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Atheism+: Social interaction in atheist communities and elsewhere

Yep, it’s another post about Atheism+.  Just because Jen McCreight is on vacation to take a break from being trolled and harassed, doesn’t mean the rest of us still aren’t interested.

First things first: There’s a new episode of Godless Bitches.  Have you heard it?  You should hear it, it is made of win.  Beth, Tracie, and Jen were broadcasting in front of a sizable live audience at the Atheist Alliance of America national convention in Denver, along with special guest Greta Christina, who as far as I’m concerned ought to be on every week.  Tracie had some inspired commentary on how she became interested in being more than a dictionary atheist and take on these issues.  I can’t sum up in a way that does it justice, go listen.

[...]

As you have probably heard, a lot of people have expressed discontent with the whole idea of Atheism+ on the grounds that it is somehow divisive, or an attempt to form a splinter group.  But one of the odder accusations I’ve heard is that it’s a high school clique-like, jocks vs. nerds effort to punish “socially awkward” people for not being cooler.

As an atheist who also plays video games and attends ultra-nerdy events like the totally awesome Austin Barcraft tournaments, I have a general interest in the social scene that gamers inhabit.  So I’m no stranger to large groups of geeks, and to some extent the same conversation has been happening there for the last few years.

Recently, Dr. Nerdlove wrote an excellent post discussing the sexual harassment assault incident that occurred at a party during PAX, the yearly convention hosted by the artist/writer team responsible for the gaming themed comic strip Penny Arcade.  (Not familiar with Dr. Nerdlove?  It’s time to get acquainted.  This is one of those blogs that, once you discover it, I hope you’ll spend hours surfing.  Check out the podcast too!)

Anyway, at this particular incident a woman was approached by a guy who, after engaging in a minimal amount of uncomfortable small talk, unzipped his pants, grabbed her hand, and put it down there.  Which — regardless of how cool you might think you are in general — is not the most frequently recommended way of introducing yourself.  The harassment assault sparked a significant amount of conversation, but just as important as the actual incident is how the various actors responded.  The woman, who had obviously done nothing wrong, was embarrassed and humiliated.  The nearest security guard, who was in a position to actually do something about it, said something to the effect of  “So… what do you want me to do about it?”

And just as predictably as always, some commenter showed up in the post I just linked to try to derail the conversation by saying “What I still don’t get though, is why socially awkward, sexually reserved guys get branded as creeps.”  Seriously, I’m psychic about these things.  Before I wrote this paragraph I had no idea whether anybody did that, but I said to myself, “Hey, I wonder if anyone in the comments tried to turn this into an argument about how unfair everyone is to men in general?”  And what do you know, I found something that EXACTLY MATCHED UP with the thing I was saying a minute ago about social awkwardness.

Saying that the problem has anything to do with “social awkward guys” is really dismissive and trivializes the actual issue.  Seriously, of all incidents that relate to making women feel safe and welcome in a traditionally male dominated social scene, holy shit, this is not a case of some poor hapless guy with a pocket protector who’s being shunned because he loves Legend of Zelda so much.

Stories like this have been popping up semi-regularly in association with the world of gaming.  Earlier this year, Dr. Nerdlove also wrote about professional gaming coach Aris Bakhtanians,  who filmed himself while he was aggressively sexually harassing a female member of his team.  Lots of people said he was way out of line.  But lots more reacted by saying stuff like “Hey, look, competitive gaming is a man’s world.  Women should accept that this is just the culture, or shut up and GTFO of our tournaments.”

The problem is not that some guys don’t know how to act around women.  The problem is being so territorial as to systemically alienate women from the group, and THEN angrily backlashing against people who try to discuss or deal with the problem in any way.  Not only do many people apparently feel that such actions are acceptable, but they are regularly given cover by many of their peers who insist that, yes, that is how the gaming culture works, and it is how they want it to remain.  That is a serious issue that has long term implications for the inclusiveness for any sizable social scene.  It is, in fact, directly exclusionary. Referring to it as “social awkwardness” is doing the conversation a huge disservice.

The relevant point, though, is that this issue isn’t really a “problem with gamers,” nor is it a “problem with atheists.”  It’s a much larger cultural issue in general.  More often than not, men in public discussions (hi there) receive criticism that is focused on defeating their arguments, while a significant amount of the time, people discuss women’s arguments in terms of how fat, ugly, or slutty they supposedly are, and send the women rape threats as a punishment for talking.  This is, of course, true in a lot of places on the internet, and also pops up when women appear on TV.  It’s not just gamers.

Is the atheist community unusually bad about this problem? In my opinion, no. But atheism as a social force is growing fast enough that it’s dealing with some of these issues for the first time. It would be a huge mistake to say that because atheists are “rational” they are somehow immune to this influence. In fact, the personal stories that Jen told in “How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club” really should make it clear how many members are openly hostile to creating a more welcoming environment for women. I know from direct acquaintances that Jen’s experiences aren’t that uncommon. When you come right down to it, this is the same problem that the gaming community is facing, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

And to their credit, atheists are in a strong starting position to deal with an undercurrent of sexism. Some people who object to Atheism+ don’t think twice when they wonder whether atheists should take on a prominent role in fighting for good science education, or for equal marriage rights for homosexuals. This is true even though most atheists aren’t scientists, and most atheists aren’t gay. They are still natural atheist issues, because the primary opposition to science education and gay marriage have religious roots, and no obvious secular justification.  Similarly, many of the sexist conventions that exist today also stem from religious influences, and so overturning those conventions is an atheist issue by the same logic.

However, just as not every atheist actually cares about evolution or gay marriage, and so only some of them take it up as a pet cause, it’s also the case that clearly only some atheists think that the issues surrounding Atheism+ are worth focusing on. That’s fine. Not everyone puts equal priority on every issue.

Even so, I’d like people to think back to episodes of The Atheist Experience where Charlie Check’m, a.k.a. “Evolved Atheist,” called in to argue against gay marriage. (Here, have some transcripts.)  In our opinion he held a ridiculous and indefensible point of view, and we said so on several repeated calls. Lots of people who commented on the episode came away from the exchange with a very negative impression of the guy, and it may have hurt his reputation. Hopefully you don’t think that that was inappropriate or divisive; we simply have to discuss individual arguments and situations as they come up. I have no doubt that the similar high concept arguments will take place going forward, as atheists wrestle with the question of what are appropriate ways we can encourage more diversity.

Comments

  1. says

    “So… what do you want me to do about it?”

    The. Actual. Fuck?

    Uh, how about detain the guy until the cops arrive. He grabbed her hand uninvited. That’s assault. He forced her hand into his pants. That’s sexual assault.

    But that’s the MRA attitude. “Come on! He was just trolling!”

    • Muz says

      The background to this story is kinda strange. Despite it being a private Minecraft thrown party filled with (hopefully) nice industry people, it was held in an exclusive nightclub rented out for the purpose. This is the kind of place that has hired models and escorts to work the crowd and make the high rollers feel “comfortable”, and had on this occasion too.
      It sounds like Notch and co were kind of naive about what sort of joint this was. One where rich people spend big and take liberties. None of this gets anyone off the hook of course, but I get the impression ‘security’ isn’t there to interrupt the party short of Joe Pesci trying to stab you in the neck with a pen or something.

      • karmakin says

        Oh so it wasn’t at PAX itself, it was at Minecon.

        From the reputation and the training done for this sort of thing, I would have been REALLY shocked about that sort of reaction from one of the “Enforcers”, as they call it.

        • Muz says

          It was at a Mojang financed after-party sort of deal, put on because of PAX but not part of it.
          (I did get it confused with MineCon in that I thought it was Vegas for a minute there. It seems like a Vegas kind of thing).
          But yes, if it was actual Con security acting like this it would be a pretty scandalous.

          • Kazim says

            Yes, I did say that it was a party put on during PAX, and I’m aware that it was not directly sponsored by the con. I would have put more details in, but taking a long sidebar to discuss the particulars of the incident was a little beside the point; and it’s all outlined in the Dr. Nerdlove post that I linked.

          • Muz says

            Yeah, no worries. It’s just for anyone skimming by who finds the security reaction inexplicable. It makes slightly more sense if you know they’re nightclub bouncers, essentially. Usually neither trained for or interested in such an incident.

    • Brad says

      This was a question that should not have needed to be asked, if they had a harassment policy in place. I’m probably reading it overly charitably but it could have been asking what she wanted done with the offender. If she wanted the police called, the guy thrown out etc… But the context isn’t favourable to that interpretation.

    • Johnnis says

      From the post:
      “… unzipped his pants, grabbed her hand, and put it down there…”

      Martin Wagner’s response:
      “But that’s the MRA attitude. “Come on! He was just trolling!””

      Is this you trying to be funny or are you serious? The accusation you are making is quite serious.

      If you’re not joking then might I see the evidence?

      (I’m not a fan of MRA, but this is too much. I’m not laughing.)

  2. algi says

    I’m really fed up that articles here put equation between criticism against A+ and being against the issues A+ stands for.

    I’m an atheist liberal. So, I’m for gender equality, I’m against the discrimination based upon sexual preference, race, ethnicity, etc.

    Yeah, that’s actually called liberal atheist. And I don’t understand why would I care about a subgroup that defines itself as a liberal atheist and says that it is called A+.

    No, it isn’t called A+. It’s called liberalism. A+ was the name of donating atheists for some years now.

    And gender equality shouldn’t be restricted to a subgroup. Gender equality should be a policy all over the atheist communities, clubs, conventions, etc. That’s a good cause to fight for. Making a subclub of a subclub of a subclub is only good for the feelings of the members, but doesn’t really accomplish anything.

    Let them make there little club, but noone should ever question my liberalism, just because I’m not praising a clique.

    • says

      Well, this is one of the misperceptions we need to fight. No one affiliated with A+ has said you cannot stand for equality and such if you do not belong to “the clique.” But the perception is that this is so, and I suspect it’s because opponents of the idea have put a great deal of effort into spreading that little falsity. So the first step in talking meaningfully about these issues is to stop misunderstanding or misrepresenting viewpoints.

    • says

      I’m really fed up that articles here put equation between criticism against A+ and being against the issues A+ stands for.

      I wasn’t detecting that. What I’ve heard is people doing what you’re doing – debating the need for the label. You don’t have to use it.

      Do you think that “liberal atheists” aren’t sexist or racist, or behave inappropriately towards women? The atheist community has a heavy slant towards liberalism, and yet, we seem to have a severe problem with these issues. Do you think that 10% of the people are generating 90% of the problem (I pulled those numbers out of my ass, fyi).

      A+, in my mind, is a particular focus on these issues, more specifically than “liberal atheist”.

      • Kazim says

        Agree with Jasper: I’m a liberal too, but liberals don’t get a free pass on facing sexist issues either. If you think they’re immune, you should really check out Natalie Reed’s post on Hipster Misogyny.

    • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

      Yeah, that’s actually called liberal atheist. And I don’t understand why would I care about a subgroup that defines itself as a liberal atheist and says that it is called A+.

      I don’t understand why you would care either. If you don’t want to be part of Atheism Plus, then don’t. You can go along and continue being a liberal atheist. The A+’ers can go along being part of A+. You are absolutely unaffected.

      No, it isn’t called A+. It’s called liberalism. A+ was the name of donating atheists for some years now.

      So now you’re disputing reality. I don’t even know how to argue against you here.
      I’ll simply state that there are atheists who have come together to form a community called A+. A+ stands for atheism PLUS social justice. If you’re uncertain whether or not it is called A+, here is the website:

      http://atheismplus.com/

      And gender equality shouldn’t be restricted to a subgroup.

      I’m sorry but I don’t understand your point here. A+ makes no claim to restrict gender equality to just those member of that community. Even if every A-plusser *tried*, they couldn’t somehow make every organization stop fighting for gender equality. There’s no way they could restrict gender equality to A+.

