Tell Me What You See In These… »« Because I Am An Atheist

Atheism, Plussed And Nonplussed

You don’t have to care about women
You don’t have to care about gays
You don’t have to know there’s a spectrum aglow,
You can keep to your black and white ways.

You don’t have to care about justice
About sex, about gender, or race
You don’t have to care, or be very aware,
Of the troubles that other groups face

You don’t have to skeptically reason
You don’t need to do lots of stuff
If you feel that you must, you can stay A-nonplussed—
Not believing in god is enough

You don’t have to be so inclusive
You don’t have to show you have heart
But… if you do care, when the world isn’t fair
Then together let’s make a new start
Yes, if you think thusly, then join us—A plussly,
Together we’ll make a new start.

Involved rant, after the jump:

My atheism aggregator presented me with a few recent reactions to the recent Atheism Plus excitement. One of the better is Steve Barry’s at Left Hemisphere.

I wasn’t always the “dictionary atheist” type and so yes; I understand the desire to have a large cohesive movement. While I share the goals of my fellow atheists as I listed above I have never considered that a central part of my atheism per se. They may or may not have resulted in my rejection of god, but then it became something else. To me, and to a lot of others, atheism simply is the lack of belief in god(s). It’s easy like that.

Why do I have major reservations about attaching all manners of philosophies and agendas to atheism? To “protect” atheism. I do not disagree with the goals of the social justice crowd. However, this agenda has absolutely zero to do with atheism as it is defined. It’s as if they want to reinvent secular humanism for no apparent reason. A “third wave” of atheism (presumably to resemble the third wave of feminism they espouse) is unnecessary. A greater focus on humanism and building a humanists movement instead of atheism would be more appropriate.

You’ll have to take a look at the whole thing for his full argument, but frankly, I’m in complete agreement with the majority of it. But, unless I misread (always a possibility), Barry’s big objection seems to be that the A plussers are trying to change the definition of atheism–and he thinks that’s a bad move.

It is perfectly understandable that he thinks this. Most such attempts do appear aimed at changing us all. The various atheism 2.0, 3.0, etc., seem to be aimed at the atheist category in toto. Which leaves us all craving atheism 1.0, without any bells and whistles. Well, maybe not all of us–PZ wanted atheism to include elements of A+ long ago, and argued against “dictionary atheists”. I disagreed at the time (and still do–DEEP RIFTS–with both PZ and the “dictionary atheist” proponents). Here, for instance, I speak of “atheist and…” (in response to PZ’s “atheist but“), where “atheism” is still the privative dictionary definition, but is packaged with other positively defined attributes.

And I know I am not the only one to make such suggestions, and I am not peeved in the slightest that “atheism plus” appears to be a more successful species. It’s a different context, with different players, and the same seed has more success in good dirt than in a sidewalk crack. Even the meme “meme”, which has had such success for Dawkins, had been suggested before as “culturgen” or “element of behavior”, and probably other labels that have not survived the years. This may be the time for atheism plus.

In part, it may be the time because atheism plus is not supposed to be a change to the whole of atheism. It is a subcategory, and is explicitly so. You do not have to be involved in social justice to be an atheist–in fact, many theists are involved in social justice. You do not have to be involved in skeptical thought to be an atheist–I have known many skeptical thinkers who were religious (skepticism is a process, not an outcome, and different people have access to different evidence). If, though, you fall under this particular umbrella, and maybe want to help change the world, take a look here.

It could be just one more well-intentioned proposal. Or, with support, it could be the start of something new. I am personally hoping for the latter. But since hoping does about as much good as praying, I think it would be much more helpful to pitch in.

Because I am an atheist(+).

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself says

    As the old saying goes: Lead, follow or get out of the way. It’s obvious which option is most suitable for you and your buddy Steve Berry.

  2. callistacat says

    The atheists who don’t care about social justice issues and act like it’s an outrage that some atheists do have no right to condemn religions that oppress women, abuse children, or have a long history of racism and homophobia. You don’t believe in imaginary beings? Good for you. If it’s not atheism’s job to give a shit about racism, misogyny, the abuse of children and homophobia then shut up about it completely and stop acting so fucking outraged when other people do.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    My buddy? This may be the first (perhaps second, but if so, it’s been a while) time I’ve read his writing. So much for obvious things.

