversity (including but not limited to gender) and taking measures to achieve this.

    Other things I’ve seen like A+Scribe are about providing a specific service to make the the atheist community more accessible.

    A+ to me is mostly a sentiment of people who don’t want their activity to just be talking amongst each other how much they don’t believe in god and that while this is technically enough to be an atheist, it is not enough to whatever movement you’re a part of.

    Also I don’t like any emphasis on needing to agree on a set (or subset of a set) of subjects. The problem isn’t that people disagree on things, it’s the destructive nature of that disagreement. An A+ forum could be a place where this is not tolerated, with different sections dedicated to different levels of discussion, each carrying different posting requirements. (comparable to but not the same as the thunderdome and the lounge in Pharyngula) A section devoted to 101 discussion would allow dissent on all basic premises, while other sections require posters not to come in and challenge basic tenants as they hinder more advanced discussions. There is no dogma in having advanced discussions with set assumptions that aren’t set outside the discussion. The atheist experience and the non prophets do the same thing basically.

    And can we knock it off with the whole divisiveness thing, because it sounds really stupid to me. People were leaving the atheist movement because they couldn’t stand what it had become/was anymore. This had nothing to do with atheism+, people were fed up. I’d rather have a divided force where people feel comfortable where they are and cooperate with people outside their comfort zone on specific issues (even if that’s not how I see A+ turning out), than a movement that crumbles from infighting.

    1. 35.1
      Tomasz R.

      “One of the more common interpretations of could be a pursuit of diversity (including but not limited to gender) and taking measures to achieve this.”

      Every moral human being should not only not tolerate but actively fight organizations and people who push for “diversity”. Diversity means valuable people are hurt. They are denided positions they deserve by their competence and interests because of their race or gender – they don’t fit the assumed desired distribution of race/gender in a group. This itself makes diversity concept evil, and a thing that needs to be destroyed.

      It is also equivalent with wasting resources. Eg. if put a bilboard in a white, affluent district and get 200 members per bilboard, while if you put 3 billboards in a district full of black “marginalized people” for the same price, while only getting 2 members from such investment, then the way you should invest your limited resources is obvious. Diversity is a luxry for organizations with virtually unlimited resources like governments, Catholic Church, or large corporations. Not only that – in this example by NOT putting a billboard in the first district, you have denied 200 potential members an opportunity to learn about your organization based on their race, in order to spend your money on a community that doesn’t seem to care anyway.

      Besides this – diversity is unnatural, artificial concept. People naturally self-organize into non-diverse groups. A kebap bar close to a cake shop means almost all-male customers in a kebap bar vs. almost fully feminized customer set in a cake shop. Diversity would mean you need to introduce an artificial diversity bureaucrats that act by force to not let the distribution be as it is by people own choice. Order girls to eat kebap, and force boys to eat cakes.

      If atheism is spreading like a wildfire among white and asian men, then let it be. It’s good for atheism. Artificial destruction of this process by diversifiers is harmful, and needs to be eliminated.

      Besides – diversity may be a downfall for communities. You WILL get high-crime elements as a result diversity. This will speell the end of your ogranization.

      1. Muz

        Well if there was any previous doubt Tomasz goes in the crank pile that ought to remove it.

  36. 36
    Mr. Dave

    My atheism is only related to my position on gods and religion, the rest is an unrelated choice as far as I’m concerned. It makes me wonder when atheists who believe in the separation of church and state would associate atheism with social/political causes the way theists associate their social/political causes with their beliefs.

    1. 36.1
      god is dog backwards

      Power corrupts. It’s an infinite feedback loop ever representative of human condition.

    2. 36.2
      jdog

      Atheism isn’t a religion, so separation of church and state doesn’t apply. If you’re an atheist, this should be obvious.

      The A+ push for equal rights and fair treatment of all people is (in part) because the only reasons to be opposed to these things are religious beliefs, a selfish interest in maintaining the status quo, or bigotry.

      It makes me wonder when many of the atheists who post here against A+ then go on to demonstate that they fall into one of the latter two categories.

      1. thalamay

        Atheism isn’t a religion, so separation of church and state doesn’t apply. If you’re an atheist, this should be obvious.

        Atheism isn’t a religion, Atheism+ is as it brigs faith into atheism.

        The A+ push for equal rights and fair treatment of all people is (in part) because the only reasons to be opposed to these things are religious beliefs, a selfish interest in maintaining the status quo, or bigotry.

        The thing is, all belief systems are inherently convinced of doing the right thing, of treating everybody fairly, etc. So that’s not anything that separates you or the A+ crowd from theism. Also, selfish interests are not necessarily bad. You have a selfish interest in abolishing the status quo after all.

        It is up to us to make a rational argument as to why our convictions are right and the theists’ convictions are wrong. Unfortunately, A+ seems to go by the religious playbook, making little use of rational arguments and instead going for the good old ad hominem, us vs. them tactics and everybody who disagrees simply doesn’t get it (i.e. needs more faith).

        It makes me wonder when many of the atheists who post here against A+ then go on to demonstate that they fall into one of the latter two categories.
        I wonder why so many feminists also fall into these categories. Maybe it’s human nature to either fall into these categories or to see everybody who disagree with you as falling into these categories.

        1. jdog

          The rational arguments were made around the time that “elevatorgate” kicked off and have been repeated many times since. I’m sorry that your lack of empathy for those who aren’t in a position of privilege keeps you from comprehending them. Have you read the story about the dog, the newt (or some sort of small lizard or amphibian, I don’t recall exactly), and the thermostat? It illustrated the point fairly well for me.

          How, exactly, is A+ bringing religious faith into atheism? Give the best specific example you can think of, please.

          1. thalamay

            The “rational” arguments in the wake of elevatorgate consisted of name calling and vilification, which is exactly what is so religious about A+. I brought up a good example of this above when I quoted the encounter between Rebecca Watson and Stef McGraw. Rebecca simply called Stef’s position “misogynist” and “anti-woman” which I guess we have to accept on faith as there’s no good argument to be made. And everybody who disagrees with that assessment simply “doesn’t get it”. Yeah, right.
            In general, this entire patriarchic world view is very much based on faith. Like bemoaning the fact that only 30% of the speakers and attendees at atheist conventions are women, when that in fact pretty accurately represents the atheist community at large as women are apparently less likely to be atheists. Or how they constantly go on about a wage gap between men and women, when that has been debunked ages ago. But as with creationists, they are able to rationalize the evidence away, calling studies biased or fraudulent, or mostly simply ignore them, while in return offering nothing but faith.
            Or the idea that gender is something that we learn in our upbringing and the resulting call for gender neutral toys or things like that. Again, this completely contradicts science. It’s nature and nurture all the way and just like you can’t teach a kid not to become gay, you can’t teach it not to evolve into a gender. It boggles the mind how people who understand how stupid it is to pray the gay away fail to understand how stupid it is to pretend that there are no differences between boys and girls.
            This is all faith, not reason and it goes to the core of the A+ feminist ideology.