      Making a subclub of a subclub of a subclub is only good for the feelings of the members, but doesn’t really accomplish anything.

      Part of the point of A+ is to create an area away from the regular Atheist Movement which-in the eyes of many people-has a problem with sexism and misogyny. A+ serves to allow its members to discuss issues related to atheism and social justice without-ostensibly (they can’t prevent sexist atheists from joining A+)-the undesirable assholes who have been making their presence known for over a year. A+ also serves a function for women and other minorities that want to participate in the Atheist community, but have not felt welcomed.
      You may feel that it doesn’t accomplish anything, but that doesn’t make the formation of A+ right or wrong.
      To you it’s pointless. Since you don’t want to join, then it doesn’t really matter if it accomplishes anything or not. If a group of atheists decided to create a rowing team, I wouldn’t join because I have no interest in rowing. The formation of such a team and their subsequent activities would not matter to me, because I wouldn’t be a member.

      That does make me wonder if there are people who feel they will be negatively impacted merely by the formation of A+.

      Let them make there little club, but noone should ever question my liberalism, just because I’m not praising a clique.

      Ok. It seems silly for someone to ask you to praise A+. Of course, it also seems silly to me to criticize people who want to discuss issues they feel are important to them-away from those people who are causing such divisiveness in the Atheist community.

    • NH says

      I’m really fed up that articles here put equation between criticism against A+ and being against the issues A+ stands for.

      I agree.
      .
      And for those that claim this isn’t happening, notice that the article never mentions anything about those support the ideals behind the label but oppose the label itself. It also never says anything in support of the term itself. It just assumes that a point in support of social justice automatically is a point in favor of A+.
      .
      Every time I’ve complained about the atheism+ label I’ve made it clear that I support the ideals behind it, and yet STILL I get responses that assuming I’m must be against those ideals because I criticize the label.
      .
      Atheism+ is a horrible label for many reasons, and while I don’t care if some individual wants to use it… hey, call yourself whatever stupid name you want. But where I take issue is with people trying to make this into a movement with that label. You don’t seem to get that I’m actually trying to help here. For example: yet another reason this label is bad: atheism+ is only differentiated be a non-alphanumaric character. That means that many search engines will treat the term equal to the term without the plus. And atheism by itself (without the plus) has nothing to do with social justices. The potential for confusion is enough that this label should not be used in any serious sense.

      • Kazim says

        This article wasn’t about people who support the ideals behind the label but oppose the label itself. It was triggered by a specific email we got accusing Atheist+ proponents of targeting social awkward guys. It’s like I wrote something rebutting Pascal’s Wager, and you complained because it didn’t address the First Cause argument.

        • NH says

          Except that I’m not complaining about this article in particular, but rather the pattern of ignoring the issues with the label itself. To use your example, a theist would be right to complain that you didn’t address first cause if you never addressed first cause but instead only ever addressed arguments like pascal’s wager.

          • Kazim says

            As far as I can tell, the issue that you want me to address is that… you don’t like the word.

            Okay, I am now acknowledging that you don’t like the word. Congratulations, you win. Now what?

          • Muz says

            I do wish someone would explain ‘issues with the name’ with something resembling coherence.
            You’re pushing that barrow of differentiation even though you agree with what it stands for, which most people seem to say. So why the hell does it have to be so different then? What on earth is the problem?

            (If I seem exasperated, it’s all this arguing on youtube I’ve been doing. Apologies. It is enlightening though. For a while there I think the skeptical/atheist community really thought they were, if not entirely the smart ones then mostly the smart people in the world. Nope! As batshit percentage wise as any group, it seems)

          • NH says

            Okay, I am now acknowledging that you don’t like the word. Congratulations, you win. Now what?

            First, I’d like to note that I enjoyed your response. Second, it’s not just about me not liking the term. If that’s all it was, I wouldn’t complain about it (or at least wouldn’t post the complaint). I guess the main problem with the series of articles is that I get the impression whether it was intended or not, of the label is being overly pushed rather than focusing on the issues.
            .

            I do wish someone would explain ‘issues with the name’ with something resembling coherence.

            Here are a few examples of issues with the name:
            1)
            The term has an air of elitism that makes it not conductive to the goals set out for it. One of the major stated goals of “atheism+” is to promote greater diversity in atheism. But by using a term that can easily be taken as elitist, it could drive away some of the very people they with to attract.
            2)
            It can lead to unnecessary potential confusion with the root term. Simply adding a plus does not do enough to differentiate it from atheism without the plus. And atheism without the plus (the thing some are referring to as “dictionary atheism”), has nothing to do with social issues. It’s simply a position on a solitary question. Using a term that’s so close but that means something entirely different is just asking to waste needless hours explaining crap when you could instead be focused on the issues.
            3)
            To be a good name for a movement, it should to be clear by the name what it stands for. The plus does nothing to tell you what it is that’s being added. You can’t get much more vague and unclear than that. Seriously, just add another word that means basically what it is your adding and the label is a thousand times better. (One of the best suggestions I’ve heard so far is atheistic humanism.)

          • Muz says

            (this is going to come out really long and thin. I’m sorry)

            The last one is about the only one I can see any credence for, and then only just. Convention decides what a term means, however, as much as pure interpretation. What is a republican or a democrat? Both parties are technically both things.
            So the fuss makes no sense to me still, except to demonstrate that the modern world and the internet especially is full of branding and marketing theorists, speculating and micro managing away at virtually nothing concrete. I suppose it’s a bit like the way everyone in the nineties (well, the middle class at least) talked in psychotherapy terms all the time, like they had actual training and data to work from. But they didn’t. (branding and marketing is vague and postmodern to the point of mysticism a lot of the time so that makes more sense at least).
            That’s all I get from most of this (where it isn’t fairly obviously about how much some people hate feminism, based on rather little in most cases)

            Elitist? Come on. You’re reaching. You want a skeptical group to massage its message, in its name no less, to potential members assuming they aren’t going to think and their prejudices need to be played to? Acknowledging human foibles is one thing. Even if they had a confusing name, this is not the reason they should change it.

            Confusion? Again, thin. I don’t buy for a second that it’s hard to say Atheism+ is a forum where atheists talk about social justice and stuff and then “it’s an Atheist group that does stuff”. That seems pretty easy to me. Oh but they’ll have subsequent questions. So answer them. Or don’t. The world is complicated.
            I see this one and can’t help but leap to the conclusion that people are worried that if A+ does something socialist sounding and gets smeared for it they, the innocent atheist bystanders of the world, will be swept up and it’ll be too hard to distance themselves (and actually some ‘toobers have said exactly this). But it doesn’t matter what some atheist group calls themselves. Nobody is safe from the broad brush of the conservative yellow press. Nobody.
            Atheism Plus decides it’s better they be called the Fuzzy Bright Banana People, who then become known for, oh let’s say, being an atheist group for social justice and they do something to piss off Rush or whoever and they make a huge fuss. Let’s take a wild guess which part of their identity is going to get the focus. A hint: It ain’t gonna be the banana eaters of the world ducking for cover. And every whiner on the net will say the exact same thing: you’re acting in our name and now I have to explain myself to people.

            Let’s pause to remember I have pretty much the same grounds to speculate this much as the people who know what effect A+ as a name will do far into the future.

            If you’re involved in a philosophical position that by its nature upends most of western philosophy, you’ve already got some ‘splainin’ to do. I’m sorry. Anyone should go back to the pre God Delusion days and be a quiet polite ‘non theist’ if they don’t like it. And if you’re a skeptic, the whole thing is about explaining so you’re screwed from the start. So no, I don’t buy that Atheism Plus adds to this explanatory burden in any significant way: Atheism is a philosophical position, Atheism Plus is this group with Atheists in it. Done.

          • NH says

            1) Elitism
            My reaction when first I heard the term was that it sounds rather arrogant. When you have people going around saying “I’m an atheist PLUS”, that basically sounds like they are saying “I’m better than these other atheists.” Is that really the name you want to use? Don’t try to tell me this is a thin reason to oppose the name. It’s not.
            2) Confusion
            One of the major confusions with the term atheism as it is right now is trying to explain to theists that atheism doesn’t mean all the extra crap that think it does. Do you honestly think that the + is enough of a distinction for those people? If so you are fooling yourself. One word: Stalin
            3) Name does show it’s meaning.
            Why is it too much to ask that the name be more descriptive? Names matter, and using a good name can help or hinder. Look at the feminist movement. While they have managed some success with that name, the name also makes it unnecessarily harder for guys to be part of it, thus it hinders. Compare that to the LGBT movement where the label practically screams that they are for inclusivity, and thus it helps. In fact, they have a history of changing the label to be more inclusive. First it was just gay rights, then LGB, then LGBT. In some places I’ve seen LGBTQ or others, but beyond the four letters it starts to get silly, and that’s where it seems to have stuck.
            .
            Names matter. Atheism+ is still in it’s early stages so the name can be changed without too much problem. There is still time to choose a better name. Simply adding a + isn’t it.

      • ~G~ says

        I know I’ve stated that I am not going to call myself A+ at least once on FTB without any negative reaction. In addition, I have never felt it was implied in anything I’ve read that not wanting to use that label makes me a bad person or anything. Maybe it’s because I also state that it does not affect me if other people use it and I say, “FSM-speed” to them. Can you provide a link to a comment thread where you made a critique and people said you were against its ideals?

    • says

      Helping people, to me, for some years now, has been about trying to pry people’s minds out of this toxic cloud of indoctrination and crazy, and giving them their self-worth, minds and lives back. And I would LOVE some coordinated and organized help. Half a dozen people on an Internet show, and an author on the other side of the Atlantic, and some underground podcasts aren’t going to do this alone.

      No country for anti-theists? Well, a group composed solely of atheists, concerned with improving society…that’s the best chance I’ve ever seen so far for an anti-theist SIG. A+ may not support that idea, but, then, they just may?

  3. Rodney Nelson says

    “What I still don’t get though, is why socially awkward, sexually reserved guys get branded as creeps.”

    I’ve been a socially awkward, sexually reserved guy my entire life. Guess what, I haven’t sexually assaulted anyone. I met and married a socially awkward, sexually reserved woman (the sexual reservations soon fell away, at least between the two of us). Sorry, I don’t buy the lamentations about socially awkward guys.

    • says

      You raise an excellent point. For all the “but some people are socially awkward,” and “some people have Aspberger’s,” you almost never see anyone posting to say “I am socially awkward/have Aspberger’s, and I’m always getting accused of sexual harassment.”

      It’s always someone who isn’t self-identifying with that label, saying it’s “those pitiful people” who don’t know any better than to act like rude assholes.

      It’s insulting to those people who really have dealt with those issues, and not been asses to other people as a result. It’s not just social awkwardness, and it’s not like anyone I’ve ever met with Aspberger’s.

  4. gabby27 says

    The guys who bully, harass, insult, intimidate, threaten and assault women are not poor, shy, socially awkward geeks, they’re outspoken, entitled, confident frat boys who know full well the effect their actions have, and go forward with them anyway. As a woman with Asperger’s, I’m sick of assholes trying to use social awkwardness as their excuse for being assholes. Socially awkward is saying the wrong word, or stuttering, or making eye contact for too long, it’s not deliberately shoving a woman’s hands into your unzipped pants for fuck’s sake.

    • Onamission5 says

      Thank you!!!

      Sheesh. Like we women can’t tell the difference between someone who’s really just awkward and trying ot get up the nerve to say hi, and someone who’s saying hi by rubbing their crotch on our backside. ‘Cause you know we haven’t been dealing with this shit since we first got breasts or anything.

      The whole “socially awkward” BS gives actual socially awkward people and the women they do not harass a huge FU. A) In my experience, socially awkward people *know* they are and are so hyperaware that they actively try not to offend, and B) women have brains and powers of observation, and can use those brains just like magic, to know who is leering and who is shifty and who is just a little odd.

