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Aug 20 2012

Why Atheism+ and not Humanism?

People keep asking me “Why Atheism+ and not just Humanism?” So I want to give a quick response:

Honestly, I see A+ as Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism. Not all humanists are atheists or skeptical, not all skeptics are atheists or humanists, not all atheists are humanists or skeptics…but I want to bring it all together. And hell, not all humanists are progressive – you don’t know how many times I’ve had humanists yell at me for calling myself a “feminist” instead of a “humanist” because what feminism really means is hating men.

Why keep atheism as the label, then? Well, for one, the atheist movement is the one I most associate with, and progressive atheists interested in social justice are already a growing group within the atheist movement. It seemed natural to focus my efforts there. But also, “atheist” is still seen as a dirty, confrontational word, while “humanism” is often a softer way to dodge the drama…since most people don’t really know what humanism means. Trust me, I used to use the label “secular humanist” a lot when I lived in Indiana and was too scared to out myself. No one had a clue what it meant and never wanted to appear stupid by asking me to explain. But now I want to keep using the word atheist until it becomes destigmatized.

EDIT: I also want to add that one of the reasons I don’t personally use the label “humanist” is because the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies. That’s totally cool if that’s what you want, but I personally don’t feel like it applies to me.

But really, people can use whatever label they want. Humanist, atheist, atheist+, whatever. I just want change.

66 comments

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  1. 1
    Besomyka

    I come from the skeptic side of things. Skepticism applied to social issues, not just supernatural claims. I came to atheism the same way.

    In the end, I think I’ve ended up squarely in your camp.

  2. 2
    Nick Gotts

    I think atheism+ is more exact, more specific, than humanism: Erasmus, who was a Catholic priest, and other early modern religious thinkers, are often referred to as humanists. Religious believers can also be secularists in the sense of supporting the separation of church (and mosque/synagogue/gurdwara/temple) and state. The huge positive response also indicates that it’s a brilliantly timed idea!

  3. 3
    cadfile

    I am a secular humanist and an atheist. Atheism is my answer to the god question and my Humanism is my world view – supporting social and economic justice.

    I’m not saying that calling it Atheism+ wrong but being a secular humanist isn’t that much different than what you are looking for.

    Humanism is much more than being a secularist and religious believers aren’t Humanists.

    Corliss Lamont’s 10 Points of Humanism are very progressive IMHO

  4. 4
    LS

    Personally I’ve always avoided ‘Humanist’ because I don’t like vague labels which hide a lot of other definitions. Definitions which are often contradictory, since multiple people take it upon themselves to define and spread the ideals of “humanism.”

    It’s the same reason I’ve chosen to avoid calling myself a feminist. Those issues are important to me, but I don’t like the idea of someone stuck in the 2nd wave difining what the word means.

  5. 5
    Brian Engler

    Agree! I consider myself all three and more, but the label that really gets the attention of the mainstream is atheist, so to me it makes sense to run with that *plus*. Keep up the great work, Jen.

  6. 6
    Libby Anne

    Actually, the term “Humanism” (big H) already includes atheism and skepticism. Wikipedia states that it “embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, philosophical naturalism, while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.” Small h humanism is what doesn’t, so that’s where you get Christian humanists, etc. Now I could be wrong, but this is my understanding.

    I do agree that which label one uses comes down to semantics if the goals are the same. I just hope that different people who mean the same thing picking different labels doesn’t create misunderstanding. And I absolutely agree with those who desire to remove the stigma from the term “atheist” – while I would call myself a Humanist, I also use the term atheist, and I think the two can easily be used together for clarification (though technically that’s not necessary, since big H Humanism rejects the supernatural by definition).

  7. 7
    Pete Knight

    Here in the Untied Kingdom the atheist label has never really been a problem, so no real need to de-stigmatise it, well no here anyway, but now I’m finding myself being stigmatised among the secular community; what’s all that about?

    What I now see happening is a further sub-division of the secular community, it’s starting to look like the religious sub-cult divisions we know and mock!

    From the comments I see on social media it looks as though quite a few people are taking a step back from the recent fuss and kerfuffle, perhaps to wait until the dust settles, maybe to be frightened off completely.

