Being with or against Atheism+

What does it mean to support or oppose Atheism+? I took a stab at defining what Atheism+ is all about in The New Atheism+. And Dana Hunter has assembled a quick roundup of other articles on FtB about this movement up to then, but Greta Christina’s posts Why Atheism Plus Is Good for Atheism and Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness are both a must-read, while Jen McCreight has announced the launch of the new Atheism Plus Website which is still under construction but will certainly grow in content.

Here I will make it as simple as possible. I have added this new requirement on my booking page (and this is just my own personal speaking policy, I don’t expect anyone else to adopt it):

Note that I will not speak at events run by organizations that are unwilling to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia, or that do not endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity. You do not have to make a public statement or policy on this. You don’t even have to specifically mention it. But I must feel comfortable that you are an organization that shares these values. And I will assume you are, unless I have reason not to. But if you consider my taking a stand on this to be divisive, don’t ask me to speak at your event (unless it is specifically to debate our moral differences in a reasonable manner). Otherwise I will work with any organization that approves of this value statement, even if it is not an atheist organization or is even an explicitly religious organization.

This goes for individuals as well as organizations, although that will simply be a matter of which company I would prefer to have wherever I happen to be, and not a condition of speaking anywhere (since it’s a free country and I fully expect assholes and douchebags will inevitably be anywhere). It will also be a condition of who I condemn or disown on my own time and in my own venues. In short, if you reject this value statement, you are simply my ideological enemy, and I will give you no quarter. I’ll respect your legal and human rights, because I believe in that. But don’t be shocked if I am not friendly.

This includes if you mock or make fun of Atheism+ or belittle it with stupid dumb-ass shit like calling it Stalinism. That makes you an asshole. Point blank. Plain and simple. We are simply not going to let the Atheism movement become like chat roulette (a point well made in How Not to Build Inclusive Communities).

The rest of this post deals with other, more specific confusions over just what Atheism+ is all about, and who we are chucking into the sewers and shaking the dust off our sandals at.

–:–

To be on our side, do you have to adopt every conclusion of every Atheism Plusser on every question of policy or morality? No. This has never been said (not even by me), so it is an irrational thing to conclude.

So what about the subordinate aims of Atheism+ I delineated? (Which I derived from other authors; they weren’t only from me.) In my post I sought to find the underlying core values that lead to them, and thus defined Atheism+ by those core organizing values.

Among those subordinate goals the only ones that follow without any reasonable doubt from embracing those three core values are the repudiation of sexism, racism, and homophobia–those being the most well-understood categories of reprehensible behavior and bigotry, or even just innocent but correctable ignorance. But we could include unrepentant transphobia and ableism and other forms of clearly irrational bigotry here, too.

The rest breaks down like this:

We care about social justice: This is also an inevitable consequence of compassion and reasonableness (and integrity, insofar as it entails being honest and treating others fairly). But you can agree that social justice is an important issue, and care about it, agreeing something needs to be done to bring about social justice wherever possible, without agreeing on just what policies will work at that. Plenty of reasonable disagreement and debate can remain.

For example, PZ Myers takes a more hardline stance against Libertarians and equates Atheism+ with explicitly progressive politics, but though I agree he is probably right (IMO, Libertarianism, on any full and proper analysis, doesn’t hold up as sound, and won’t work to solve most of the actual problems we face), I do not agree that it is any defining characteristic of Atheism+ (which is why, when I wrote an elaborate post about what Atheism+ was, this criterion was nowhere to be seen).

I know many Libertarians who are only Libertarians as an excuse to rationalize the fact that they are assholes and don’t give a shit about other people. But I also know many Libertarians who actually do care about social justice issues, and admit problems exist in that domain, and actually have passionate ideas about how to solve them. They might be wrong (sometimes they are even right), but the defining characteristic here is that they care and acknowledge that we should care, about solving those problems. And they will engage in reasonable and honest debate about how to solve them, without hypocrisy. They just have different ideas about what solutions will work.

Thus, those Libertarians are on board with the core values of Atheism+. They are with us–even though they disagree with PZ and I (often radically) on many matters of how to go about solving the problems of injustice and unfairness in society. So this is the defining feature: Do you give a shit about other people, or not? Do you believe something should be done about injustice and unfairness in society (and in talking reasonably about what should be done), or not? If not, then you are an asshole. And you are definitely thumbing-down Atheism+. We are done with you. You are not one of us. You can go start your own clubs and have your own conferences.

We care about women’s rights: This is also an inevitable consequence of compassion and reasonableness (and integrity, insofar as it entails, again, being honest and treating others fairly). But you can agree that securing and defending women’s rights is an important issue, and care about it, agreeing something needs to be done about it, without agreeing on just what policies will work or what issues really need addressing or can be addressed. Although we well know by now that denying there are any problems to address is really just code for “I don’t care about women,” so we’re not going to be fooled by that one. But other than bullshit like that, again, plenty of reasonable disagreement and debate can exist over the particulars.

Feminism is not identical with female supremacism or misandry; to the contrary, mainstream feminism repudiates female supremacism or misandry (and honestly, I shouldn’t even have to say that). Feminism sine qua non is simply the belief that “women should be treated as fairly as men” and that people should be treated as the individuals that they are (so that their own personal exceptional nature can be seen and acknowledged) and that unwarranted assumptions should not be made about them based on gender stereotypes (see Why I Am a Feminist — Richard Carrier and my subsequent discussion). Which is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.

Where exactly the problems are and how to solve them are debatable. But this is the defining feature: Do you care about the mistreatment of women, or not? If not, then you are an asshole. And you are definitely thumbing-down Atheism+. We are done with you. You are not one of us. You can go start your own clubs and have your own conferences.

We care about diversity: It’s painfully ironic to hear people rejecting a concern for diversity by calling it divisive. (Really. Think about that one for a minute.) But just in case you are unclear on the point, diversity is essential for obvious reasons: to exclude races and genders from our movement (even through inadvertent or unconscious biases) is intrinsically sexist and racist. Moreover, inclusion of diversity makes our movement stronger, larger, and more influential, and makes its knowledgebase broader and better crowd-sourced. In short, you cannot defeat religion’s hold on society and the electorate if you aren’t even talking to half of it (much less addressing its concerns). But creating diversity requires thinking and talking about how to do that, and then doing something to make it happen.

This does not mean you, personally, have to go knocking on doors in ethnic neighborhoods or start attending local NOW meetings. But it does mean you should be on board with atheist groups and organizations taking an increased diversity seriously, talking about it, and even doing something about it, with at least your vocal or monetary support–even if you still want to debate or be selective as to what methods are used to do that, which is entirely fine. The bottom line is: Do you think this is a good idea in general, or are you against it? If you are against it, then you are an asshole. And you are definitely thumbing-down Atheism+. We are done with you. You are not one of us. You can go start your own clubs and have your own conferences.

We care about applying skeptical, evidence-based reasoning to everything, not just god stuff, or UFOs, or [insert special interest here]: I will assume I don’t need to explain why a commitment to reasonableness and integrity (as well as compassion) entails we should all be on board with “critical thinking and skepticism,” so I won’t insult your intelligence by making any further defense of that. Likewise the matter of wanting better education in logical reasoning and critical thinking in all domains in schools. The question here is whether atheists, atheist groups, and atheist organizations should talk more about how their reasoning and critical thinking apply to social, moral and political questions, and questions in the arts, in parenting or friendship, or any other domain.

It is obviously and stubbornly unreasonable to think the answer is no. This does not mean, however, that you personally should give up focusing most of your attention on the god stuff or UFO stuff or homeopathy or whatever drives your interest and your passion and lines up best with your skillset and resources. Likewise this does not mean we can’t have organizations or events of tight focus. What it does mean is simply this: Do you agree it is a good idea for the atheist community in general to focus skeptical, evidence-based reasoning on everything we can, and not just on narrow domains of inquiry and assertion to the total exclusion of all else–or do you think we should not ever, in any venue, apply skeptical, evidence-based reasoning to other matters? If you are in the latter camp, you might not be an asshole, but you are certainly committed to being irrational. And we’ll tell you so.

For more on the values of Atheism+ and how the aims of Atheism+ follow from them, see Michael Nugent’s Draft Manifesto for Ethical Atheism and its preceding article Why Atheist and Skeptic Groups Should be Inclusive, Caring and Supportive, which are quite excellent (yet were both composed before the Atheism+ label was coined and promoted–similarly, people like Greta Christina have been talking about starting a Third Wave of Atheism well before this, which means Atheism+ is simply the gelling together of what has already been brewing for over a year).

It’s hard to fathom how anyone would be in disagreement with Nugent after having read all through both articles with any sincerity. But in any event, as long as you are sticking to the core three values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity, and the baseline repudiation of sexism, racism, and homophobia, then reasonable debate and disagreement on any particulars is not a rejection of Atheism+.

–:–

Does Atheism+ mean us vs. everyone? No. Even though in my article I explained we would work with and get along with many outside groups just fine (we simply wouldn’t hold our tongue and not call out any irrationalities there may be in other movements or belief systems), and even though I concluded by identifying the core values dividing us from other atheists as simply our commitment to reasonableness, compassion, and integrity (and nothing more), many have irrationally ignored those points and assumed I was pitting Atheism+ against the whole world, and saying GTFO to everyone not an atheist or…whatever (it’s hard to say what really, since these irrational people almost never actually said what they were objecting to when declaring themselves against Atheism+).

So I improved that living document by inserting an irrationality vaccine: a rewrite of the concluding paragraph, thus (additions in bold)…

In the meantime, are you an atheist? Do you identify as an atheist? Then I call upon you to pick sides within our movement (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you now a part of the Atheism+ movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality? Then at least we’ll know who to work with. And who to avoid.

Of course, even the original statement should have been clear enough, since who would side with sexism and cruelty and irrationality? Lots of people, apparently. Many atheists declared themselves for Atheism Less in the comments. Then acted all surprised when I treated them like those who side with sexism and cruelty and irrationality. You reap what you sow, people.

But in any case, the revised conclusion makes even more clear that I am talking about marginalizing a group of people within the atheist movement (I am thus not talking about chucking non-atheists into the sewers–plenty of non-atheists are fully on board with the actual values of Atheism+) and that I am not talking about defining whether you are “in” or “out” by adopting any label (what you call yourself doesn’t matter), but by whether you thumbs-up or thumbs-down the values of Atheism+ (which even a conscientious Christian or Muslim could do).

Anyone who does not call themselves a member of Atheism+ but thumbs up what it stands for is a friend of Atheism+. Those people are with us. Everyone else (who doesn’t cheer or approve of what we stand for) is against us.

–:–

Is Atheism+ at odds with Humanism? No. Humanists can be in the Atheist+ movement or even outside of it and still cheer it on. We are only at odds with those who condemn Atheism+ and its values.

The question of whether Atheism+ is just another name for Humanism has been answered in adequate detail by Jen McCreight (Why Atheism+ and not Humanism?), Greta Christina (Is “Atheism Plus” Just Secular Humanism? and Humanism Is Great — But It’s Not Atheism Plus), Daniel Fincke (“Atheism+” =/= “Humanism”. Sign Me Up For “Atheism+”), Jason Thibeault (What’s in a Name? Quite a Lot, Actually), and Ashley Miller (The Difference between “Atheism+” and Humanism). A relevant point is additionally made by Stephanie Zvan (Standing on Our Own).

I would only add that atheism has become an important word to rally behind. Humanism has long been a hiding word, a way to avoid using the word “atheist.” That isn’t the case for everyone who calls themselves a humanist. But it is often the case. And intended or not, it still buys into and reinforces the stigma attached to the word “atheist,” and thus is inadvertently complicit in supporting bigotry against atheists and atheism. That is not anyone’s intention, of course. But it’s the effect. (Martin Wagner even gives a recent example.)

One of the things that makes the New Atheism movement new is that it was quickly and strongly tied to a reclaiming of atheism as an identity, which in fact made atheism a social movement in the first place, rather than just something that existed here and there. Atheism has been a bad word, a way to insult or marginalize people as “morally corrupt” or as “commies,” a word that could trigger a socially accepted pattern of ill treatment and discrimination, even violence or threats. It still does. It’s still acceptable for public officials to call us “evil little things.” And now we’re standing up against that, as a community.

In order to end this bigotry, we have to own the word and take back control of what it means. And that requires being out about it, declaring ourselves atheists. We have to force people to realize how many atheists there really are among them, and how diverse we are and how not evil we are but in fact how neighborly we are and how passionate we are for moral causes. That will never happen if we tacitly buy into the assumption that atheism is evil by avoiding use of the word. If people hear about humanists doing good things, most will simply not realize that that is code for “atheists doing good things,” and will simply go on hating and slandering and mistreating anyone who admits to being an actual atheist.

It’s perfectly fine if for your own personal safety or comfort you want or need to avoid the a-word. Likewise if you aren’t even sure you are an atheist, or even aren’t an atheist (because maybe you’re a Deist or a Quaker or a Pagan or what have you). But it is not perfectly fine to condemn those of us who can and do come forward and declare ourselves atheists and organize behind that identity and seek to combat the lies and bigotry surrounding that word. That’s one reason Atheism+ is an essential label for some to use and can’t simply be replaced with Humanism in all cases, even when those words are defined in such a way (and indeed they can be defined in such a way) that the two groups are 100% identical in values and beliefs.

–:–

Finally, are Atheism Plussers all just a bunch of awful bully meanies who make people cry? No. We will speak with passion and harsh truth in defense of the good. We will denounce and marginalize or make fun of people who are enemies of the good. And we will also stick to our values and apologize for or right any of our wrongs. And we will engage each other in reasonable debate on many issues within the compass of our values. These things entail no contradiction.

For example, I made an argument about when and what sort of insults are appropriate in public discourse in The Art of the Insult and the Sin of the Slur, and Daniel Fincke wrote an indirect response in No Hate (responding to other people making unreasonable demands on him, but staking out a position contrary to mine). I agree with his reasoning when we are talking about actual reasoned discourse, and people making an earnest attempt at that. In that context insults are inappropriate, precisely because they violate what I called the fourth rule of moral insult. And he’s quite right that there is no sense in despising people we merely disagree with, much less treating them like we do.

But I disagree with him insofar he means to say that his moral conclusions hold even for people who mock reasoned discourse or make no good faith attempt at it. I also disagree if he means to say that his moral conclusions hold even for contexts in which there is no reasoned discourse. When atheists publicly joked about raping an atheist teenager on her own reddit thread, those guys are fuckwads and I have every moral right to say so. Publicly. And so on for anything else like that when appropriate. As a general rule, if you are going to be a douchebag, I’m going to call you a douchebag, and be happy when others do, too. There is nothing immoral about that. To the contrary, this is the only way most moral folk can stay sane.

Maybe that makes me the bad boy of atheism. So be it. But I don’t think I’m at all alone in this.

Are any of the following statements immoral? Or are they appropriate statements of moral outrage? You decide…

Ashley Miller:

These Christian assholes who claim moral superiority to the rest of the world and especially to atheists get so upset when someone questions their religious beliefs in public that they freak out and threaten to kill them.

PZ Myers:

[Atheism+] really isn’t a movement about exclusion, but about recognizing the impact of the real nature of the universe on human affairs. And if you don’t agree with any of that — and this is the only ‘divisive’ part — then you’re an asshole. I suggest you form your own label, “Asshole Atheists” and own it, proudly.

Dana Hunter:

I don’t want to have to clean misogynists and accommodationist fuckwads out of my comments section, then listen to them whine about how oppressed they are because I won’t let them shit on my carpet. I don’t want to spend time forwarding rape and death threats to the police. But I refuse to stay silent.

Greta Christina:

I can’t tell you how many humanists I’ve talked with who have been total douchebags about feminism: insisting that humanism is superior to and more important than feminism, that feminism is exclusionary and anti-male, that they “don’t see gender” and anyone who does is the real sexist, and that the best way to make sexism disappear is to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist

Al Sefanelli:

If your server gave you good service, regardless of other issues you might have with the restaurant, not tipping them or tipping them poorly is not screwing the restaurant. You are screwing them, and you’re a douchebag. Oh, and if you are one of those self-righteous, uber-Christians who leaves a folded tract that looks like a ten or twenty-dollar bill instead of actual legal tender, well…You’re A Double Douchebag

Brianne Bilyeu:

[A] dummy with an Obama mask was hung from a gallows on the front lawn of a church. – Oh, it’s Pastor Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center again. This douchebag is apparently starving for more attention now that his latest Koran burning has blown over in the media. What a dick.

And then there is Another Douchebag: Marty Klein. And, of course, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

There is a difference between wanting to maintain a particular style or tenor of discourse in a specific venue, and claiming that any people expressing moral outrage with applicable epithets are behaving immorally. They just aren’t. At most you can accuse them of being mean. But sometimes, in some contexts, being mean is the right thing to do.

–:–

And that is an example of a reasonable disagreement that makes no difference to whether you are sincerely on board with the values of Atheism+. Because siding with Atheism+ only requires that you are willing to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia (and other correlated bigotries), and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity. In my book, it is that, and that alone, that decides whether you are with us, or against us.

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  1. Feminism sine qua non is simply the belief that “women should be treated as fairly as men”

    You mean like when men don’t think being asked out for coffee is a form of harassment? Or like when men don’t burst into tears because they don’t like someone’s t-shirt? Because I know exactly how I would treat a man in those situations. I’d tell him to man the fuck up.

    • You have to make a decision. Are you going to adopt a reality-based worldview, or a fantasy-based one?

      If you choose reality, then get with reality. To wit:

      Who said being asked for coffee in an elevator was harassment? Not any feminist I know. And certainly not Rebecca Watson. Actually watch the original video, at minute 4:20 here (and if you want the whole context, watch from minute 2:44 to 6:30, or even keep watching for an honest-to-juno feminist joke at the end).

      And no one was reduced to tears by the mere fact of disliking one t-shirt. Read what actually happened.

      Your apparent sexism is repulsive. But maybe you’re just reality challenged and don’t know the true facts of these matters. We’ll see.

    • The point I think this gentleman is making is that the only thing Harriet Hall did was wear the “i am not a skepchick” t-shirt, and after the incident Surly Amy called for the wearing of such t-shirts to be prohibited by harassment policies. She also specifically called for the prohibition of “fake” jewelry (which was apparently parody ceramic jewelry.

      Beyond the jewelry and t-shirt, there were some others who sang a song about skepchicks having sticks up their asses (which seems quite tame in terms of the mocking that comes from Skepchicks against other people).

      Someone else apparently proclaimed themselves “not a Watsonista,” which doesn’t appear to be sexual harassment, discriminatory or even sexist. Apparently, Surly Amy was “snubbed” during TAM, too, but this seems to be precisely what Atheism+ advocates — snubbing those who folks don’t think ought to be part of the movement.

      If “snubbing” is to be named among a litany of offenses, then the question becomes why would Atheism+ folks claim the right to snub those they feel are enemies, but would not afford others the same right or privilege? Snubbing does not become improper or harassment simply because one side of a debate or argument feels it is in the right and the other side wrong.

      All totaled, the events recounted by the Lousy Canuck in describing the incidents at TAM would not be considered serious if they happened to a man. The man would certainly be required to tolerate an “i am not a skepdude” t-shirt, and he would not be given a monopoly on jewelry or be free from parody. He would not be able to avail himself from protection from snubbing and if someone said he had a stick up his ass, he would have to deal with it.

    • Richard Carrier says:

      August 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm
      You have to make a decision. Are you going to adopt a reality-based worldview, or a fantasy-based one?

      If you choose reality, then get with reality. To wit:

      Who said being asked for coffee in an elevator was harassment? Not any feminist I know. And certainly not Rebecca Watson. Actually watch the original video, at minute 4:20 here (and if you want the whole context, watch from minute 2:44 to 6:30, or even keep watching for an honest-to-juno feminist joke at the end).

      And no one was reduced to tears by the mere fact of disliking one t-shirt. Read what actually happened.

