Thelma Louise at Canadian Atheist discusses Dan Fincke’s attempt to discuss feminism and atheism with Vacula yesterday. I caught most of it; it was pretty interesting. Vacula still completely misunderstood the phrase “consistent with,” which seems odd – it’s not technical jargon, it’s an everyday phrase that is widely used. He still insisted that Amanda Marcotte’s claim that atheism is consistent with feminism is “a bunch of claptrap.” Of course it’s not. There is no contradiction in being both an atheist and a feminist. Dan patiently explained this, like the experienced teacher he is.
At 8:57 Valcula reads more from Marcott, “ if followed to its logical conclusion, atheism means abandoning the belief that women exist to serve men.” Then my favorite part of this debate, Vacula continues with, “I don’t get that.” So the one piece of literature that Vacula brought to this debate to reference, on his main point of argument about consistency in atheism, he. . . doesn’t get. Fincke put up with a lot from Vacula but managed to stand his ground and restate or modify his questions in order to try and pin Vacula down into giving a response.
Dan laid out for him how one can get there. The belief that women exist to serve men is a teleological belief, and that implies a “who,” and that implies a god. See?
This is something I naturally thought about a lot while writing Does God Hate Women? It’s a powerful belief, I think, much of it implicit and below the radar (which might explain why Vacula was so totally unfamiliar with it). You look at the world. You look at women and men. You see that on average men are stronger. If you think that all this was done For A Purpose, and done By A Person Who Has A Purpose, then you think men are stronger for a reason, and that therefore they are supposed to be dominant and women are supposed to be submissive. If you don’t think all this was done For A Purpose, by an agent, aka an Intelligent Designer, then you don’t think that. You’re free to conclude that larger muscle mass does not translate to permanent right to authority and dominance. You’re free to conclude that larger muscle mass has nothing to do with anything when it comes to the relations among humans and whether they should be hierarchical or not. You’re free to conclude that hierarchy should not extend into every area of life and that human beings have a better shot at living without festering resentments and hostilities if it doesn’t.
In this sense there is some affinity between atheism and egalitarianism. There are connections between them. It’s still of course true that one can easily be an atheist and ferociously opposed to feminism. Both views, and other views in between and off to the side, are consistent with atheism. The only view that’s actually inconsistent with atheism is, obviously, theism. But atheism does do away with one massive obstacle to egalitarianism, which is the belief that inequality is part of God’s plan.