  4. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    It appears to be getting no small number of people – certainly a greater number than those attacking it – talking and wanting to be participate when before they weren’t willing to because of the unapologetic misogyny and bigotry they’ve seen too much of in recent times.

    That seems like a good thing to me.

  5. says

    @callistacat- Apparently you didn’t read Steve’s post, or Cuttlefish’s for that matter. Neither is arguing against social justice. Both argue in its favor. The point of contention is that saying “an atheist is…” and adding our own values to it is meaningless. There is already a non-theistic movement that embraces the values that Blag Hag and others are proposing for A+. It’s called secular humanism. They ignored it in the “who’s more atheist race”, and now they want to co-opt it as A+. Well fuck them. Do you know what other groups are atheist? Scientologists. Raelians. Objectivists. So, no, we don’t get to redefine atheism, because we’re godless, that’s it.

  6. rRossSélavy says

    If one was to subscribe *solely* to the “dictionary definition” of atheism, wouldn’t one then not be able to talk or blog or whatever about it? If that was the case, all one could say was “I don’t believe in God”. There would be no possibility of an “atheist movement” at all. The very idea of a movement or community proves that there is something more to atheism that simple a-theism. Although I suppose there is the possibility of a mere echo chamber, of voices repeating “I don’t believe in God” ad infinitum. But I hope nobody wants that.

    But even then, there must be more to any given subject’s epistemological framework than simple unbelief. Which would imply that any atheist is an atheist-plus of some sort. It’s just, I suppose, of whether they’re willing to admit that or not – or that they disagree about priorities: “I don’t care about [x] so therefore don’t want to hear about your caring about [x]“.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    Nick–A+ is not redefining atheism. It is, as I say, a subcategory and explicitly so. Time will tell if A+ is the same as secular humanism–two or three FtBers are already arguing that it is not, but it is early–but even if it is the same, if this particular version succeeds, it succeeds.

    rRossSélavy–I agree. The word “atheist” is an adjective, a privative, not a positively defined set of characteristics. Atheism + is one current attempt to take a subset of non-believers and positively define a set of values. As you say, the very idea of a movement or community, which we have heard time and time again, implies that this is possible.

  8. Cuttlefish says

    Nick–it may not, when it all shakes out. As I say in my post, “culturgens” were all that “memes” were, but I warrant you have heard of the latter but not the former.

    Ashley Miller gives this answer: http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2012/08/20/the-difference-between-atheism-and-humanism/

    Jen McCreight gives this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/why-atheism-and-not-humanism/

    For me, I see A+ as a mere hatchling at this point, and it is hard to see what it will grow up to be. There is potential for greatness, but many hatchlings die.

    As well, I have never identified with secular humanism (in part because of the writers who were my introduction to it), although I have identified with atheism for a couple of decades. It may be nothing more than tribalism, but any movement that lasts any significant amount of time… acquires baggage. A new start (rather than identification with an older movement with its own baggage) offers a chance to do it right. Sometimes, new starts falter (I’m looking at you, Brights). Sometimes, new starts get something right (oh, sure, let’s say the FtB collective, and recognize that I’m biased). The verdicts are all rendered in hindsight…and for A+, that’s the one thing we do not yet have.

    I suppose I ought to say that I do not speak for A+, nor for Ashley, nor Jen, nor FtB, nor much of anything but myself. That’s part of the problem with old-school dictionary privative atheism. No positive definitions. Which I like, and agree with… but.

    I don’t know whether my answer will satisfy you, or anyone. It’s certainly not authoritative. But it’s what I see.

  9. says

    First, I wanted to say thank you to Digital Cuttlefish for reading LH (if only once) and using my post.

    Second, I would like to point out something to counter any confusion. While I am a “dictionary atheist” when it comes to that definition it is not all that I am. I am also a freethinker, antitheist, and Secular Humanist. To me Secular Humanism subsumes and encompasses the social agenda being promoted via A+. So, no, I am not limited to just the topic of “no god.”