      Except Richard, what if what was written is not what actually happened? What if several of the issues reported were mischaracterized and/or inaccurate? What does that do to the narrative especially as you point to it to support your analysis? Where is the skepticism about the accuracy or the critical thought about this post since the person who wrote it wasn’t there?

      I have read so many of your reviews where you do significant research and list in detail inconsistencies in the reporting but rarely have I seen you list uncorroborated proof as reality.

      You did here by mentioning this as “what actually happened”, but what if it wasn’t. And by the way, it wasn’t.

    • interestedbystandar:


      The point I think this gentleman is making is that the only thing Harriet Hall did was wear the “i am not a skepchick” t-shirt, and after the incident Surly Amy called for the wearing of such t-shirts to be prohibited by harassment policies. She also specifically called for the prohibition of “fake” jewelry (which was apparently parody ceramic jewelry.

      No, that is not a correct description of what happened.

      And I would like links to where you find Amy said the things you claim. Do provide them.

      The reality is that if you wore a shirt mocking someone who was a major supporter of grant money to bring people to TAM and found them reduced to tears by it, if you had any empathy whatever you would feel really bad about that and apologize and change. You would not be so indifferent to her unhappiness (at an event where everyone should be having fun, and decent human beings would want everyone to have fun) that you would not only defiantly go on wearing the t-shirt (a deliberate fuck-you to them personally, as it could no longer be an impersonal statement at that point), but actually go out of your way to keep wearing it three days straight (even though normal human beings usually put on clean clothes daily), which was an even more stalwart fuck-you. Her behavior was deliberately and intentionally designed to hurt someone, and carried on in complete knowledge of the hurt it was causing, and in complete indifference to it. And she did not even apologize for it.

      That is simply inhuman.

      Just for example.

    • [email protected]

      Good morning.

      Fair enough, so let me start with this, I have first hand knowledge of the incident including detailed interview and time and action notes regarding the entire incident.

      Last night while listening to the RNC I wrote a detailed point by point analysis of what was mentioned in the blog you referenced and the inconsistencies in the blog based on my knowledge of the incident…and then I erased the entire thing. I realized this was not going to advance the dialogue in any reasonable or fundamental way any more than what I heard on TV.
      There is enough devisive behavior going on from all sides in our Atheist/Skeptic/humanist world and at some point someone needs to stop this and we need to look at what we are doing to ourselves. You have a particular perspective about A+ and identified and articulated quite clearly what your perspective is. As have Greta, and PZ and some others.
      I belong to a small non believer/heathen group that meet mostSundays and occasionally during the week. We are located in the deep south and represent an interesting demographic cross section. Notherers and Southerners, male and female about evenly split, singles and couples college kids and old farts and an absolutely godless Austalian. Our broader geographic group includes gay and people of color. Some with children, some empty nesters. We are such an eclectic group and under normal circumstances would have never been friends, and yet here we are not only friends but comrades and a support group for each other. And, we are agreesively trying to grow our group through outreach in a variety of ways, understanding what trapped us and how we can support others to free themselves if they are currently trapped in and by religion. Sunday we talked about this issue that has consumed several of the blogs and none of us really care because it’s not an issue for us. We don’t know if we are A+ or atheists light or any specific category or classification except…friends that care for each other who primarily started as complete strangers. Collectively, we have developed a huge distaste for what has happened to the blogosphere and also believe we are hurting ourselves. The absolute lack of respect, almost encouraged on some blogs, the name calling when someone has a difference in opinion, troll, mysoginist and worse, this is not for me or us.
      Last year I spent thousands of dollars traveling to conventions, for hotel rooms, food, donations, sending the kids, volunteering time. No more. I’ll invest in our little group.
      What became so abundantly clear to me last night while I wrote the note I ultimately erased was the pursuit of an agenda where people have been so deceitful to gain an edge for themselves to the detriment of others. Clearly the human condition but one I can easily avoid. We have no interest in your fight and Richard this is your fight not ours.
      Yesterday, PZ in concluding a blog about the RNC wrote, “watching petty, vicious infighting among a mob of amoral cannibals in a devastated world. ”
      Everything is a matter of perspective.
      I can and do respectfully wish you the best.

  2. I’m sure there are one or two libertarians who give a damn about other people besides themselves. They probably love their mothers and regard certain other family members more or less fondly. But the vast majority of libertarians work on the concept of “I’ve got mine, fuck you.”

    • I don’t honestly know if “vast majority” is a credible thing to claim. It’s not like we’ve met a statistically representative sample to judge by, right? The most I can say is that there are a lot of both kinds, having met or engaged them. And even if it were a vast majority, we shouldn’t falsely generalize from that to all.

    • You know how there are Republicans who like to claim that Democrats are only in favour of welfare because they are lazy and want to get paid without having to work? Or because they’re scared of going bankrupt and want a fall back?

      How they’re ascribing a concept that has a vast array of discussion and thought involved with the basest possible motivations in order to discredit it and avoid engaging it in any meaningful way?

      Imagine if what you said about libertarians was a similarly 1 dimensional caricature, as cartoonish and unrealistic as the lazy liberal welfare queen stereotype.

      I know you see Libertarians as moustache twirling Mr Burn’s, skipping over the homeless as they count their money (or as poor suckers who are “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”), but you should ask yourself how much of that is based on deep personal knowledge of these peoples inner thoughts and how much is you assuming their motivations based on your assumptions on what the prerequisites for libertairanism are/your own confirmation bias.

      Are there libertarians who are against taxation primarily because of personal benefit? Sure (although given how trivially easy it is for anyone rich to avoid tax I doubt this is a common primary motivation). Just as there are welfarists who support welfare primarily because it personally benefits themselves.

      But as Richard said, if you’re going to make claims about what “the vast majority” of any group is like, you better bring some numbers, or you might want to stop telling yourself and other people its true. I have no idea what those numbers are, and I’m not sure such a subjective issue would be possible to accurately measure, considering reporting bias.

      Feeling like you have some idea of what % of libertarians are sincere vs what % of liberals/welfarists are sincere without appropriate numbers says more about what you want to be true than what actually is.

      This kind of ridiculous simplification/caricaturization reminds me of the abortion debate. How there are anti-abortion people who want to paint anyone who supports abortion as willful baby killers. On the other side there are pro-choice people who want to paint anyone who opposes abortion as purely interested in restricting womens freedom. It’s actually possible that neither side is in favour of killing babies, and neither side is in favour of infringing womens rights, they just have different ideas on what constitutes a life/right (and as such your rights to do certain thing stops at the rights of another life).

      Btw I’m 100% in favour of abortion in case you’re construing that last paragraph as means to discredit what I’ve said as pro-life nonsense.

  3. Feminism sine qua non is simply the belief that “women should be treated as fairly as men” and that people should be treated as the individuals that they are

    Can you provide an example of a mainstream feminist group that follows your definition of feminism?

    As I commented at your “Why I Am a Feminist” post, none of the UK/European feminist groups that I’m familiar with appear to agree with you. In particular, some of their more authoritarian and pro-censorship policies only really make sense if they embrace a collectivist idea of women as a class, rather than treating people as individuals.

    Even the affirmative action policies that most feminist groups support, such as all-women shortlists and quotas for certain jobs, seem to be in conflict with a feminism based around fairness for the individual.

    • You may recall I checked your claims and found them not to be credible. Accordingly, I don’t believe you.

      For mainstream feminism, start with Feminism 101. Then read the mission statements of The Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women.

      As for so-called “affirmative action policies” the matter is much more complicated and debatable than you seem to be aware. Read Elizabeth Anderson’s The Imperative of Integration (Princeton 2010) if you want to take the debate seriously. It’s rarely about quotas or preferential treatment (read 10 Myths about Affirmative Action) but other policies designed to compensate for statistically demonstrated biases against women (or other races). Whether any such policies are good or bad is open to reasonable debate, and supporting any of them is in no plausible sense a litmus test for feminism. It is therefore not relevant to whether you are a feminist sine qua non.

    • I answered your points in a follow up comment. In particular, I provided examples of how the ideology of the mainstream feminist groups I mentioned conflicts with your simplistic and individualistic definition of feminism. More importantly from my perspective, their ideology also conflicts with my personal beliefs.

      As I’ve said before, I’d happily support feminism as you define it, but I’m not aware of a single significant feminist group in the UK that doesn’t pursue policies that I strongly disagree with. Arguments regarding the fundamental definition of feminism aside, to me that’s enough of a reason not to want to define myself by their label.

      My last two comments in that thread didn’t make it through your moderation. Of course that’s your right, it’s your blog after all, but not responding doesn’t constitute a convincing rebuttal.

      I think part of our difference of opinion here might be down to the differences between mainstream feminism in Europe and America. Over here in Europe, most feminist groups push for affirmative action that’s based on quotas and all-women shortlists, rather than the more subtle system that I gather is used in America.

      For example, easily the largest feminist coalition in Europe is the European Women’s Lobby. It’s membership encompasses 2500 feminist organisations across 30 European countries. They’re a very influential and well funded political group who’ve had a significant influence on the EU. If they don’t represent mainstream feminism in Europe then I can’t imagine what does.

      Not only do they demand compulsory quotas for women in business and politics, they also condemn women (such as Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton) who disagree with them. In my experience they definitely do make acceptance of affirmative action (and various other specific issues) a litmus test for feminism, even if you don’t.

      I haven’t actually argued against the idea of affirmative action; in reality it’s something I’m undecided about. But whether their goals (such as a mandatory 40% minimum female election candidate quota) are a good idea or not, they don’t seem compatible with the individualist definition of feminism that you’re using. I don’t see how choosing a woman so as to comply with a set gender quota can be reconciled with the idea that “people should be treated as the individuals that they are”.

      Maybe your definition is more mainstream in America, but in Britain it seems to be restricted to a small online fringe who aren’t represented by any significant organisations. Obviously I’m judging the feminist movement based on the organisations that I’m familiar with in my home country. Even if that’s unfair when looking at feminism worldwide, I just don’t see how your definition of feminism can be in any way all-embracing when so many feminists appear to disagree with it, or at least treat it as a small part of what’s required to be a feminist.

      Considering some of the arguments regarding Atheism+ vs. Humanism, I think it’s ironic that you’re arguing that people should embrace feminism based on a definition. I’ve seen Humanists argue that their movement effectively encompasses everything that A+ stands for, and based on some definitions of Secular Humanism that’s not an unreasonable statement. Certain counterarguments focussing on negative experiences with Humanist groups aren’t really so different to my reasons for rejecting the feminist label.

    • I have not rejected any comment you have sent to my blog. So maybe you need to go check again. Or else your browser malfunctioned.

      I have not seen any rebuttal to my actual responses. You made a claim, without evidence. I refuted it, with evidence.

      You still keep making claims without citing any evidence to back them.

      The only fact you actually reference (though without directing to any evidence, at least I could find it with the information you gave) is candidate quotas, which are not a violation of anyone’s rights. Since there is no limit to how many candidates can be on a roster. So no men are being excluded by that procedure.

      Which is why European legislatures approve of them, often with no opposition whatever. For example, not a single vote against it in the Irish legislature.

    • I’ve just checked the your “Why I am a Feminist” post. Two of my comments still appear with “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” by my name. In those I cite examples of the behaviour and policy of two of the mainstream feminist groups I mentioned, explaining why I feel that they’re incompatible with your definition of feminism. Maybe you should check again before I attempt to re-post them.

      Perhaps I didn’t provide a good example of the quotas proposed by the EWL. I’ll look into your claim regarding the election candidate quotas when I have more time. The election candidate quota system that I’m familiar with is the one implemented by the Labour Party in the UK, which involved all-women shortlists, and obviously did involve men being excluded from nomination.

      Perhaps a better example to support my argument would be the 40% boardroom quotas campaigned for by the EWL, which have been implemented in Norway. That’s a less ambiguous case, where it clearly does dictate that someone be hired to fix the gender imbalance on a company board, even if they wouldn’t be hired on merit.

    • I’m sorry, I thought you meant deleted comments. I hadn’t gotten that far in the queue today, so I hadn’t seen them until just now. Those are still awaiting moderation, but they will be up shortly. Deleted comments won’t say “awaiting moderation.” Just FYI.

      The election candidate quota system that I’m familiar with is the one implemented by the Labour Party in the UK, which involved all-women shortlists, and obviously did involve men being excluded from nomination.

      Do send me the evidence that it excludes people (so I can see what exactly you mean; not all exclusions are invalid).

      But assuming they actually replace more able candidates with less able candidates and thus force unfair exclusions, that would indeed be wrong, and an example of the kind of affirmative action to be against. But that is not the same thing as being against all affirmative action (see the link I provided), nor does this have anything to do with what it means to be a feminist. That some feminist organizations advocate for bad ideas is no more relevant to your being a feminist than that some atheist organizations (e.g. the Communist Party of Britain) advocate for bad ideas is relevant to your being an atheist.

      The board room legislation in Norway only applies to state companies (and state-majority-owned companies), not private companies, and only to boards larger than 8 persons. This represents a vote of the people regarding whom they want to hire to oversee the companies the people own. This is no different than stockholders of a private company voting for 40% women to represent them on the board of directors of the company those stockholders own.

      This would only be discriminatory if the women being hired were underqualified, which is generally not the case (boards of directors are not the presidents and managers of those companies, but the people who hire the presidents and managers, and set the rules and so on, a job for which there is always a surplus of qualified personnel of both genders). In fact, given that the number of qualified personnel is generally close to equal by gender in fields like that (which are not highly skill-specific), the fact that there isn’t naturally around half-half representation on boards entails discrimination against women is occurring. A 40% quota ensures that the extremely unlikely statistical anomaly of only 40/60 female/male qualified candidates is the minimum allowed to chance; anything less is extremely unlikely to be due to chance, and is therefore likely caused by discrimination. Hence the redress is warranted, to negate demonstrated discrimination.

      That’s a much more nuanced and complicated reality than the simplistic “reverse discrimination” model usually attached to programs like that. Nevertheless, whether such quota systems are a good way to do this remains debatable. And even the EWL has its reservations about them. I found Cécile Gréboval, head of the European Women’s Lobby, saying that quotas may not be a perfect solution, but no one has come up with a better way of boosting women’s representation at the top echelons of corporate power.

      Generally, I think if it can be shown that blind selection of candidates (by cv and scores from panel-rated interviews by third parties) would produce at least the quota asked for in 10 out of 10 trials, then quotas are a legitimate tactic to redress what would then be a proven pattern of discrimination. I would prefer actual studies be done and quotas based on the scientific results, than the sort of guestimating that actually goes on, but in all honesty even the guestimating is probably not far from accurate.

      Obviously, even more ideal would be the blind hiring process (names and gender-identifying information withheld), but that is probably more expensive and difficult to implement generally, and takes away the power of persons doing the hiring to choose candidates they personally click with the best (which requires first-party interviews, which cannot be blinded). But who knows, maybe such a system could be developed that would work great.

      I’m an empiricist, so it’s all about seeing what works to redress an injustice, and what it costs to implement (costs including not just money but actual, not assumed, negative consequences).

  4. unwarranted assumptions should not be made about them based on gender stereotypes

    Aaaaaaand there it is – the feminist all-purpose escape clause.

    Let me guess… feminists get to decide which assumptions are warranted and which aren’t, right?

    Is there an authoritative list we can refer to? Because this sure sounds to me like one of those “wildcard” points that feminists can ad hoc any way they wish in order to label as sexist anyone who deigns to make an less-than-flattering observation about common female behavior.

    This is exactly the sort of thing that keeps guys like me out. I am 100% in support of political equality of all people and the protection of the rights of all. I’d condemn any physical or verbal abuse of any person. However, when women get to start labeling me “sexist” any time I make an observation about common female behavior-isms, then suddenly I’m a misogynist, then next thing you know I’m an MRA, part of the MRM, and then I hate women, etc… (as it goes)

    • Uhuh. Somehow I doubt you are representing reality to me accurately.

      I’ve been much in the world, so you can’t fool me by pretending women (much less self-identifying feminists specifically) behave differently than I’ve widely experienced across the nation. When I talk about the possibility of cultural and biological propensities among women, or what “a lot of women do,” and so on, I don’t get called a sexist, much less designated a misogynist (which is not the same thing) or an MRA (which is often the same thing). So I suspect you are doing something a bit more appalling than that. Especially if this is happening to you as often as you seem to be claiming.

      If your perception of reality is this distorted, maybe it is indeed best you stay away from us.

  5. Ok, so you are 100% right, you have the absolute truth, and everybody who has the slightest doubts about it is an asshole misogynist fuckwad douchebag dick motherfucker.

    .
    .
    .

    I for one totally agree. Finally, something to believe in!

  6. Last comment was misfired unfinished and unreviewed. To finish my thought….

    However, when women get to start labeling me “sexist” any time I make an observation about common female behavior-isms, then suddenly I’m a misogynist, then next thing you know I’m an MRA, part of the MRM, and then I hate women, etc… (as it goes), that’s when I find myself not only unable to identify with feminists or the feminist movement, but infuriated at the audacity required for someone (anyone!) to tell ME what I think and feel.

    Do you have any idea how infuriating to be told how you think and feel? Who you hate? Whose side you’re on? Where your loyalties lie?

    And before you go pointing out that you’ve never told me how I think or feel… be advised that I am not talking about you personally. It’s just a typical pattern that every extended conversation I’ve had with feminists winds up falling into. It always seems to end with me being a woman-hater, which is always a surprise to me.

    • You might just try having a reasonable discussion about it. Ask for the reason why what you said is sexist, for example (and don’t be a dick about it when you ask, if your aim is really to hear them out on it), and analyze the logic and premises calmly as you would anything. Make a reasonable discussion out of it. And go in with the understanding that you might be wrong after all. Just as I do; hence I’ve corrected myself several times, when people have calmly demonstrated I’m wrong about something.

      Somehow I doubt you’ll see descents into MRA accusations if you follow this procedure as sincerely as possible (and even if some odd duck does that, don’t assume s/he represents everyone present who may yet respond–I would say, if irrational behavior like that crops up, and seems incorrigible, just ask “is there anyone else here who can actually answer my question and not just accuse me of x, y, and z?”).

  7. Very well said. I admire your willingness to state you arguments and conclusions so bluntly and publicly. Thank you for helping to get the Atheism+ movement started.

  8. Richard Carrier wrote: “In order to end this bigotry, we have to own the word and take back control of what it means. And that requires being out about it, declaring ourselves atheists.”

    The problem is that you are not taking control of the word, you are redefining it. The addition of the ‘plus’ is nothing more than a smokescreen for hijacking an apolitical term as a moniker for a political movement.

    Do I agree that your moral standpoints, as you present them here, are worthy? Certainly I do: no question.

    Am I happy to consider that potentially 5 years hence when I declare myself an atheist, for the first time in my life, some people will erroneously assume I am making a political statement?

    No, that annoys me much more than you probably appreciate.

    • I am not redefining it. I’m defining a different word, atheism+.

      And all atheism+ is is atheism + a certain set of values and aims. If you have actual arguments against adopting those values or aims, we’ll hear them out and discuss them. Everything else is the real smokescreen: from you.

      If you are afraid that people will “misunderstand” what it means if you call yourself a supporter of atheism+ (just as many people are afraid people will “misunderstand” what it means if they admit publicly to being an atheist in general), then you don’t have to. You can say what you did just now: I support the values and aims just stated, but prefer to avoid naming it.

  9. You’re all doing a good enough job of mocking “atheism plus” yourselves. Buncha privileged white goofballs with no background in social science, yapping on blogs and twitter about concepts you barely understand, and thinking you’re actually accomplishing some kind of “activism” by cursing at people on social media all day. Pffft. This isn’t a movement, it’s more like a high school clique.

  10. Richard,

    How do you view atheists who would not consider themselves to support the values of atheist+?

    Are they considered family who you must live with but disagree with – or are they considered another tribe with whom atheist + is declaring war?

    Are we co-operating as well as we can with in-group disharmony, or are we declaring war on an out-group?

    • Neither cooperation nor war.