          2. jdog

            The “rational” arguments in the wake of elevatorgate consisted of name calling and vilification

            There was some of that from both sides and I wasn’t referring to those arguments (why would you think that I was?), nor is name-calling an example of religious faith. Actual reasonable arguments were made by both sides. The problem is that the reasonable arguments from the A (as opposed to A+) side do not start from justifiable positions if your interest is in having all atheists (and not just white men) both feel welcome and be treated like human beings (as opposed to walking, talking sex objects or cultural oddities) at atheist gatherings and events.

            I brought up a good example of this above when I quoted the encounter between Rebecca Watson and Stef McGraw. Rebecca simply called Stef’s position “misogynist” and “anti-woman” which I guess we have to accept on faith as there’s no good argument to be made.

            Yes, there was. You just didn’t agree with it. I’d be interested to know why.

            McGraw misrepresented the problem by oversimplifying the issue, stating that Watson was wrong for posting a column saying “guys, don’t do this” over being hit on, totally disregarding the circumstances of the particular event. Misrepresenting the problem is (among other things) “rhetoric”, the problem being women being told to tolerate such behavior in those circumstances and not make a fuss about it (“anti-woman”). “Anti-woman rhetoric”. Follow me so far? She didn’t call McGraw “misogynistic”, she said that a young woman making the statement that McGraw (a young woman) did validates the misogynists in the atheist/skeptic community much more effectively than if one of the misogynists said it. It’s a matter of perception, much like a prominent atheist becoming a theist is seen as a small “victory” by theists and vice-versa.

            And everybody who disagrees with that assessment simply “doesn’t get it”. Yeah, right.

            Absolutely correct. I realize you’re being sarcastic, but you genuinely aren’t getting it. The goals for A+ are twofold:

            One, we want to increase diversity in the atheist movement. More people to need realize it’s okay to be an atheist and that they will be welcome in the community and not treated poorly. This means (among other things) not following them into an elevator at three in the morning and propositioning them for sex.

            Second, we want to improve the perception of atheists among otherwise-reasonable theists. We don’t care about the theists who are against gay marriage, women’s rights, etc. But we’d like the ones who do support those causes to know that we also support those causes. So anyone who looks at a list of WUM’s donators should be able to see the atheist groups who contributed on that list. If there’s a gay rights or women’s rights convention, A+ having an official presence there forces the non-atheist members to acknowledge that atheists are a part of their movement.

            If you or any other atheist don’t want to support those causes, then don’t support A+. Just be an atheist and support strictly atheistic causes. We do still support those.

            Your sole argument seems to be that there’s no benefit and/or a detriment to not keeping social justice and atheism issues separate. I just gave the two primary benefits we’re looking for. If you don’t see those as beneficial enough to outweigh your perceived negatives, then don’t support A+.

            Earlier in the thread, you said this:
            To boil this point down: The more goals you have in your organization, the fewer people you’ll find who can identify with all of them and who are willing to fight for them, reducing the impact you can have on all of these issues. That’s why these movements should be separated. So by adding the plus, you’re reducing the impact of the atheist movement as a whole, because not all atheists can rally behind the additions. At best you’re fracturing the movement, at worst you’re making people turn away from it altogether.

            This simply isn’t true. A passing glance at the way our (American) political system operates should be enough to demonstrate that. Two parties spanning multiple goals each, where very few members agree 100% with every aspect of the platform. Parties that try to spin off from one of those two groups to concentrate on fewer issues fail to get as much support as they had previously.

      2. Tomasz R.

        “The A+ push for equal rights and fair treatment of all people” – the movement started with a declaration to fight for women rights. There was never a declaration of fighting for mens rigths in A+. This is not equality, this is special interest. The only signals that the movement communicated about men were negative nags.

        This whole idea of concentrating attention and resources on non-whites, non-males is an example of unfairness, as the biggest contributors to atheism have always been non-poor white (and asian) men. As a reward for that A+ proposes ingoring interests of this groups and caring only about the interests of women, sexual minorites and poor.

        1. jdog

          Recognizing that middle-to-upper income, straight, white men are in a position of privilege, have been for pretty much all of European history, and need to learn how to play nice with those who aren’t and haven’t is entirely different from ignoring their interests.

          If we continue on the path you suggest, then the only significant contributors* will remain white men and it will remain a movement of mostly white men. We’d like to give everyone the opportunity to make significant contributions to atheism. An atmosphere where their concerns are marginalized in favor of the majority is not conducive to that.

          If you’re an American atheist, you should already understand why it’s important that the majority not have everything their way. The country is still 70-75% Christian, at last count.

          * You’re implying that noone who isn’t a rich, white male has made significant contributions to atheism. Fuck you and your “no true Scotsman” argument, you bigot.

          1. RyGuy

            Hey hey….. whoa. I’m an upper-income straight white guy, so suddenly I’m privileged and I don’t play nice?

            I would hope that was more of a mud-fling at TR, and not a generalization laid at all men. Don’t let him get under your skin.

          2. jdog

          3. Tomasz R.

            You mentioned history of Europe as a proof for men’s “priviledge”. During the history of Europe white men had such privileges as: being Roman slaves (77% male, mostly from neighbouring = white, conquered countries), being medieval sefr peasants – doing heavy physical work for their lords, being on the loosing side of wars: dying on the battlefield or with some conquerors having a rule to kill all males while leaving females alive. Notice it was rich people who engaged in wars, and thus bear the consequeces of loosing (even while being the victim – on the attacked/invaded side).

            A good example would be October Revolution in Russia and the following civil war when people who presented themselves as representatives of the interests of poor and haters of “priviledge”, and promoters of womens rights (values similar to yours) you tortured and killed millions of white and asian men. In 30-s they starved rich farmers (kulaks) to death to create greater equality. In later time the same people essentially killed 13 million MEN – soldiers, by mismanaging the way they lead the defense during 2 world war (constant counterattacks on a strong enemy vs. creating defensive lines) which btw. was caused by ideology too. Who cared? Nobody.