    I think I’ll try to avoid showing my allegiance for any one particular group for now, pretty much as I did for most of my life really.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Atheism+ is a new label, thus the group of people using it don’t already have an entrenched faction of obliviously and/or obstinately privileged people?

  9. 9
    myriadwords

    But also, “atheist” is still seen as a dirty, confrontational word, while “humanism” is often a softer way to dodge the drama…since most people don’t really know what humanism means.

    Yes, this. I’ve caught myself doing the same thing, but with the added layer of coming from within a subset of the academic humanities – it’s too easy for others to assume I’m referring to my work as a Digital Humanist. ‘Atheist’ is loaded in productively provocative ways, whereas, to me at least, ‘humanist’ smacks too much of middle-aged white male professors debating philosophy over a beer.

  10. 10
    Bjarte Foshaug

    you don’t know how many times I’ve had humanists yell at me for calling myself a “feminist” instead of a “humanist” because what feminism really means is hating men.

    Substitute “egalitarian” for “humanist”, and Tracie Harris has the perfect retort (If it doesn’t sound perfect to you, it’s entirely due to my lousy transcription):

    I am not prepared to piss on some guy who says “I look at myself as an egalitarian”, because I think that’s fair based on where he’s coming from. But at the same time I don’t expect him to piss on somebody for using a gender-equity label when they are clearly in a situation where that’s going to matter to them, more than overall egalitarianism. And it’s not that I’m not egalitarian, and it’s not as if I don’t want racial equality, it doesn’t mean I don’t want religious persecution to stop. I don’t want people persecuted for their gender, I don’t want them persecuted for their race. And so yes, I agree that egalitarianism is the goal, but you got to understand that within that overall umbrella of equity there are many different slices of areas of inequity that have to be addressed, and its ok to identify those areas and say “Ok, we’re dealing with gender-issues of inequity over here, we’re dealing with racist issues of inequity over here, we’re dealing with religious discrimination over here”. There’s all these different areas, and it’s fine to say “I’m anti-theistic. I think that religion is harming, and so I want to stop this harm that religion is causing and this persecution that’s coming from religion”. You can do that, and it’s ok to say “I’m anti-theistic and I’m also egalitarian, but my focus is on religious harm, my focus is on gender-harm, my focus is on racial harm”. I don’t see a problem with that. [...] I think people can reasonably agree that this is not a big problem. We have these different areas, pick your focus. There’s plenty of prejudice to go around. If you’re fighting prejudice anywhere on the planet, thank you! Thank you for whatever area you’re involved in, whether it’s all of it, whether it’s a piece of it, I don’t care. You’re doing a good thing. But if all you have to contribute is pissing on someone else for a label that you don’t agree with, and that’s your contribution to the movement, then just please shut up, because you’re not contributing, you’re just making a problem. And I don’t want to argue with men who think I should be equal just because of a label. As far as I’m, concerned reasonable men who agree in egalitarianism are on my side, and they are my allies. And if you’re pissing on a label, you’re not those guys. I want the guy who really is egalitarian, not the guy who uses the label so that he can then be a dick to me for saying that I’m interested in gender-equity.

  11. 11
    Nick Gotts

    Pete Knight,

    now I’m finding myself being stigmatised among the secular community; what’s all that about?

    Since you don’t tell us who is stigmatising you, in what way, and what for, how can we possibly tell you?

    What I now see happening is a further sub-division of the secular community

    See, I’ve no interest at all in being part of the same community as the misogynist scumbags who’ve crawled out of the woodwork since Rebecca Watson said: “Guys, don’t do that.”

  12. 12
    Cuttlefish

    Words are always bound in contexts. Even if A+ is a rephrasing of something else (I don’t think it is, at present, although it could end up the same), it is in a different context, in a different community, which makes all the difference in the world.

    As another example–Dawkins came up with “meme”, which proved very successful. But the same concept, or nearly, flopped earlier as “culturgen” or even “elements of culture” (which had some success for Skinner). Same concept, but only one really took off. If A+ takes off, remember, you witnessed its birth.

  13. 13
    miller

    Humanism is another established label/group, and it should be scrutinized just as skepticism and atheism are.