      But each can do as they like. So you can do either, as you prefer. All I want to know is whether you (or whoever) do support those values or not, so I know who to trust and who not. As I wrote in this very article:

      [It] will simply be a matter of which company I would prefer to have wherever I happen to be… It will also be a condition of who I condemn or disown on my own time and in my own venues. In short, if you reject this value statement, you are simply my ideological enemy, and I will give you no quarter. I’ll respect your legal and human rights, because I believe in that. But don’t be shocked if I am not friendly.

      So if you reject these basic values, I want you to leave me alone. We go our separate ways. I’ve disowned you. And I am not going to work with you on anything in any direct fashion. And I will denounce you whenever you say or do anything that violates those values, or whenever you mock those values.

      (Cooperation would only occur in matters of necessity, e.g. defense of country or negotiating over policies that will affect us both.)

    • Richard – you can consider such approach, because of the type of your income sources. For anyone working in a service sector such approach would represent a huge hyporcrisy. Consider an atheist plus barber, waiter, seller, repairman or similar who for the whole work week served and satisfied customers that are opposite to his ideological views – arabic sheiks, priests etc because of his work obligations. Then he goes back home and starts doing to atheist who only differ to his values by not being supportive to “diversity” things like: not going to work with them on any subject revelant to their common atheism, denouncing them, disowning them etc. How bad morally would that be?

    • I’ll try to explain it to you more clearly. Let’s assume there’s some measure of niceness, called Niceness Level. What you advocate for A+ people is to treat fellow A+ people with high Niceness Leve, people who share core values, but are not fully A+ with moderate niceness level, while those who don’t support A+ values with low Niceness Level (eg. “marginalizing a group of people within the atheist movement “). I’ll just supply example values:
      Niceness Level for:
      Fellow A+ people 10
      Non-A+ supporters of values 8
      Atheists/skeptic not supporting values 3
      Right now in your mind everything looks OK, the system is consistent and satisfies your desires.

      Enter reality – things called “jobs”. A job within a service economy requires treating both customers and potential customers with decent Niceness Level, let’s say 7 for paying customers, 5 for potential customers – which for some occupations can be virtually everyone. If you don’t do this you are fired. Adding the requirements of a job to you proposal produces:

      Fellow A+ people 10
      Non-A+ supporters of values 8
      Paying customers 7
      Potential customers 5
      Atheists/skeptic not supporting values 3

      Then we can give some examples of who can be a customer, or a potential customer. Let’s your customers include: priests, creationists, convicted rapists. Your potential customers include: sect members, psychics. So right now the table of the Niceness Level includes:

      Fellow A+ people 10
      Non-A+ supporters of values 8
      Priests, creationists, convicted rapists & rest 7
      Sect members, psychics & rest 5
      Atheists/skeptic not supporting values 3

      Do you see the absurd in your proposal now?

    • while those who don’t support A+ values with low Niceness Level

      No, people who attack, denigrate, mock, and undermine A+ goals and values get that. People who merely just don’t do anything or unprovocatively beg out are neutrals. I explain this very clearly in the very post you are here commenting on.

      As for why you think our behavior as bloggers, writers, donators, conventioneers, or activists is in any way analogous to our behavior when waiting tables or selling theater tickets is beyond me. As if what we say and do at an atheist convention or in an atheist blog or magazine is the same thing we say and do in our daily jobs? Obviously no one does that. So why do you think we do? Or have ever advocated any such thing? This just doesn’t make any sense as an argument. It suggests you have no idea what we are talking about.

  11. (1) When you declare ‘reasonableness, compassion and integrity’, these are far too vague for any thinking person to take seriously.

    (2) So you won’t work for people you don’t like? This is a revolution indeed.

    (3) When you say, ‘it is an irrational thing to conclude’, I recommend you review basic deductive logic. An argument that contains an invalid deductive inference might be deemed ‘irrational’, but the conclusion (the statement itself) cannot be irrational. Logic works on statements, it is not a property of them.

    (4) I don’t know how many people you’ve actually talked to who disagree with your views, but you seem to have listened very poorly. Who seriously thinks they are FOR injustice and unfairness? Who doesn’t think they are ‘reasonable’?

    For instance, those against gay marriage usually are of the mind that they are upholding a valuable aspect of society, and ‘eroding’ this will be to the detriment of humanity. The way they see it, we would grant homosexuals a privilege at the expense of ‘natural’ family values. The way they see it, they are for fairness and justice. So, with such vague values, who decides what they mean? Of course, I already know the answer is FTB.

    (5) On the subject of women’s rights, once again the oven door is opened in our faces, hot air billowing out. I think the Skepchic stuff had potential for a subtle debate about rights vs freedoms. The writings of you and others on FTB make your judgements clear. And it is also clear that you have no interest in genuine discussion.

    (6) Again, you miss the interesting disagreement about affirmative action. There are some who think that ‘creating’ diversity is at the expense of equality. But you don’t seem to want to have a grown up debate.

    (7) “We will speak with passion and harsh truth in defense of the good.” I prefer to be altogether less sure I am in possession of the truth, or know what constitutes ‘good’, and i’d advise you to think the same.

    This ‘movement’ seems to want nothing else but to issue lengthy monologues, whether that be online or at conferences. And if these monologues are of the same quality as this rambling restatement of “Atheism+”, those of us with something interesting to say need not wait very long for this to all blow over.

    • (1) When you declare ‘reasonableness, compassion and integrity’, these are far too vague for any thinking person to take seriously.

      So you have no moral standards, because moral standards are too vague for any thinking person to take seriously?

      Perhaps you are new to this discussion and didn’t read my non-vague description of these values.

      (2) So you won’t work for people you don’t like? This is a revolution indeed.

      Venn diagram: the circle of people I don’t like is bigger than the circle of people I won’t work with, i.e. it’s bigger than the circle of people who reject these core values.

      (3) When you say, ‘it is an irrational thing to conclude’, I recommend you review basic deductive logic. An argument that contains an invalid deductive inference might be deemed ‘irrational’, but the conclusion (the statement itself) cannot be irrational. Logic works on statements, it is not a property of them.

      This is the English language. And in the English language words have multiple connotations, and we rely on what words mean in the actual context of their use. This is not a context of describing formal deductive syllogisms. So, try a dictionary.

      (4) I don’t know how many people you’ve actually talked to who disagree with your views, but you seem to have listened very poorly. Who seriously thinks they are FOR injustice and unfairness? Who doesn’t think they are ‘reasonable’?

      Actually, lots of people have come out against the values I stated.

      But even in the case you have in mind: we have to start somewhere. Once someone says they are committed to a value, we can hold them to that. Then we can have a reasonable discussion about whether they are living up to them. That’s how we move forward. It all begins with declaring your personal commitment to those values. Then if you persistently refuse to live by them, we know you are a liar (or perhaps, in some degree, insane).

      But if someone (like, so far, you) won’t even come out as saying that they embrace these values and will try to hold themselves to them, well, then we want you to go away and leave us alone.

      Hence, as I wrote in the original article (revised):

      This does not mean we must disavow anyone who happens to hold an irrational belief or have reached a conclusion irrationally, but only those atheists who explicitly oppose or reject the very idea of rationality. In other words, any atheist with whom we cannot even have a rational discussion.

      (5) On the subject of women’s rights, once again the oven door is opened in our faces, hot air billowing out. I think the Skepchic stuff had potential for a subtle debate about rights vs freedoms. The writings of you and others on FTB make your judgements clear. And it is also clear that you have no interest in genuine discussion.

      It’s nice to make claims without evidence, isn’t it?

      The reality is, we are having all manner of genuine discussions, and my mind has even been changed a few times as a result of them.

      So your claim is clearly and demonstrably false.

      (6) Again, you miss the interesting disagreement about affirmative action. There are some who think that ‘creating’ diversity is at the expense of equality. But you don’t seem to want to have a grown up debate.

      You are the one who doesn’t seem to want to have a grown up debate. The grown ups have already worked this out and moved on. We actually rationally consider the facts and act with empathy and utility in response to them.

      (7) “We will speak with passion and harsh truth in defense of the good.” I prefer to be altogether less sure I am in possession of the truth, or know what constitutes ‘good’, and i’d advise you to think the same.

      So, because you are unsure what the truth is, you will not commit to any moral values at all?

      Good to know. Such self-destructive skepticism is exactly the kind of thing we want to get rid of. So, go away.

      This ‘movement’ seems to want nothing else but to issue lengthy monologues, whether that be online or at conferences. And if these monologues are of the same quality as this rambling restatement of “Atheism+”, those of us with something interesting to say need not wait very long for this to all blow over.

      It’s funny how reasoned “arguments” become “monologues,” as an excuse not to respond to any of the actual arguments.

      How reasonable.

  12. What if we are against all the things you suggest we should be but our biggest problem is we resent people like you insulting our intelligence by acting like we all need you to point out what is obvious?

    I think it is safe to say we don’t need A+ because we already don’t allow the behavior you are talking about to go on. I can speak for myself and say I never have allowed discrimination or intimidation of any kind to go unchecked. That’s why I am speaking out against A+. A lot of the people who are at the root of it have displayed behavior that is not fair and/or mature. You don’t label people as misogynists just because the person they happen to have a problem with is a woman. If they are making statements that are inclusive of all women then yes it may be appropriate. But if someone says “I think ‘female person’s name’ is dumb” that doesn’t mean they are a misogynist. To make that claim is irresponsible at least. That is just one example of why I don’t feel comfortable identifying as A+. I also have a problem with your use of “Atheism less” to describe people who don’t want to join your new club. What qualifies you as someone who can make such determinations about such a diverse group? I have not been impressed with your abilities to make sound decisions about the true intentions of others up to now. You make too many assumptions about people and you seem a bit paranoid. Last but not least I think it is unhealthy to refuse to deal with people who think differently than we do in any aspect of life. We need to keep communication lines open with the hopes we can effect change for the better. If we give up on or shun people whom with we don’t agree with we are enabling them to continue their behavior without any counter to it. I will keep addressing idiocy for as long as it takes no matter what it calls itself. As a side note I would also suggest you have someone read your posts before you present then to the public. You tend to ramble and contradict yourself every so often. I think maybe people could better understand your points if you made them clearly and consistently.

  13. Let’s see if I fit your criteria for what Atheism+ cares about.

    Social justice? Check.
    Women’s rights? Check.
    Diversity? Check.
    Applying skeptical, evidence-based reasoning to everything? Check, with the disclaimer that I, as a human being, and deeply susceptible to bad reasoning.

    And so I reluctantly admit that it very well may be an irrational gut move to be very irritated with the label “Atheism+”.

    To me, atheism has always been so damn simple, and it’s something I use in my arsenal against people who say “Atheism claims to be omniscient, because you claim to know that God doesn’t exist.” To them I say, “No I don’t, dammit! I just don’t believe he does. There’s a difference!”

    I want to keep it simple. Can’t we just say atheism is atheism? And a lot of atheists are assholes, but that’s okay because atheism has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. It’s not a religion. It’s not even a worldview, it’s just a simple disbelief regarding one tiny part of life (that a majority of people tend to overstate). I’m okay with other atheists being assholes. That’s part of humanity, I guess.

    So it all comes down to syntactical disagreement, I guess. I like the movement. I’m holding my breath for a better name.

    • Of course you can say atheism is atheism. I’m not talking about atheism. I’m talking about atheism+.

      To say “a lot of atheists are assholes” is simply another way to say “a lot of atheists reject atheism+.”

      But use whatever words make you comfortable. The label really isn’t relevant.

  14. But who isn’t for “reasonableness, compassion, and integrity”? That’s pretty broad and most everyone believes *their* ideas are reasonable or they wouldn’t have them to begin with. I’m not sure how much work all this really does or what it accomplishes.

    “In the meantime, are you an atheist? Do you identify as an atheist?”

    No, no I don’t. I’m an agnostic. Which means for me that I’m not atheist and not theist. And like billions of other people I’m all in favor of peace, love and understanding. So yay! I get to be in the He-man asshole hating club. Is there a secret handshake?

    • A lot of people have been coming out as rejecting “reasonableness, compassion, and integrity,” claiming they cannot be known to be true values, claiming they don’t like them, claiming they are too vague to be meaningful, claiming only self-righteous people adopt them, claiming it’s divisive to denounce people who reject them, and all manner of silly things.

      As to your closing argument, I assume you mean “I get to be in the {He-man-asshole}-hating club.”

      We don’t want secret handshakes. We want public ones (metaphorically speaking). That’s the point: to make it clear to one and all what values we stand for. Not to hide that fact anymore so people can’t tell the difference between atheists who do, and atheists who don’t.

    • @ Richard Carrier — “A lot of people have been coming out as rejecting “reasonableness, compassion, and integrity,””

      I have not seen that. I think that is your gloss on events. I think you’re conflating any opposition with rejecting reasonableness etc… People then react to your false dichotomy and your totalizing characterization of those in disagreement with you. It works like this:

      1.) I am for goodness and light.
      2.) Because I am for everything that is good, those who oppose me must be for all that is bad.
      3.) How do I know? Because I have defined my position as being for all that is good.
      4.) Therefore I am free to use ridicule and insults to characterize my opponents.
      5.) I do not need to give others the benefit of the doubt or to try to see things from their point of view because I already know they are bad and I am good.
      6.) Let the purges begin.

      Even if you don’t agree with me I think that is how others perceive it. And if that is how others perceive it then it is a problem and failing to address that perception, whether it is fair or not, can only compound the problem.

      This is known as politics and you don’t seem to be managing your image very well.

    • My response to reasonable critics in this and the other comment threads refutes your version of events.

      Only people who acted like asshats, got treated like asshats.

  15. Because siding with Atheism+ only requires that you are willing to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia (and other correlated bigotries), and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity. In my book, it is that, and that alone, that decides whether you are with us, or against us.

    Before advanced language evolved in homo sapiens, there was still plenty of effective communication occurring between individuals: body language.

    In fact, and I’m by no means an expert on the subject, our brains evolved incredibly sophisticated pattern-recognition techniques that enable us to discern extremely subtle nuances in facial expressions, posture, and tonal changes of voice. These abilities had significant evolutionary value: they allowed us to determine who was likely to be hostile, and who was not (putting it in simplistic terms).

    Surely there can only a few tech-challenged stragglers on our planet who haven’t experienced the remarkable difference in how a person can appear online, sans these critical visual and auditory clues, and how they come off in person. Needless to say, the difference can be (and usually is, IMHO) stark.

    If anyone doubts this fact, please join an online dating site immediately and perform your own test.

    Online interaction on the internet, and its requisite writing skills, are brand new challenges for many, many people. Many GOOD, charitable, and well-intentioned people. Learning takes time, and much trial & error. So if the promulgators of Atheism-plus intend to simply discard the crucial information provided by a person’s body language, as well as any important intonations of speech, not to mention any accomplishments or extenuating real-life circumstances (such as handicaps or job difficulties) in their “assessments” of whether someone is “fit enough” for membership…

    … then you can clearly go fuck yourselves.

    • It would be like hiring employees without interviews.

      It’s a vastly stupid idea.

      Why don’t you just administer a written test, and let us all have a good laugh, rather than carrier-ing on with this reprehensible charade.

    • Your first comment makes no sense to me. I have no idea what you are proposing or criticizing.

      Your second comment makes you look stalwartly unreasonable. The only issue is whether you repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia, and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.

      So, do you?

      If yes, then what are you complaining about? If no, then go away.

      See how simple that is?

  16. I bet that you keep this innocuous comment in limbo forever, like my previous one.
    But: If you allow this one, and not the previous one, am I permitted to call you a totally hypocritical Douchebag?

  17. “So this is the defining feature: Do you give a shit about other people, or not?”

    My main problem with “Atheism +” is this. If everyone who gives a shit about people (which I would assume is the vast majority) adopts the “A+” label, then the only people left identifying as “just atheists” will be the assholes.

    Doesn’t this run counter to our desire to remove the stigma from that word? Atheists are assholes unless they have this _extra_ thing that makes them decent human beings.

    I’d rather promote the idea that “atheists” are decent human beings, except for a few who are massive dicks. If we’re going to create a new label, why not create one for the minority of scumbags in the movement? (“Atheist Asshat”?)

    • You evidently didn’t read the article you purport to be commenting on.

      It’s not about labels.

      So stop talking about that.

      Talk about the actual issue: values.

    • My problem with assertions like this is I wonder how long I’m supposed to wait for the intended results before I’m allowed to become proactive. If we’re not allowed the freedom of movement to enact positive changes that work for us, then I guess I could at least find productivity in setting up a betting pool for which event will happen first: “atheist” becoming a synonym for a decent human being, or Jesus finally floating down from heaven and gathering his followers.

    • “You evidently didn’t read the article you purport to be commenting on.”

      Actually I did, and respectfully so as I generally think highly of your opinion.

      You made several statements like this:

      “do you have to adopt every conclusion of every Atheism Plusser”
      “This includes if you mock or make fun of Atheism+”
      “you are definitely thumbing-down Atheism+. We are done with you. You are not one of us.”
      “even though I concluded by identifying the core values dividing us from other atheists ”
      “I call upon you to pick sides within our movement”

      Those statements certainly suggest that there will be one group known as “atheist plussers” and another group known as “other atheists”. This is exactly what I was commenting on in my post.

      Yes, I know you also mentioned that it doesn’t matter what you call yourself, but your own post demonstrates that “atheism +” is going to become the new shorthand for atheists who give a shit.

      “It’s not about labels.”

      I understand that your concern is not about labels. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue worthy of concern.

      Consider this sentence:

      “I support atheism.”

      Right now, that’s something I can say proudly. But now say it in the context of “atheism +”, and it sounds like I’m picking the douchebag option. I’m an asshole who doesn’t give a shit about people.

      As someone who cares a great deal about destigmatizing that word, I find that troubling.

      “Talk about the actual issue: values.”

      I’m in agreement with you there (as I think the majority of people are) so there’s not much to talk about.

    • Sure. Because arguing for a position makes someone a megalomaniac.

      That’s a really logical argument you have there. Why, it refutes everything!

      Or, rather, nothing.

  18. I agree with everything A+ in theory, but I think I’m too likely to slip into occasional bouts of akrasia, and fear I would get kicked out/rebranded/etc. for it. I’m getting a “one strike and you’re out” sort of feel from reading A+ posts, maybe you should explicitly address repeated bad behavior or something. That might be where the Stalin/Lenin/Hitler/Mao/Other Bad Guy analogies are coming from.

    It also seems to me that in some cases irrationality has better utility than being rational. E.g., it’s well known that some not entirely rational activities better form group cohesion than simple “rational” ideas. Then it becomes rational to be a bit irrational; again, that has more to do with probability and resulting utility functions than with “Traditional Rationality”. “Rational” would probably have to be explicitly defined somewhere, and not just the assumption that one is following modus tollens.

    But then, we get into problems with signaling and self-deception:

    A theme that has come up several times is that it’s easier to lie to others if you believe in the lies yourself. Being in a community where rationality is highly valued, many people will probably want to avoid appearing irrational, lest they lose the respect of others. They want to signal rationality. One way to avoid admitting irrationality to others is by not admitting it to yourself. But then, if you never even admit your irrationality to yourself, you’ll have a hard time of getting over it.

    If, on the other hand, the community makes it clear that it’s okay to be irrational, for as long as you’re trying to get rid of that, then you can actually become more rational. You don’t need to rationalize reasons why you’re not being irrational, you can accept that you are irrational and then change it. Eliezer’s post did that for me, for one particular irrationality [1]. So let me say that out loud: It’s okay to be irrational, and to admit that. You are only a human.

    (I also think that insults or language that can seem insulting too easily results in mind killing so I try not to do it in order for conversations to be more level-headed. Just my opinion.)

    So I would have to wait and see how the movement matures.

  19. “Atheism+” is a sucktacular idea.

    It is ill-conceived and naive to hijack the term “Atheism” and conflate it other political issues. Whether these are worthy issues or not, keep it simple; Atheism is a logical refusal to believe in a deity without evidence. The more you add to it the less clear the issue becomes and the more likely you are to become mired in off-topic issues.

    “Atheism+” scores more own-goals than a Sunday league football pub team. I really expected more of such an intelligent gathering. Get a grip!