            The elimination of “white priviledge” is currently being done in places like Zimbabwe. You are probably happy because of it, about physical attacks on white farmers, forcibly taking over their property by the government to reassign it to more racially correct black government officials?

            Your ideology has a strong tendency to turn criminal and genocidal in practice. That’s why it should be destroyed, before it does create some evil deeds again.

            ————————————

            It’s not even firm on a theoretical basis. What’s wrong with more white man than black women being interested in atheism (or particle physics, or car races, martial arts etc.)? It must be some perverted control-frekism in some people heads that makes them try to control trends and fashions to comply with their predetermined ideals. Which btw. are rascist ones themselves, as they say some distribution of races in a group is superior, and is intolerant to other ones.

            There is also no blockade that would prevent anybody to contribute to atheism in secular countries. Everyone can write atheist book, create atheist podcast, promote atheism among people etc. The fact that white man do it more frequently than others, and actually do this efficiently (!) should result in a gratitude, not protests, attacks, disrespect, trying to disown them, “kick out”, suggest to lower attention to them etc. That’s an immoral behavior.

            Besides normal people love to watch higher class people, and have no particular interests in the affairs lower classes. As an example look at the attention given to the british royal family; both classy and jerk members. Few watch or read about bums. So the fact that atheism is promoted by highly cultural scientists, journalists (intellectual ELITE) is a boon for atheism. If your activity creates a world where the popularizers of atheism are a bunch of gangsters and drug users, then it may discourage normal people to join in (especially if they have kids).

            And what’s the stupidity with being disgusted with success? Doesn’t that make your goals self-eliminating? After all if you help a poor person and she (of course not he, this is not your goal to help men) achieves a spectacular success then the children, grandchildren and further descendants of her person are going to be in the PRIVILEDGED CLASS, and you will feel obliged to be disgusted by them.

          4. jdog

            Has Tomasz hung himself sufficiently with the rope he’s been given to banned or do I need to reply to him again? This last reply from him is pretty revolting.

            You mentioned history of Europe as a proof for men’s “priviledge”.

            No, I spelled it correctly.

          5. Tomasz R.

            Me:
            “the biggest contributors to atheism have always been non-poor white (and asian) men”

            jdog conclusion from this text:
            “You’re implying that noone who isn’t a rich, white male has made significant contributions to atheism. Fuck you and your “no true Scotsman” argument, you bigot.”

            A+ essence?

  37. 37
    Nate

    I just have to comment on this post. As someone who is both gay and an atheist I can understand why this organization was weary to associate themselves with an atheist group. Even though it shouldn’t be, many people view marriage as a religious issue and not simply the civil contract that it is. I have experienced this with my boyfriends sister, even though she is a fundamental Christian, she has a bigger issue with him being an atheist compared to being gay. I don’t fully understand this view, but if I tried to argue with her about allowing marriage for the two of us from an atheist viewpoint I know I would lose, but somehow I think I could win the argument saying the Bible was only talking about certain types of homosexual behavior.

    You made this comment “Because, of course, it is far more in the best interests of the LGBT community to pander to the theists who don’t fundraise for them, don’t support them, and would happily see them all die in a ditch for the greater glory of Jesus.” As an atheist I might agree, but in reality, most of my gay friends are religious. All you have to do is look on their donation page and realize how many religious organizations support marriage equality. You seem to be jumping to the view that everyone who is religious hates gay people.

    And this part really bugged me
    And if you’re a Washingtonian and still want to support equality in that state, apparently Equal Rights Washington are the good guys.
    Maybe you didn’t mean it this way but this comment pissed me off, it sounds like if you still wanna support gay people here is a group I don’t hate. But really fuck those gays, they don’t support atheist enough”
    I support atheist causes but I also understand getting marriage equality for gay people like me is a very delicate balance.

  38. 38
    Robert J

    We haven’t yet got atheism squared away and we are going to try to link it directly with other social stances that have nothing to do with it. It is like “football players for christ” or “the catholic church against contraceptives”. Don’t relate my simple non-belief with a social cause out of hand. I don’t like to see atheism mixed with gay rights for example. Sure most atheists are pro gay rights myself included but there is not a direct correlation and when you have something like atheism which is already considered to be a bad thing to many people and you add gay rights which is also bad to some people you risk injuring them both. Work on these as they are, seperate issues.

    1. 38.1
      jdog

      You don’t get to decide what issues other atheists can or can’t support. If the other issues that A+ supports aren’t for you, then limit yourself to supporting strictly atheistic issues.

      Why is this hard to grasp?

  39. 39
    sharkjack

    Atheism isn’t a religion, Atheism+ is as it brigs faith into atheism.

    So since this blog and the show are atheist+, do you consider the hosts to have faith in something? If so in what and what kind of faith are we talking here?

    The thing is, all belief systems are inherently convinced of doing the right thing, of treating everybody fairly, etc. So that’s not anything that separates you or the A+ crowd from theism. Also, selfish interests are not necessarily bad. You have a selfish interest in abolishing the status quo after all.

    Besides the fact that this isn’t true, there are plenty of systems of belief that don’t care for treating everyone fairly, (including some christian systems,) I also fail to see how it is selfish. I mean we could go on a tangent of how every motivation is hedonistic in the end, but then the label selfish really loses meaning and we’ll basically be running in circles, but pointing back to the hosts I really doubt the ACA is doing feeding the homeless drives and the hosts are writing pro feminism posts because they feel it will directly improve their lives.

    It is up to us to make a rational argument as to why our convictions are right and the theists’ convictions are wrong. Unfortunately, A+ seems to go by the religious playbook, making little use of rational arguments and instead going for the good old ad hominem, us vs. them tactics and everybody who disagrees simply doesn’t get it (i.e. needs more faith).

    I agree with that first part, but the second confuses me. A+ isn’t a thing, it’s not even clearly defined yet. With the ‘people don’t get it’ thing you’re probably referring to concepts like privilege. Guess what, there was A+ activity on to start up these 101 forums where these basic premises could be discussed, seperating these from the places where more advanced discussions are taking place. The problem with the discussions before this was that people wanted high level discussions on specific aspects of any social justice, while people who disagreed with the basic premises kept derailing subjects. In irritation this lead to ‘you don’t get it’ replies because that wasn’t the subject of discussion. By seperating the two, honest attention can be given to the basic questions while the people not currently interested in them can discuss the topics they desire. In my opinion, A+ can actually help improve this situation.