    Forget what the humanists say about themselves, how does it work out in practice? Are they in fact more welcoming to women, trans folk, ethnic minorities, PWD, etc.? Do they in fact fight for these social justice causes? Or do they just purport to be supportive, while denying problems rather than solving them?

    It’s hard for me to get a sense of these things, since I have never spent time in groups which specifically called themselves humanist.

  14. 14
    JamesP

    From a branding point of view, Atheist+ has my vote because rendering it as A+ has all those wonderful positive connotations from education.

  15. 15
    Nikoel

    In my personal experience with people who call themselves humanists, they seem to operate under the assumption that everyone is already equal. While I get where they’re coming from in a “we’re all the same and should be treated equally” point of view, they obtusely ignore the fact that we’re not all treated the same by society. That’s why I’m a feminist first and absolutely love the idea of atheists embracing the social justice fight.

  16. 16
    PDX_Greg

    I don’t care what it’s called; I’m so delighted that this whole conversation has turned into a positive new declaration of the movement. Yes!

  17. 17
    PDX_Greg

    Whoops — mine was meant to be a general comment, not a reply to JamesP. But my comment applies wither way.

  18. 18
    billhaines

    While I don’t shy from calling myself an atheist, I’ve avoided wearing anything with any of the ‘A’ symbols on it, feeling the Happy Human fits me better. But I’ll wear an ‘A+’ proudly, and I think multiple symbols simply highlight the democratic nature of our movement, we’re all fellow travelers to large degree. ;)

  19. 19
    morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor

    Well hell good friends, let’s just call ourselves Revolutionaries and confuse the snot out of everybody? LOL It’ll get their attention!

  20. 20
    Don C

    Thanks for the clarifying post, Jen. I am still with you! I do have a question though. If the movement/philosophy is called “A+” (“A-plus”)–which, again, I support, then what do we call ourselves? “A-plus-theists”? Ha. How do you see this semantic problem playing out? How would we label members of this movement? What do we say we ARE? (vs weasling out by saying “I am a member of the A+ movement”) Comments anyone on a word that works?

  21. 21
    Gregory in Seattle

    Greta Christina asked, Is Atheism+ Just Secular Humanism?. I said no.

    Atheism is either the belief is the absence of god(s) or the absence of belief in god(s), depending on which operative definition you are using. Humanism, in the context you are asking about, is a philosophy based on the value of each individual. These labels represent two distinct spheres. A person can easily belong in one but not the other: there are many humanists of faith, and as we have seen, there are many atheists who do not hold humanist values.

    Secular humanism is a school of humanist thought which holds that humanist values are best expressed in a secular society. It make no statement regarding belief or non-belief: it is quite common for humanists of faith to identify as secular humanists even as they are active in their religious communities.

    Atheism+ reaches the same general area, but along the axis of atheism rather than humanism. I would consider it to be a school of atheist thought which holds that non-belief, by itself, cannot lead to the kind of secular society that we want.

    I used to identify as a Humanist, but not so much any more. Like you, Jen, I have grown weary of the “non-religious church” thing: if that was where I wanted to be, I would join the UUA. My values are not just to promote humanist values — equality, justice, fairness, opportunity — but to oppose superstition. Humanism is a lot of things, but freethought and skepticism are not a part of that package.

  22. 22
    Gregory in Seattle

    Greta Christina asked, Is Atheism+ Just Secular Humanism?. I said no.

    Atheism is either the belief is the absence of god(s) or the absence of belief in god(s), depending on which operative definition you are using. Humanism, in the context you are asking about, is a philosophy based on the value of each individual. These labels represent two distinct spheres. A person can easily belong in one but not the other: there are many humanists of faith, and as we have seen, there are many atheists who do not hold humanist values.

    Secular humanism is a school of humanist thought which holds that humanist values are best expressed in a secular society. It make no statement regarding belief or non-belief: it is quite common for humanists of faith to identify as secular humanists even as they are active in their religious communities.

    Atheism+ reaches the same general area, but along the axis of atheism rather than humanism. I would consider it to be a school of atheist thought which holds that non-belief, by itself, cannot lead to the kind of secular society that we want.

    I used to identify as a Humanist, but not so much any more. Like you, Jen, I have grown weary of the “non-religious church” thing: if that was where I wanted to be, I would join the UUA. My values are not just to promote humanist values — equality, justice, fairness, opportunity — but to oppose superstition. Humanism is a lot of things, but freethought and skepticism are not a part of that package.