    • We aren’t hijacking the term “atheism.” We are defining a subset of atheism.

      And we had to do it, because of the growing belligerent immorality and irrationality in our ranks.

      It’s time to own up: do you believe in basic moral values, or not?

      It’s really that simple. That’s all we’re asking.

    • >>It’s time to own up: do you believe in basic moral values, or not?

      I thought you were a skeptic and an atheist, so why the church-like faith tests?

      Do you believe in Jesus or not? If not, get lost. (Douchebag.)

      Do you believe in “equality” or not? No argument, no skeptical looking at how that value was derived and asserted as truth, yes or no (douchebag)?

      Of course in a different culture and time, the faith test questions would be different.

      You’re not the least troubled by that?

    • So you truly think it is fundamentally wrong for skeptics and atheist NOT to accept your moral code as true, the one displayed only recently in Western liberal society?

      Even if careful skeptical examination shows the genealogy and foundation of it traces back through Enlightenment writers to Christian mythology?

      (We’re not talking about ways to get along here, we’re talking about moral truths.)

      One simply has to accept it or one is a (fill in the blank insult)?

      And that is to be part of a skeptical code of honor?

      How is that any different from church goers faithfully believing in Jesus, or any other culture in human history piously believing it’s moral code is beyond question?

      Shouldn’t the skeptics code be “Question everything – including skepticism!”?

    • Our core moral values long predate Christianity and derive from secular philosophy, not any religion whatever. They originate in the milieu of Greco-Roman philosophy, culling the better part of Stoic, Epicurean, and Aristotelian philosophies.

      Not that that should matter. Something is not “bad” merely because a religious person thought of it. Astronomy was invented by priests to serve religious aims. Does that mean we should abandon astronomy because it is befouled by originating with a religion?

      Your fallacies are showing.

    • Because repudiating and disowning sexists, racists, and homophobes and people who reject or mock reasonebleness, compassion, and integrity, is so much “more like Lenin dictating to the central committee.”

      Or not even like it at all.

    • Hi Richard, just wanted to say “thanks” for making atheism cool again.

      And by that I mean that vanilla atheism, which has suffered image problems in the past, now looks completely normal and positively welcoming compared to this creepy little radfem/scientology crossover experiment you all seem hell-bent (sorry) on forming.

      So, really and sincerely, thanks. You have made being an atheist ‘OK’ again. I love it. :) Take it easy.

      P.S. Have you thought of making some little laminated cards with the list of Atheism+’s ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’ words and phrases on it? Might make it easier for the noobs?

    • And you are behaving like someone with no understanding or appreciation of the person you’re invoking and no sense of perspective or proportion.

      What, precisely, about A+ is so fucking difficult for so many people to comprehend? What about A+ is so threatening that it must be compared to the reviled regimes of history? First FtB’s feminists get labelled Feminazis/stasi, then their objections to being insulted and threatened get labelled as “bullying”, now a call for inclusivity and a pursuit of social justice among atheists is being likened to Bolshevism? What the holy fuck?

      What, precisely, do the A+ trolls hope to achieve with their relentless invocation of communists and totalitarians?

    • @ mandrellian — “What, precisely, about A+ is so fucking difficult for so many people to comprehend? What about A+ is so threatening that it must be compared to the reviled regimes of history?”

      Because the comparison seems apt. Have you ever read the constitution of the former USSR? It is an absolutely wonderful document full of high minded ideals and beautiful sentiments. Yet the reality was far far different. The genocide of 50 million Kulacs. The purges of Mao. The killing fields of Pol Pot. Why is that? Why was the ideal so high and reality so low?

      Well, because that is how ideology functions. It purpose is to be invisible to those who hold it. Everyone has one. Everyone has something they hold in highest regard. Something they lift above the mundane into the sublime. Doing so of necessity pushes everything else down into the muck and mire to because abject. And that which is abject can safely be expelled, with extreme prejudice.

      The singular failure of the New Atheism is it’s failure to understand the nature of evil; it’s perception of religion as the embodiment of evil. Evil is not some “thing” over there. Evil just is the gaze that sees evil everywhere but in itself. And the moment you start “otherizing” is the moment things get really bad.

      People understand this intuitively. They sense it when people use totalizing statements and start making sweeping generalizations of their opponents. They make the connection and associating otherizing and extremist rhetoric with extremist acts is not a large leap at all.

  20. So if you were invited to a debate hosted by an LCMS church, you would run away, simply because the LCMS does not ordain women and thinks that being in a homosexual lifestyle is slavery to sin?

    I’m surprised you wouldn’t try to change their minds.

    If your attempt at affixing heterogeneous concepts to the term “atheist” fails, would you retract that strategy?

    • Assuming I know those facts about them, no, I will no longer attend a debate hosted by such an organization. Because I am not going to “change their minds” even if we debated those very issues, much less some completely unrelated issue like whether God exists or Jesus is a flying zombie. I will instead publicly announce my moral objections to being in their very presence, and the shame of being snubbed by an atheist for being too immoral will suffice to make their congregants think a little about just whether they are on the right track.

      But I don’t put this on anyone else. That speaker’s rule is just mine. There is no reason why another advocate of Atheist+ can’t enter into the lion’s den and represent us in a debate with sexists and homophobes. Provided they can honestly expect any reasonable debate to occur there. I’m just not going to waste my personal time at it. I have more productive places to devote my energies.

    • Correction: I am persuaded to make an exception. I will attend a debate held by such an organization if it is specifically to debate our moral differences (in a reasonable manner). I have emended my booking statement accordingly.

  21. So, anyone that thinks atheism is just a lack of belief in a god or gods automatically embraces sexism, racism, and homophobia? A person who disagrees with the need for a subset label within a minority of people who don’t believe in god de facto accepts people who reject or mock reasonableness, compassion and integrity? If that’s what you’re saying, I think you’re full of shit. If it’s not, then why do you feel the need to separate yourself in the first place?

    • Wow. You really didn’t even read the article, did you? It was written specifically to dispel mistakes like yours

      It’s about defining Atheism+, not atheism. Atheism is just nonbelief in God. Atheism+ is nonbelief in God + basic moral values.

      Maybe Venn diagrams will help you get the point.

      (As to why we would want to separate ourselves from immoral and irrational people, I find it hard to believe I actually have to answer that question. If you don’t have your own answer already, there is something disturbingly wrong with you.)

  22. “Do you care about the mistreatment of women, or not? If not, then you are an asshole.”

    It bothers me that you do not make similar statements about the mistreatment of men. You say that equality for all is covered in feminism, yet you do not actually display it.

    Both men and women notice this.

    • Wow. You really didn’t read the article, did you?

      How did you miss these words:

      Which is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.

      Do tell?

      No, seriously. Tell me. I am scratching my head here and really want to know how the fuck that happened.

    • “Which is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.”

      Is not the same as

      “Do you care about the mistreatment of women, or not? If not, then you are an asshole.”

      I did read the article, and in my reply I was stating that I do not see statements similar to the latter with respect to men, or any other group for that matter. I was not referring to what was compatible but what got supported with zeal and vigor.

      One statement served up as a catch all cornucopia of social justice concerns is not similar to calling someone an asshole for not supporting one specific social concern.

      It bothers me that the only thing that seems to get emphasis with emotion is the same thing all the time by the same people.

    • I fervently hold to the values put forward in this A+ movement, and the name even represents my blood type, yet I feel excluded by it because I am male. This is perhaps why there is such a backlash against it because promoting feminism is by its very nature exclusive of men. I know Richard you have defined it as all rainbows and butterflies, but the term feminism carries baggage, and redefining the term does nothing to relieve you of this baggage.

      For a movement which has prided itself on “consciousness raising” by pointing out gender-non-neutral language, it seems to me highly hypocritical to continue to use the label “feminism” to mean equality between both genders. I also fail to see how the term feminism is even still useful in modern societies where legally and culturally the war which feminism began fighting over 100 years ago is all but over now. Humanism surely is enough to describe the ongoing struggle on behalf of all people and especially minorities.

      So how about it Richard? Can we ever drop the term “feminism” when fighting for the equal rights of men? Will you even acknowledge that the term is hugely devisive and that you and your A+ cohorts using such a term is a big reason why you are recieving so much emotive push-back from men? Are we all simply trash because we remember feminism as what the man-hating lesbians used to beat us over the head with when we were at uni (and please note that I am not saying they were bad because they were lesbians, but because they were man-hating)?

      What if the person who is using all this vitriolic language is a man who gave up his career to stay home and raise his children, but when his wife left him for a more career-minded man at her work, she took the children too because the law favours women in child custody and ignores his years of one-on-one care. His children are devistated they hardly get to see him now, he is in emotional torment every day because of this festering injustice, and the Atheism movement he used to take solace in now rejects him by promoting “feminism” and fighting for the rights of women, thus adding to his feelings of betrayal and injustice. When he rages against you Richard, you may smite him with your arguments from atop your moral high-horse, and say he is not worthy of the A+ movement, but when you do so are you really upholding the values you set forth in your noble A+ mission statement, or are you being what you have called so many, ie a douche?


    • “Which is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.”

      Is not the same as

      “Do you care about the mistreatment of women, or not? If not, then you are an asshole.”

      In every relevant respect, yes, it is.

      But since you are weirdly obsessed over trivia, here you go:

      Do you care about the mistreatment of men, or not? If not, then you are an asshole.

    • The point I am trying to make is that if you have truly internalized the concepts of equal treatment it would be evident in your writing and actions. The general public would see statements such as…

      “If you are not against mistreatment of men you are an asshole”

      “If you are not against mistreatment of transsexuals you are an asshole”

      This is something we do not see. I think I was quite clear in my first comment and my subsequent reply to you that similar and compatible are not the same thing. If I love corn muffins with M&M’s in them and I only talk about how awesome M&M’s are and that the M&M’s are what make the muffin super delicious it would be obvious to anyone that my concern for the corn that made my muffin is much lower than my concern for the M&M’s in it.

      People see this. And I think this is one reasons why you may have problems with attracting people in other subgroups that one may consider oppressed or marginalized. If you are primarily part of or helped create AtheismPlus to promulgate one particular concern over others just say so please. Because, at this point I don not see parity in your language with respect to the subgroups you wish to include in AtheismPlus.

      (My GF says my muffin analogy was not needed. Thoughts on the use of analogies would be appreciated, Thanks)

    • “I’m sorry, I must have missed it. Was there an argument in there somewhere?”

      The argument was that the term “feminism” is a very emotionally charged term and is both exclusive and disrespectful of men. The argument was that continued use of this term to describe people who supposedly aspire to “gender equality” is bigotted and language-inappropriate and is I believe the main reason why you are recieving so much push-back from men you like to label “douches”. For a man who has experienced injustice due to his gender, “feminism” is a deeply offensive term, yet you seem to be OK with offending and marginalizing these men because they won’t embrace the term. You are insensitive and callous to those of your own gender who have experienced injustice.

  23. On the one hand, I fully support the idea of “Atheism+”. I’ve been saying that it’s time for a something of a schism away from the misogynistic asshats for a month or so now. My reaction to the sudden appearance of Atheism+ was a whoop and a fist pump. So far the shared values that seem to have been decided upon are all things I agree with, and I’m under no silly illusion that this is some sort of Stalinist setup (or Leninist for that matter). In fact I’ll fully support this new movement, but I likely won’t refer to myself as a “Plusser” or whatever noun you all come up with to describe yourselves.

    Why do I hesitate to adopt the label if I share the values? For the same reason I don’t call myself a secular humanist, despite sharing their values. I am a socialist: not some far out anarcho-syndicalist or stateless communist, just a basic socialist. For me social justice and equality are causes intrinsically bound up with socialist philosophy. Calling myself a socialist, and then going on to explain that this means I support social justice causes is just more accurate to my situation than calling myself a secular humanist or “plusser” and then going on to explain that the source of my opinions is somewhat different than most secular humanists. But again, I still support what you’re doing.

    If this is overly pedantic or off topic I apologize, but I just thought I should post my point of view somewhere in the Atheist+ discussions.

    PS Lenin was an asshole who derailed the Russian Revolution, but he did have one minor redeeming feature:
    Best. Goatee. Ever.

    • As my article here explains in detail, you don’t have to adopt the label. So please, heed the point. It’s not about labels. It’s about basic moral values.

      As to the question of whether social justice is bound up with socialism, re-read my remarks about libertarian social justice.

    • I don’t know what I was thinking with this comment, especially the Lenin bit, which wasn’t even that funny. Normally I wouldn’t care about such a small issue of labels, and I did read your whole post though apparently I missed a few of its points. In my defence I was sleep deprived and most of the way through a giant pina colada (tough day).

      Anyways, I wasn’t trying to say that all social justice causes are bound up with socialism, just that that’s where I’m personally coming from. I’m fully aware that people can have the same moral values and have radically different political views.

      I am completely shocked at the number of asshats that have come crawling out of the woodwork at the mention of this new idea. In response to that I’ve actually decided to adopt the Atheist+ label, even though it isn’t a perfect fit. What’s a slight difference of opinion on a peripheral issue when you’re dealing with a sea of uncivilized baboons? Keep up the good work and thanks for taking the time to respond to my previous scrawl.

      By the way, we need a new noun to describe someone who agrees with Atheism+. Saying “I’m an Atheist plus.” just sounds weird, and “Plusser” sounds dumb.

    • Nothing in that article seems to be cognizant of what I argued in this article. Indeed, my article above is inadvertently a rebuttal to much of what he says there.

    • He basically said you are being a wrongheaded asshat, as everyone was pointing out on your original post.

      You’ve only turned down the “my-way-or-the-highway” insults a notch here, so it is relevant still.

  24. Tone Troll Trigger warning:

    If you had just written the last paragraph:


    Because siding with Atheism+ only requires that you are willing to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia (and other correlated bigotries), and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity. In my book, it is that, and that alone, that decides whether you are with us, or against us.

    I would have no problem. But all the “For us or against” stuff earlier… Why?

    And as for your “kicking out the Marxists and Anarchists” comment on an earlier post… Why?

    • I took back the Marxists thing. I have yet to meet a rational anarchist–unless “anarchist” is a label they are adopting extremely loosely, to the point that they really just mean libertarian, in which event, see my remarks in this very article you are responding to.

      As to why it has to be us vs. them, that is explained in both this article and that one: we can no longer work with or allow ourselves to be lumped in with sexists, racists, and homophobes, or people who reject or even mock the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity. Greta Christina explains.

      Note also, the revisions (one and two).

      Remember that my original article explicitly declared:

      And I will consider these posts a living document. If from sincere and constructive criticism in comments I am led to alter or revise what I’ve said above in any way (beyond clarifications that can be well-enough addressed in comments themselves), I will do so, and announce the changes in the comments, so there is a record of them. Because I think the values of Atheism+ are to be built collaboratively, and don’t have to be dictated by me alone.

      The proper response to objecting to a document that says something you disagree with, and at the same time says that very thing I just quoted it saying, is to voice what you object to and why (and perhaps, if you have ideas on the matter, how it might be remedied).

      I shouldn’t have to explain this to people. But now that I have, please heed it. That’s what it means to be a reasonable person. Don’t you agree?

    • What about Anarcho Syndicalists, like Noam Chomsky?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho_syndicalism
      I’m certainly not one, but I’ve met some that seem quite rational (Chomsky himself being one of them).
      Most anarchists are not of the Haymarket Riot bomb tossing variety. Really an anarchist is just anyone who wishes to make a stateless society. It may not be practical, but then neither is Libertarianism.
      I know you took back your statement against Marxists, but you might still find this bit of information interesting. There are some people who fully or mostly accept Marx’s criticism of the things that are wrong with Capitalism, but do not accept his subsequent solutions. I am one of these people. Some who hold these views still refer to themselves as “Marxists”, although I’m not one of them.

    • Thank you for the pointers, I have followed them up.

      I have followed up on your views on Anarchism and Marxism.

      You have a point on the practicality of Anarchism but I think you should review. You give Marxism an easy “out” with the “the peaceful and more enlightened Marxism” but, I would say, that has never worked in practice either; so a bit of a double standard.

      There are many strands of anarchism and most would not associate with libertarianism which seems often to collect a similar bunch of unpleasant personalities to those you don’t wish A+ to be associated with. Generally Anarchism doesn’t mean chaos or nature red in tooth and claw (Your Somalia comment was unhelpful, warlords are not anarchists, they are competing dictators), its main strands (following the intellectual routes through Proudhon, Backunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Gandhi and others) have generally emphasised egalitarian cooperative ventures with organisation at the lowest levels possible.

      On a separate note, why give Marxism a free pass? Its analysis requires a historicist view of history for which there is no good evidence; surely you should be challenging that? Also, pretty much every Marxist organisation that has taken power has become a state dictatorship that oppresses any dissent, or it has been overthrown, or both.

    • I don’t give Marxism a free pass, any more than I do Libertarianism. We can have all manner of reasonable debates and disagreements over those things, as long as we all share the same basic core values I enumerate.

      Anarchists are either really some form of Libertarian (in which case they are covered by my remarks in this article on Libertarians) or not, and if not, in my experience such Anarchists are indeed as persistently irrational as “UFO cults and churches” (two other groups I included in the comment in question).

      Now, just as this article above essentially says, if you embrace all the values except only the one value of reasonableness, then you are not an asshole (unlike people who reject compassion or integrity), just not capable of rational debate. I will indeed disown you in that case. But if you are nice about being irrational, I’ll be nice about distancing myself from you, and limited cooperation will be possible (as I explained in the original article).

    • Tom,
      Being overthrown doesn’t invalidate an idea. Likewise if a Marxist organization becomes a dictatorship, then it’s acting in violation of the principles it claims to posess. If a democratically elected president abolished elections and declared himself dictator that wouldn’t be an invalidation of democracy.

      Full disclosure: I’m not a Marxist or a communist, although I do find Marx’s criticisms of capitalism quite compelling. To what exactly were you referring when you said, “Its analysis requires a historicist view of history for which there is no good evidence”? If you’re talking about historical materialism, Marx himself warned that it was merely a guideline to research and not the end all and be all of political theory. Marx tended to reject anything that summed up history in a simple theorem. He also came out vociferously against some historicist tendencies shown by associates in his lifetime.

      Even if Marxism is wrong or impractical, that doesn’t mean its proponents are irrational. Politics are a convoluted process in which it is difficult to conduct controlled experiments and therefore easy to come to an incorrect conclusion due to a paucity of evidence. One can be both rational and mistaken after all. If we rejected everyone who got something wrong there’d be nothing left but tumbleweeds. Another difficulty with politics is that opinion plays a large factor. Political methods are means to attain an end, but the end itself is really an opinion (how one wishes society to be). Differing goals equate to differing means.

      Most “Marxist” states used Marxism as a cloak to make themselves look better while they oppressed the people of their country. I can think of only two examples of a Marxist or Marxist-like stateless society that have ever arisen: The Paris Commune, and a few Spanish provinces (like Catalonia) during the Spanish Revolution. The Paris Commune was put down by government troops and the Spanish Revolution declined in part due to interference from the Soviets and was eventually conquered by Franco. If you want to see a glimpse into an actual Marxist stateless society, read George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

    • Dr Carrier,
      I personally know four Anarchists who I would consider fairly rational, and who would vehemently deny that they were Libertarians. (Three Anarcho Syndicalists, one Community Anarchist) The Libertarians I know would probably disown them as well. Maybe in your book these four are Libertarians, although they certainly don’t fit the mold as I understand it. The simplest difference is this: Libertarians believe that individuals should be allowed to obtain property as they see fit, and that unfettered ownership of property is an important part of freedom. The Anarchists I know hold that property is owned by the community as a whole (with the exception of a home and reasonable personal effects). They claim that PREVENTING individuals from acquiring a surplus of capital is the only way to maintain equality and therefore freedom. These are fundamentally opposed positions.

      Again full disclosure: I am neither an Anarchist nor a Libertarian, and I apologize if in the quest for brevity I misrepresented the views of either position.