    • Muz says

      We’ve gotten to an interesting place these days where there’s a lot of young guys who identify as awkward geeks really want to behave like brash fratboys (and do after a few drinks). It’s almost as though that’s what confidence and charm looks like to them. So you get this trying to have it both ways thing. If it goes well he’s a confident guy. If it goes badly it’s “Hey don’t hurt me! I’m just a poor confused boy who didn’t know any better!”

      The older awkward guys kind of sympathise with them a little too much some times. But my thinking is things are different (or perhaps just worse) these days.

    • says

      I agree, they’re more narcissists from my experience.

      Every guy I’ve ever had any sort of “problem” with has been aggressive and cocky, not anything I would confuse with shy.

  5. m6wg4bxw says

    “Gaming+” could be the solution! …you know, for gamers who also care about social equality and that sort of non-gaming stuff.

    • karmakin says

      There are actual solutions for this sort of thing. The best example I can give of a solution is the Tribunal system, in League of Legends were offending players are voted on in terms of punishment by participating members of the community.

      You can also work on creating games that have lower amounts of conflict and competition, which again tends to keep angers in check and reduces this stuff. Guild Wars 2 seems to be having some success with this so far.

    • says

      See, now why do you suggest it like it’s a joke? I would fully support a group named Gamers+ who are gamers + they care about social justice issues. Why is that such a silly idea?

      • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

        TerranRich:
        I agree with you.
        I’m not much of a gamer, but I can easily see a group of people who enjoy gaming forming a group to discuss issues important to them AND play games. It wouldn’t even have to be social justice issues. They could come together because they like gaming AND …
        Republican Gamers
        Freethinking Gamers
        Atheist Gamers
        Rock Climbing Gamers
        Gamers for Gay Rights
        Feminist Gamers
        The possibilities are endless.

  6. says

    [The above comment is iPad sausage finger salad]

    Can we please stop calling these criminal acts the catch-all term “harassment?”

    Grabbing someone’s hand and rubbing your penis up against it is sexual assault. The police should be phoned immediately. My partner is a security guard, but they’re only as good as their training. (Cops, too, come to that.)

    When you are sexually assaulted don’t rely on harassment policies. Send the fucker to jail.

  7. says

    Before I heard the podcast mentioned above, atheism plus meant drama in my mind. I wasn’t against it, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to engage with.

    After listening to the latest Godless Bitches podcast I get it. I’m interested to see where it goes.

    Regarding definitions, we might distinguish dictionary (or default) atheists from skeptical atheists. My cat might meet the definition of a dictionary atheist. Skeptical atheists tend to know their stuff, or to have at least thought through the basics with regards to the idea of gods.

    • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

      Serious question: What changed your mind?

      The first post by Jen McCreight had me convinced that A+ would be beneficial to those people interested in joining. Since her OP, many people have spoken up with their opinions on A+, some with a variety of different arguments against it (none of which I find convincing).

      • says

        Good question. I suppose I never read the original post. The first I heard of it was, “oh look, people are fighting about something.”

        I had a general sense that one side (the A+) was likely “right”, but I had work and family stuff that was more pressing.

        To take this back to atheism: I’m really happy that TAE continues to produce shows. Sure, everyone should have gotten the message by now, but we simply can’t control how and when someone will stumble upon something. I should have read Jen’s original post, but I didn’t and only caught reactions to it. Luckily further explanations (in this case, in a different medium) clued me in.

        • Kazim says

          I don’t fault you for not reading every post of every argument. I happened to read Jen’s post shortly after it went up, and it was really good, so I linked it again. I wouldn’t have needed to link it if I thought that everyone had already seen it.

          I’m often hesitant to get into topics like this since I can’t always be sure about whether I’m just beating a dead horse. But I’m glad to be pushing new angles on the same argument if it winds up changing a few minds each time.

        • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

          I should have read Jen’s original post, but I didn’t and only caught reactions to it. Luckily further explanations (in this case, in a different medium) clued me in.

          Different mediums…hmmmm…
          Some of the resistance to A+ doesn’t make much sense to me. I wonder if some of the detractors would have responded differently if they learned about A+ via a different medium. Instead of _reading_ about it, could _hearing_ about make (or have made) a difference to some people?

          • Johnnis says

            There was a lot of things said in the very beginning by those pro a+, not everything actually about a+, like for example the infamous posts by Richard Carrier. These things where corrected, but way to late. People often give way to much attention to the “scandalous” and not to the rest. First impressions are a powerful thing, but I believe that with time, the truth will come out.

    • says

      Mega, I appreciate your note. I actually had a similar situation on a Facebook thread, which blew my mind, to be honest. There was someone repeatedly posting that A+ is just Humanism, which, since you heard the podcast, you know I not only do not agree with, but sincerely hope is not the case. I wish Humanists well, but for reasons of my own, I need something different that they don’t offer me, because they can’t. So, this person was posting on someone else’s wall, and I just read down the thread, and I thought, “He’s not getting it.” And I posted my own explanation of what it means to me and why it’s not Humanism in my view (and why I wouldn’t want it to be), and the thing that blew me away was that he replied with a brief comment saying just “Thank you. I understand now why some people might not fit into Humanist groups, and would be more interested in Atheism+.

      I posted an analogy about a group called “Animal Welfare Group,” that was about all people with an interest in animal welfare, who could come together to work toward animal welfare issues. Some people in the group are just pet owners, some are breeders, some are livestock ranchers who promote humane livestock treatment, some are shelter workers, horse breeders, dairy and egg farmers, pet shop owners, and so on.

      So, an ethical vegan goes online and wants to get involved in activism. He finds “Animal Welfare Group” in an Internet search and thinks, “this sounds good–like what I want to do!” And so they visit the site, and there are some projects listed–such as scholarships for veterinarian students, working for better research methods to eliminate or reduce the need for research experiments on animals, donation drives for animal rescue reserves…and the vegan is thinking “Oh, this sounds GREAT…just like what I want to support…” And then he sees “promoting humane livestock practices.” And he thinks “Wait, livestock?” And he clicks the link and finds the livestock and dairy farmer SIG, and he’s stunned, because part of what he wants to fight–in fact the BIGGEST issue for him–is raising animals for slaughter. And, he closes the site and keeps searching.

      He supports what they’re doing in many ways–but he can’t work with this group, because doing so means accepting working with others, who, to him, are the worst offenders to animal welfare.

      I have also compared it to trying to work on race relations with people who subscribe to a racist ideology.

      In the U.S. Christianity is the predominant religion. The core of the religion is that people need “salvation”–that is explained as the idea that we are polluted with sin and cannot be reconciled to god in that reprobate state. And that means we must/should die. Jesus was specifically and purposely killed as a substitute/sacrifice, to pay that price that *we* should have paid. It should have been all of us who died on that cross. And this is ALL of humanity’s state and fate.

      I see this as extremely dehumanizing. But I think of “Humanism” as something that promotes the best for human beings. When I “visit their site”–they do many good things. But for me, the primary work I’m involved in is dismantling theistic religion. I make no secret of it–I’m open on TAE with it. And how do I fit in with a group trying to work *with* others of different faiths and backgrounds on secular good goals, when the goal I have is to, literally, put a stop to the promotion of the ideology of other people they want to make welcome in their group? Our goals are the same, but our focuses and methods are not compatible.

      • NH says

        I don’t think your Animal Welfare thing is a very good analogy. Perhaps humanist groups are different where you are, but the humanist group where I am specifically promotes finding non-supernatural non-religious based answers to the problems that face us. It basically says “it’s up to use humans to solve these human problems”. If there are theists that agree with this position, they are only a step away from becoming atheists anyway, so I don’t see where their should be any conflict of interests with the goal of dismantling theistic religion.

        • says

          Right–but they accept theists who will work with them on their joint secular efforts, right? They don’t ban theists. I’ve never met a humanist group that has said that if a religious theist wants to join, they can’t. And I specifically address your exact point in the podcast.

          >I don’t think your Animal Welfare thing is a very good analogy. Perhaps humanist groups are different where you are, but the humanist group where I am specifically promotes finding non-supernatural non-religious based answers to the problems that face us.

          And that stops religious theists from working with them how? A religious theist can’t join and help them feed the homeless? A religious theist can’t join and help them raise money for scholarship programs for underprivileged kids? How many Humanist groups can you name that bar religious theists from participating?

          Beyond that, do you know there are Christians who reject the label “supernatural” for their god and believe their anti-choice, anti-gay positions are secularly supported–and there are even atheists on board with them? If their positions from their religion are also secularly supported, and their god is not supernatural to them, then there isn’t any discrepancy. Justin Vacula just debated a Methodist minister on the existence of god. She rebutted that her god is not supernatural, when he addressed supernatural beliefs.

          So, according to the religious theist who holds these views, all his religious ideas are secularly supported–based on reason and evidence as well as endorsed by his god (who is not supernatural).

          >It basically says “it’s up to use humans to solve these human problems”.

          Religious theists are humans. The Humanist I talked to at the conference said his group was uncomfortable with his staunch anti-theism and his aggressive position with theists who try to join the group. If they welcome theists, then anti-theists aren’t going to be a good match.

          >If there are theists that agree with this position, they are only a step away from becoming atheists anyway,

          Great, then I’m sure they’ll be on board with my agenda to dismantle religion and condemn faith based beliefs. Do you believe that? I surely do not. They are adhering to, and thereby endorsing, faith–belief without good reason or evidence–as either acceptable, or worse (and more likely, as a positive attribute. And if they are additionally labeling as Christian–the majority religion in the U.S., they are affiliating with a dehumanizing and toxic philosophy.

          They can still work in a soup kitchen and work with Humanist groups–but the anti-theist would do better to find another place to do their work.

          > so I don’t see where their should be any conflict of interests with the goal of dismantling theistic religion.

          Because a theistic religious person, who thinks it’s a good idea to work with others on the things god wants him to do, is not going to want to work with me on the goal of eliminating theism and religion from human societies.

        • says

          In a nutshell, how many Humanist groups can you name who promote as their mission eliminating theism and religion as a primary goal in making life better for human beings? I don’t know of one.

        • says

          Do you not see that the Animal Welfare Group (Humanism) does not view the livestock breeder (religious theist) as harmful–because most people view improved livestock conditions (doing charitable work) as an animal welfare concern (helpful to humans), but do not take issue with the killing of the animals (they tend to keep members’ affiliations out of the dialog*)? Humanism does not address the killing of animals (religion/theism is itself a major social harm that should be stopped), just their humane treatment while they’re alive (the charitable causes that contribute to human welfare).

          *The Humanist I got to meet at the conference was not even able to tell me if members were atheist or theist–because they all use “agnostic” to even avoid admitting to either affiliation. They hardly seem like a group that is going to embrace an anti-theist agenda as something to work toward.

          • NH says

            Right–but they accept theists who will work with them on their joint secular efforts, right?

            If you mean working with separate organizations that share common goals, possibly, I’m not sure. It’d likely depend on the specifics. But I doubt this what you mean since, for example, I don’t think you’d be against working with an LGBT group because they had theist members. Instead, I’m guessing you mean specifically admitting religious theists into the group. In which case, this is highly unlikely. Check out their position statement and see for yourself: http://www.humanistsofwashington.org
            .
            As for someone claiming that their god isn’t supernatural, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is what the group as a whole thinks about it. And I think you’ll see when you read the position statement, that it’s pretty much guaranteed that they wouldn’t accept that answer.
            .
            Since you mentioned a concern about beliefs that humans are inherently sinful, I’d like to specifically call your attention to this part of their position statement: “We believe that each human being is born filled with promise and that no one is burdened with original sin, nor condemned to live in guilt, nor in need of salvation from outside the self.”
            .
            It’s also worth noting that the Humanists of Washington has strong ties with many other atheistic and secular groups in the area including Seattle Atheists, Seattle Skeptics, Ask An Atheist, and Living After Faith. In fact, the current president of the Humanists of Washington is also the vice president of the Seattle Atheists, runs the Secular Seattle events, the Heathens Do It Better events, and the Northwest Free-thought Coalition events.
            .
            By now it should be clear that when I’m talking about Humanists especially Secular Humanists, what I’m talking about is damn close to an atheist group, and one that would absolutely NOT be in conflict with someone that’s holds an anti-theistic position. This is why I prefaced what I said with “Perhaps humanist groups are different where you are.” I think we are not talking about the same thing. Because to me, secular humanists are the branch of atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers that work towards social justice. So you have at least one example where the atheism+ label is completely unneeded.