  23. 23
    Loqi

    I was thinking about this very thing earlier. I settled on calling myself an “A+” and just leave off any “ist”.

  24. 24
    tort

    Humanism doesn’t work for the same reason atheism and skepticism doesn’t work. Those communities should stand for the same ideals we stand for but they don’t. The humanist movement is just as infested with racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. as the regular atheist movement.

  25. 25
    Christoph Burschka

    But also, “atheist” is still seen as a dirty, confrontational word, while “humanism” is often a softer way to dodge the drama…since most people don’t really know what humanism means. Trust me, I used to use the label “secular humanist” a lot when I lived in Indiana and was too scared to out myself. No one had a clue what it meant and never wanted to appear stupid by asking me to explain. But now I want to keep using the word atheist until it becomes destigmatized.

    Couldn’t have put it better. That’s exactly what I was expressing in my last comment.

  26. 26
    InvincibleIronyMan

    I already identify as an atheist humanist and a feminist. Maybe I should be louder about it but I see no need to change what I call myself, I am waiting for the rest of you to catch up!

  27. 27
    Dalillama

    Pretty much this. I think of myself as a humanist, ans as such, it seems pretty clear to me that if some group of people are taking more shit/have less opportunity than others, then clearly a concern for general humanity requires that additional resources be devoted to resolving the problems of those groups. It’s the only egalitarian option. Thus, I would say that a humanism that doesn’t explicitly include feminism, anti-racism, etc. is doing it wrong, and should probably come up with a different name for themselves, because clearly they aren’t, in fact, concerned with the flourishing and needs of humans generally.

  28. 28
    Adrian Bailey

    Whoa! I’m sure you’ll find *some* less than right-on Humanists, but *infested* is a strong claim. Which country/region are you talking about? It certainly doesn’t match my experience.

  29. 29
    John-Henry Beck

    I like the post. This, along with Ashley Miller’s, I think captures my view pretty well also. I tend to be more interested in the confrontationalist atheist side than the humanists.

    My experience with humanist groups is fairly limited, so I don’t pretend to have a strong feeling on it either way. The local Humanist group is basically a sub group of the local UU church, a group of mostly-retired people having a monthly discussion in the church library. Not only is even that too “churchy” for my tastes, but it’s not exactly inspiring. And what I tend to hear about elsewhere in the country isn’t a lot better.

  30. 30
    Adrian Bailey

    “the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies”

    Not doing things because churches do them is a shallow attitude. These activities do not belong to the religious. They need to be reclaimed. For example, chaplaincies are there to help people. Helping people isn’t a religious activity, it’s a human activity.

  31. 31
    lancefinney

    But really, people can use whatever label they want. Humanist, atheist, atheist+, whatever. I just want change.

    Very nice.

    This discussion of labels reminds me of one of my favorite tweets:

    My #atheism tells you what I don’t believe. My #skepticism tells you why. My #humanism tells you most important thing- how I treat people.— ajackson (@antitheistangie) March 8, 2012

    Now to figure out the best way to squeeze in A+…

  32. 32
    Douglas Kirk

    Agreed. Any Humanism that is not expressly and vocally anti-religious, social justice oriented, and anti-supernaturalist in all walks of life just opens itself up to vague boundaries that let all sorts of destructive crap slip in the sides. And since those two things are not only not implied by humanism but many humanists use the label to plainly avoid referring to themselves as such, I’ll stick with your A+ atheism.

  33. 33
    Anonymous Atheist

    In the original post’s comments, people were already saying it as “I am an atheist plus…” Either leave it at that, or state one or more of the ‘plus’es you focus on (feminist, humanist, etc etc) after.

    You could also say “I am an A-plus atheist.”

    Shortening to “I am an A-plus” does lose some clarity, since you could be saying “A-plus student”, “A-plus Certified Technician”, or informally referring to something you’re good at.

    Nothing wrong with “I am a member/supporter of the A-plus movement” (or ‘A-plus atheist movement’) in the right situations for that kind of phrasing.