    As I discuss in my post linked above my concern is strictly the issue of adding various ideologies to a simple definition. It may seem tedious to many, but I would have less of an issue if the name was “Atheistic Humanism” or some variant as a commenter on my post suggested.

  10. Cuttlefish says

    Thank you, Steve– I think I am not mistaking your point, then, and I think we are in (nearly, or) perfect agreement. And I think that Jen, in her A+ proposal, does not intend to change all of atheism, but to create a subcategory. You are (as I independently suggested in my older post linked above) atheist and… and Secular Humanist, for you. Not for me, in terms of labels–but perhaps only because of my own personal introduction to secular humanism. You and I appear to agree on the vast majority of points, but I don’t label myself a secular humanist. And you do not label yourself an A+. (in truth, A+ has not existed for long enough for me to label myself that way, either.)

    And that is perfectly cool.

    In the weeks, months, and years to come, you or I may maintain our positions or change them. But it does look like, as Wowbagger suggests, we may be witnessing the birth of something.

    Something good.

    (Oh, and I know for a fact that I read LH at least once before, because I remember the earlier post this one refers to.)

  11. wugong says

    This is what failed feminism. The attribution of every leftist ideal with an unrelated movement in an attempt for “solidarity”. This is the sort of collective witch hunt mentality that I might expect from feminists, but not rational, supposed atheists.

    What’s wrong with just being an atheist, and supporting one of these causes independently?

    I am an atheist, and I WILL pick and choose what I wish to believe.

  12. ibbica says

    A new start (rather than identification with an older movement with its own baggage) offers a chance to do it right.

    This is what I personally find most promising about the current A+ idea, as opposed to using the pre-existing label of “humanist”. But as you say, time will tell…

    It also serves to place an emphasis on the ‘atheist’ part, that ‘humanism’ isn’t necessarily directly connected to. I suspect one’s acceptance of the A+ or humanist label (or both!) depends in part whether you want to bring the ‘Because I am an atheist…’ bit of yourself into sharper focus.

  13. 'Tis Himself says

    How does A+ differ from secular humanism?

    There’s one major difference that I see. Look at the Harvard Humanist Community Project website. These folks, claiming to be “secular” humanists, are proposing establishing a godless religion. They want temples, rituals, hymns, and all the other trappings of religion only without gods. The grand poohbah of the Harvard Humanists, Greg Epstein, has the title of “Humanist Chaplain.”

    The Unitarian Universalists already fill the godless religion niche, so the organized secular humanists want to establish a competing sect. A+ is a social idea, not goddism without gods.

  14. markelamb says

    Even if A+ is extremely unpopular in a short time, and no change is attributed to it – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

    If there is a lesson to be learned from religionists it is to continue in spite of failure, and certainly in spite of the risk of failure. This could work, and work well.

    Atheism and skepticism have grown and shown great promise of late – we should seek to keep that momentum at all reasonable costs.

  15. says

    As I see it, A+ would pragmatically be a more muscular and assertive variation of Secular Humanism, and there seems to be a sociological niche for such a movement. My main kvetch is that the name, A+, sounds more like the club for advanced placement students than a serious organization. Time may well change that if the idea is properly branded.

  16. skepticallydenpa says

    What’s wrong with just being an atheist, and supporting one of these causes independently?

    Some issues may indeed be merely a difference of opinion. But most issues can be weighed on a objective moral scale, (which proposition does the least amount of harm/promotes the most good for all of us?).

    It won’t be easy, of course; there are many gray areas. So suggesting that the prevention of harm should always come before choice, or vice versa, would be a poor way to judge which moral action one should take. But none the less, we can benefit from encouraging discussion and debate. And there are moral rights that ought to be a no-brainer for anyone who is sufficiently informed.

    The biggest reason to reach out to others in terms of social issues is that we are blinded by our own biases. We all have our blind spots. Reaching out to a community of people in order to make well-informed decisions about what would be best for all of us, doesn’t seem all that controversial to me. But perhaps I’m missing something. Would anyone care to enlighten me as to how forming a community to advance moral values, while allowing the evidence to sharpen those values, could be a bad thing,(don’t forget to laugh at the irony of participating in a discussion that might help me make an informed moral decision)?