      • Johnnis says

        “I posted an analogy about a group called “Animal Welfare Group,” that was about all people with an interest in animal welfare, who could come together to work toward animal welfare issues.”

        To me it seems like the name of this fictional group is not irrelevant. If you change the name of the group to “Animal Farm Group” that changes the analogy.

        This is what many animal welfare people have a problem with. When people who deal with livestock present them self as a welfare group. This gives uninformed people the impression that livestock is ok by animal welfare people. The name is misleading and misrepresents animal welfare.

        Many atheists have a problem with the name “Atheism+” because it gives uninformed people the impression that atheism is something political. There are many other names to choose among, some suggest libertarian, some humanism. Personally I suggest anti-theism.

        Some people feel that the name is misleading and misrepresents atheism.

        • Stevarious says

          Many atheists have a problem with the name “Atheism+” because it gives uninformed people the impression that atheism is something political.

          The uninformed are far more likely to get the impression that atheism is something political from, say, Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, showing up on political TV shows. This is not a valid complaint.

          There are many other names to choose among, some suggest libertarian, some humanism.

          Those are not accurate. You just said that names matter. Why would we choose a name that doesn’t describe us?

          Personally I suggest anti-theism.

          Why would a group that’s just ‘anti-theists’ care about feminism or racism? Anti-theists doesn’t specifically describe what we’re about either – there are scads of anti-theists who are also anti-woman and anti-transpeople and even anti-human (they call themselves misanthropes, as if that makes it okay). I happen to be very fond of humans – my favorite people are all human! As you said, names matter.

          Some people feel that the name is misleading

          Seems pretty straightforward. There’s two ways the conversation can go:

          1: “Atheism plus.” “Atheism plus what?” “Atheism plus (things that are not atheism).” “Oh, so you’re an atheist who does (things)?” “Yup.” [Conversation about (things).]

          2: “Atheism plus.” “Atheist, huh? So you worship the devil and eat babies, huh?!” “Uh, no.” [101 level conversation about atheism.]

          and misrepresents atheism.

          Too bad. I don’t know if you noticed, but the people who claim to be worried about that sort of thing tend to be the sort of people who oppose things like feminism. I don’t actually care what hurts the feelings of anti-feminists. They should stop worrying about their ‘feelings’ so much and try ‘thinking’ for a change – then maybe they wouldn’t be anti-feminists.

          • Johnnis says

            “The uninformed are far more likely to get the impression that atheism is something political from, say, Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, showing up on political TV shows. This is not a valid complaint.”

            What Dave Silverman does is irrelevant. I was not talking about him.

            Let’s say I am polluting the ocean, someone comes and points it out to me, should I then point to China and claim their complaint unvalid? Let’s stick to the issue at hand.

            “Those are not accurate. You just said that names matter. Why would we choose a name that doesn’t describe us?”

            “Atheism+” does not describe you.

            “Why would a group that’s just ‘anti-theists’ care about feminism or racism?”

            Here you can replace anti-theist with almost everything, including atheism.

            “…they call themselves misanthropes, as if that makes it okay…”

            Who does?

            “Seems pretty straightforward. There’s two ways the conversation can go:”

            Nope. I can imagine far more than just two ways a conversation can go. Also such a conversation happen between people who don’t have the answer. The name is begging the question. In addition it is possible to understand the plus as a superlative.

            “1: “Atheism plus.” “Atheism plus what?” “Atheism plus (things that are not atheism).” “Oh, so you’re an atheist who does (things)?” “Yup.” [Conversation about (things).]”

            But railiens are not a part of Atheism plus, (I assume,) yet they are Atheism plus Aliens. Again questions are necessary. How come feminism is more obvious than aliens?


            “and misrepresents atheism.”

            Too bad. I don’t know if you noticed, but the people who claim to be worried about that sort of thing tend to be the sort of people who oppose things like feminism. I don’t actually care what hurts the feelings of anti-feminists. They should stop worrying about their ‘feelings’ so much and try ‘thinking’ for a change – then maybe they wouldn’t be anti-feminists.”

            I have no comment.

          • Stevarious says

            What Dave Silverman does is irrelevant. I was not talking about him.

            Let’s say I am polluting the ocean, someone comes and points it out to me, should I then point to China and claim their complaint unvalid? Let’s stick to the issue at hand.

            The issue at hand seems to be that you object to atheists participating in any sort of political or social issues while calling themselves atheists. Am I correct? Or is it atheists participating in political issues that you disagree with that you object to?

            “Atheism+” does not describe you.

            Well, yes, yes it does. Words have meanings. New words are given meanings when they are invented. Atheism+ has been given a meaning. That meaning describes me and people like me. ‘Skeptic’ and ‘Humanist’ were just meaningless jumbles of consonants and vowels until someone came along and gave the words meanings.

            “Why would a group that’s just ‘anti-theists’ care about feminism or racism?”

            Here you can replace anti-theist with almost everything, including atheism.

            But NOT Atheism+, because Atheism+ has been given a meaning that includes anti-feminism and anti-racism. See how this works? You give names to things. If a word doesn’t exist to describe what you are trying to describe, you make a new one.

            “…they call themselves misanthropes, as if that makes it okay…”

            Who does?

            What, you’ve never met anyone that described themselves as misanthropic? “I hate everybody equally!” is their rallying cry, that they usually drop to excuse themselves after making some blatantly hateful remark. You’re not missing much, they are pretty much the scum of the earth. Youtube seems to be their favorite hating grounds.

            Also such a conversation happen between people who don’t have the answer.

            I don’t really know what you expect me to do about people who talk to each other about things they don’t understand.

            In addition it is possible to understand the plus as a superlative.

            Sure you could… if you were deliberately looking for a way to twist the term. That’s on the level of ‘You’re an atheist – that means you hate god!’ though, IMHO. ‘You call yourself an Atheist Plus – that means you think you’re better than other atheists!’
            I refuse to take responsibility for irrational peoples’ irrational assumptions.

            But railiens are not a part of Atheism plus, (I assume,) yet they are Atheism plus Aliens.

            Well, they don’t call themselves that, do they? Because the aliens are their starting point and the atheism is incidental. Atheism+ starts with atheism, and then adds things to it that are NOT atheism. If things like feminism and anti-racism were part of atheism, then we would just be atheists and we wouldn’t have to use a different word. But it’s rapidly becoming clear that people who are atheists AND care about things need to distinguish themselves from regular atheists, because the people who are atheists AND hate things have been for the last couple of years working hard to make ‘atheism’ mean ‘we don’t believe in god and we hate things’.

            Maybe you should be yelling at the people who are trying so hard to make atheist mean ‘hater’ instead of us? At least we have the courtesy to apply a different label for our ‘not-explicitly-atheistic’ efforts. You should start with TJ Kincaid, eh? He’s working really hard to make ‘atheist’ synonymous with ‘woman-hating scumbag’ and he has 300,000 followers, which is more people than have ever heard of A+.

            Again questions are necessary.

            So… your complaint is that there isn’t a paragraphs worth of information in that + to tell you what we’re about? Again – what, exactly, do you expect me to do about that? Your ‘suggestions’ on what to name the movement have been worse than useless, because the only things you’ve suggested (humanist, libertarian(???), anti-theist) already describe other, different things. Your complaint seems to be with the dictionary, for not already having an appropriate term handy, not with us.

            How come feminism is more obvious than aliens?

            …It’s not. Obviously. Why would it be?

            You’re complaint seems to be ‘people can’t automatically know what you’re about’. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that. People don’t automatically know what atheism is, either. They have to google that too, or ask someone who knows, or remain ignorant.

          • Johnnis says

            “The issue at hand seems to be that you object to atheists participating in any sort of political or social issues while calling themselves atheists.”

            No, Atheism+ does more than call them self atheists. They directly tie atheism up against some seemingly random political topics.

            One thing is an atheist group tying equality for atheists with atheism. An other thing is tying non atheist political topics to atheism.

            Some political groups try to represent atheists and claim their rights. Atheism+ is not about speaking up for atheists and being their voice. Atheism+ does far far more than speak up for the man in the street that does not believe in gods.

            I don’t disagree with atheists participating in political issues, I do disagree with atheism being a politizised -ism.

            “New words are given meanings when they are invented. Atheism+ has been given a meaning.”

            Atheism+ is not a new word. It’s just an old word with a plus on the end.

            “That meaning describes me and people like me.”

            I wish you the best when it comes to making such a word. But don’t just take an old one.

            “‘Skeptic’ and ‘Humanist’ were just meaningless jumbles of consonants and vowels until someone came along and gave the words meanings.”

            No. Words don’t exist as meaningless jumbles of consonants and vowels until someone give the words meaning. Meaningless jumbles of consonants and vowels are not words. Words do not exist before they are given a meaning.

            I doubt the word “mousepad” came before the mousepad.

            “But NOT Atheism+, because Atheism+ has been given a meaning that includes anti-feminism and anti-racism. See how this works? You give names to things. If a word doesn’t exist to describe what you are trying to describe, you make a new one.”

            No, just sticking a plus at the end does not make it a new word.

            “What, you’ve never met anyone that described themselves as misanthropic?”

            I thought you where speaking of someone in particular, sorry.

            “I don’t really know what you expect me to do about people who talk to each other about things they don’t understand.”

            If the group named Atheism+ had a name more intuitive, then there would be no doubt.

            “I refuse to take responsibility for irrational peoples’ irrational assumptions.”

            If trying to communicate with people then you must take responsibility for their assumptions. This involves being clear about what you are saying. If you want to change peoples attitudes and beliefs, then language is a good tool.

            I disagree with your definition of irrational. Not intuitive understanding that the plus means social justice is not irrational. Associating plus with superlatives is not irrational.

            About railiens:
            “Well, they don’t call themselves that, do they? Because the aliens are their starting point and the atheism is incidental.”

            You do have a point. It is possible that this is the case for most railiens. But perhaps not all, and not necessarily. For some, atheism is their starting point.

            “…because the people who are atheists AND hate things have been for the last couple of years working hard to make ‘atheism’ mean ‘we don’t believe in god and we hate things’.”

            Who is it that ties their hate to atheism?

            If someone politicized their atheism and tied atheism to hate and called them self Athesim+, and said; we are atheism+ we hate, would you then not disagree?

            “Maybe you should be yelling at the people who are trying so hard to make atheist mean ‘hater’ instead of us?”

            I AM NOT YELLING :)

            “You should start with TJ Kincaid, eh? He’s working really hard to make ‘atheist’ synonymous with ‘woman-hating scumbag’ and he has 300,000 followers, which is more people than have ever heard of A+.”

            I agree, but that is irrelevant.

            “Your complaint seems to be with the dictionary, for not already having an appropriate term handy, not with us.”

            No, find a term that is appropriate to you, of course I don’t want you not to have a name, but taking an other term and just sticking a plus on it isn’t the way to go.

            “You’re complaint seems to be ‘people can’t automatically know what you’re about’.”

            Yes. And also, sticking a plus on a word does not make it a new one, It’s not yours to stick things on.

            “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that.”