    1. 39.1
      thalamay

      So since this blog and the show are atheist+, do you consider the hosts to have faith in something? If so in what and what kind of faith are we talking here?

      Actually, I’m not so sure about the hosts of this show. I think they might in fact have signed up more for the lofty language which admittedly sounds great, without actually supporting some of the extreme radical feminists’ ideologies. The discussion I had with Martin above seems to be in support of that.

      Matt on the other hand frequently uses loaded language like “patriarchy” or “privilege”. So he might be in a bit deeper, although the points he makes are all reasonable and not faith based, so I give him the benefit of the doubt.

      As for faith in A+, read my reply to jdog above.

      Besides the fact that this isn’t true, there are plenty of systems of belief that don’t care for treating everyone fairly

      Actually, I take issue with that. Every ideological system beliefs to treat everybody fairly (I’m not talking about individuals abusing that system, they can exist everywhere). They may not treat everybody equally, but that’s something very different.

      By seperating the two, honest attention can be given to the basic questions while the people not currently interested in them can discuss the topics they desire. In my opinion, A+ can actually help improve this situation.

      I agree that separating the two might be a good idea. But A+ started as the self proclaimed third wave of atheism, trying to wash away the Dawkins and Harris types from the forefront. That’s not separating the issues, that’s interweaving the issues, worse, it’s trying to take over the movement.

      However, Matt tweeted a quote from Greta Christina yesterday, indicating that they’ve moved away from the “third wave” towards something like a separate club, so that might be a good development. (But then the A+ moniker would still be too presumptuous…) Let’s see how it plays out.

      1. sharkjack

        Actually, I take issue with that. Every ideological system beliefs to treat everybody fairly (I’m not talking about individuals abusing that system, they can exist everywhere). They may not treat everybody equally, but that’s something very different.

        I wasn’t talking about individuals, but there are beleif systems where god isn’t seen as fair and neither is the criterion for his judgement. But guess what, god can do whatever he want because he’s god and you just do what you’re gonna do. Also not all religions are universal. The Jewish god was a god for their people that didn’t care for them most of the time, let alone the rest of the world. I’m not really interested in going on about this right now so I’ll just let it go.

        However, Matt tweeted a quote from Greta Christina yesterday, indicating that they’ve moved away from the “third wave” towards something like a separate club, so that might be a good development. (But then the A+ moniker would still be too presumptuous…) Let’s see how it plays out.

        Well feminism has a third wave (and there is at least one potential fourth wave brewing)but there are still second wave feminists out there. The size of each movement is detemined by the amount of people that support it. If you can’t stay relevant people will tend to leave for more relevant movements. We’ll see how much the focus will shift from just atheism to atheism+, but it’s not going to take over the whole movement any time soon.

  40. 40
    Ed

    While all the causes that Atheism+ endorses are worthy. I feel the cause simplifies these issues rather radically.

    It’s all well saying you support equality. But what do you mean by equality? Do you mean equality of opportunity, equality of outcome or equality of respect. All these represent a form of equality but each vastly different from one another.

    You wont find many people who will explicitly reject the values touted by Atheism+. But you will find many people who have very different views on what supporting each of these admirable causes should involve. For example should one support affirmative action for members of the LGBT community who are certainly at a disadvantage in the job market in many countries. Or should on hold that men have collective moral responsibility for the prevalence of rape in many societies. It’s on issues like these where the problems arises and that’s what many detractors from the atheist+ movement are concerned about.

    If Atheism+ is going to be successful it needs to define what exactly it means to endorse A+. Otherwise I can see rifts growing on various issues to the point where it would damage the effectiveness of the A+ community at righting certain social wrongs.

    1. 40.1
      Tomasz R.

      Nonwithstanding the value of A+ goals, these are: covered by other movements, already being addressed by politicians (except for Muslim countries), and too much into special interests of certain groups, while ignoring interests and problems of white men.

      What is great in classic atheism and scepticism is that these are related to unusual processes compared to the usual types of ideologies (religious or political). The latter usually are derived from imaginations of leaders, and just blindly repeated by followers, or accepted by feeling good about them. The former frequently are result of conclusions of thinking process of its members. A+ as it today clearly pushes into the direction of emotionality and it is based on acceptance of some ideology as presented by it’s leaders (oterwise by their own words one will be “kicked out”).

      I suppose if atheism was allowed to evolve without attacks from emotionalists, aggresive feminists, diversificators, and other leftist ideologists, while still keeping the focus on reason and logic then the additions would be more related to things like the welfare of civilization, saving it from various crises that may be ucoming.

      http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/peak-civilization-mit-research-team-predicts-global-economic-collapse-and-precipitous-population-decline_04052012

      As well as caring about the good health and reasonable decision making of its own members.

  41. 41
    karmakin

    The problem here is you’re conflating your inside-baseball perspective to the outsider perspective, which might not be the same at all.

    On the outside, quite frankly, atheism is already generally pegged as a liberal group, pretty cleanly. And of course, there are other causes/groups that don’t like this because of the negative bias that’s against non-belief in our society. On the outside, the assumption is that if you identify as an atheist then you must be a liberal/leftist. The whole concept of Libertarian atheism is relatively unknown.

    So Atheism+ isn’t going to fix that, because there’s nothing to fix in that regard. The problems are actually something else entirely…could such a movement fix them? Maybe? I wouldn’t bet money on this movement doing it however.

    In order to fix the problems you must first be able to understand the problems. And I think the desired insular nature of some of the movement (and the go-along nature of much of the rest) results in a lack of understanding of what exactly we’re dealing with.

    Truth be told I see this as a man the battlements raise the drawbridge type thing, which is going to do little if anything to actually cause any change outside of the community. I’m actually fine with that. Not everybody can help carry the load. I think that it’s wrong..not from a moral point of view but from a rational point of view…I don’t think we’re dealing with intractable misogyny, and it’s more of a nasty debate where both sides are talking past one another but whatever.

    As an example, you mention Elevatorgate..and in a call back to Monicagate (remember that?) I think the whole thing is basically about (a lack of) defining a very generalized word. In this case, “That”.

    I just wish that they’d get those nasty, sexist/classist snipers off the walls who are only really there to inflame.