    • “[Anarchists] claim that PREVENTING individuals from acquiring a surplus of capital is the only way to maintain equality and therefore freedom”

      Which is impossible to do without a government. Therefore, anarchism is irrational: it wants to accomplish what only a government can, without any government.

    • There are many ways to prevent others from committing an action without government: social taboo, disassociation with the offender, a mob with torches, etc. Are these good methods for forming a society? I don’t think so, but I can’t justify the notion that these are necessarily irrational. Anarchists don’t oppose cooperation on common goals, they just think that said cooperation should be opt-in and arise from below, rather than be imposed from above.

      It’s hard to call something irrational when it has actually worked in practice. The Free Territory in the Ukraine managed to form an anarchist society of around seven million people. It lasted from 1918-1921. Many anarchist communities formed during the Spanish Revolution in the 30s (alongside the Marxists). The Shinmin Autonomous Region in Manchuria was an anarchist society that lasted from 1929-1931. Why were all of these societies so short-lived? They were all put down by armed force from nations that were larger and had powerful industrial bases. This isn’t evidence that anarchist societies are irrational, just that they aren’t the best at making war.

      As I said before, political philosophies are largely about how to go about obtaining subjective goals about how society should be. Even if we disagree with Anarchism’s ideas about how society should function (as I do), there still doesn’t seem to be enough reason to declare Anarchism to be irrational.

  25. Too bad that 99% of the world’s atheists do not give a rat’s ass about “Atheism+”, just like they didn’t give one about the “Brights”. And even worse, you are as insular as the worst of the rednecks in your country, who believe the world ends at the US borders.

  26. I have a question.

    You say, “siding with Atheism+ only requires that you are willing to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia (and other correlated bigotries), and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.”

    I do repudiate sexism, racism and homophobia, and other correlated bigotries. I endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.

    However, I do not think that parody ceramic jewelry and “I am not a Skepchick” t-shirts amount to sexism or bigotry. I do not agree that the swinger couple that handed out a swinger business card were harassing anyone. I also don’t agree that late night invitations for coffee in a hotel room, even after the invitee gave a speech about sexism, amount to harassment or sexism or the like. I also do not agree that sexism, racism and bigotry are large problems in the atheist and skeptic communities, as I think any rare incidents that do arise are either minor or handled promptly or appropriately.

    Am I welcome or not welcome in Atheism+? Am I permitted to hold those views, and voice those views, and still be part of Atheism+?

    Thanks for your time.

    • I do not think that parody ceramic jewelry and “I am not a Skepchick” t-shirts amount to sexism or bigotry.

      I never said it did (indeed, I’m not actually aware of anyone who said it did). I said it was unconscionably mean to an individual person trying to enjoy a public event. Read the actual account of what happened. And then re-read what I said about it originally:

      It shows the dregs will now publicly mock humanist values, and abusively disregard the happiness of their own people. Well, that starts drawing the battle lines pretty clearly then.

      Indeed, as the Surly Amy story shows, there are clearly many of us who disregard the happiness of others just to hurt them, mocking or insulting (or even threatening) them merely to please one’s own vanity or self-righteousness, in complete disregard of the pointless misery it causes another human being. That is fucking evil. And if you are complicit in that, or don’t even see what’s wrong with it, or worse, plan to engage in Christian-style apologetics for it, defending it with the same bullshit fallacies and tactics the Christians use to defend their own immorality or that of their fictional god, then I don’t want anything to do with you. You are despicable. You are an awful person. You disgust me. You are not my people.

      Even the most rudimentary application of The Golden Rule would have caused any of the people who treated Amy as they did, or Rebecca Watson, or any of the many women and men who have been targeted by this shit, to stop themselves well beforehand. “Wait. Would I want people to treat me this way?” No, you fucking wouldn’t. So alas, you are a hypocrite.

      As to your claim that “sexism, racism and bigotry” are “rare incidents” try reading this and this. Just for starters.

    • Well, a couple follow-ups.

      1. I do not think that the parodies of ceramic jewelry and Harriett Hall’s t-shirts were pointless and senselessly mean. Having a t-shirt saying “I am not a Skepchick” is no more “mean” than having a t-shirt that says “i am not a Christian” or that belief in God is a fairy tale. These things can be very hurtful to oversensitive Christians and religious folks, but they are certainly not something that folks need to stop wearing just because someone might be offended or put off by it. These are things we all must deal with from time to time, and it is particularly true the more one becomes a public figure. Prominent people, like Dawkins and Harris, et al, are going to get push back, and folks will parody them and mock them. They deal with it.

      2. In my view, you overstate the case for things like t-shirts and parody jewelry and snubbing and “I’m not a Watsonista,” and that sort of thing. You take those milquetoast, bland little snarky remarks and elevate them to the level of “pointless disregard” and “misery.” I think that is where some of the disconnect comes in relation to these incidents. On the one hand, you have a general statement that everyone pretty much agrees with: harassment, threats and such — hatred against women is something we ought not put up with. However, then when these kinds of examples are raised as examples of that kind of conduct (whether by you or others) many folks are not seeing things like swinger cards as so grossly unacceptable. They’re minor breaches — etiquette issues — most everyone I’ve talked to about it say – taking the swinger card example – that an adult would look at the card and maybe laugh, and discard it. End of story.

      What is weird to many, many people, is what is perceived as a hypersensitivity. And, then the reaction sometimes is “oh, you think woman are being hypersensitive by complaining about harassment and hatred?” And, really folks aren’t doing that — they’re saying instead that it is an overreaction to consider the swinger card incident harassment or even grossly improper behavior, and that small breaches of etiquette like that are de minimus and do not merit the attention we’re giving them.

      So, sometimes I think we talk past each other, and then it riles people up. It riles people up to be accused of not caring about “hatred against women,” what what they’re really doing is DISAGREEING that a particular incident is, in fact, hatred against women.

      Anyway — having followed this, that is one of the things that has become apparent to me. There are two large sets of people here, both of which generally speaking care about limiting or preventing hatred and harassment of women. Where these two groups differ is in defining what conduct actually rises to the level of hatred and harassment. One side seems to include discourtesies, breaches of etiquette, and small instances of unwanted attention or come ons into the purview of hatred/threats/harassment against women (misogyny, sexism, and whatnot). The other side does not include such smaller instances and discourtesies in the penumbra surrounding hatred/harassment/threats/misogyny/sexism and whatnot. The former then accuses the latter of being advocates of hatred and such against women, and the latter accuses the former of having “sticks up their asses.”

      And, it all comes down to a difference of opinion on what specific kinds of conduct amount to harassment/hatred/threats/misogyny/sexism etc.

    • I believe, regarding the instances of sexism/bigotry and whatnot, I clearly referenced at conferences and such. If I didn’t, that is what I meant to do.

      I did not say or mean that it was rare on the internet. Nothing is rare on the internet, including crush videos, racism, sexism, homophobia, heterophobia, religious extremism, anarchism, communism, Republicanism, 2nd Amendment rights advocatists, militias, Nordic white supremacists, KKK folks, and anything you can imagine.

      Of course there is vileness on the internet, and jackasses post a bunch of crap on Reddit and in the comments section on Youtube.

      That has precious little to do with the frequency of sexual harassment and such in the atheist/skeptic community, which is largely populated by progressive liberals.

    • >>mocking or insulting (or even threatening) them merely to please one’s own vanity or self-righteousness

      So why do you and others mock Christians so regularly? Or call people assholes, douchebags, etc. if they disagree with you?

      Doesn’t that violate your own stated rules?

      Are you not subjugating criticism to hurting people’s feelings?

  27. The problem I had with your original post is basically this: I hold values that include applying skepticism to everything, social justice, women’s rights (and minority rights in general), and diversity, but I do not want to be associated with the tactics used by FtB, including on this blog. You said that this made me an ‘enemy’ or a douchebag according to your comments. Of course, this further enforced my desire to not be associated with this place.

    I’m subscribed to this blog, because I’ve followed your work for a long time. I’ll probably continue to buy your books, because you’re at least professional in those. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be subscribed to this blog.

    • I cannot find any comment by you to which I responded you were an “enemy” or a “douchebag.” Many critics in these threads responded reasonably and raised valid concerns in a reasonable way, to which I responded in kind. So why would you assume I would have treated you any differently?

      The only people I dropped the hammer on were people who were given a choice to be for or against sexism and cruelty and irrationality and chose to vote “for.” Without any argument or explanation. This“>This comment provides links summarizing the actual sequence of events.

      I also don’t know what you mean by “the tactics used by FtB” or what those “tactics” (?) have to do with what I am writing about or doing. I am me. I am not FtB.

    • You didn’t say anything to me personally. The key issue is that someone can share the values of the A+ group / movement / whatever you want to call it, and yet not want to be associated with A+ because of the tactics associated with A+ and FtB. This does not make them (me included) an enemy or a douchebag, yet you clearly communicate in the original post (and following comments) that anyone not joining with A+ is both.

      No thanks. I’ll read for the bayes theorem and history stuff, and for diversity and social justice go to other groups.

  28. From the response to #7:

    See how simple that is?

    Simplistic, you mean? I agree.

    Of course I repudiate those things, but the devil is in the details, yes?

    The point I made was that body language and voice inflection are integral parts of human communication. Written language taken by itself, can (and will) be misleading, in terms of judging a person’s true colors.

    Take PZ Myers, for instance. In person he’s gracious, soft-spoken, and friendly. Do I need to elaborate any further on my point?

    It’s hilarious how all you academic types keep missing that fact that everyone is continually learning as we go in this life. Expressing oneself online is not a trivial skill. It may take months and years to achieve proficiency, not to mention the time required to master the subtleties demanded by modern feminists, for instance. Blogging, and commenter participation, is a phenomenon that has only existed, on a large scale, for a little more than a decade. We need some compassion for the learning process, not a disgusting witch hunt, and I just don’t see that sentiment expressed in this rather disturbing post of yours.

    Imagine teachers throwing students out of English class based upon the opinions expressed in their first essay. This isn’t that hard of a concept, Dr. Carrier.

    Pedagogy, not prejudice.

    • Of course I repudiate those things, but the devil is in the details, yes?

      Which are all open to reasonable debate. As explicitly stated in this very article. Multiple times.

      But we have to start from a basic foundation of commitment to basic values. If you cannot even commit yourself to those values, reasonable debate is impossible.

  29. Hi, everyone. “Long time listener, first time caller” as they say.

    Most of the (predominantly negative) posts here seem to be very good examples of how so often people react to tone of voice rather than to what is said. The information transmitted by Dr. Carrier is pretty much all common sense stuff: reason, compassion, and a lack of willingness to waste time on those who have neither.

    However, the “tone of voice” of the article was rather dogmatic: “Lenin dictating to the central committee” as one poster put it. And people, rightly or wrongly (well, wrongly) are reacting to that far more than to what was said.

    That being said, Atheism+ does seem like the place to be, although I do wish the name was a bit less silly.

    • The name really won’t matter in the long run.

      As to substituting emotional reactions against tone for rational response to statements, well, atheists are supposed to be rational, right?

      The fact is, there objectively isn’t anything wrong with my tone here. It’s no different than the tone of any other article I have written advocating a moral position. I think there are other things at work here.

    • I cannot reply to Richard’s comment so I’ll put it here.

      Richard,

      If you are an activist trying to grow a community then emotional reactions matter. I agree with pretty much all of you substantive points but something put my back up and I felt resistance.

      When pretty much the same points were made by Greta and Jen I agreed whole heartedly without reservation.

      I am obviously not alone in my reactions. I hope you will take this as constructive criticism; as I said, on the issues I am with you.

    • @ Richard Carrier — “atheists are supposed to be rational”

      Atheists are human and humans are rarely purely rational. Evolution has selected for other qualities that are essential to survival. Rationality is one among them but it is not primary to survival. It is more important that you be afraid, be very afraid, when you hear a snake’s rattle than that you sit and ponder over the metaphysical question of whether or not that’s what you really heard.

      “The fact is, there objectively isn’t anything wrong with my tone here.”

      False. It is an objective fact that there *is* something wrong with your tone. How do we know? Because others say there is, therefore there is a problem. It is your subjective belief that there is not problem with your tone but you don’t get to decide how other people feel. By definition your opinion about how you seem to other people is subjective.

      The reason people are objecting is because your tone is overly strident, exclusionary, dogmatic and reactionary. Ronald Lindsay put it succinctly:

      “Aggravating matters was a blog post by Richard Carrier that appeared two days after JM’s initial post which was—how to put this— a wee bit strident. References to enemies, kicking people to the sewers, and a closing call for “everyone now to pick sides … are you with us, or with them; are you now a part of the Atheism+ movement … or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality.” “

      If other people are telling you there is a problem, then there is a problem. That is just how one objectively decides if one exists. You don’t get to make that call.

      The reason other people are comparing your statements to authoritarian regimes of the past is because you are being, well… authoritarian. You are trying to dictate in a top down hierarchal manner who is in and who is out. Like all authoritarians your reasoning is self serving and circular. Critics are dismissed as racist, sexist and homophobic. How do we know this? Because they are critics!

      The error is in the direction of fit of your defining claims. Instead of describing reality you are trying to dictate reality. This never works out well. I predict therefore that for precisely this reason the A+ movement will fail. As a corollary I predict you’ll blame everyone but yourselves.

    • Critics are dismissed as racist, sexist and homophobic. How do we know this? Because they are critics!

      Since I have interacted with numerous critics without assuming or saying any such thing, you are clearly distorting reality to maintain your fantasy of what actually happened.

      What actually happened was this. Which breaks down like this. Which seems to have dredged up an irrational reaction in people like this.

      No one generally would react this way if I said malicious sexists are C.H.U.D.s that need to be kicked back into the sewers, and that we need to declare ourselves as either for or against behavior like this. Lindsay’s remark thus makes no sense, since he doesn’t even seem to grasp what this is about.

      The misperception is not on my part. It’s on the part of people who didn’t adhere to basic logic in reacting emotionally to what I had written–which objectively should not have happened, since what I did was not all that unusual: call for people to repudiate sexism and cruelty, and not stand by passively and let it go on.

      And in any event, insofar as my wording may have confused anyone, this article, and revisions to the first, have addressed that. So there is no longer any excuse to “misunderstand” me now, is there?

      So what’s with the persistent refusal to pay attention to what I’m actually saying? What’s with the continual bullshit about this being authoritarianism?

    • @ Richard – “What actually happened was this.”

      Let’s get granular then.

      Tom says:
      August 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      I’ll stick with the original atheism, thanks.

      To which your reply is:

      Richard Carrier says:
      August 28, 2012 at 7:34 am

      This is the sequence of events:

      I explain Atheism+ means being an atheist who is against sexism and racism and endorses the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.

      However the direction of fit for these sentences are different. Tom’s statement is a belief with the mind-to-world direction of fit. “Atheism” as not-theism is descriptive. Yours is not a belief but a desire, “Atheism Plus” is proscriptive and has the world-to-mind direction of fit.

      In other words, “Atheism” describes the set of people who reject a belief in a god or gods. “Atheism Plus” is a political group which seeks to layout a set of beliefs common to or agreed to by those attempting to found it. There is no necessary member of A+. They could just as easily have been atheists + people who like sweet rolls. If Tom refuses to join “atheists who love sweet rolls” it does not follow the Tom hates sweet rolls.

      Thus when Tom or anyone else says “No thanks” they are not saying they necessarily disagree with the values A+ advances. They are saying they don’t want to join your club.

      “So when I name set A and say what B is (B = basic moral values), and you react by saying you are against A+B, you are the one who is terrible at comprehension. You are the one who is illogically (or, perhaps genuinely) saying you reject basic moral values.”

      But you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to dictate who is or isn’t a member of A+ if it is to describe facts rather than a political group. A+ did not exist until someone decided to create it. A has always existed as long as there have been T’s (theists). If you really mean for A+ to describe the intersection of A and B then you have no right to dictate the terms of membership in A+. Every atheist who also holds to basic moral values is a member of A+ regardless of your or anyone’s opinion of them.

      But that’s not how many are taking this. They are taking A+ to be a political group with codes of membership to which they must agree. And they don’t want to. From which it does not follow they reject basic morality.

      You owe everyone an apology.


    • Thus when Tom or anyone else says “No thanks” they are not saying they necessarily disagree with the values A+ advances. They are saying they don’t want to join your club.

      Which is irrational. No club joining was mentioned. I only asked to declare what kind of atheist we are, an atheist + these core values, or an atheist characterized by “sexism and cruelty and irrationality.”

      The rest follows.

      A rational reply would have been “I’m definitely an atheist of the first kind, but I don’t like the label and won’t be joining any organizations just yet.”


      Every atheist who also holds to basic moral values is a member of A+ regardless of your or anyone’s opinion of them.

      Funny. That’s exactly my point. If “Every atheist who also holds to basic moral values is a member of A+” and Tom declared he was not a member of A+, then he was de facto declaring that he does not hold to basic moral values.

      QED.

      A rational reply would have been “I think there are some problems with the moral values and aims you delineate, and since in the article you ask for suggestions to change and revise them, here are some suggestions and why I think they would produce something I could agree with…”

      No apology is needed, when I’m not the one behaving unreasonably.

  30. O.k.

    Well, you’ve sealed it for me.

    I attempted to continue our discussion by responding, very politely, to your comment, but you apparently do not let perfectly reasonable comments through your “moderation” filter.

    This is the kind of thing that loses you fans among the blogging and forum communities online. It’s a way for you to control the discussion for your own benefit, and keep out opposing or contrary voices.

    If you can’t see why this is a long term net-losing strategy for you, then I think I can predict where Atheism+ will go…and, that won’t be up.

    • Learn some patience. When it says your comment is still in moderation, it’s still in moderation. It takes me typically one to two days to find time to manage the queue for all my blog posts, and when I am dealing with hundreds of comments (as with these posts lately), that time can double–since I have a lot of other real work to do. To automatically assume I am “blocking” your comments even when it says your comment is still awaiting moderation, is simply a weird thing to do. Calm down.

  31. mandrellian says:
    “What, precisely, about A+ is so fucking difficult for so many people to comprehend?”

    Nothing. I understand it, I just think it is unnecessary, stupid, divisive, and overly feminist-based. I consider feminism to be an ideology of supremacy, not equality, and there are many other extremely moral people who agree with me. We have evidence of our claims.

    And yet rather than exchanging in discussion, the decision is made. I am automatically, apparently, suitable only for being “kicked back into the sewers”. The divisiveness is what draws the comparisons with Scientology.

    “What about A+ is so threatening that it must be compared to the reviled regimes of history? First FtB’s feminists get labelled Feminazis/stasi,”

    Feminism is facist of and within itself. It doesn’t matter whether it is “feminism” or “feminazism”, it is the case that the ONLY time you ever find self-identifying feminists being politically active, it is to promote advantage for women at the expense of men. Even where men are doing WORSE than women in a particular field, they campaign to elevate women further. They often do this with a range of untruths and dogma that, to be honest, I would EXPECT a community of skeptics to see through straight away.

    “then their objections to being insulted”

    Need to grow a thicker skin, because that’s what a man would need to do.

    “and threatened”

    I have yet to see a single shred of objective evidence that confirms this.

    “get labelled as “bullying”,”

    They ARE bullies – they use white-knight characters like yourself, who claim to be a skeptic and yet are unable to think objectively when a damsal is in seeming distress. And yet they bully. They have triggered A+ , where opposing points of view are ostracised and discounted. They have campaigned for, and received, special priviledge for women wherever they can. This is not logical. This is not rational. Their deliberate mistruths should be obvious to you, as a skeptic.

    “now a call for inclusivity and a pursuit of social justice among atheists is being likened to Bolshevism? What the holy fuck?”

    You and atheism + come across as a creepy little cult, to be perfectly honest. My joke about the laminated cards summed it up for me. You want me to choose only from the approved list? Well, how about you go f**k yourself, since the reasons given by Mr Carrier are inane at best.

    “What, precisely, do the A+ trolls hope to achieve with their relentless invocation of communists and totalitarians?”

    We hope to see Atheism + seen as the left-wing, paranoid delusion that it really, genuinely is. You’re welcome.