    But it’s definitely a bad idea to separate the ‘a’ from the ‘theist’ to say ‘a-plus-theist’. ;)

  34. 34
    LS

    Were you seriously too lazy to read one sentence further?

    “That’s totally cool if that’s what you want, but I personally don’t feel like it applies to me.”

  35. 35
    Nick Gotts

    Ayatollah Khomeini was a revolutionary – and one of the most successful in recent times, while “revolutionary atheist” would suggest the aim of establishing a specifically atheist regime, which few of us (probably only the tiny minority of Marxist-Leninists) intend.

  36. 36
    cityzenjane

    What do you say to a person like me who was becoming embarrassed by the low level of discussion around sexism, racism and the intersection with bigotry and attacks on Muslims which went far beyond mere criticism of belief, the casual transphobic remarks in forums… In spite of my understanding of the need to defend out atheists and the right to take up civic space I was not wanting to be associated with some really crappy attitudes and behaviors.

    There is a strong need for an overtly atheist position. There is also a strong need for an overtly ACTIVE pro-social justice stance. I don’t want to work with people who don’t see that. Not enough hours in the day! I also want people who are generally not represented in the ranks of open politically and aggressively pro sciece, pro secular pluralism – to know there will be places to discuss this work and get on with this work unhassled by people who do not think this work is important. Your mileage may vary.

    The reason to identify is to gather to do the work….and the work in our estimation goes way WAY beyond pwning soft targets in the religious community and then patting each other on the back for years and years.

    Might be because someone on the national stage on the science committee of the House just told us God kills real rapist sperm and only whores get pregnant from rape that the need for re-emphasizing the connection between religion and sexism and therefore atheism and feminism for those that do not get it viscerally. Priorities shift.

  37. 37
    Orlando

    I hear it also renders nicely in scarlet.

  38. 38
    cityzenjane

    I think what Humanism also lacks is a culture of activism and protest. Atheism more recently does. It is aggressively engaging in the civic sphere. I am that. I am that plus engaged in social justice. I am NOT just an atheist. It is an inadequate and therefore meaningless descriptor of what I do and am in the world – where it matters.

  39. 39
    charliegoodkind

    Although I typically lump myself in with Humanists, I think a new designation for a fresh start is no bad thing.

    This is an excellent idea, Jen!

  40. 40
    Amanda Marcotte

    Every time someone scolds with, “Be a humanist, not a feminist!”, I have to wonder what kind of humanism excludes half of humans from it?

    Feminism is humanism that includes women as well as men.

  41. 41
    Simon

    I also want to add that one of the reasons I don’t personally use the label “humanist” is because the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies.

    To clarify: Are you referring to secular humanists? If so, what organizations represent the “humanist community” you are referring to?

    As someone who organizes CFI events for atheists, humanists, skeptics, etc. both in DC and nationally I beg to differ. The two largest secular humanist organizations in the country are the Council for Secular Humanism (CSH-part of CFI) and the American Humanist Association (AHA). I am more familiar with the CSH personally and I have never met a more anti church person than Tom Flynn the Executive Director. Note that CSH publishes Free Inquiry magazine-again you won’t find much sympathy for religion there. I’ve also not seen any indication from AHA that “focus on church-like communities” is even on their agenda.

    The only humanist group I am aware of that might fit this bill are the Harvard Humanists. I am not as familiar with them, however I have noticed that in recent months their website uses the name “Humanist Community Project at Harvard” and very few references to chaplaincies. I haven’t attended their events, but nothing I’ve heard from people that spoke there indicates that it is very “church-like”

  42. 42
    Melody

    Religious humanism replicates church. What I do at CFI, providing community for atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and skeptics, is nothing like church.

  43. 43
    Neil Rickert

    I have avoided humanism because it has seemed too much like a kind of religion (albeit a non-theistic one).

    Time will tell whether A+ can avoid that problem.

    Personally, I rather like the gospel according to Rodney King, as in “Why can’t we all just get along.” But I’m not at all sure that I want to be involved in an organized movement.