  42. 42
    Jonathan

    Supporting same sex marriage is IRRATIONAL:
    Let’s think: No human knows why man and woman are made the way they are, scientific studies attempt to reach as far back as they can and assume that for evolutionary reasons man has a penis and woman has a vagina and these two parts can combine in a way that leads to another human being born. But what are we really certain of? Nobody knows why there’s male and female, it’s just how it is, nobody knows why it has to be a penis, it just is, and the same for the vagina. We have names.. we have defined these parts and defined the two sexes as male and female in our society but our societies beginning was certainly caused by something/someone outside of our society itself.. I mean we’ve gone down to the deepest depths of the sea and we find no human-making machine there.. we don’t find it anywhere.. it doesn’t exist in our reality, at least if it does we haven’t found it.. so if the something/someone has decided on sex and decided on there being a male and female with the ability to reproduce and given them the organs they have to reproduce then who are we to say much at all? If we do say “much” we have no clue what it could do!! Why? Because we have no certain clue why we have the faculties that we have! This is certain.

    Marriage, when male and female unite until death pulls them apart. Marriage has been defined this way for a long time, people just used their common sense: Man has penis, woman has vagina, this means the most intimate thing that two humans can share is shared by two humans who’s sexes differ, not by two humans who sexes match. Therefore, for male and female to unite so intimately they must have a pretty intense relationship.. This is just plain easy to understand, and those who went outside of this understanding were viewed negatively for doing so.

    So who cares then? What real conclusion’s can you draw from traditional marriage vs. non-traditional marriage?
    Well for one they’re statistics that help us understand how a same sex union effects our society vs. a traditional union. Based on these statistics we might can draw conclusions that are pretty much true. How about this though, if it’s obvious from how man and woman naturally exist that their reproductive organs are made for each other then how does a same sex couple discover the most intimate part of marriage? Well, they don’t, penis + penis does not equal natural, it’s obvious from how man naturally exists in reality that his penis is made for a woman’s vagina, we don’t have to even think about it for long. So then, what do same sex couples do? They still have a variation of sexual intercourse but of course the result can never lead to a birth, so they adopt maybe?

    Now comes the final part, and most interesting part:
    1) Men have the penis and woman have the vagina, from as far back as we know this is how male and female have existed in reality.
    Therefore: Diverting from this natural state of existence in reality is certainly going to expose a human to an unnatural existence on some level.. Another-words, if these reproductive parts are for each other and they always have existed to work together, then putting penis with penis is certainly unnatural and can only be understood as the wrong way to exist.. existence itself tells us this..

    2) If same sex relationships are obviously unnatural then why are so many humans in them?! We humans can easily follow our feelings, get eaten alive by our emotions, and follow them not knowing that they will lead us to exist incorrectly. If we feel it then it’s right? How do we know it’s right? Did we take a moment to think about the nature of life? Do our feelings lead our understanding of natural reality? Or does observation and common sense lead our understanding of natural reality? If we let feelings/emotions lead we end up existing in opposition to our reality, if we let observation and common sense lead we can find that this is a reality full of things we can be certain of, and we can be certain that we didn’t invent male/female, penis/vagina, or sex, our reality began with these parts already decided.. no human wanted male and female to exist and have reproductive organs so they could have sex and reproduce, nope, it was a something/someone that did want male and female to exist and have reproductive organs so they could have sex and reproduce… Therefore: If you didn’t authorize it then follow the pattern of natural reality the best that you can with the knowledge that you have of it.. if there’s male and female then same sex relationships and unions are irrational, it’s that simple. AND, according to statistics and how they look year after year, I would never support same sex marriage EVER, it’s effects on society make it not worth supporting.

    easy

    1. 42.1
      Martin Wagner

      You fail.

      1. Cylis

        Thank you, Martin. I was actually composing a response to that drivel when your post showed up.
        You said more in a two-word link then I ever could have. Best of all, you gave him exactly the time and effort warranted to do it… almost none at all.
        Brilliant.

      2. Jonathan

        As I mentioned humans are quick to follow their feelings/emotions, we also quickly follow our thought patterns
        as if they’re sound. The “Naturalistic Fallacy” is a point of debate because of the inherent properties of nature itself…

        I share points from a philosophical stand point, and other philosophers agree that the ‘Naturalistic Fallacy’ has
        ENORMOUS holes in it, see for yourself: http://law.duke.edu/boylesite/tls98nat.htm

        The examples shared in the article contained in the link above should be enough to easily help you see why a simple
        observation of nature can go a long way… not to mention you completely overlooked the idea of statistical answers that
        have a potential over time to show up us more clearly what a same sex lifestyle produces..

        I’m very serious about production, after you follow your feelings/emotions/thoughts and you dive deeply into the lifestyle
        that they have enticed you to live- what happens when you start swimming in it? Do you cause others to drown? Do you start
        to drown? Do you make waves? What kind of waves do you make?

        The premise is that deviating from what is obviously natural will cause adverse effects. The
        reasoning for this claim is clearly explained above in the link, and the current data to back up this claim is not something
        I will choose to share, not because I can’t of course, but because I always like to invite those who find interest to do
        some work of their own and discover the truth for themselves… look.. ask.. watch.. wait… and see what waves the same
        sex lifestyle creates today.. and if you need to understand why such waves are hitting shore then remember that a
        naturalistic fallacy isn’t certain and you have much to think about…

        fail? … or sail?

        1. Jonathan

          ” to show ‘us’ more clearly ” typo

        2. Martin Wagner

          You made this claim.

          I would never support same sex marriage EVER, it’s effects on society make it not worth supporting.

          So cite any examples anywhere in the world of same-sex marriage having a deleterious effect on society, and maybe this point will be something other than ignorant, bigoted blather. Start with, say, Canada.

          Here’s why your whole argument is a naturalistic fallacy. 1) It’s false to imply something is bad because it is “unnatural.” Human beings do a lot of “unnatural” things, like drive cars and type on computers. 2) It is false to claim homosexuality is unnatural, as the fact that gay people are born that way means that in their case, gay is natural. 3) Your argument is that the only “natural” use for sex is procreative. In fact, same-sex sexual activity has been observed in around 1500 species. Claiming that sexual diversity is de facto “unnatural” is not borne out by the facts.

      3. Tomasz R.

        Why do you link to such idiocy? We are supposed to be able to recognize obvious errors. First it’s a category error. Choosing natural is a HEURISTIC. It allows you to make mostly-not-bad decisions without the need to analyze all possible parameters, . Eg. You have to buy shoes and have ones with natural leather and ones made from plastic presented, and you have to decide in short time – you choose ones made from the natural substance. As every heuristic it has limtations and is not suboptimal in rare cases – for example a sportsmen may be better of with shoes with some special suspension, made from ultra-durable composites or whatever – for him a kind of shoes he uses is an important decision, so he is better of running full analysis for such purpose.