    • The very idea that to ask people to “repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia, and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity” is “divisive” is the rot that collapses your entire rambling comment.

      That is what is “not logical.”

      And that’s even before we get to the various red flags in your remarks cluing us in to your unsavory character.

  32. You could have just called yourselves Liberal Atheists/Humanist Atheists, why hijack the word atheist and confuse people when we already have words people understand?
    “Hey I’m an Atheist plus”
    “What the hell does that mean”
    *long-winded explanation*
    “Oh so you are a liberal”.

    What a pointless endeavor. We’ll all just call you liberal atheists and not atheist+

    • Hey maybe the libertarian atheists will call themselves atheist++ and really confuse the hell out of people. Hijacking the word atheist is really dishonest and douchey, don’t use manipulative language.

    • Funny you should say this in a comment attached to an article that specifically and explicitly explained how even libertarianism is compatible with Atheism+.

      So unless you are using a definition of “liberal” so broad as to be meaningless, you are not making a correct observation. Even apart from the fact that “repudiating sexism, racism, and homophobia, and endorsing the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity” is not distinctively “liberal”–unless you are assuming non-liberals are all evil, and everyone knows all non-liberals are all evil, and thus will know that “liberal” means “repudiating sexism, racism, and homophobia, and endorsing the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.”

  33. It’s kind of fascinating to me that, no matter how many times Jen, Greta, Richard, and whoever else states explicitly that it’s not about the labels, or explains in detail how A+ is different from secular humanism or why atheism means more to some people than a simple lack of belief in god, all the same people keep making all the same trite comments. Please, by all means, keep showing us how none of you is actually, honestly, objectively reading and comprehending anything Jen & Co. are saying and continue validating for us all the reasons why A+ is totally necessary.

  34. I think that Atheism+ sounds like a good idea but for the moment I’ll say no until it outgrows FTB. Like most people (I hope) I am all for equality and calling out any kind of Bigotry and magic thinking. However, I think that, because of a minority, FTB is a tainted brand at the moment. Along with the real misogynists and douchebags, there have been too many good people who have tried to raise valid criticisms about FTB’s and Skepchick’s take on some of the recent events. Instead of discussion they have been taken out of context, banned and lumped in with the real misogynists. I can’t see why this will change with Atheism+.

  35. “Note that I will not speak at events run by organizations that are unwilling to repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia, or that do not endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.”

    Those are fine values.

    Do you plan on sending your definition of these values to these organizations before hand so they can submit their mission statements for your inspection before you accept their invitation?

    Just imagine if some groups definition of compassion didn’t meet with your approval, what a terrible tragedy.

    • Since this very article already answers your question, in the very second paragraph, I am going to assume you are either a careless reader or wantonly insincere.

  36. Most of the commenters on these threads seem to be total fuckwads.

    As a counterexample to ridiculous claims that just referring to yourself as an atheist (sans +) now makes you an asshole. I will still simply refer to myself as an atheist, not A+. I don’t particularly like the A+ label, but I agree with all of the values related to it. I do not plan to take an activist role in the A+ movement, but I support the movement as a reader of some of the proponent blogs and I support the ideas put forth relating to social justice, which I then occasionally communicate and discuss with friends (which when discussing, I do not frame using the A+ label).

    So here, I am, just calling myself an atheist, and yet I don’t anticipate a response from A+ proponents telling me to get out of the way or considering me a bad person.

  37. Richard,

    In the comments you make the following statements:

    “You evidently didn’t read the article you purport to be commenting on.

    It’s not about labels.

    So stop talking about that.

    Talk about the actual issue: values.”

    yet in the actual article that you seem sure the commenter has not even read you devote an entire section to labels.

    In justifying the need for a new label specifically you say

    “That’s one reason Atheism+ is an essential label and can’t be replaced with Humanism, even when those words are defined in such a way (and indeed they can be defined in such a way) that the two groups are 100% identical in values and beliefs.”

    You wonderfully sow this up completely so that it couldn’t be about anything but labels.

    And you respond to another commenter

    “As my article here explains in detail, you don’t have to adopt the label. So please, heed the point. It’s not about labels. It’s about basic moral values.”

    I take the point that your overall intention is directed to values but have taken the time to express a need for a new label also. Either answer the questions about labels or don’t but stop acting as if labels have nothing to do with this.

    Many times in the above article you talk about clearing up confusion or misunderstanding and seem confused as to why people have interpreted you as saying totalitarian things like “with us or against us”

    Yet your “The New Atheism +” post was quite clear

    “In the meantime, are you an atheist? Do you identify as an atheist? Then I call upon you to pick sides within our movement (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you with the Atheism+ movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality?”

    You were expressly establishing “with us or against us” hence the references to totalitarian regimes. You claim to be an historian so I would have thought you would have less trouble understanding why you have been likened in this regard to say Stalin (hyperbolically, obviously). The above paragraph is one of the most presumptuous self-righteous pieces of arrogant crap I have had to read anywhere in a long time.

    I will choose what to label myself. By not adopting a pet label you happen to like in no way even hints that I endorse or am tolerant of sexism, cruelty or irrationality. A rational person would know this. I suppose it is possible that you are dishonest enough to suggest that that was not what you were saying but that would reveal to any honest reader that you are either a liar or woefully incompetent at expressing yourself. To claim that such a reading of the text is anything but completely understandable would make you a liar. I am assuming that you have a least a 10 year old’s ability to actually understand a text’s intention as opposed to despicably and pedantically insisting that if something is not explicitly stated, it was not intended.

    Incidentally, it was so very magnanimous of you to deign to allow us to merely cheer, actually adopting the label was not necessary! Well!, thank you Richard!

    Maybe everyone in the atheist community can have a go at this. Maybe I could become the self-appointed master of the atheist community and declare Atheism2

    I will add -insert random, utterly uncontroversial positive value already shared by the vast majority of atheists here- that is currently not listed by Atheism+. Lets say Atheism2 is also against animal cruelty. I then say something completely fucking warped like are you with us, or with them; are you with the Atheism2 movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism+’s animal cruelty?”

    Tell me you wouldn’t read that as implying that anyone insisting on keeping the Atheism+ label is in someway tolerant of or actively endorsing animal cruelty.

    Also, someone likening you to Stalin in response to such an arrogant and repugnant a statement is absolutely appropriate (this again assumes you have the intellectually capacity to understand the reason and scope of the reference and it was not actually being suggested that you were equivalent to Stalin). Your reaction:

    “This includes if you mock or make fun of Atheism+ or belittle it with stupid dumb-ass shit like calling it Stalinism. That makes you an asshole. Point blank. Plain and simple.”

    Whatever you do, don’t consider for a moment that maybe your clueless comment deserved the mocking. Let’s ignore the blasphemy connotations of the suggestion that mocking or belittling Atheism+ automatically makes you an asshole…..as obviously such a perfect initiative, off to such a great start couldn’t possibly be made fun by a non-asshole. It’s a fact, plain and simple!

    If I didn’t know better I would think this was an attempt to satirise scientology or something. Sadly; depressingly, I do know better.

    I would be willing to accept that maybe in a moment of passion you overstated yourself and wrote some things you later realised were unacceptable but to characterise the people you took you at your word as misunderstanding you and assholes for rightly mocking you, then, as you also describe yourself as a philosopher, I would say you are in desperate need of Socrates’ inner voice.

    • In justifying the need for a new label specifically you say…

      That’s a good point. If you skipped the rest of the article (which explicitly says you don’t need to use the label, multiple times), that sentence could be misleading, taken out of context. So I have revised it to:

      That’s one reason Atheism+ is an essential label for some to use and can’t simply be replaced with Humanism in all cases…

      You were expressly establishing “with us or against us” hence the references to totalitarian regimes.

      The fallacy is the false equation of being with or against a set of values, with totalitarianism.

      Tell me you wouldn’t read that as implying that anyone insisting on keeping the Atheism+ label is in someway tolerant of or actively endorsing animal cruelty.

      I would take you as asking me whether I was an atheist for or against animal cruelty.

      Which is exactly analogous to what I asked.

      Everything else you say is just asshattery.

  38. “or that do not endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.”

    Does this mean you won’t speak at any conference that does not support marijuana legalization?

    Marijuana legalization is a Social Justice issue

    Marijuana prohibition is used to forward racist ideology without being openly racist

    When can I expect your next blog post on Marijuana Legalization?

    • That’s silly.

      Being silly is not being reasonable.

      It also ignores everything I wrote in this article about the debatability of particular policies within the umbrella of the core values.

      So nice try fabricating a straw man.

      Your question is mooted by the article itself, which already addresses all such questions in general.

  39. Richard,

    The fallacy is the false equation of being with or against a set of values, with totalitarianism.

    Firstly, you were being mocked. It wasn’t a formal logical argument but if you insist on pretending that you don’t understand that:
    “us” and “them” are not a set of values, but it is clear at this point that you are happy to be dishonest.

    Tell me you wouldn’t read that as implying that anyone insisting on keeping the Atheism+ label is in someway tolerant of or actively endorsing animal cruelty.

    I would take you as asking me whether I was an atheist for or against animal cruelty.

    Which is exactly analogous to what I asked.

    I will leave it to readers of this exchange to judge whether you are just terrible at comprehension or a liar. I think you can guess my opinion.

    • The Celtic Chimp:

      “us” and “them” are not a set of values, but it is clear at this point that you are happy to be dishonest.

      You are becoming increasingly unintelligible.

      Saying “us non-murderers vs. the murderers” or “us non-pedophiles vs. the pedophiles” is a reference to values. It has no analogy or comparison to totalitarianism. And as for these statements, so for any others that merely express a fundamental difference in moral values.

      As to the rest, you do not seem to grasp basic logic.

      Set A consists of two subsets: members of A that include B, and members of A that exclude B.

      There is no other subset.

      So when I name set A and say what B is (B = basic moral values), and you react by saying you are against A+B, you are the one who is terrible at comprehension. You are the one who is illogically (or, perhaps genuinely) saying you reject basic moral values.

      That’s how logic actually works.

      What’s going on in your brain, however, is anybody’s guess. All I know is it’s not logic.

  40. What is A+ stance on overpopulation issue? The conflict betweeen growing human population and nature – what should be prioritized?

    On methods allowed to avoid catastrophic population dieoff in the future considering overshoot now? Eg. is mandatory population control allowed by A+ values? If it should be voluntary then wouldn’t it be fair for Earth to be overtaken by the descendants of egoists who multiply without a measure, with genes of good, sacrificing people going extinct? If it could be mandatory – isn’t it immoral, violent or whatever?

    What is A+ stand on welfare parasites (“social justice”)? Should they be given government handouts forever, or be left with no means to live if they don’t actively seek jobs after some time on welfare?

    Does your socialism extend to corporations? Does it mean that ineffective banks should get money from the governmnet?

    Should rich people be taxed same way as rich corporations (=not much) – including the ability to write down costs for basically everything? Or are you against “priviledged” people so much that they should pay more than a rich corporation for the same amount of profit?

    In case of a limited amount of money should we invest it in higher education of talented people or support for the poorest?

    Is producing health-harming junk food evil, immoral? Should producers of it be destroyed?

    That’s of course just a tip of the iceberg of moral questions you would face because of going from researching the supernatural to real-world politics (what A+ aspires to). Unless you can’t answer them well, your movement is not worh existing.

    • Try reading the article you are responding to. “Atheism+” does not “have views” on these things. It has a set of core values that guide our general aims and debates about particular policies on matters like these. Atheism+ is about believing these kinds of issues are worth talking about and debating policies on at atheist conferences and in atheist meetups. Atheism+ is simply the view that atheists should care about issues like these and not ignore or avoid them. Nothing more. The rest is up for inquiry and debate.

  41. I was a Jehovah’s Witness for the first 18 years of my life, apathetic towards religion for the next 18, and an apostate for the rest. I have no intention of being part of a movement that takes a page from the JW book of how to keep the congregations clean, thanks.

    “Atheism Less” my ass.

  42. “us” and “them” are not a set of values, but it is clear at this point that you are happy to be dishonest.

    You are becoming increasingly unintelligible.

    Ok, I’ll try to be more intelligible.
    I think you are being inconsistent and making logic cry.

    Many people got annoyed at you and made references to totalitarianism because they read you as saying “Join my club or you are for sexism, cruelty and irrationality”. i.e. “you are with us or against us” the good old “us” and “them” dichotomy. In this case the perceived dichotomous groups are “Atheism+” and “every other atheist”.
    You made this dichotomous nature of the declaration absolutely explicit
    Set A consists of two subsets: members of A that include B, and members of A that exclude B.
    There is no other subset.

    In other words, there is no subset of Atheists C which aren’t in A or B.

    As being or identifying as “atheist” is essentially just the statement “I am not a theist” many atheists got annoyed when someone came along and said “I am presuming that you support / tolerate A, B, or C, unless you join my pet group or publically support it”. What reactions do think Humanists would have gotten if they had made the claim that not adopting “humanist” or publically declaring your support for humanism suggests that you mere atheists are racist/sexist etc.
    I think they would have been told to go fuck themselves and stop being arrogant dictatorial assclowns by most atheists, but maybe you would have acceded to the demand, as you aren’t racist or sexist etc. Afterall, as you aren’t racist/sexist it would be illogical not to adopt “humanist” (<- by Richard Carrier logic apparently)

    Firstly, I am under absolutely no obligation to care what Humanism is about or values and not caring says absolutely nothing about me. Ditto this Atheism+ thing.

    So when I name set A and say what B is (B = basic moral values), and you react by saying you are against A+B, you are the one who is terrible at comprehension. You are the one who is illogically (or, perhaps genuinely) saying you reject basic moral values.

    The above is not representative of the statement we are discussing. A more representative statement would be:

    There are a set of concepts (basic moral values) set B. I have decided that anyone who considers themselves a member of set B must from now on declare themselves a squibbly-prooge. You react by saying “fuck this squibbly-prooge label, I don’t want to call myself that and feel no obligation to support it either”. I then make the invalid and frankly dim-witted move of saying I have named a set A and another set “squibbly-prooge”. If you are against A+squibbly-prooge, you are illogically (or, perhaps genuinely) saying you reject the things that I have said “squibbly-prooge” represents.

    Again, I think you are well capable of understanding what you were engaged in there but I could be wrong…

    You have since, of course, clarified? That you weren’t suggesting that anyone not adopting or supporting the label was a sexist, cruel and irrational person…..or have you? So much contradiction, backpedalling and fudging and so little time.

    I suggested that “us” and “them” are not a set of values, meaning the us and them you suggest were “atheism+” (sorry you specified absolutely are you with the Atheism+ movement) (which, in case you are confused is not a set of values. See my explanation above if this is still causing you difficulties. It is a label, group, organisation) and “them” “non-atheism+ atheists”. The totalitarian thing is in reference to this dichotomising language.
    Like “The communist party is for a prosperous Soviet Union”. “If you are not a member of the communist party or voicing support for it then you must not want a prosperous Soviet Union.” Now apparently my brain doesn’t do logic very, so take this with a grain of salt, but I don’t think that is logical.

    You know what, I think we can declare a new logical fallacy in your honour Richard, we can call it “Guilt by non-Association”

    It should have been clear to anyone that it was the label and the cabal of people at FtB leading it that many of us want nothing to do with. Of course, you must know this, if you are not a complete moron and now you want to move the goalposts.
    Its the values you have to publicly endorse, not the label? I do? I have to actually make declarations now or I’ll be assumed to be a horrible person….ohhhhh that’s so much better. It is a real shame that you didn’t include “honesty” in the list of values that Atheism+ stands for.
    The worst thing about this move though is that you want to drum up support for the group you are a part of by appealing to values that have nothing to do you your group except that you claim to support them. Can your fledgling group not stand on its own merits without having to beg for approval in this underhanded way?

    Now, as you seem to be genuinely wondering why anyone would be against the admittedly laudable aims (sans the devilish detail of definitons of course) of Atheism+. This is my personal honest reason for not wanting to join or support Atheism+:
    I don’t like the way you think Richard – far too black and white and you seem to want to regulate and codify everything – even insulting someone. (though to your credit, you have taken my insults like a champ and responded in kind without leaving the actual argument behind or getting unduly upset about it) I am sure you mean well. I don’t think you are evil or anything, I just have seen too many instances of the righteous purging the impure – it doesn’t usually end well and this whole effort smacks of it to high heven :) –I will make a prediction (I think the whole atheism+ thing will tip along for a while until people start making mistakes (including the the overly-righteous leadership happy to condemn by fiat) and a series of expulsions will take place until it occurs often enough that the group flies apart or becomes an irrelevant fringe group. Either that or the rules will be relaxed and relaxed and special pleading and excuses will be made for prominent people in the movement doing things that would get a mere moral expelled from the club until it becomes obvious even to the sycophants that it is unsustainable and will be abandoned. Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that people will start doing flagrantly terrible things, they will do extremely minor things and some other member will act like it was a crime against humanity. I see a lot of people learning painful lessons in the coming months. I’m not a fan of any of the “leaders” of this movement to be honest (though I like some of them better than others) – many of them strike me as uncritical thinkers and it is for that reason I want nothing to do with Atheism+. If the current “leaders” fade away and I see them replaced with people I consider more rational then perhaps even I will adopt the label. This movement seems to me to have been started for all the wrong reasons by all the wrong people. That is nothing more than my personal assessment of the situation and sadly the atheism movement is becoming so heavily personality focused these days that that is probably enough to have me labelled all kinds of things. In absolute sincerity I hope that I am wrong. It would be great if I am and the movement turns out to be everything its supporters are hoping it could be. Should that occur, I’ll set the table, pull up a chair and stuff myself full of my words and side of humble pie! Aplogies for the lenght of the post, I can be anything I set my mind to!….except terse.

    • There are a set of concepts (basic moral values) set B. I have decided that anyone who considers themselves a member of set B must from now on declare themselves a squibbly-prooge. You react by saying “fuck this squibbly-prooge label, I don’t want to call myself that and feel no obligation to support it either”.

      Which would be an irrational thing for me to do.

      That’s my whole point. The point I have clearly made, repeatedly. And the point you persistently keep missing.

      A rational thing to do would be to say “You are right, I am a squibbly-prooge. But I don’t like the word, so I won’t use it. But I’m totally on board with the values you describe.”

      Of course, your analogy commits the straw man fallacy of assuming I ever said anyone “must from now on declare themselves by the name Atheist+.” Not even my original wording said that. And now, of course, my revision is absolutely 100% clear in not saying that (which revision was completed before I even wrote this very post you are responding to, and I wrote this post specifically to further make that point clear in extenso; so you have no excuse to keep pretending otherwise).

  43. “I’m sorry, was there an argument in there somewhere?”

    None necessary, because none was offered in your blog entry. You wouldn’t recognise an argument (even in the Monty Python sense) if it bit you in the balls.

    Hard.

    Your Hour Of Power is over.

    Luckily.

  44. Richard Carrier claims:

    ” I only asked to declare what kind of atheist we are, an atheist + these core values, or an atheist characterized by “sexism and cruelty and irrationality.”

    No, you DEMANDED we declare this. as if you were some kind of authority figure, or wield some sort of authority over all who identify as atheists. You are not.

    You want an argument? Here:

    Richard Carrier declares allegiance to reasonableness, saying that anyone who maintains fallacious lines of argument in the face of criticism and proof of their fallacies is a douchebag, not one of us, and to be called out in great numbers and ostracised as unfit to be part of the AtheismPlus community.

    Richard Carrier employs multiple fallacious lines of argument, including dozens of instances of the famous Dubyan False Dichotomy Fallacy of “You are for us or you are against us”, strawmanning objections to his tactics, tone and inflammatory and fallacious rhetoric (NOTE THAT NOT ONE OF THESE ARE REJECTIONS OF THE IDEALS HE CLAIMS TO ESPOUSE) as being “against reasonableness, integrity and compassion” with attendant invective, in the face of criticism and multiple instances of commenters and other core members of Atheism Plus calling him out on this behavior.