            First try to see if there are any words that already describes the group. And by all means stick atheism in there. Like perhaps Atheists for Social Justice..

            If there exist no words to describe the group, by all means create one, but not by sicking a plus to an other word.

            “People don’t automatically know what atheism is, either. They have to google that too, or ask someone who knows, or remain ignorant.”

            The problem is that atheism+ is not a word or a term, it’s just atheism with a plus on it.

          • Johnnis says

            If the name of the group was Coca Cola+, or Adidas+, then that issue would quickly be resolved.

            The term Atheism is not trademarked. But that does not mean it is an orphan word, a word without owners. The word Atheism is not trademarked, but it still is someones property.

            I claim ownership in the word Atheism. Every person who identify them self as an atheist have ownership in the word.

            Coca Cola+ is still Coca Cola, Adidas+ is still Adidas, Atheism+ is still Atheism.

            It’s not for you to do with as you please. You are not free to add new meaning or content to the word because it is our word.

          • Stevarious says

            Well then. Your entire complaint seems to be that Atheism+ is just not different enough from the word atheism for your taste.

            I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t really have a response to that beyond ‘too bad’. It seems like a remarkably trivial complaint to me. It is what it is, at this point. I happen to quite like the name – it’s quick and easy to say, and it doesn’t seem any more or less likely to not be immediately understood it’s meaning than any other made up word. Whatever word we make up it will be a new thing, and require explaining anyway.

            They directly tie atheism up against some seemingly random political topics.

            One thing is an atheist group tying equality for atheists with atheism. An other thing is tying non atheist political topics to atheism.

            Some atheists are women. A movement that seeks equality for atheists and for women is helping them twice. The current atheist movement seems quite willing to throw women under the bus. This is not random.

            Every person who identify them self as an atheist have ownership in the word.

            Cool. Well, I’m an atheist, and I choose to add a + to my property, to identify myself as part of a movement of atheists who do more than just complain about ‘In God We Trust’. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but as you just said, it belongs to me.

            It’s not for you to do with as you please. You are not free to add new meaning or content to the word because it is our word.

            Yes it is, and yes we are, because it’s our word too. The atheists in Atheism+ are also atheists. We own it in exactly the same way you do. I don’t understand how you could claim differently.

          • Johnnis says

            “Well then. Your entire complaint seems to be that Atheism+ is just not different enough from the word atheism for your taste.”

            It’s not different at all, it’s the exact same word. Putting a plus on the end doesn’t make it into a new word.

            “I happen to quite like the name – it’s quick and easy to say, and it doesn’t seem any more or less likely to not be immediately understood it’s meaning than any other made up word.”

            Do you hear yourself? Do you read the words you write? You say the name Atheism+ require explanation. At best it says little about what it is.

            And for the last time, (I hope,) Atheism+ is not a made up word. It’s just same old atheism with a plus on the end.

            “Some atheists are women. A movement that seeks equality for atheists and for women is helping them twice.”

            Some atheists are women haters. A movement that seeks equality for male atheists only is helping them twice.

            Are you just saying things just as to have something to say or do you actually think before you write? I do not want to offend you, I hope this does not represent your actual thoughts because this is just absurd.

            “The current atheist movement seems quite willing to throw women under the bus.”

            There is no current atheist movement. There are atheists and there are also atheists that come together in groups, some to knit, some to go camping and some for support against discrimination. There is no current atheist movement.

            “This is not random.”

            If atheism is what this comes out of, then it seems random to me. It is not more logical to connect atheism with feminism as to connect atheism with aliens. The possibilities of what logically comes out of atheism is endless. To pick the one above the other seems random to me.

            “Well, I’m an atheist, and I choose to add a + to my property, to identify myself as part of a movement of atheists who do more than just complain about ‘In God We Trust’.”

            The day you are the dictator of the world, go ahead, until then we live in a democracy. If language is to help us communicate, then we must have some standard as to the meaning of the words we use. Neither you or I can decide that standard. We may make suggestions, but not changes on behalf of others.

            You don’t have your personal words, me my personal words and every body else their personal words. It doesn’t work like that. The words we own we own together, and nobody has their own little piece of a word they can do with as they please.

            “The atheists in Atheism+ are also atheists. We own it in exactly the same way you do. I don’t understand how you could claim differently.”

            I can’t! That’s the whole point! Me, I, alone cannot change the meaning of words on the behalf of the rest of the world. Having ownership together with others gives me a vote, that’s all.

            This conversation between us started with me pointing out that in your farm analogy, the name of the farm was misleading. I also point out that some people feel that the case is the same with some political groups in reality as well.

            I don’t see that we disagree on this. And since you don’t care, then is there more to talk about?

          • Stevarious says

            There is no current atheist movement.

            I find it impossible to take you seriously when you say something this disingenuous.

          • Johnnis says

            First of, I’m going to tell, myself and the world, how awesome I am by pointing out that I’ve waded through your bullshit and given you a serious answer even when your statements have been just too absurd at times.

            Even when you suspect the other to be joking or having smoked too much, have the decency to treat the other with respect. Maybe you can contribute to something positive by giving a serious answer, or maybe not. Anyway, I believe it’s the way to go.

            To dismiss someone who disagree’s with you on some technicality is dishonest.

            A debate consists of, claims, arguments, questions etc.. What a debate does NOT consist of is human beings.

            Any words I have used is not dependent on my ingenuousness for it’s truth or validity. Any words I’ve used is on their own.

            If you dismiss me, for what ever reason, that is irrelevant for any words I’ve uttered. Dismissing me does not dismiss my words.

            You did not at all attack my statement, only my person. Do not mix someones person in to a debate/conversation.

            Congratulations. You have now learned something about critical thinking :)

            Now, over to (your description of me for making) the claim in question.

            First you said:
            “The current atheist movement seems quite willing to throw women under the bus.”

            I said:
            “There is no current atheist movement.”

            You said:
            “I find it impossible to take you seriously when you say something this disingenuous.”

            Here’s my point. Atheism+ is an atheist movement. Or am I wrong? Atheism+ is not the same movement as RDF. Atheism+ is not the same movement as American Atheists. RDF is not the same movement as American Atheists.

            These are different movements, there are many different movements, and I deny that any one of these is the one current movement.

            If you disagree, please tell me, what is the current atheist movement?

          • Stevarious says

            First of, I’m going to tell, myself and the world, how awesome I am by pointing out that I’ve waded through your bullshit and given you a serious answer even when your statements have been just too absurd at times.

            LOL!

            You do that.

          • Johnnis says

            Yes :)

            So.. Is LOL! all you have? That’s your comeback? That’s the Stevarious slap? You don’t have any arguments or questions or something serious?

          • ~G~ says

            So.. Is LOL! all you have? That’s your comeback? That’s the Stevarious slap? You don’t have any arguments or questions or something serious?

            It’s only a flesh wound!

  8. Oppi says

    The failure of A+ is essentially that of salesmanship, analogous to Onision’s advocacy of vegetarianism on Youtube.

    Both started out with a promising prospect:

    -Onision: An attractive and enthusiastic individual with a progressive ideal.

    -Atheism Plus: An attractive and enthusiastic organization with a progressive ideal.

    Both wasted their potential by demonising their detractors, rather than providing clear and concise arguments supporting their position.

    The ideals are far from dead, but the abovementioned’s presence can only hurt their purpose in their present form.

  9. embertine says

    Kazim, you make a great point about this not being specifically an atheist issue. I don’t believe that sexism is more a problem in the atheist community than anywhere else. It’s part of a wider issue.

    I think the reason gamers and movement atheists react so badly to being told that their behaviour is unacceptable is that they are used to thinking of themselves as the targets of bullies, rather than as the actual bullies. They got picked on by the cool kids! They’re the good guys!

    Of course, just because someone got bullied for being a nerd or holding unpopular opinions, doesn’t stop them from acting like a bigoted, entitled little shit when it’s their turn to be one of the cool kids. I guess it would behove us all to remember that.

    • karmakin says

      Now that I think about it, I suspect that this is actually an expected response to this sort of stimuli. I’m not saying I’m approving of it…exactly the opposite actually…but it IS common.

      It’s also a very real danger for A+ as a whole which isn’t even on the radar, let alone taking concrete steps to counteract. It’s the EXACT same stimuli. Oppressed group asserting local social power.

  10. John Kruger says

    If you really support all the ideals of a group, why the hell do you care what they call it? If the name is misleading in some way I could see taking an issue with it, but A+ is in no way misleading. When you find a group that lines up with a lot of your ideals, how does it make any sense to berate them over what they call themselves instead of joining up?

    If agree with the concepts behind materialism, why not just call myself a materialist? What sense does it make to demand a particular name? If someone wants to call the same concept by a different name, there is no reason to get upset as long as things are being communicated clearly. The statement “I agree with all the ideas of this group, but I will not associate myself with it” is just bizarre. Even if you do not like the ideas of a group, nothing is gained by not letting them self-identify.

    I think A+ is a straightforward response to the charge that term “atheism” only refers to a lack in belief in gods. Fair enough, let’s then create a term that means more and is in line with what we want to express. This makes perfect sense. Why deny a new term, unless you want to censor its ideas?

    • NH says

      The label atheism+ IS misleading: It’s a label that can easily be confused with it’s root label. Simply adding a non-alphanumaric character isn’t enough to differentiate it.

      Worse, simply adding a plus gives the term an air of elitism. One of the main goals of this atheism+ thing is to create an environment in the atheism movement that is more accepting to diversity, using an elitist term is directly counter to that goal.

      As mentioned in the article, gender inequality isn’t a problem for atheists in particular. Its a much wider problem than that. It’s a problem for all people. So why not use the already established label that stands for almost the exact same issues: secular humanism. If you must include “atheist”, then use something like atheistic humanism. In this way, the label would do a -much- better job of communicating what it is the group stands for.

  11. Old Atheist says

    ATHEISM + & Atheist Community of Austin

    Atheism + is the idea that social liberalism should be adopted by atheists as atheism’s version of morality. That’s easier than evaluating morality based on naturally selected behaviors for a balance between selfish (i.e. mostly liberal) and communal (i.e., mostly conservative) instinctive behaviors.

    I guess it’s too much to hope that atheists realize their atheism can produce a useful, socially valuable moral framework by some tough thinking.

    As for ACA and Atheism +, ACA’s founder, Kellen von Houser, was very liberal socially. ACA acts as if liberal social causes are more important than atheism as an new viewpoint on old dogmas. Don’t come ’round unless you embrace the most intense liberal causes.

    Most atheists tend toward liberal stances, which precludes an honest evaluation of conservative social views that tend to help groups survive and prosper. That probably limits atheism to weak groups and disorganization.

  12. Scrutationary Archivist says

    Kazim wrote:

    The problem is being so territorial as to systemically alienate women from the group, and THEN angrily backlashing against people who try to discuss or deal with the problem in any way.

    When and how do boys learn to do this? Is this a product of gender segregation in early adolescence? Do they learn it from their fathers and other men? How much of this reaction is biologically-determined?

    If anyone has any recommended research papers or books about the sociology behind this territoriality, I would appreciate it.

    • Kazim says

      “Dictionary atheism” means that you don’t believe in any gods — the bare minimum quality required to be technically considered an atheist. As we’ve pointed out on the show many times, a whole lot of people are technically atheists but have no interest in being part of an atheist group. For instance, Raelians — a cult that believes that the Bible was written by space aliens, and describes the aliens themselves — are atheists. They believe in atheists aliens, but not God. A dictionary atheist could believe in all kinds of things: an afterlife, ghosts, ESP, homeopathy, (fill in the blank by browsing the index of the Skeptic’s Dictionary).

      But in general, people atheist groups tend to also share certain interests: they are skeptical, they hold to the scientific method, they are interested in church/state separation. Those things aren’t required in order to be dictionary atheists, but they are generally present anyway.