        This makes it similar to other heuristics – eg. animals often choose wheter to fight or escape based on height of the threatning animal. This works quite well, unles of course they meet a pitbul dog, volwerine or a honey badger.

        Besides this – the text you linked to contains strawman argument, as nobody advices to “Arsenic is natural, hence it is better to eat than acetaminophen in Tylenol (which is unnatural, and therefore bad), thus you should take Arsenic next time you have a headache.”, “staying outside like a dirty animal” (adds an insult to animals!). The author seems to have a topic mixer in his head – vaccine controversy is a different topic altogether, with the main issue being negative effect

        And also obvious bias – it doesn’t show positive effect of the preference for natural.

        Not only that – he fails to mention any research done on natural lifestyles, inluding antrhopology of hunter-gatherers. Much of the fashion for natural comes from such research that shows they have low incidences of dieseases of civilization – heart attacks, diabetes etc.

        Besides he ASSUMES without any considerations that “agriculture, [...] aren’t natural but are great benefits to humans, both individually and as a society.” – which is a statement that requires proof. For society – there are ecological dangers of agriculture, as a big devastator – agriculture is “ecological holocaust” – taking a piece of land and destroying most living creatures on it (currently even using chemical weapons), in order plant one desired master race of plants. For individuals – all those slaves working on plantations, those dead from monocultural crops failure and the resulting starvation, and have I mentioned dieseases of civilization? Besides you are A+, so you are a leftie – introduction of agriculture is exactly this event that introduced social inequality. Yes of course it has positive sides! Basically goodness of argiculture is a topic for a debate, with no right for assumptions, and especially assumption that the readers agree with this view before it’s resolved. Example voice in this debate:

        http://www.harpers.org/archive/2004/02/0079915

        1. Martin Wagner

          So your argument for (what you think is) natural is illustrated with an example of choosing the right shoes?

          I wasn’t aware the wearing of shoes was natural. Perhaps I missed the exhibit of Australopithicine footwear when I visited the Smithsonian in March.

          1. Tomasz R

            You misread it completly – or more likely you are spinning, manipulating and twisting my words. What I wrote was never about recognizing natural from unnatural.

            The main topic was about heuristics, how you shouldn’t confuse them with beliefs, ideologies and how they are helpful in making decisions in both time or resource constrained situations, or if you simply don’t care enough to do full analysis.

            The second point was about using obvious strawman argument.

            The third point was about bias, lack of objectivity of the text you linked to, hiding or not providing some important information to us, information that exists, but could destroy author’s arguments.

            The fourth point was about wrong preassumptions, especially that you shouldn’t show a debated or contested issue as a certain result.

            The text you linked to has all those problems, it is faulty, of low quality. It can’t support your arguments with something with such features.

          2. Martin Wagner

            Perhaps your arguments just aren’t as good as you think they are.

            Heuristics schmeuristics. The simple fact is that anyone who argues against gay relationships/sex/marriage on the basis that it’s “unnatural” is making the naturalistic fallacy. Simple as that. Nothing in Jonathan’s torrent of verbiage has established any of the claims he thinks are true, to wit:

            • He claims being gay is unnatural, yet does not demonstrate that that’s true.
            • He claims gay marriage would have harmful effects on society, yet does not demonstrate that that’s true.

          3. sharkjack

            That gay sex isn’t unnatural has got just about nothing to do with the argument of wether or not it should be legal. (though it is true)

            We’re talking about two consenting adults making a choice that nobody else should have any business preventing them to make. Even if it caused harm, even if it led to a generally more unhappy lifestyle (I’m not saying it does) it should still be up to the people who are going to get married to decide. There are plenty of destructive heterosexual marriages that end up in divorce, we don’t ban people from getting married because of that and there are plenty of damaging activities that we allow people to do because it’s their choice. If someone can destroy their lungs because they like to smoke, then why wouldn’t two people be allowed to make a lifestyle choice.

            As a slightly irrelevant side note Martin, I don’t feel the original argument was a naturalistic fallacy. You see the naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy because it just implies that natural is better, without feeling the need to defend that. If you look carefully at what was said

            but our societies beginning was certainly caused by something/someone outside of our society itself.. I mean we’ve gone down to the deepest depths of the sea and we find no human-making machine there.. we don’t find it anywhere.. it doesn’t exist in our reality, at least if it does we haven’t found it.. so if the something/someone has decided on sex and decided on there being a male and female with the ability to reproduce and given them the organs they have to reproduce then who are we to say much at all?

            If it were true that sexes were designed by some intelligence with heterosexual marriage in mind as the ultimate way to live, then that would indeed make deviating from this optimum a suboptimal way to live. So if what Jonathan claims is true he has indeed given a reason for us to prefer natural to unnatural.

            Of course this is complete nonsense.
            1. Societies aren’t caused by any something or someones, they form over long periods of time from groups of animals that simply gather because of increased odds of survival that comes with being in groups. Humans aren’t exactly the only species on earth that forms societies.
            2. humans are animals that have evolved just like any other life form on this earth. The idea that there were original humans created artificially is as archaic as the idea that people have different languages because a god punished them for trying to build a tower.
            3. There is no something that decided on sex to be with the organs we currently posess, though there are good evolutionary reasons why they’ve become the way they are. After all, the sperm and egg stratergy is older than the animal kingdom. Internal gestation has all sorts of benefits and having an organ to insert sperm deeper into that body also brings obvious benefits. If you’re going to force one of the two cell types to go on a suicidal journey, it better damn well be the one that is mass produced and capable of movement. Of course the fact that this makes sense to us is trivial. Even if something doesn’t make sense to us it can still be selected for as long as it confers an evolutionary edge.
            4. Who are we to say much at all? How about the only ones who can. To quote Tim Minchin: “Life is full of mystery yeah, but there are answers out there and they won’t be found by people sitting around, looking serious and saying ‘isn’t life mysterious?’” Doing science allows us to find out things about life and the universe. It’s not a perfect tool but it’s the best thing we’ve got.

            Marriage, when male and female unite until death pulls them apart. Marriage has been defined this way for a long time, people just used their common sense: Man has penis, woman has vagina, this means the most intimate thing that two humans can share is shared by two humans who’s sexes differ, not by two humans who sexes match. Therefore, for male and female to unite so intimately they must have a pretty intense relationship.. This is just plain easy to understand, and those who went outside of this understanding were viewed negatively for doing so.