    Therefore, Richard Carrier is a douchebag, not one of us, and to be called out in great numbers and ostracised as unfit to be part of the AtheismPlus community.

    Of course, Richard Carrier will be too much of a chickenshit to take this out of the moderation he hides behind, or address it with any level of intellectual honesty, which he utterly lacks.

    • I’ve already addressed it. This very article you are responding to, and the corresponding revision to the original post, fully answer the only complaints you are repeating here.

      So you are just being stubbornly contrary at this point, looking for any excuse not to take a stand on moral values.

  45. So if I’m now someone to be avoided because I take a differing opinion on all this A+ nonsense, what am I supposed to do with your book that I bought? Would you like me to mail it back to you or something?

    • If you think it would be rational behavior to discard a book you like because its author said something else, somewhere else, that you didn’t like. Personally, that doesn’t sound all that rational to me.

      But more to the point, if you are really saying you disagree with the core values of repudiating sexism, racism, and homophobia and embracing the values of compassion, reasonableness, and integrity, then you evidently didn’t get much out of my books, which have for years been laying the foundation for those very core values.

      On the other hand, if you agree with the core values of repudiating sexism, racism, and homophobia and embracing the values of compassion, reasonableness, and integrity, then you don’t really have “a differing opinion on all this A+ nonsense,” other than perhaps not liking the label or some of the discourse associated with it. But if that’s the case, then the rational solution is simply not to use the label, and to constructively promote or engage the discourse you want.

  46. “Jennifer McCreight
    ‏@jennifurret

    Finally had time 2 read Richard Carrier’s #atheismplus piece. His language was unnecessarily harsh, divisive & ableist. Doesn’t represent A+”

    ‘Nuff said.

    • Except I answered her concerns reasonably, revised this post, apologized for my excesses, even wrote an article about how I was persuaded that I was wrong on some points, and then clarified my position more in line with what Jen had in mind in my follow-up post (incidentally, this very post you are responding to).

      Thus illustrating how Atheism+ works.

      So, evidently, not “’nuff said.”

      Nice try attempting to rewrite history to fit your narrative. It doesn’t.

  47. Richard,

    I was wondering what your opinion on this article is.

    I think he may have a point in that, few people who have objected to A+ have actually said they disagree with what the author calls ‘Obviously Reasonable Feminist Beliefs; more that they appear to be conflating the Controversial and Obviously Unreasonable beliefs with what you are arguing for. Yes, that is wrong, and yes, it is their own fault for not reading or letting their emotions taint their perception of what you/I/others are arguing for, but it seems to me that vilifying people straight away for what is a common mistake seems to be making unnecessary enemies.

    Thanks.

    • Quite simply, rational behavior is not to do this:

      A: Are you against sexism or not?

      B: Not!

      Rational behavior (assuming the pretext that article proposes) is to do this:

      A: Are you against sexism or not?

      B: Against. But I have some issues with feminism. To wit…

      Note that exactly this kind of reasonable discussion occurred in my Atheism+ threads. I didn’t hammer down on anyone who actually tried to have a reasonable discussion. I only douched anyone who just blanket said they were siding with sexism, no explanation or argument given.

  48. Seriously? This is from an historian who is apparently wilfully oblivious to the dangers of introducing an Us vs. Them attitude? Has the Bush disaster of dichotomising the world into Good Guys and Bad Guys really taught us nothing?

    • Apparently, the Carriers and Myers of the world aren’t too well-versed in the concept of relativity,… the complexity of various levels of seriousness and damage when it comes to certain moral thoughts and actions.

      It’s seems to be typically black/white, yes/no, you are/are not moral to Carrier. I assume on that basis, the cookie I took pulled from the jar when I was ten after my mom warned me about not sneaking sweets before supper,… or lying about that new golf club I bought when I said I would bank the money instead makes me,… nebulously but categorically, IMMORAL,… and therefore puts me at the same level as Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc.

      (cuz, like Carrier implies, …you’re either moral or you’re not).

    • Nice try trying to rewrite reality. I have very explicitly denied and argued against the kind of black-white moral absolutism you credit me with. Almost everywhere in fact that I discuss my moral theory and values. Including here.

      Maybe you are the one with low ambiguity tolerance, and thus you only see moral conversations as if they are in black and white. When in reality, they are not.

      Recommendation: try a bit harder to grasp the reality and nuance of what we are actually saying.

  49. You’ve been getting a lot of people lately who either completely lack reading comprehension or are complete assholes who think “feminism” = “female supremacy” (yes, we haven’t heard that before, dear MRAs).

    Just in case anyone thought we atheists (though I’m allowing some room for non-atheist trolling) were *always* paragons of reasonableness and intelligence. Sigh.

  50. Richard,

    I found your claim of “clarification” to be solely an attempt at changing your tune while trying to prentend you didn’t say what any honest reader is sure to find you saying. That is why I was pointing out the inevitable conclusions that must be drawn from your initial statement.

    It is clear you are just going to keep claiming “strawman” where none exists and continue to abuse words like irrational so I’ll leave it there. The readers of our respective words can judge for themselves.

    Also, feel free to delete my comment about moderation. I saw your post where you explained your moderation process and possible delays.

  51. It may be because I’m german, but your “Who is not with us, is against us” rhetoric is repugnant to me. There may be good reasons why you have to distance yourself from the “bad atheists” which apparently exist in the US. But clearly, you are Doing It Wrong.

    • Divorcing ourselves from sexists, racists, homophobes, and people who reject reasonableness, compassion, and integrity is not doing it wrong. It’s precisely what doing it right is.

    • Richard, you apparently don’t want to understand. I support all of your causes. Taking a stance against homophobia is expecially important to me. But I do not want to be associated with Atheism+ because of
      1. the repulsive way in which you and other A+ folks present yourself and your arguments (“who is not with us is against us” rhetoric etc, yes you did, look at the title of this post)
      2. the way in which you mix up things which do not belong together, i. e. atheism and ethical issues. Sure there are atheists who are assholes; that’s just the way the world is, accept it. Atheism or rationalism does not automatically make anybody a better person, or ethically more correct. These are separate issues, they don’t have anything to do with each other, and should not be mixed.

      But I think the first point is the more important one. The statement “If you are not with us, then you are an asshole” is so astonishingly idiotic that I automatically choose not to be associated with a group that makes such a statement. I would rather be an asshole squared than be linked to such rhetoric.

  52. Dear, Richard Carrier

    As a libertarian viewer of this debate, I have already had the clear feel that I’m unwelcome by default to interact with the atheist+ community, while I personally don’t have a huge problem with it seems somewhat ironic given the nature of the atheist+ movement that is trying to make a united stance against marginalization of minorities, I get a policy of excluding idea’s, but the irony seems somewhat missed by the advocates of atheism+.

    I could go into a long list of quotes by your fellow blogges to explain my position and why from the start I would consider myself unwelcome, I do not really think I need to do so as anybody that can read can figure this out.
    I think the second problem you will face is I’m not the only 1 and you have effectively marginalized a small group of people ( in the numbers game its no big deal ), who would otherwise end up on your side, now I think its a shame your fellow bloggers took this stance, but if the atheist+ movement ever choices to rebuild that bridge lets just say its gonna take a lot of time, it also means for my that any support I may have had towards the atheist+ community is well at this point non-existent this movement and a specially the comments on libertarians ironically leaves me sympathetic towards the assholes then towards the atheist+ movement, as well I’m already labeled as 1 of them without taking action.

    The only reason you are the 1 getting a response is that I feel like you are remotely reasonable and might have the ability to make your fellow bloggers see some reason before more people take my stance and run out of “give a shits”, the only reason I responded at all is because your fellow bloggers are hurting causes I do still have some “give a shits” for left.

    I wish you the best of luck and would advice you and your fellow bloggers try to refrain from burning to many bridges, until you crossed them, but I will not end up self identify with the atheist+ label in the near future, I guess my final position will be one of non-interaction towards the atheist+ movement until I’m invited to have a seed at the table, and given I’m not a big named atheist in the first place thats unlikely to happen.

    ~Anonymous

    • Just FYI, that certain atheists are very over-generizingly anti-libertarian (like PZ Myers) is a fact that has always been true, i.e. PZ Myers was unwelcoming of libertarians for years before Atheism+ arose. But you didn’t conclude from that that therefore atheism itself was unwelcoming to libertarians. So why do you draw that false conclusion now? Just because some atheists are rabidly anti-libertarian does not mean all are; whether in or out of the Atheism+ movement. Thus, there does not appear to be any relevance of Atheism+ to your conundrum. You should drop that false equivalence.

      Otherwise, as I explain in my article to which you are responding, Atheism+ is compatible with libertarians who accept the moral goals and are willing to reasonably discuss solutions. But that does not mean you get a free pass and your ideas won’t be criticized, any more than radical liberal or Marxist ideas get a free pass and won’t be criticized. We believe we need to be self-critical and actually debate these issues among ourselves. If facing disagreement makes you feel unwelcome, you need to see to the real problem: your unwillingness to face criticism and to debate on an even playing field that doesn’t automatically assume you (or anyone) is automatically right.

      If you are okay with reasonable empirical debates over policy, libertarian vs. progressive for example, then you are okay with Atheism+. But if criticizing your ideas is a no-go for you, then so is Atheism+.

      Ultimately, if you want your ideas to gain respect as good ideas for achieving our goals (anywhere, whether in the Atheism+ movement or not), you have to make reasonable, calm, empirical arguments for them and accept spirited debate over your arguments and evidence. Proceed with that and you’ll be fine.

  53. On my part I oppose any confusion between issues of *fact* (like atheism and the absence of God) and issues of morality/politics — it’s a confusion between “is” and “ought”.

    As for sexism, racism and homophobia they are entire memeplexes of beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and political positions — not single concrete things. And therefore feminism and anti-racism are likewise. Far from “basic core values”; all these are *clusters* of things — and different people may define differently what are the most important and typical examples of each, and which aspects of these clusters they support and which aspects they oppose.

    I repudiate sexism, racism, homophobia in their typical vile forms. That does not mean I repudiate every single belief currently attributed to sexism, racism or homophobia.

    Does that suffice? Or am I not complete enough in my repudiation that I would be able to be given the label “Atheist+”?

    E.g. for the moment let’s leave aside the issue of attitudes and behaviors – what will you do if it so happens that a specific *belief* which is currently associated with racism or sexism, ends up being actually true? E.g. women as inferior in math and science on average because of inherent biological differences in the brain?

    The absence of God in the Universe after all, means that there’s nothing in the laws of nature that *demands* the biological sexes to be mentally equal in any particular field. “Fairness” and “Equality” wasn’t written into the structure of the Universe, because there was no one to write it.

    In that scenario, according to the value of Integrity, as an honest truth-seeker you should not just embrace this piece of truth but loudly proclaim it. Does that mean you should therefore stop being an Atheist+ if you ever come to also believe in certain beliefs currently associated with sexists or racists? Or would the fact you oppose politically most sexists and racists suffice, even if in issues of fact you end up believing much of the same things they do?

    And btw Atheism isn’t an identity and shouldn’t be. I was still me when I was Christian back in my teens, and when I became an agnostic I was still me, and now that I’m an atheist I’m still me. I stopped believing in God — it was a change in beliefs, it wasn’t a change in identity. Keep Your Identity Small, then you are capable of changing beliefs. If my Identity ever had been “Christian” or “Agnostic” it’s unlikely I could have ever become an atheist.

    Atheism as an identity is the worst thing that can ever happen to atheism, and it only makes sense in the bizarre world of American politics where something being an “identity” is somehow a better thing than it not being one. For us Europeans atheism just means one doesn’t believe in God or gods.

    • …what will you do if it so happens that a specific *belief* which is currently associated with racism or sexism, ends up being actually true?

      If it is proved true, it isn’t sexist.

      But the Devil is in the details. See my article on Why I Am a Feminist.

      Without any real-world examples specified, your over-generalized questions are unanswerable.

      The only thing that stands out is that atheists need to start standing up for moral values and holding themselves and each other to a basic sense of morality. Otherwise, the Christians are right: atheists have no morals.

      So when you see horrible things being said and done by fellow atheists (as documented here or here or here), you ought to call that out and denounce it, and not let it slide as no big deal. Likewise all other issues of real moral concern.

  54. “Otherwise, the Christians are right: atheists have no morals.”

    Fact: Atheists have no morals, in the sense that there is simply no common set of morals which is accepted by all atheists. In the same sense, “White people have no morals” is equally true.

    Atheism, like skin color, simply is not connected to any defined, common set of morality. These things don’t have anything to do with each other.

    Making this clear to people who don’t understand that fact (like the Christians you talk about) is the solution, not creating another identity which consists of “non-belief plus belief in something” (a contradiction in itself if there ever was one).

    • To the contrary. We are either moral people or we are not. We can concede there are immoral atheists just as there are immoral Christians. But to suggest that we should concede that all atheists have no morals, is simply giving Christians the win. Not to mention wrong. Since I assume you don’t really mean to say you have no moral values and resent any effort to promote moral values.

  55. I am one of those who repudiate sexism, racism and homophobia, and other correlated bigotries. I also endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity.

    Yet I know for a fact that the moment I open my mouth on virtually any subject whatever then I will be immediately judged by most adherents of atheism+ to be “misogynist”, a “hater”, “bigoted”, and possibly even the Devil himself. I will be uniformly stigmatized by the most extreme torrent of abuse for saying things that atheism+ does not want to hear.

    There’s nothing wrong with setting yourself up as the ultimate judge and jury (“God”, if you will), but when you are not qualified for the job, then the consequences are going to be very ugly, for a long, long time to come.

    • “I don’t know why you expect that to happen.”

      Let me give you just one reason. On August 27, PZ Myers explained his personal definition of “misogyny”.

      [A lot of people] claim that they don’t hate women. And they don’t: they don’t hate women who fit their narrow, limited version of what a woman should be.”

      So PZ is saying that, in his opinion, a misogynist is someone who “hates” (as judged by himself) some particular group of women – which could be a group of only one person. So in the extreme case, we now have a so-called “misogynist” who hates only one woman – which is ridiculous.

      If we further extend the definition of misogyny to include those who merely dislike a particular group of women, then the term is so broad that we can now apply the term to virtually anyone.

      And that’s exactly what happens. The point of optimum demonization of others is successfully achieved.

      I have no doubt that some people would brand me a misogynist just for making this observation.

    • Then you should go tell him that.

      But IMO, this isn’t what you were talking about here. Did PZ call you specifically a misogynist because of something you said? If so, point me to where and we can talk about that. Otherwise, you are living in the land of unrealized hypotheticals. Which was kind of my point.

  56. Dear, Richard Carrier

    As a feminist viewer of this debate, I have already had the clear feel that I’m unwelcome by default to interact with the skeptic community, while I personally don’t have a huge problem with it seems somewhat ironic given the nature of the atheist movement that is trying to make a united stance against marginalization of a minority (namely atheist), I get a policy of excluding idea’s, but the irony seems somewhat missed by the advocates of skeptism.

    I could go into a long list of quotes by atheist blogges to explain my position and why from the start I would consider myself unwelcome, I do not really think I need to do so as anybody that can read can figure this out.
    I think the second problem you will face is I’m not the only 1 and you have effectively marginalized a small group of people ( in the numbers game its no big deal ), who would otherwise end up on your side, now I think its a shame bloggers took this stance, but if the atheist movement ever choices to rebuild that bridge lets just say its gonna take a lot of time, it also means for my that any support I may have had towards the atheist community is well at this point non-existent this movement and a specially the comments on feminism ironically leaves me sympathetic towards the assholes then towards the atheist movement, as well I’m already labeled as 1 of them without taking action.

    The only reason you are the 1 getting a response is that I feel like you are remotely reasonable and might have the ability to make your fellow bloggers see some reason before more people take my stance and run out of “give a shits”, the only reason I responded at all is because your fellow bloggers are hurting causes I do still have some “give a shits” for left.

    I wish you the best of luck and would advice you and your fellow bloggers try to refrain from burning to many bridges, until you crossed them, but I will not end up self identify with the skeptic label in the near future, I guess my final position will be one of non-interaction towards the skeptic movement until I’m invited to have a seed at the table, and given I’m not a big named atheist in the first place thats unlikely to happen.

    ~Anonymous

    Thanks for playing, i think the point has been made at this point and there is no need for anymore arguments.

  57. You said “The only thing that stands out is that atheists need to start standing up for moral values and holding themselves and each other to a basic sense of morality”

    If this was about showing atheists have moral values, then the main point of Atheism+ would each atheist+ pledging at least 10% of their disposable income to a charity of their choice.

    There, nice, very specific, and shows we believe in helping others by sacrificing part of our individual income.

    On the other hand it doesn’t actually take much “morality” or much “unselfishness” to repudiate sexism, racism or homophobia, or to support feminism. It’s a signal which costs very little in the modern western world, especially America. Now obviously such statements spoken in Iran or Saudi Arabia would take some actual courage, impose some actual dangers, and therefore actually be a strong sign of morality.

    In America at least the movements you mentioned are not PRIMARILY issues of morality, but of politics — forgive me if I misrepresent Americans yet again, but I understand that it’s extremely difficult for a guy to be accepted by the American feminist community if they oppose the right to abortion, extremely difficult for a white person to be accepted by the American anti-racist community if they oppose affirmative action, and extremely difficult for a straight person to not be considered a homophobe if they oppose SSM.

    Now personally I am pro-choice, pro-SSM, and I support affirmative action based on economic status (though not based on race). But I fully recognize that a FULLY MORAL individual may oppose abortion or SSM or affirmative action (entirely) — and though they’d be disowned by the respective feminist/antiracist communities, that they would be fully MORAL individuals if they HONESTLY (whether rightly or wrongly) thought these were the MORAL positions to take.

    Morality is about *caring* whether your positions and actions are morally right or wrong — not about specific political positions.

    So in short: Atheism+ as you’ve defined seems an attempt to combine atheism not with “morality” but with political movements you support. It doesn’t mention charity (which can be apolitical), it doesn’t even mention whether atheists+ are allowed to be consequentialists instead of deontologists or virtue ethicists — your prescriptions all look mostly deontological and therefore ill-fits to the moral system of a consequentialist like myself.

    • Giving to charity doesn’t make you moral. Treating people with honesty, empathy, and reasonableness, does. Denouncing and not passively accepting sexism in your midst, does.

      As for the rest, that’s the point: we want to discuss and debate and apply critical thought and skepticism to any specific policy (like, say, affirmative action), not endorse any given platform a priori.

      And my moral theory is self-evidently modeled on virtue ethics (even here it’s fundamentals are described as virtues we should aim to realize), which combines consequentialism with deontologic modeling. You can read all about that in my book and anthology chapter cited in the article.

      This, too, is something we want atheists to talk more about and debate. Rather than just criticize religious ideas about morality, but even our own, so that our own morality can be built up on evidence and critical thought.

  58. I agree with all the social justice stances taken by A+ (repudiating racism, sexism, and homophobia), but I have some concerns over the “reasonableness” part; specifically in terms of my vegetarianism. In an earlier post you argued that vegetarians and vegans are irrational and deluded. In fact, you claimed (in a comment, rather than in the main article) to have “proved” that they are.

    In this post, you’ve said we can disagree on moral or ethical issues as long as we do so while engaging in reasonable argument. But you’ve already claimed to have proved that vegetarians are irrational. So, are vegetarians out? Or, more specifically are they allowed in until it is felt they’re not accepting rational arguments (which they may not consider to be convincing), and then they’re out? Or, are they in just on the basis of engaging in a reasonable argument? If you’ve answered this elsewhere, apologies.

    As a side issue, are there any high-profile atheists that you feel don’t uphold the values of A+?

    • Correction – I’ve just re-read the thread and can’t find the comment I thought was there in which you claimed to have “proved” anything. Possibly just a false memory. If that isn’t something you’ve written, please feel free to either edit that sentence out of my comment, or put this one up for clarification.

    • As to the side issue, I don’t yet know.