      Atheism+ is a proposal that various social justice issues should also be considered under that rubric.

  13. Stevarious says

    socially awkward, sexually reserved guys

    As a socially awkward, sexually reserved guy, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the idea of walking up to a strange woman in a public place surrounded by people, grabbing her hand, and stuffing into my pants fills me with terror. I couldn’t do it if you paid me. Shoot, I doubt I could do it with a gun to my head. I couldn’t do it if I knew her. I couldn’t do it if she asked me to. The idea that the guy who did this was ‘socially awkward’ and ‘sexually reserved’ would be laughable, if it weren’t just plain insane.

    Socially awkward people tend to be hyper-sensitive of making social mistakes in public. We don’t go around making huge, blatant social blunders at parties. We generally hide in the back of the room, trying not to talk to anybody and wondering how long we have to stay before we can politely leave. We DON’T hit on complete strangers at parties, pretty much as a rule!

    Grabbing a stranger’s hand and stuffing it into your pants in public requires a great deal of sexual aggressiveness, combined with a complete disregard of social mores usually only found in rapists.

    • Stevarious says

      And now I read the rest of the Doctor Nerdlove article and discover that this dude was going around the party taking pictures of women’s breasts, then showing off the pictures. These are not the actions of a socially awkward person. These are the actions of a sexual predator.

    • says

      I need to correct my last comment. I’d forgotten that the pictures were not nudes (when I originally read about this a couple of weeks ago, that had been my first impression and though I corrected it in my mind to pictures of the bosoms of clothed fellow female party goers, it was my earlier misunderstanding that stuck).

      So, the harassment consisted of:
      *taking inappropriate pictures of women without consent
      *showing those pictures to another guest
      *engaging in inappropriate sexual talk with a stranger

      On top of that was a sexual assault.

  14. speed0spank says

    Somewhat off topic but whenever I am feeling brave enough to watch a youtube video that someone has linked, the comments always amaze me. For example, I watched Matt’s latest video talking about A+ and so many comments said something like “Most of You Tube is against this so I can’t believe you are on board” or “I think Jen, Tracie, and his wife had a huge impact on his position with this! It’s not like you can stand in opposition with all the women in your life.”

    First of all these people talk as if You Tube is the mecca of logic and rational discourse. I must have missed the memo on that. Then these logical people assume that because so many people on You Tube think one thing, that you must be wrong to be disagree. That sounds a lot like the mystical hivemind mentality that those guys go on and on about. Apparently it’s only group think if the group is disagreeing with your group. And then of course the bit about his wife and the women of TAE influencing his decisions. Why wouldn’t the women in your life influence your decisions? Especially on women’s issues?! I’d say if you don’t give a thought to what those women are saying then you are an imbecile. If you grew up in a mostly black neighborhood, that might influence the way you think about racism. I fail to see how listening to disadvantaged people before making a decision involving them is anything but the intelligent thing to do.

    And as for the dressing on my word salad of a comment – I have been in a relationship with a totally awkward nerd for 9 years now. To have people compare what he was to what perverted assholes are is so insulting.
    Fuck this whole “Think of the awkward guys!” shtick. Women do have brains and it is not hard to separate a creepy asshole from a guy who is a bit shy and awkward.
    Guys that touch women without consent or do horrendous things like the story above are clearly not shy or they would be keeping their shy little hands to themselves.

    • Suido says

      Kazim already described to you what a dictionary atheist is. It sounds like you’re trying to set a linguistic trap with your question, so you can later win an internet debate point by saying “Aha! But every atheist (by definition) must be a dictionary atheist!!! I am the greatest internet debater EVVAAARRRR!!!!11!’ However, I’ll assume you are asking honestly, and give it a try.

      The reason this is important is because many atheists have been at pains to point out that they are ‘dictionary atheists’. They only care about atheism as far as it concerns gods, ie, the strict definition of atheism. They declare that atheism has no bearing on religious attacks on secularism/human rights/sexism/racism/etc. Hence, the phrase ‘dictionary atheist’ has become common.

      By logically assuming that atheists not identifying as ‘dictionary atheists’ are therefore ‘non-dictionary atheists’, we could find an answer to your question which would fall into the linguistic trap I mentioned above. However, we could instead label them ‘not dictionary atheists’.

      In contrast to the self-identified ‘dictionary atheists’, many atheists do believe that their atheism is related to their views on secularism/human rights/racism/sexism/etc. These atheists don’t want to be known as ‘dictionary atheists’, since it implies that they don’t have a broader interpretation of how atheism influences their world-view.

      Therefore, I would posit that there are ‘dictionary atheists’ and there are ‘not dictionary atheists’. There is also probably another group of atheists who don’t identify as dictionary atheists because they’ve never heard of the term. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

      However, this removes the need for ‘non-dictionary atheists’, unless there is a group of atheists who are anti-dictionary. “Those FSM-damned dictionaries, full of FSM-damned definitions.” Which is, I must admit, possible, and was the amusing thought which prompted me to reply.

      My turn for a question: Johnnis, what was the point of your question?

      • Johnnis says

        I ask because I am skeptic. It should be a strait forward question with a strait forward answer. If it is possible to set such a linguistic trap, this is nourishment to my skepticism. Honest questions with honest answers does not give room for linguistic traps.

        By saying not dictionary atheists in stead of non-dictionary atheists does not change anything.

        I feel that you set the stage so that if I “win the debate” then I am dishonest and have set a trap. This is not about wining or loosing. It is honest skepticism. I seek the truth.

        You have not answered my question. Like others you serve me with a definition of dictionary atheist and a very diffuse description of atheism having a broader interpretation.

        “These atheists don’t want to be known as ‘dictionary atheists’, since it implies that they don’t have a broader interpretation of how atheism influences their world-view.”

        Do this include the world view that aliens exist and that aliens speak hebrew?

        Is it so that dictionary atheist deny that their lack of belief influence their world view?

        “In contrast to the self-identified ‘dictionary atheists’,…”

        You claim that it is the dictionary atheists that them self choose to label them self dictionary theist. Is this true?

        “They declare that atheism has no bearing on religious attacks on secularism/human rights/sexism/racism/etc.”

        Do you say that dictionary atheists are never influenced by religious attacs on secularism/ human rights/sexism/racism/etc.?

        Can a not dictionary atheist also be a antitheist?

        “My turn for a question: Johnnis, what was the point of your question?”

        This attitude gives me reason to follow up on this lead. Why is it not natural for you that I ask this question? I understand what a dictionary atheist is, and I understand that some people think there are such a thing as a not dictionary atheist. Hence seeking knowledge, even if it is with a skeptical approach, is the natural thing to do.

        I’m looking forward to understanding this.

  15. Robert Delaney says

    Try as I might I fail to see any difference between Atheism+ and Secular Humanism.

    And yes, I have heard the arguments for why I should view them as different. I have heard many claims that they are not the same, but for myself (and many others) none of the claims seem valid thus far.

    I have spent the last few days looking over various Secular Humanist group sites, and all of their descriptions, mission statements and self identifications sound exactly like Atheism+.

    None of their descriptions leave any room for theist beliefs, regardless of what anyone might say. Will that stop a theist from joining a Secular Humanist group? I suppose not. By the same token there is nothing stopping an Atheist from joining a church group, I suppose, but why would she? And if someone did, why should anyone care?

    Some have said A+ is different in that it promotes “social justice.” This seems to be code for ‘liberal social views.’ I do not say that derisively (I self-identify as an extremely socially liberal person). Others seem to claim that A+ is different in that it is is “anti-theist,” which is a claim that seems completely unsupported by anything other than that specific person’s personal views.

    The danger I see brewing is that the “plus” in Atheism+ seems to be a blank for each Atheist to fill in themselves. Many are highlighting women’s rights as the main focus, others the catch all ‘social justice,’ and others still want to focus on ridding the world of religion all together.

    Spend some time reading a good cross section of Secular Humanist organizations mission statements, and I think you’d be very hard pressed to tell the difference between their goals and those of A+.

    As far as being ‘anti theist,’ I don’t see how that logically follows from ‘Athiesm’ + ‘social justice.’
    I’m not saying I don’t agree with it – but I would don’t see that the majority of A+ supporters would go along with the sentiment.

    Oh and by the way – since there has been so much talk of A+ supporters not wanting to be just ‘dictionary atheists,’ why not take a look at the dictionary definition of ‘Secular Humanism’ while we’re at it?

    WEBSTER: “Humanism viewed as a system of values and beliefs that are opposed to the values and beliefs of traditional religions”

    OED: “Humanism, with regard in particular to the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God.”

    DICTIONARY.COM: “Any set of beliefs that promotes human values without specific allusion to religious doctrines.”

    And, finally, from the Council for Secular Humanism page on ‘What is Secular Humanism’ :
    “When people ask me whether I’m an atheist, I say, “Yes, but that’s just the beginning.” Unlike simple atheism, secular humanism affirms an ethical system that is: rooted in the world of experience; objective; and equally accessible to every human who cares to inquire into value issues.”

    So, in the end, it seems that Atheism+ proponents are not ‘dictionary Atheists,’ they are in fact ‘dictionary Secular Humanists.’

    The ONLY difference I see between the supposed Atheism+ and Secular Humanism is that A+ clearly adheres specifically to liberal views (because one could supposedly have conservative Secular Humanists).

    So, what next? Where will the conservative Atheists go? Should we forge a new A= group? (Atheism equals Conservative values).

    And what of the Liberal Atheists who are vegan, surely they won’t want to be in a group filled with omnivores?

    My point is – there is only so much you can tailor a political group. Boil it down too far and it becomes incredibly well defined but far too exclusive.

    People tend to rally around the most important issues to them, and let the other differences go (while continuing to define themselves with further qualifiers). Hence labels like LIBERAL Atheist, or VEGAN Atheist, etc.

    Atheism+ is not offering anything new, it is simply a way for the non-theist community to divide into yet smaller groups in order to be less relevant while feeling more important and enlightened.

    If we TRULY wanted to have some impact and change the world we lived in we would not spend time further defining our differences – we would be instead be joining forces with every other non-theist group already in existence, under the single banner of non-theistic morality for the betterment of humanity.

    But, feel free to enjoy your back-patting in the meantime.
    I’ll gladly volunteer for any A+ fundraisers and charity events assuming I’m not already busy working with the Secular Humanists who support the same exact issues and have virtually indistinguishable worldviews.

    • Stevarious says

      Humanists don’t necessarily view religion as harmful, work with religious folks on various projects without issue, and sometimes (though not always) make an effort to mimic aspects of religions (like hierarchies and ceremonies and chaplains and churches and stained-glass windows and…) that they see as the ‘useful’ aspects of religion.

      Atheism+ doesn’t do those things. Most people who support Atheism+ seem to be anti-theists, though anti-theism is not (at this point) one of the core concepts of Atheism+. Atheism+ is egalitarian, and doesn’t have a central hierarchy. It remains to be seen, of course, how much will get done under it’s banner. I’m hopeful though, and I imagine (since Secular Humanism and Athiesm+ share a number of goals) that we will likely be working together on projects down the line.

      But, feel free to enjoy your back-patting in the meantime.

      Also, Secular Humanists tend to be smug, condescending assholes. But that may just be my experience.

      • Robert Delaney says

        Fair enough, and I deserve that. For the record I don’t consider myself a Secular Humanist, but I will admit my closing remark was smug and condescending and I apologize for it. It was childish and I regret it. And you’re right – it makes me sound like an asshole. Sorry about that.

        As to your point, I agree, so far the biggest difference between Atheism+ and Secular Humanism seems to be the implied anti-theist attitude. Though, as you said, “anti-theism is not (at this point) one of the core concepts of Atheism+.” So, if its not a core concept then where does that leave us?