            Guess what, male penises have this weird shape that allows them to act like a scraper that takes out sperm from other males. It would be really unnatural if this was never used, so living monogamously should be really unnatural right, so marriage itself is an unnatural concept. Humans aren’t a monogamous species. There are true monogamous species and they form couples that bind themselves to each other, not till death do them part but forever. If one of the two dies they never search for another mate. For humans the scraper shaped penis among other things is evidence that we aren’t a fully monogamous species. Yet we can choose to pledge ourselves monogamous to a single partner if we want to. That has nothing to do with sex or reproduction or a penis fitting a vagina. It’s about people committing their life to each other.

            I guess that was more than just a side note.

          4. Tomasz R

            Martin – I’m not arguing about this gay stuff at all as it not an interesting topic, and I’m not interested in such subjects. What I was referring to was a broken concept of “naturalistic fallacy” and text from rationalwiki that was even more broken than the concept itself.

            One of the reasons that the concept is broken is that it doesn’t differentiate what it is referring to. Basically it treats every sentence as if it was a statement of facts, hypothesis or sth. similar. Such stuff can be processed by logic.

            Unfortunately for the argument human conversation doesn’t contain these categories only. One of the popular types of information contained in information exchange between humans is exchanging various algorithms that show how to do things – advices, cooking receipes etc. Such algorithms are usually heuristuc, the default expectation is that they will lead to beneficial effects, or lead to avoiding harmful effect in typical usages, not that they offer optimal solutions. So these cannot be processed by logic, but could be by statistical check of results.

            When it comes to information about natural stuff, from what I’ve seen it mostly falls into the latter category. Eg. natural food is good, artificial food is bad is typically and heuristical avice rather than a dogma. Thus it cannot be condered neither logical, nor it is a fallacy (it’s a quite good avice). To debunk it you need to check the results via statistical observations.

            Had it been a dogma of some church, or a scientific hypothesis then you could debunk it via logic, eg. by examples – eg. showing some artificial product (eg. with vitamins added or whatever) that is better than a natural product (eg. with too much Omega-6 oils).

            What’s difficult in recognizing one category from another is that the wording can be the same for: advice, dogma, hypothesis, claim, summary of results of research, judgement, accusation, a random thought etc. So you somehow need to get it from the context what this words mean.

            Your “naturalistic fallacy” as presented in the link ignored this necessary step, so it is broken.

          5. sharkjack

            When it comes to information about natural stuff, from what I’ve seen it mostly falls into the latter category. Eg. natural food is good, artificial food is bad is typically and heuristical avice rather than a dogma. Thus it cannot be condered neither logical, nor it is a fallacy (it’s a quite good avice). To debunk it you need to check the results via statistical observations.

            So let me get this straight, you’re saying that if someone claims that gay marriage is bad because it is unnatural (which wasn’t what was claimed but that is beside the point), they can get away with relying on a heuristic? Because if that’s the strength of their argument they’ve already lost. This isn’t two people buying groceries deciding which tomatoes to get for dinner, we’re talking about preventing people from marrying. You better be pretty damn confident that you’re doing it for a justified reason and ‘natural seems to be better than unnatural most of the time’ really, REALLY doesn’t cut it. No, the people who use this argument against gay marriage aren’t relying on a heuristic. They’re relying on the audience not questioning their logic because so many people accept the heuristic that natural>unnatural (a heuristic I don’t find usefull at all, but that too is beside the point) that they don’t question it anymore when it’s presented in a discussion carrying far more weight.

            If you think that a simple, general heuristic should have any influence whatsoever in the decision to allow gay marriage to marry then we’re done discussing.

            If you’re just talking about how the naturalistic fallacy isn’t as generally applicable as it would seem, then fine. In any discussion where the outcomes are so trivial that both parties are willing to accept the heuristic, the naturalistic fallacy doesn’t apply. But the moment one party cares enough for the conclusion of the argument to put in the effort of actually finding out what’s true for the particular case, then the heuristic becomes obsolete and using it would be a naturalistic fallacy.

    2. 42.2
      Nate

      This is essentially a long winded, and poorly worded version of NOM’s talking points.

      1. Jonathan

        I must admit this. I do not usually address many issues on here, but I found this one to to be one I have spent the last 4 years studying and understanding from interacting in real life with homosexuals. I don’t follow this topic at a political level at all, I don’t follow any sort of big movements or organizations that support either side, I don’t want to.

        I honestly had no clue what NOM was, so I looked it up, I didn’t expect my reply to represent NOM in any way whatsoever. I have chosen in my life to give my time so that I may talk with homosexuals and understand them, I let them choose how far they want to go in conversation and make sure their interest in chatting about their lifestyle is alive and running, otherwise I never press on a homosexual or anyone for this matter as if they must hear me, I however let them know that I always want to hear them and what they think.. I’ve been doing this for the past 4 years, and I don’t need to explain what has come of it, because I don’t need anything from you random people on the internet, I’ve seen what I’ve seen and experienced a lot from talking seriously with homosexuals over the last 4 years.

        I don’t believe that any organization or political agenda will help anything. I believe that respecting everyone regardless of lifestyle choice is a must, they’re some exceptions of course: a serial killer or one with a Hitler-type agenda- such lifestyles aren’t even worthy of respect, but homosexuals have my utmost respect, the same I give to anyone in my family, and they should have it, and this creates a friendship of sorts that means a ton more than any organization or political agenda will ever mean..

        I wanted to be clear here because I do NOT want to be associated with any organization or political agenda, I do NOT associate with them and never will, I do what I do in my personal life and that’s what I believe I should do.. I don’t need $ and I don’t need some fancy dressed speaker.. I am the regular dressed person with the ability to respect.. that’s all that’s needed..

        1. jdog

          I have chosen in my life to give my time so that I may talk with homosexuals and understand them

          Good grief. Is this the “whitestraight man’s burden”? You’ve nobly endeavored to understand the noble, homosexual savages, nobly braving situations and conversations outside of your comfort zone and finally come to comprehend a bit of their noble, simple wisdom? Sit and spin, you patronizing jerk.

          Homosexuals are human beings living in human society, not some race from another planet, not some isolated tribe of humans with unusual customs, etc. Beyond the fact that they’re not attracted to the half of the population that you feel they should be attracted to, there’s nothing to understand.

          The problem is that you (and many others) have the unreasonable expectation that the only kind of sexual/romantic attraction that should exist is the kind that could lead to pregnancy.