  44. 44
    Tom Flynn

    Jen wrote, “the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies.” Of course, that’s religious humanism — and that’s a big part of the reason that unbelievers who don’t incline this way (including Jen herself, a few years ago) use the label “secular humanist” to show that they’re not the churchy kind. “Secular humanist” is a fine label — given my job, how could I say otherwise? — it would probably carry the water Jen wants carried, if she chose to be a little more forward about defining the term when people give her puzzled looks. But “atheist” is a perfectly good label too, and there’s no question we need to do more to counter the stigma and make the term my own. Given the track record of previous nomenclature tweaks, I don’t know whether the A+ thing will make a difference or not …

  45. 45
    Simon

    Thank you for your input Tom.

  46. 46
    Melody

    I think a lot of people here are confusing religious humanism and secular humanism. Secular humanism was popularized to differentiate itself from the church-like humanism. Secular humanism has all of the same goals that Jen mentioned.

  47. 47
    James Croft

    I’m going to be annoying and technical here, but it is in fact the case that in principle (though often not in practice) Humanism as a life stance includes a commitment to atheism, skepticism and feminism. Commitments to all of these can be found in the most recent manifesto and in the resolutions of the AHA. They have a Feminist Caucus and an Education Center and an LGBT Council etc etc.

    Further, it simply isn’t true that many Humanists put a lot of emphasis on recreating aspect of religious practice. In fact that’s a minority position within Humanism. Many Humanists are as averse to that as many people on this site! =D

    This brewing said, if this idea encourages more people to work toward issues of social justice etc I’m all for it!

  48. 48
    wytchy

    I’m with Jen on this for sure. I prefer using atheist, or now atheist plus, because it gets the attention of the people I’m talking to and gets discussion going. It lets me say that I’m a progressive and active in social justice movements without ignoring what I consider to be the elephant in the room in a lot of these conversations: religion and the dogmatic bullshit that comes with it.

  49. 49
    Bill

    That is an excellent point.

  50. 50
    Sam Barnett-Cormack

    I think the mis-step people make, starting from such a humanist view, is to decide that equality of treatment is sufficient to produce equality, and thus reject, for instance, reasonable adjustments for disabled people, women-only spaces, representation quotas for panels, that sort of thing.

  51. 51
    Sam Barnett-Cormack

    This is pretty much exactly what I was getting at in my response to someone else’s comment, but I think you said it better.

  52. 52
    Andrew

    “I also want to add that one of the reasons I don’t personally use the label “humanist” is because the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies. That’s totally cool if that’s what you want, but I personally don’t feel like it applies to me.”

    So, you don’t want to use a label that perfectly describes your goal of this “new movement” of atheism, but you find it a perfectly good idea to co-opt the label atheist itself, albeit in a (very) slightly modified form, to describe a worldview that not all atheists feel applies to them?

  53. 53
    GoodReason

    We are Atheists Plus.

  54. 54
    Ant (@antallan)

    Hmm… Likely there are regional differences. The BHA is pretty active… against bishops in the British government, against faith schools, for choice in dying, &c., &c.

    /@

  55. 55
    Ant (@antallan)

    “My #A+ tells you I am not a scumbag.” ;-)

    /@

  56. 56
    BreadGod

    “I also want to add that one of the reasons I don’t personally use the label “humanist” is because the humanist community puts a lot of focus on replicating church-like communities and having chaplaincies.”

    Isn’t this EXACTLY what you’re doing with “Atheism+”?

  57. 57
    Eric

    The sword cuts both ways, though… ‘Atheist’ is loaded in *unproductively* provocative ways, too.

  58. 58
    JM

    For me, “humanism” seems to reinforce the notion of a special, loftier, place in the universe for our species. I know that isn’t what humanists mean by the term, but that’s what it invokes for me.

  59. 59
    Abb4

    I decided I was an atheist 58 years ago and a Humanist 55 years ago. As soon as I reached adolescence I realised I was a feminist and a rationalist. I later realised that I was very strongly a secularist. All these labels mean different things, although there are some overlaps. I still don’t get what “atheist +” really adds to the mix. There have been so many labels being pushed over the years. Remember the Brights?

    What I have really resented is being told what I must believe if I am to qualify as a feminist. To most of the people doing that to me my retort is “I was a feminist and fighting the fight before you were born. You don’t get to make the rules for me or define what I am.”

    One short summary of Humanism that I really like is “reason in the service of compassion”. That’s one reason why Humanism appeals to me more than naked rationalism.