        As far as I can tell Atheism+ is at this point shaping up to be the same as something you might call ‘Liberal Anti-Theist Secular Humanism.’ And while that might be a completely valid subset, my concern is that it is so narrow as to make it ineffective. What of the atheists who agree with the social platform but do not share the anti-theistic attitude? Or what of those who share the anti-thestic attitude but do not share the same liberal social leanings?

        I guess it’s a question of which issues are the most important. In this case, in order to distinguish itself from other preexisting ideologies, it would seem that Atheism+ should focus on the anti-theistic stance as a rallying point, with the social change being secondary to that. Otherwise, I think many people will fail to see the difference (and therefore the importance) of a new movement – and will instead view it only as a new name.

      • Stevarious says

        @Robert Delaney

        As far as I can tell Atheism+ is at this point shaping up to be the same as something you might call ‘Liberal Anti-Theist Secular Humanism.’

        I don’t disagree, though that title would be a heck of a mouthful to say every time.

        And while that might be a completely valid subset, my concern is that it is so narrow as to make it ineffective.

        It’s already been wildly successful at demonstrating that an alarmingly large percentage of atheists are incredibly sexist.

        What of the atheists who agree with the social platform but do not share the anti-theistic attitude?

        There is already a temple for them.

        Or what of those who share the anti-thestic attitude but do not share the same liberal social leanings?

        They are currently attempting to shut A+ down. Perhaps you’ve noticed their incoherent misogynist scrawls all over youtube and numerous blogs these last few months? You’ll pardon me I hope if I don’t find myself particularly worried over what happens to them excepting that I want them to go away.

        If you are referring to some other non-liberal anti-theists – some sort of reasonable conservative atheist anti-theist faction that isn’t currently frothing at the mouth over these damned uppity feminists and their beta-male slaves – I’m afraid I’ll need some sort of citation to demonstrate that they exist.

        In this case, in order to distinguish itself from other preexisting ideologies, it would seem that Atheism+ should focus on the anti-theistic stance as a rallying point, with the social change being secondary to that.

        Two problems with that. One, while the anti-theism will likely become a focus in the future, the ‘not treating women like second class people’ aspect is at the moment much more in the forefront. Prominent female A+’ers are not getting death threats and rape threats from theists. They are getting death threats and rape threats from anti-feminist atheists. Until that stops, feminism will likely be the focus.

        Two: You talk as if anti-theism is not closely bound up with social change. What’s the point of anti-theism if all the horrible things that theism has done (culturally normalized misogyny, for example) are not opposed as well? Aren’t those negative effects of religion the reason WHY anti-theists are anti-theistic?
        A+’ers tend to recognize that a lot of the social justice issues are symptoms of the larger, widespread religion issue. For instance, while one does not have to be a theist to be a misogynist (and there are misogynists who are atheists and theists who are not), misogyny is closely bound up in and promoted by major religions.

        Also, it’s worth noting, this is currently the description of Atheism+:

        Atheists plus we care about social justice,
        Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
        Atheists plus we protest racism,
        Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
        Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

        I don’t know whether anti-theism will ever become explicitly a focus of A+, but I think it’s already strongly implicit in point five.

        I guess we’ll see what happens.

        I think many people will fail to see the difference (and therefore the importance) of a new movement – and will instead view it only as a new name.

        It’s possible, but so far the response has been very polarized. The only people who I’ve seen who are unclear about it’s purpose have been people who have been deliberately misled by it’s opponents, and I’m not sure what to do about that except keep doing things like what I’m doing right this second.

        Sorry about that.

        Happens to the best of us. Even me, sometimes!

        • Robert Delaney says

          You’ve given me quite a bit to think about. I suppose I should view Atheism+ as a more ‘aggressive’ Secular Humanism (for lack of a better adjective). It seems to be a Secular Humanism that is not mearly content to say that morality can be derived without a deity, but to then go on to spell out specifically what some of those moral stances should be. And, I see your point, that anti-theism seems to be intrinsic in the points laid out so far, so there may be no need to spell it out. It is in the nature of what Atheism+ stands for.

          Thank you for taking the time to respond to me – you’ve given me some perspective and some things to consider.

          I may not fully agree with the need for a new ‘movement’ just yet – but I definitely feel that I better understand (or am at least beginning to understand) what might make Atheism+ different from existing ideologies.

          Still on the fence as to whether those differences are enough to set it apart (I wonder, for example, how many Secular Humanists could possibly justify misogyny of any form, or racism, etc) – but at least now I feel I’m starting to grasp the concept.

          Thank you.

          • Stevarious says

            @Robert Delaney

            view Atheism+ as a more ‘aggressive’ Secular Humanism

            Sounds pretty close to me.

            Thank you for taking the time to respond to me – you’ve given me some perspective and some things to consider.

            You are quite welcome.

            (I wonder, for example, how many Secular Humanists could possibly justify misogyny of any form, or racism, etc)

            Well, there’s certainly nothing in the concept of ‘Secular Humanism’ that justifies any of that sort of thing. That said, the the openly misogynistic TJ Kincaid has 300,000 subscribers. Some of them are loudly anti-feminist, anti-women, or identify as MRA’s; some of them make a pretense of being supportive of feminism, but then support or encourage openly anti-feminist sentiments. Many of them claim to be secular humanists – I seem to remember TJ himself claiming to be one but I can’t find a cite for it.
            I’ve yet to see any of them justify their positions – or at least, justify them with anything resembling rational thought. Honestly, the fact that there is an openly misogynistic atheist with 300,000 subscribers out there tells me that something like A+ is desperately needed.

        • Johnnis says

          “I don’t know whether anti-theism will ever become explicitly a focus of A+, but I think it’s already strongly implicit in point five.” (Point 5: Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.)

          Nope, it’s not.

          There is a difference between saying that because someone won the lottery they had bought a ticket, and saying that because someone had bought a lottery ticket they won.

          I assume that most antitheists are so partially because they are skeptic. But it does not follow that people who are skeptic are antitheists.

          When it comes to critical thinking, I have no grounds to know that most antitheists know the basics of critical thinking. Critical thinking is a skill, not unlike mathematics. It must be learned.

          (From what I have observed on internet fora, surprisingly many skeptics don’t know critical thinking 101. I myself are lacking in this skill, I only know the very basics, I aspire to improve.)

          • Stevarious says

            I assume that most antitheists are so partially because they are skeptic. But it does not follow that people who are skeptic are antitheists.

            I’m not saying that all (or most) skeptics are anti-theist. I’m saying that a proper application of critical thinking and skepticism towards theism will result in anti-theism. Theism is antithetical to skepticism and critical thinking. That’s the implication I’m making.

  16. ~G~ says

    I see a lot of quibbling here and elsewhere over the exact name, and the concerns over whatever confusion it may cause among theists seems to pale in comparison to the real, yes, political fights going on that are important to atheists. If everyone so concerned that the specific label or even the group in general of A+ is hurting atheists or our concerns, why not undo some of that by making sure the next keys pressed on your keyboard are in the form of some real activism. Do do otherwise really makes all these concerns about hurting atheism seem rather disingenuous.

    Here’s one- http://ffrf.org/news/action/tell-illinois-schools-to-stand-by-jessica-ahlquist/ (Yes, I have.) Here’s another- http://www.change.org/petitions/free-alber-saber# And how about supporting your local atheist group or starting one if you haven’t already. By supporting, I mean actually volunteering time or money, not just showing up and drinking beer (although that helps, too.) I would expect with all the concern about hurting the movement all the critics regularly donate and are the action mailing lists of several major atheist groups, right?

    • Johnnis says

      “I see a lot of quibbling here and elsewhere over the exact name, and the concerns over whatever confusion it may cause among theists seems to pale in comparison to the real, yes, political fights going on that are important to atheists.”

      True but irrelevant.

      “If everyone so concerned that the specific label or even the group in general of A+ is hurting atheists or our concerns, why not undo some of that by making sure the next keys pressed on your keyboard are in the form of some real activism.”

      The prejudicism that exist against atheism does real harm to real life atheists. If I, with my key pressing, can oppose prejudicism then that’s good enough for me. One of many misconceptions is that atheism is or leads to activism.

      “To do otherwise really makes all these concerns about hurting atheism seem rather disingenuous.”

      Atheism is not some thing that can be hurt.

      I am not talking about any harm done to “the movement”. I am talking about actual psychical and physical harm done actual human beings.

      The prejudicism that some people have against atheism are the very things that “Atheism+” confirms by politicizing atheism beyond the need for rights for atheists.

      That been said. I agree with what you say about supporting groups that work for educating people about atheism and for equal rights for atheist.

    • Johnnis says

      “Atheism + proves what Christians have been saying about atheists for decades, but which atheists have always denied.

      Everytime Christians bring up the fact atheists have committed horendous crimes against humanity, the atheists comeback is that – while there are atheists who commit crimes, they never do it in the name of atheism.

      Christians have said for a long time that atheism is a belief system with varying doctrines and agendas that can be politically motivated. Atheism + now proves it”

      This is a comment made by someone on youtube. It isn’t true of course, but that’s my point.

      “We’re not talking about re-defining atheism, we’re talking about adding something to it”
      Greta Christina.

      By claiming ties between atheism and political or moral issues, that does re-define athesim, and plays into the prejudice that is already existing.

  17. Stevarious says

    I’m putting this response down here because the nested reply business looks awful.

    @Johnnis

    You don’t have any arguments or questions or something serious?

    Well, I guess you just haven’t done a very good job of demonstrating that your complaint is anything above and beyond that of nitpicking. You haven’t given me anything serious to work with here.

    Your compliant seems to boil down to one trivial issue: You don’t like the name because you’re afraid that people who don’t know what atheism is about will mistake Atheism+ for atheism. Well, Americans United is constantly accused of being ‘political atheism’. It’s president is a Reverend, and the word atheism is not mentioned once in it’s mission statement, and yet there it is. People who are inclined to deliberately misunderstand atheism will do so no matter what or who you are called. There is literally no name that we could give it that would not have this problem. People who don’t know what atheism is are going to mistake anything that atheists do or get involved with for atheism. The only way to avoid that is to never do anything – or at least, never tell anyone that you’re an atheist while you do stuff. Better not tell anyone down at Habitat for Humanity that I’m an atheist next time I go! People might mistake atheism for ‘caring about people enough to build houses’! Better not tell anyone down at the Planned Parenthood that I’m an atheist while I escort women past the crowd of forced-birthers! People will think that atheism means ‘Pro-Abortion’!

    This is not a position I can adopt. If you want to somehow protect the name of atheism by never doing anything to help anyone but atheists, go ahead. I think it would be absurd, and I hope you do too, but whatever. And if you ever do anything, people will mendaciously mistake whatever you do as ‘atheism’, whether it’s ‘help the homeless’ or ‘rape and murder prostitutes’ because that’s what they do.

    It boggles my mind that you think your complaint about the name is such a big deal that you have to make this big a fuss about it. You’ve been banging about for days on multiple blogs about this damned name issue and I just don’t see why. It’s a minor quibble at best – you’ve raised your opinion, people disagree with you, move on with your life! I think the sheer triviality of your complaint is why you’ve gotten some hostile responses – ‘Nobody could possibly care about this so much, they must be a troll’ goes the thinking. Seeing how we’ve been fucking buried in trolls from day -450 or so, it’s not even that unreasonable an assumption, but here I am, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I guess.

    • Johnnis says

      “You don’t like the name because you’re afraid that people who don’t know what atheism is about will mistake Atheism+ for atheism.”

      Is this not a valid claim? My understanding is that people associated with Atheism+ are stating that it’s not just about social justice, it’s about atheism + social justice.

      Atheism+ is atheism + political issues. It’s not atheism and politics. Some people claim that atheism is a major part of their political activities.

      “People who are inclined to deliberately misunderstand atheism will do so no matter what or who you are called.”

      Yes. The prejudice is not created by Atheism+. It has existed for centuries and will continue to exist as long as someone thinks of atheism as an enemy.