          Because you think it’s “natural” (protip: so is homosexuality, if you realize that humans are animals and not some special creation of a sky wizard). Pratchett says it best, I think:
          “‘Not natural, in my view, sah. Not in favor of unnatural things.’
          Vetinari looked perplexed. ‘You mean, you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree?’”
          -The Fifth Elephant

        2. Nate

          I’m glad you’ve had time to study us.

    3. 42.3
      Makoto

      “No human knows why man and woman are made the way they are, scientific studies attempt to reach as far back as they can and assume that for evolutionary reasons man has a penis and woman has a vagina and these two parts can combine in a way that leads to another human being born” – actually, Wikipedia has a few competing ideas on this, go ahead and look them up, they are interesting starting points for reading. We have better ideas on how this may have happened than about how gravity works, in fact.

      “Marriage, when male and female unite until death pulls them apart” – please explain to me the rate of divorce in the world, or even in the country, then.

      “Diverting from this natural state of existence in reality is certainly going to expose a human to an unnatural existence on some level.. Another-words, if these reproductive parts are for each other and they always have existed to work together, then putting penis with penis is certainly unnatural and can only be understood as the wrong way to exist.. existence itself tells us this..” – what about non-viable couples? Those who are too old, have had certain illnesses, or for some reason cannot reproduce? They are allowed to marry, even in church, so long as they are of separate sexes, even if there is 0% chance of them reproducing.

      “Or does observation and common sense lead our understanding of natural reality?” – My common sense says ‘if they love each other and are of legal age, how is it different than heterosexual marriage?’ They legally can make decisions for themselves. They want to pledge their love for each other in front of the government, and wish to see the benefits (taxes, visitation rights, inheritance) and costs (divorce issues, etc).

      “I would never support same sex marriage EVER, it’s effects on society make it not worth supporting.” – prove it.

  43. 43
    Ryan

    One moment it’s “Let’s be positive”, the next it’s “fuck you guys for not cooperating”. If this article is representative of the views of this moment, it is entirely worthless.

  44. 44
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Just a quick follow up on the dead horse:

    Atheism isn’t a religion, Atheism+ is as it brigs faith into atheism.

    This is a bad equivocation. Faith is usually defined as belief without evidence, or belief in spite of evidence. Thus, the definition is already biased towards factual claims, not moral claims. (I take Hume’s Is-Ought distinction (near?) axiomatically.) It’s not fair to equate the faith that there is an afterlife with the “faith” that we should try to make a world where people are happy, materially well off, etc. Believing in a factual claim without evidence is silly. Having some basic moral propositions is not. Equating the two is intellectually dishonest, or ignorant, or worse.

    1. 44.1
      Tomasz R

      Religion is highly based on emotions, and A+ is based on emotions. Classic atheism was based on reason, logic, with bias toward science.

      1. jdog

        You’ve repeatedly failed to demonstrate this, but keep repeating it like it was true. Congratulations, you’re an honorary theist.

    2. 44.2
      Tomasz R.

      Belief that some things “should” be is also verifiable. You just need to make a pilot program or do a computer simulation, computations etc. This way you would know about not only benefits of your value, but also about all it’s side effects: both negative and positive.

      For example realization of a belief that people should be materially well-off might lead to either total environmental destruction or the need to forcibly cut human population. Not to mention wars over limited resources like oil, minerals. So it may turn out that your “moral” proposition is in fact totally DESTRUCTIVE. So before you support any proposition you need validate it fully. Acting otherwise is like marketing drugs that haven’t had any safety testing.

      1. jdog

        Why are you assuming that the A+ moral positions you’re against are untested? Or, in cases of basic social justice concepts, that they aren’t self-evident (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for example)? Or that the horrible ones you are for have been sufficiently tested by competent researchers?

  45. 45
    Sarah

    Great post, Martin!

  46. 46
    Adrian Bailey

    Whoa! Atheism has a bad rep, so we need Atheism+ to persuade people that we’re nice people, nice enough to accept money from, even? I hate that reasoning. Atheism+ isn’t a terrible idea, since atheism is not an organisation and the word atheism by itself tells you nothing about what someone believes in. But what you’re saying rightly feeds the antipathy of those atheists who don’t want, for whatever reason, to be part of A+. This is not a division between the good atheists and the bad atheists but between atheists who share certain progressive opinions and want to organise around them, and those atheists who may or may not share those opinions but who do not want to organise in that way.

    I’m chair of Birmingham Humanists. I don’t mind being called a Humanist or an Atheist. (The only problem I had with the word Atheist was that I used to consider myself an Agnostic.) I don’t choose which word to use based on how nice I want to appear, but on the basis that Humanism is an organisation and a lifestance, whilst Atheism is not. I never do anything to feed the myth that atheists are bad people, but what you’re saying may have that unfortunate effect.

    1. 46.1
      Cylis B.

      “This is not a division between the good atheists and the bad atheists but between atheists who share certain progressive opinions and want to organise around them, and those atheists who may or may not share those opinions but who do not want to organise in that way.”

      I agree with that sentiment 100%. The question still remains whether or not those atheists that do wish to be more progressive should do so.
      What I’m seeing as the overall tenor of the discourse, and the source of most dissent over A+, isn’t that more activism from willing members of the community is wrong, or should be stopped. The main issues is sadly an argument of semantics that has gotten way out of hand.
      The basic argument I see over and over again is that “A+” as a title does not differentiate itself from “general atheism in totality” enough; that it would be a source of too much potential confusion.
      To which I say:
      Fine! Pick a new title. Heck, we’ll leave it up to the contingent of the community that wishes to keep their atheism and their other ideologies completely separate.
      Here’s the challenge. Choose a title that you feel properly separates the ideology of basic atheism, from a group of atheists who take it upon themselves to facilitate the activism/progressiveness of willing members within the community.

      And to your final point: “… but what you’re saying may have that unfortunate effect.”
      I grant that possibility. In fact I would go so far as to say any such group would “definitely” result in some unfortunate effects. To which I again say:
      Fine! Let’s have that discussion then. Let’s identify the most likely deleterious effects, and have a conversation that 1)weighs them against the potential positive effects, 2)identifies ways to mitigate those negative effects from the onset.
      To vent my frustration (with the admission this is merely personal opinion now), I am so sick an tired of seeing a community that prides itself and rallies universally around concepts of skepticism and rational thought that – when presented with the potential threats of “A+” – do not approach the issues along the lines of a problem that could be solved… but as a black and white issue that should be kicked out on it’s face. My personal opinion is that it’s just intellectually lazy.

  1. 47
    We’re Waiting, Washington United for Marriage « Defending Reality

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