    Most of us in the non-religious movement have struggled for ourselves to decide what it’s about and what factors are important. I think we need a lot more tolerance of difference among us if we hope to get somewhere useful.

  60. 60
    Joey

    Not sure if this has been said but let me add my support:
    I don’t think anyone is against this idea of a new movement, but maybe some of the wording initially used in the first post, and the concern that we already have groups doing this so the problem is not that people don’t want to … but how do we get people more anxious to just do it (worry about women’s issues, racial issues, LGBT movements, etc….) I support this, and with the publicity already attached to A+ I think it is already doing some good for a lot of people. This will help to motivate more fence-sitters, but what will the movement do differently from what is already going on. And if it doesn’t do anything different, then how does it plan on making a bigger difference?

  61. 61
    Ash Bowie

    I had an idea… I like the idea that A+ is atheism+humanism+skepticism. I think there are quite a number of people who are already all three, but for whatever personal reason, more strongly identify with with one of the other two non-atheist labels. If I had any sway (which I don’t), I would market this for all three… Atheism+, Humanism+, and Skepticism+. All three would refer to precisely the same thing, but would provide labels that are already familiar to those who are atheistic but aren’t comfortable with the atheist identifier. Anyway, just a thought…

  62. 62
    Cecil Bothwell

    During the discussion of A+ at the AAA convention yesterday it occurred to me that the idea offers a wonderful meme for use in our elevator speeches – to add a snippet of story to a simple declaration of non-faith.

    “I’m an atheist because …

    - I’m a feminist and religions have been brutal in their attitude toward and treatment of women.

    - I believe that evolution is an established fact and I have to reject mythologies that entertain any form of creationism.

    - I see that scientific inquiry has continually improved our lives and see no evidence that prayer has ever had any discernible effect.

    Etc.

  63. 63
    john ingerast

    I don’t quite understand this. What does atheism has to do with this?

    I see the argument that religion causes social injustice, but atheism has nothing to do with that because atheism is not against religion.

    Antitheism is against religion, but atheism is not.

  64. 64
    john ingerast

    @Cecil Bothwell

    “I’m an atheist because …

    “- I’m a feminist and religions have been brutal in their attitude toward and treatment of women.”

    That’s not an argument against the existence of a god. It’s a good argument for antitheism, but it has nothing to do what so ever with atheism.

    “- I believe that evolution is an established fact and I have to reject mythologies that entertain any form of creationism.”

    Rejecting all forms of creationism does not reject the existence of a god. Some christians see evolution as an act of God.

    “- I see that scientific inquiry has continually improved our lives and see no evidence that prayer has ever had any discernible effect.”

    That’s an argument against prayer, but not against the existence of a god. (Remember the goalposts have wheels.)

    Seems to me as if you need some reason to be an atheist, as if you have some burden of proof. For me it is the opposite. I would need a reason if I was a theist.

    I’m an atheist because I do not believe any gods exist. That’s all.

    I am, however, also an antitheist, and for that I have the burden of proof.

    Good communication require that we use our words right! :)

  65. 65
    jeffreyumeh

    Yes Humanists are skeptical about ethical issues which in that context its all that matters. Now by making a movement more exclusionary. “Those who are not atheists but agree with you…” You are cutting your nose off to spite your face.

    A group that wants to actually effect social change needs to be as inclusionary as possible to meet it’s goals at all.

    For example you could easily meet your goals with people who are for the separation of church and state, for equality among the sex’s, are against homophobia transphobia and racism and are for social justice.

    There by throwing a bigger net and creating a larger voting block and advocacy base. By excluding more people you do not strengthen your effectiveness; you decrease it. In this regard humanism is far superior to this “movement”

  66. 66
    jeffreyumeh

    And I do think that calling your self a feminist when you are for equality among the sexes is bad framing and also has the same problem of being exclusionary but not to the same degree that A+ is, because it does make you sound like you only care about one side of the coin.

    It does somewhat exclude people who think women and men have gotten a rotten deal.

    Women being oppressed etc and men with the disposability thing. And would like to work on both. I agree with 99.9% of what the feminist movement has done. But for an example I can’t call my self one because I don’t think you can solve either totally without tackling both.

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