      As to the vegetarianism example, there is a difference between my knowing that all arguments for x that I know of are irrational, and someone else who believes x knowing that and still persisting in believing x. Moreover, even by my own estimation not all arguments for vegetarianism are irrational (I fully accept medical and aesthetic reasons, when they individually apply; they just don’t for most people), and even those that I believe are irrational (or would be to an informed person; being misinformed is not in itself being irrational), are not easy to prove as such to a given individual, since that would require extensive exchange of evidence and analysis.

      For example, someone might think one of my premises is false; we can then spend a few weeks checking all the possible ways to test that premise, and maybe even after all that they might finally agree my premise is correct, but then challenge another premise, and so on. Needless to say, this process simply hasn’t happened, much less to the conclusion of all possible arguments. Thus, I cannot claim that any given vegetarian has been shown to themselves to be arriving at their conclusion irrationally, thus I cannot claim that any given vegetarian is actually being irrational (as in, having their irrationality shown to them, and their persisting anyway even despite being aware of all their fallacies). I doubt the process would succeed anyway, since even if it did, they could just retreat to an aesthetic justification for themselves (“I don’t like how eating animals makes me feel/I feel better when I don’t eat animals/etc.”), which I have no argument against. And, of course, it’s always possible the process would refute me and I would become a vegetarian (just as I could, in principle, be convinced a god exists or that magic works).

      But I do expect vegetarians to be as self-critical of their evidence and reasons as they expect anyone else to be, religious or non. And I would expect them to respect reasonable debate about that, and adhere to logic in that debate. That’s all reasonableness requires. It does not entail we will ultimately all agree on everything, since that would require a scale of information exchange that is, at present, physically impossible. Which means being reasonable entails accepting that we are each wrong about something or other, as it is statistically impossible not to be; which is why being open to sound evidence and reason on any point is so crucial.

  59. I still think this is an elaborate poe. (Pink Floyd saxaphone) ‘Us…and them…’ Have you listened to that lately? I’ve read about 1000 comments now on your two threads alone, with that earworm as a soundtrack.

    You should provide trigger alerts for some of your links. I clicked on two and am still extremely upset. Some of them bordered on criminal. It disgusts me that such alleged humans are on the planet, let alone that they are fellow atheists.

    I do think that atheists should use the law more. When there is no incitement to rape or lynch or abuse children, I think it’s our moral duty, not to banish, but to call out the douchebags and put them damn right! They’ll follow anyway, in droves of sockpuppets.

    If it’s a poe, it’s a good one, because it raised consciousness about the nasty atheists, and increased awareness of the moral necessity of disagreeing with them! Freedom of speech includes the right to respond. And nobody’s perfect.

  60. Sorry if this seems out of context, I would reply directly under the post but the blog software doesn’t seem to allow more than 1 level of replies.

    @Richard
    “But to suggest that we should concede that all atheists have no morals, is simply giving Christians the win.”

    I never said that. To the contrary. What I said was that atheists have morals, or not, just as Chinese house owners have morals, or not.

    My point is that being an atheist does not induce (not) having morals.

    These things are simply not dependent on each other. And that is what the Christians you talk about should understand. But I said that before.

    • Perhaps I should elaborate a bit.

      You (Richard) talk about Christians who say “Look, this atheist does immoral things. This is proof that people need God to be moral!” This statement is false; people can (and do) have morals whether they believe in Gods or not. Disbelief in Gods necessitates neither the presence nor the absence of a particular set of morals. Unlike religion which DOES necessitate a common set of morals rules (often mysogynistic, homophobic ones) for its victims members.

      Now if you state that atheism, or rational thinking, somehow does lead “naturally” to some set of morals, the Christians will, by your own reasoning, actually have a point when they say, “Look, this atheist does bad things, thus atheists have no morals!” Therefore, you are actually not doing atheism a favor by making the connection.

      The correct response to the accusation of the Christians is: Extrapolating from single bad examples to the whole Atheism community is invalid (non sequitur) because atheism and morality are separate, unconnected issues.

    • If there are atheists going around explicitly saying atheism entails no morals and that they reject any attempt by atheists to promote morals within the organized atheist community, then you are giving support to Christians who argue that that’s what atheism does. The only people refuting their argument are those of us who are doing the opposite. In other words, Atheism+ is the rebuttal.

  61. “The only people refuting their argument are those of us who are doing the opposite. In other words, Atheism+ is the rebuttal.”

    Only if you convert a majority of atheists to Atheism+. Which you won’t, because of the idiotic way you go about it. BTW, the FAQ on atheismplus.org is much more reasonable than what you write.

    You still did not get my point about atheism being unrelated to morality. Please, read my previous posts again. I see no use in elaborating this even more. If you haven’t understood at this time why you are not doing atheism a favor, you will probably never get it.

    • As long as there are any number of atheists who embrace Atheism+, our existence refutes any hypothesis that atheists don’t embrace and advocate moral values. Likewise atheistic humanists and anyone else who explicitly advertises and argues for their atheism as well as their morality.

      Which is why we don’t have to convert people to Atheism+. Because the label is irrelevant. We just have to persuade enough atheists that our values are worth stumping for, and worth publicly saying so and fighting against those who denounce those values or try to derail efforts to spread them. Regardless of what they call themselves. And by that measure we look to be winning (internet trolls aside, in person I’m meeting far more atheists thumbing up our goals…and they tend to be the younger generation, too, which is significant).

      But it’s too early to tell where things will end up in the long run. Things have just gotten started.

  62. But I must feel comfortable that you are an organization that shares these values. And I will assume you are, unless I have reason not to. But if you consider my taking a stand on this to be divisive, don’t ask me to speak at your event

    The extent to which you people remain incapable of understanding our objections to A+ is really quite a depressing thing to witness. Why, it’s almost as if you need to keep straw-manning us to avoid the crushing embarrassment that would surely afflict you were you ever to find the honesty and guts to face reality. You would actually rather keep suggesting that we find your support of feminism, anti-sexism, anti-racism etc to be divisive, rather than the fact that you’re acting like a bunch of intolerant, doctrinaire bigots.

    Still, by all means continue to delude yourselves that you have not become a laughing stock. I can see how you’d need to do that.

    • Which is a completely unreasonable and unsympathetic way to react to Atheism+. Which pegs you quite solidly as someone I want nothing to do with and would never enjoy being around.

  63. “In other words, Atheism+ is the rebuttal”

    Your “atheism+” follows a very American-centric view of what being a person on the right side of things is supposed to be all about — basically American history has largely followed the struggle for egalitarianism (abolition, suffrage movement, civil rights movement, gay rights movement, etc), and surprise-surprise “sexism”, “racism” “homophobia” (and other correlated bigotries) are the things “Atheists+” are required to repudiate. In short, those social evils that oppose equality.

    If it had been some Indian inspired by Gandhi’s principles instead, I’m guessing that Atheist+ would have required a repudiation of violence and meat-eating. And it might endorse values like pacifism, passivity, patience and chastity.

    If it had been a monarchist that invented Atheism+, I’m guessing that Atheist+ would be about a repudiation of democracy and various rebellious thinking, and it would endorse the moral values of fealty, obedience and respect.

    If it had been a fighter for national independence who invented Atheism+, Atheism+ would include a repudiation of foreign military interventions, and an endorsement of patriotism, courage, self-sufficiency, military valour, and national pride.

    As a transhumanist, I might have personally liked atheism+ to endorse transhumanism and cryonics, to support voluntary eugenics and to urge for heavy research on anti-agathics. After all 60 million people die every year from old age or so — that’s a catastrophe that far surpasses the evil of all the lingering bigotries of the world put together.

    How would you like if any of these had been the definition of ‘Atheism+” — values you might endorse or might oppose, but either way you don’t consider them absolutely required for someone to be moral?

    Those are all moral values, held as firmly as yours, but the American surprise-surprise sees everything through the American prism of history, and thinks that to show oneself to be moral one has to be politically aligned with the values most endorsed by the majority belief in America — which is egalitarianism (as opposed to vegetarianism, or pacifism, or transhumanism, which are all extreme minority views in America).

    • Believing in reasonableness, integrity, and compassion is “American-centric”? That’s nonsense. Even caring about social justice is not uniquely “American-centric” (need I mention Gandhi? Mandela? Solarin? Suu Kyi?)

      The push for gay rights, for example, is witnessed in nearly every country on earth. Argentina has legalized gay marriage and adoption of children by gay parents; Brazil has allowed gay soldiers to enlist in the military for years, and most gay rights are established there; gay rights in Japan are almost a non-issue (they have only some issues with heteronormativity). And I should hardly need mention the state of things on this issue in Europe and Israel and Australia and Canada and New Zealand and South Africa (in fact, in nearly the whole of the first world) is already more advanced than in the U.S. And so on

      A similar pattern emerges for women’s rights, opposition to racism, and socio-economic injustice in many forms.

      You are instead arguing that we would assume more moral requirements if we were, I guess, Hindus or something. Which makes no sense. We are empiricists. We limit moral expectations to those we can empirically prove are livable and necessary to any good society. Vegetarianism and pacifism are neither.

      That’s the difference between the whole of New Atheism and, for example, secular Hinduism: we will hear out arguments for and against our moral values and go where the evidence leads. We don’t just pick values out a cultural handbag at random and insist on them dogmatically.

      In fact, you seem to completely miss the point of Atheism+ when you say you want it “to endorse transhumanism and cryonics, to support voluntary eugenics and to urge for heavy research on anti-agathics.” As my post explains, we want to discuss just these kinds of issues more, issues more relevant to atheists and not just about fighting religion (though we’re all for continuing to do that, too). It is not the point of Atheism+ to “endorse” things, beyond a core set of values that we believe to be indispensable. Everything else is negotiable or discussable.

      You have to accept that you might not end up being right about everything on your list, or the reality might be much more complicated and nuanced than you seem to think. That’s also part of Atheism+: we have to learn to start accepting criticism among each other and realizing that we ourselves can be wrong and should speak out when we believe others among us are; and that should be okay.

  64. I’m an atheist. I’m also for equality between sexes and everything else I can find that I associate with the words ‘social justice’. I believe you have to be either uneducated or a monumental moron to be a racist. And on top of that, I’m a proponent for teaching skepticism in both social and natural science class rooms. So according to you, I’d be a perfect person to accept your values and live happily with you in your community, right?

    I applaud everything you stand for. But do I support your movement?

    I believe, if anything, that atheism should be the secondary thought in this. Not the feminism and the anti-racism. I value both those higher for a healthy society than everyone being an hardcore atheist. And even above those, I believe in applying critical thinking in as many situations as we can, and that this should be a central goal for public schools to achieve. You call your group Atheism+. And with that, weather you like it or not, atheism becomes the central point within your movement. I don’t buy into that.

    I’m also weary of the way you’re claiming anyone who isn’t a bigot a champion for your cause, weather we adopt your label or not. What’s up with that?
    You have a movement. I may support every.single.cause you stand by. But here’s some news for you:
    That does not automatically translate into me supporting your movement.
    There can be many reasons for this… I won’t go into all of them, mostly because I’m sure I can’t list them all, but one as an example is that one may simply not believe in your methodology of achieving your goals. You see, Richard… Everyone isn’t a proponent of “the ends justifies the means”.

    And with those two points alone, I can safely conclude that even if one is a good moral person according to the few basic ideas you’ve presented in your text here, one does not automatically even sympathize with your movement. So this whole we-art-holier-than-thou bullshit you’ve got going on here Richard does nothing in my eyes other than make you look like a real asshole. Morality isn’t a black/white issue. It’s a shade of gray. And you currently operating under the fallacy that so long as I agree with those few ideas you’ve presented here automatically means I applaud your movement quite frankly turns my stomach.

    And this is without even addressing how this looks like a very political take on atheism and the fundamental pros and cons this brings to the table which may very well turn one off in and of itself.

    I will admit this is the first paper/blog/text I’ve read on this subject and I’m still open to this Atheist+ idea, but… Right as of now, if the opinions you’ve presented here and the way in which you did are the norm of this movement…

    …Goodbye.

    • The irony is that you just said you do support this movement. You just don’t support the label and/or what some fellow supporters do to advance the same causes you do.

      Thus, like many a modern superstitious person, you confuse what things are called, with what things are.

      You also confuse what some people do, with what they are doing it for. You can pursue the same exact goals (and thus be exactly what we are calling everyone to be) using any methods you personally prefer.

      So call yourself anything you like. And keep on supporting the values endorsed in my post. Nothing else is expected or required.

  65. Richard, as a long time fan who respects you immensely and agrees with much of your work, I beg you to step back and look at this more objectively in the long run. There ARE tenable criticisms of feminism with a mountain of scientific underpinnings. I encourage you to watch Karen Straughan’s (aka “girlwriteswhat”) Youtube videos (e.g. Atheism You Asked For It; I’m a sexy woman, so stop objectifying me!; me, a feminist? No way.; Men not marrying? How deep does “the problem” go?; the tyranny of female hypoagency; Sorry, dude, but you asked for it…; and literally dozens more). She devastates the hallmark arguments of feminism with salient facts about patriarchy; the disposable male; victim arguments; objectification, etc.

    History is riddled with untenable overcompensation ignoring key elements of dysfunction in every discipline; reifying and institutionalizing an overcompensation is not an ideal ‘umbrella’ objective. Gender issues can only be temporary and contextual fixes (and only when they actually are fixes).

    There are many atheists who reject feminism on the same grounds as they reject other forms of social tinkering that end up creating reverse bigotry. WHY? Because they can NEVER be applied to every context. I was molested by an older woman as a tween, yet, for decades afterwards, I identified as a male feminist. I never considered my victimization as relevant, because the feminism I was exposed to never addressed it. That is not right. Male sensitivity goes under the bus. A pathologist doesn’t leave out half of the possible problems; they put all of the options on the table.

    We look at the success of feminists like EC Stanton against the church and are proud of it and atheists wave that banner as an integral part of atheistic liberation in this country. But we are discovering that just as you shouldn’t necessarily create an umbrella banner proposition for everyone that says, “Immune System Boostism,” when there are so many people with rheumatoid arthritis, there are also many men and women who will not sign on to subjugation as a compensatory principle in any institutionalized context. History is riddled with untenable overcompensation ignoring key elements of dysfunction in every discipline. For example, have you EVER, EVER heard one single feminist talk about considering a standard for when promoting the term ‘feminism’ is not as appropriate as the term ‘gender equality’? That is to say, when it has finished it’s temporary reparative role?

    Atheism ++. Ugh. 130 years after Nietzsche, even in atheism we’re still propping up ideology. I’m even sympathetic to moral realism, but not this hijacking ad hoc ideology built upon the impetus of Watson’s personal embarrassment. It makes me want to bow out of it all. There’s no acknowledgement of male victimization in feminism, leaving people like me going, “what did I do to you again?” and “do you really think that you have the capacity to behave according to everything that bothers me or any other guy according to our subjective experiences and that I should make national headlines about them when you inevitably fail to do so?”

    You might say, “but that’s a false dichotomy- feminism is compatible with issues of male victimization.” But not in practice and not over time. Feminism sine qua non is NOT “women should be treated as fairly as men” IN EFFECT OR AS A BANNER. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. Ask yourself how tenable it would be to have a “White History Week.” Who would want that? Not me, but we treat other races like that. Will it ever stop? No. It’s institutionalized now. Any kind of reparations should never be based upon race or gender or sexual preference or religious belief, but upon immediate contextual need, which always varies. I realize that, because of this, as we see, it’s too late for people like you. All the male ‘atheist celebrities’ are especially at risk for even pausing to propose an honestly flexible consideration of the merits and limitations of feminism. I appeal to you to make a dispassionate evaluation of this as best you can. It really is breaking up the community and I implore you not to think that whoever doesn’t agree, doesn’t have a place in the ‘rational’ atheistic community.

    The real banner should not be feminism; it should be ‘gender equality.’ This does not mean that I hate women or “want to use them as fuck toys.” It breaks my heart to hear atheist leaders say things like that. In the liberal community, when we hear someone like Rush Limbaugh say something outrageous like that, we think, “his leadership role is over. He needs to step down now.” PZ needs to step down now. I’m trying to convince girlwriteswhat to have direct public discussions with someone like Watson. She will destroy all but her most generic and obvious propositions that don’t represent the core of institutionalized feminism (much the same way theists retreat to deism in tough spots). They will show people in this community with only a superficial grasp of the arguments how much they are actually belying.

    Rape is bad. It’s REALLY bad. It happens to men too. Did you know that? More importantly: is the percentage of your concern for male rape to female rape consistent with the evidence (considering the fact that men experience more violence upon them than women)? Atheist psychologists (like the great JD Trout) complain that politicians don’t judge legislation according to the facts, but to what is salient (availability bias); it seems that is happening analogously here.

    This is NOT about who is on the side of women in history; it’s about who is on the side of equality in history.

    Please, check out girlwriteswhat. Peace.

    • You’ve been duped by fallacious straw manning and other illogical arguments and occasional misrepresentations of the facts. What GirlWritesWhat says about feminism is simply not true of mainstream feminism, but only at best true of radical feminism; by analogy, if someone attacked atheism with extensive impassioned arguments against Marxism, you would agree they were missing the mark and not really criticism atheism; in the same manner, her attacks against some form of radical feminism miss the mark, they are not really criticisms of feminism. Her portrayal of women is also often not of feminist women. She thus criticizes feminists for the behavior of non-feminist women! Arguments like that are pretty much in the logical doghouse.

      But you are going to have to figure that out for yourself. It doesn’t appear you would be a reasonable about it with me. You have to be reasonable about it with yourself first.

      Try reading the other side of some of the stories she tells, so you might start to become a good skeptic of what she does say on other occasions. She’s often wrong. And you should be able to discover where the truth lies if you are good at spotting fallacies and checking fact-claims. For example this and this and this and this (especially that, as he is an MRA and even he is against what you just said) and this and this and this.

  66. If you really REALLY want to be PC, concede that even the label ‘feminism’ alone is remiss in contrast to the superior label ‘gender equality.’ It’s very difficult to effectively argue against this without straining like an apologist. It’s an inevitable move anyway.

    • If you are for racial equality, then you are a blackist. There’s nothing to argue against.

    • Hi Rocketmagnet, read my argument through the comments to get it in context. We don’t disagree with the values fundamentally. It’s about methods of activism and ethics that are more effective and accurate.

      Besides the obvious improvement of increased accuracy *in more contexts*, maximizing semantic equality (e.g. “gender egalitarian”/”racial equality”) is almost always a superior overall personal or group identity to polemics for several reasons, such as thwarting reactance (well evidenced by science) and in-group extremism (see my ‘purplism/rainbowism’ example). “Racial equality” MEANS “racial equality” MORE THAN “blackism” means “racial equality.” It boils down to accuracy and efficacy.

  67. Yes, being a feminist means being for gender equality. That’s why feminists don’t call themselves gender equalists, but feminists. That’s what the word means!

    Femi = ancient Russian for ‘any gender identity at all, binary or whatever’
    -ism = ancient Romulan for ‘equality’

    Therefore, if you don’t call yourself a feminist you are not rational. Also, an asshole.

    QED

    PS: Don’t say you are for gender equality because that means you’re a closet patriarchic fascist.

    • No, it doesn’t. No one I know has any problem with me saying I am for gender equality. Indeed, no one in the Atheism+ movement had any objection to my saying:

      Mainstream feminism…is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.

      So, your attempt to create a different narrative has failed here.

  68. “If you are for gender equality you are a feminist. So there’s nothing to argue against.”- Richard

    Yes, there is: it pertains to the well evidenced psychological effects of reactance/ the boomerang effect over polemics in a meta-context. That’s what I’m talking about. And it matters. You are apparently willing to perpetuate these entrenched polemical reactions, rather than liberating them. I tried to explain this in my recent posts, but it looks like you’ve deleted them all. I really wanted to have a reasonable conversation about it, but you think you’ve answered the issue. You haven’t. The etymology of feminism is not important; the reactionary behavior is what is important. To hide behind the etymological argument shows an absolutely unnecessary self-indulgence- that even a technically LESS CORRECT frame is more important than actual positive influence in our community. Breaks my heart.