      Atheism+ plays on this misconception. They capitalize on it deliberately in order to be perceived as in-your-face. They confirm and nourish the prejudice that is already existing.

      “People who don’t know what atheism is are going to mistake anything that atheists do or get involved with for atheism.”

      Yes. There will always be people that think that black people are criminals. There’s nothing we can do about that. But to accept such a prejudice is not ok. It is wrong to say that people will think of us as criminals no matter what we does, so then it is ok for us to steal.

      Just because some people are in the wrong, that does not give us permission to “do the crime” since we have already “done the time”.

      “The only way to avoid that is to never do anything – or at least, never tell anyone that you’re an atheist while you do stuff.”

      No. There is a difference to say that we do this because we are atheists, and to do so and also have red hair and be an atheist. The truth can be misunderstood, and always will be by those that want to. But what matters is that we can see our self in the mirror and be proud of standing up for the truth, and believe that in the end, given time, the truth will prevail.

      “I’m an atheist while I escort women past the crowd of forced-birthers!”

      No. That’s not what Atheism+ is about. Atheism+ is; I am an atheist + I escort women past the crowd of forced-birtheres!

      (By the way, of topic, misrepresenting the opponent is not ok. There is a difference between believing that abortion is murder and to believe in forcing birth on innocent women. What can you possibly archive by misrepresenting the truth?)

      “If you want to somehow protect the name of atheism by never doing anything to help anyone but atheists, go ahead.”

      Atheism is not a name, it’s not a thing. The only thing to protect here is the truth.

      Being an atheist is not about what or who you are, it’s about what or who you are not.

      “And if you ever do anything, people will mendaciously mistake whatever you do as ‘atheism’, whether it’s ‘help the homeless’ or ‘rape and murder prostitutes’ because that’s what they do.”

      Yes, people will misunderstand if they want to.

      Theists are not good because they are theists. They do not feed the poor because they are theists.

      And to want to make people believe that atheists do good because they are atheists is nonsense. I assume this isn’t what you think.

      “‘Nobody could possibly care about this so much, they must be a troll’ goes the thinking.”

      Some people associated with Atheism+ have been suspected of having that attitude.

      “I think the sheer triviality of your complaint is why you’ve gotten some hostile responses”

      Not so much hostile as dishonest.

      “It boggles my mind that you think your complaint about the name is such a big deal that you have to make this big a fuss about it.”

      So you think the prejudice against atheists are trivial?

      “I guess it could be a small thing for some people, but it’s not for me, because where I am from, being an atheist is not really OK. People face serious discrimination, people in my local atheist groups fear for their jobs if they come out. The emails from the local atheist billboard campaign were truly horrific. And what many atheists face from their families, even families who aren’t extremely religious, it painful and can lead to lifelong rifts.”
      Ashley F. Miller

      It’s not so much about the name as it is about the idea that atheism somehow is an active force in political issues, the idea that someones atheism is tied up to political issues. The name is just the tip of the iceberg.

      This is not about the name, or about Atheism+. This is about those individuals that loose their jobs, are shunned by their family and friends, threatened, harassed and worse. Most often because of misconceptions and prejudice.

      • Stevarious says

        It’s not so much about the name as it is about the idea that atheism somehow is an active force in political issues, the idea that someones atheism is tied up to political issues. The name is just the tip of the iceberg.

        Atheism IS an active force in political issues! How can you think it’s not? (Well, technically, it’s a reactive force in political issues…)

        My atheism IS tied up to political issues. This is not by choice but by necessity. ‘In God We Trust’? Uh, no we don’t – there, atheism is politically active.

        And yet, somehow, atheists will be harmed if the conversation goes:
        “God says women should be subordinate!” “Uh, no he doesn’t, because he doesn’t exist!”
        “God says colored people are inferior!” “Uh, no he doesn’t, because he doesn’t exist!”
        “God says killing babies is wrong, so pregnant women should be forced to give birth!” “Uh, no he doesn’t, because he doesn’t exist!”

        Atheism obviously directly informs the response on these political issues. So why is it that atheism cannot possibly an active force in these issues?

        This is not about the name, or about Atheism+. This is about those individuals that loose their jobs, are shunned by their family and friends, threatened, harassed and worse. Most often because of misconceptions and prejudice.

        You have done a really crummy job explaining how or why the name Atheism+ has any affect on the persecution of atheists. Is the concern really that atheists will come to be known as people who care for more than themselves? Who, instead of just selfishly look after their own concerns, fight the rights of other oppressed people? You are worried that people will think less of atheists for this?

        (By the way, of topic, misrepresenting the opponent is not ok. There is a difference between believing that abortion is murder and to believe in forcing birth on innocent women. What can you possibly archive by misrepresenting the truth?)

        No, I’m not doing any such thing. There may well be people out there that believe that abortion is ‘murder’ but still respect that women have bodily autonomy. Those crowds outside the clinics, however? They well and truly believe, to a man, that all abortion clinics should be closed. How is this not believing in forced birth? If you can’t get an abortion, you are forced to give birth! (Or commit suicide, but of course, forced birthers don’t like to think about how common that is and like to pretend that it doesn’t happen.)

        • Johnnis says

          “Atheism IS an active force in political issues!”

          Nope. Theism is an active force in political issues. To oppose this is not atheism. Theism is not one thing. There are about 30 000 different Christianities in USA. Some “theist forces”, like anti gay marriage is for the most “theistic motivated”. Yet the majority of those opposing the attempt to keep the old laws are theists.

          “My atheism IS tied up to political issues.”

          Nope. Your atheism may influence your beliefs, but I’m pretty sure there are atheists that support the “In God we trust” on money, and their atheism is not any less atheistic than yours. There are atheists that protests the actions of “Jessica Ahlquist”. They are not any less atheists for this reason, and their political opinion is not because of their atheism.

          “Atheism obviously directly informs the response on these political issues. So why is it that atheism cannot possibly an active force in these issues?”

          I believe life would be a better place if religion didn’t exist, on this I agree, but that’s not my atheism talking, that is my anti-theism. Please learn the difference.

          “Is the concern really that atheists will come to be known as people who care for more than themselves? Who, instead of just selfishly look after their own concerns, fight the rights of other oppressed people? You are worried that people will think less of atheists for this?”

          Not less, but wrong. Imagine if stamp collectors where known for fighting for legalizing murder. That would change your view of stamp collectors. From certain Christians point of view, being political active and fighting against their God would be just as bad, or worse.

          So yes, if someone believes that being an atheist makes you take an active political stand in certain issues that does harm some atheists. The harm done is done by people that you and I might think of as dangerous mentally ill people, yet they do exist and many atheist have to deal with reality being unfair. By misrepresenting atheism, those mentally ill people will have their prejudice confirmed, and that will result in harm to atheists.

          “They well and truly believe, to a man, that all abortion clinics should be closed. How is this not believing in forced birth?”

          Forced birth is the consequence of their belief, it’s not their belief.

  18. says

    I absolutely adore the multiple instances where I’ve seen proponents of A+ here saying that just being a liberal individual, supposed supporter of equality, etc etc etc… Doesn’t get you a ‘free pass’.

    Well isn’t that terrible. I don’t get a free pass? Whatever shall I do now? How will I hold down a job, or be taken seriously by my friends and family? Does this mean I’ll have to show my papers and submit to interrogation if I want to travel outside my home town? /sarcasm

    Who do you people think you are? I neither need nor desire your ‘pass’. I am a good person who cares deeply about equality and civil liberty. There are millions of atheists like me. We don’t need your pass or your approval or your fundamentally authoritarian group. FTB has turned out to be more judgmental than any church I ever belonged to.

    • says

      Sigh. It appears that no matter how often or how clearly it’s explained that people like dmwalker24 have it exactly backwards, they’ll just keep repeating what it satisfies their sense of offended pride to believe.

      • Johnnis says

        Please refrain from describing someones person, unless you can demonstrate than someones person is somehow relevant to the topic.

          • Johnnis says

            I apologize for not explaining better. What I mean is who it is that says something is irrelevant, whether it is the Pope, Saint Augustine or uncle Ben.

            Instead of commenting on what is said your comment are about “people like dmwalker24″ and what they feel.

            So, please refrain from commenting on the man instead of the message. Stick to the topic.

          • Stevarious says

            Why?

            No, seriously. Why?

            It’s obvious dmwalker24 has no interest in ‘sticking to the topic’, as he’s dropped a load of accusations that are so contrary to the topic actually being discussed that ‘non-sequitur’ seems too mild to describe it! Combined with a full paragraph about his poor little feelings and how hurt they are, and you have a comment that literally was nothing but off topic nonsense and babbling about feelings. And you, who was not involved in the exchange, feel it necessary to correct Martin (one of our hosts!) on his behavior, but let dmwalker24′s far more egregious violation of your own standards pass without comment?

            Can you even see how dishonest that is? Maybe you could allow the people that actual run this blog decide what responses are appropriate in their own blog?

            Astonishing arrogance.

          • Johnnis says

            “It’s obvious dmwalker24 has no interest in ‘sticking to the topic’, as he’s dropped a load of accusations that are so contrary to the topic actually being discussed that ‘non-sequitur’ seems too mild to describe it! Combined with a full paragraph about his poor little feelings and how hurt they are, and you have a comment that literally was nothing but off topic nonsense and babbling about feelings.”

            Irrelevant.

            ” And you, who was not involved in the exchange, feel it necessary to correct Martin (one of our hosts!) on his behavior,”

            If I have a bugger dangling underneath my nose, please tell me so. If what I say is a fallacy, please tell me so.

            If you can correct me, please do. I am not perfect. I do mistakes all the time, and if someone takes the time to point out my mistakes and explain them to me, then I can learn from my mistakes.

            Don’t you want to be corrected when possible?

            “but let dmwalker24′s far more egregious violation of your own standards pass without comment?”

            Irrelevant.

            However, I did not understand what dmwalker24 was talking about, still don’t. Since ~G~ already had asked for clarification, I didn’t see the point of me doing the same.

            “Can you even see how dishonest that is?”

            No. Have I lied? Have I committed a fallacy? Please tell me, if I have errored then please explain it to me so I can improve myself.

            “Maybe you could allow the people that actual run this blog decide what responses are appropriate in their own blog?”

            None of us are better off with fallacies gone unnoticed. When is a fallacy an appropriate response?

            “Astonishing arrogance.”

            Is it possible that you are wrong?

    • ~G~ says

      How are you interpreting the comments that say, just because you are a supposed supporter equality you don’t get a free pass? Free pass from what? How are you interpreting them?

      Is there a specific comment you’d like to cite as an example of what you are referring to? I see Kazim is the person who used, “free pass” here. I have seen that phrase many times, too, so it shouldn’t be hard to find other examples if Kazim’s comment is not the sort of comment you are referring to.

  19. Mrmranyandeverything says

    A+ it seems is not an issue of any groups rights, it seems more and more that it is just stepping in line with feminists. Trying to get a new look to use as a brand for feminism is at this point useless. I can understand the issue of sexism, and so on, but avoiding the fact that it is turning into a wholly selfish agenda is ridiculous. The issue in this post was about a man who unzipped his pants and forced a woman’s hand down his pants. Was she watching as he did this, is she really so weak that she can’t take care of herself? The females I know would have punched him at that point, or squeezed his balls to make sure that he understood that the action was not the right one to make. If women need everyone else to make sure that they are safe then I have no qualm with saying that they are in fact the weaker gender. This new feminism is a far cry from what it use to be. The issues that keep getting pulled back in are sexism, pay, jobs, and so on. There are reasons for differences in pay and jobs, sexism is propagated by people, not necessarily men. My grandmother, when she comes over, will not stand for my father getting his own plate of food and insists that my mother do it. This was not something that was propagated by men it is simply by people, both men and women.

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