    Finally , there is the question of how this all pertains to atheism. Simply put, atheism is one of many ideals we wish to spread. Religion promotes many horrible things, but additionally, spreads the concept of faith. Injustices are often products of ignorance; so wanting to be rid of the large proponent of ignorance just makes sense. Seeing how religion is so prominent and intertwined with politics and social issues, it only seems natural for atheism to be one of the points that we should all agree on. And I think for most of us, it’s not about being better than atheists; it’s about being better atheists, (Secular humanism seems to miss this, if not purposefully, because the general public doesn’t correlate secular humanism with atheism).

  17. Cuttlefish says

    Andrew–I see the “A+” branding as a very natural product of “atheism plus these things”, and must admit I didn’t even think of the more elitist connotation. I say this in contrast with the “Brights”, on the other hand, which always seemed like a stretch no matter how people tried to justify it.

  18. says

    There is potential for greatness, but many hatchlings die.

    That’s what frightens me the most. If this gambit fails, then it’ll be a serious blow to all of the atheist movement, affecting even those that choose not to partake of the A+ label.

  19. Cuttlefish says

    There have been various “atheism 2.0″ or “atheism 3.0″ attempts over the years; do you think this would be a more serious blow than their failures to catch fire? (You may be right, but it is much too soon to know such things, IMO)

  20. Moderatating voice says

    So you arguments are so strong, so watertight, that you have to create a club only for people who already agree with you – and shun those who do not.

    I have no illusions about this comment making it through moderation. You wouldn’t be doing this if you had any intention of listening to contrary opinions. The entire point is to create an alternate reality where your subjective opinions are accepted as objective by everybody, and critics don’t fit into that vision.

    I only hope that the cognitive dissonance of having to moderate down reasonable criticism helps accelerate your ideologically aggressive splinter faction of atheism.

  21. Die Anyway says

    Over the past 12 years I have read and posted to many atheist-oriented blogs and forums. Maybe my choices were in some way influenced by my own philosophy but it seemed as if it were not an active selection but more just what I came across randomly. One of the things that stood out to me was that all of those places seemed to be what Jen, and now DC, are terming A+. In other words, social justice was part-and-parcel of the general attitude. So A+ does not feel odd or surprising. I thought it was a given. What has been surprising is the “MRA” tempest of the last couple of months. Maybe I’ve been wearing blinders but I did not see that coming from “our” group.
    In any case, I like the A+ appellation as described so far. It may end up like my political affilliation… I know I’m never going to support 100% of the party platform but I’ll wear the mantle until I drop below 75% or the party does something totally egregious. I have a hard time imagining that the A+ group will advance some cause which I totally abhor so I’m in for now and we’ll see how it goes.

  22. jenny6833a says

    What’s wrong with just being an atheist, and supporting one of these causes independently?

    There’s nothing at all wrong with it. IMO, it’s the only smart way to go. Mixing atheism with any one social cause (or all of them) harms both.

    If you want to achieve a majority for either atheism or (say) women’s rights, you have to sell successfully to religious people, Male Chauvinist Pigs, Female Chauvinist Sows, Female Submissive Sows, and so on.

    An openly atheist salesperson isn’t going to do well selling women’s rights to (say) Christians.

    An open supporter of women’s rights isn’t going do well selling atheism to MCPs or FSSs.

    If atheism gets entwined with a bunch of social causes, none of them will sell well.

    Of course, what you’re selling in the morning need not be what you’re selling in the afternoon, but whatever you’re selling at any given time, sell only that.

    We have to be able to say, truthfully, “Atheism has nothing to do with Women’s Rights.” and “Women’s Rights has nothing to do with atheism.”

    Do as I do: Sell, sell sell … one product at a time.

    I am an atheist, and I WILL pick and choose what I wish to believe.

    Me too, but I go further: I don’t believe anything. And I damn well reserve the right to sell the social causes of my choice.

  23. Me says

    “This is what failed feminism. The attribution of every leftist ideal with an unrelated movement in an attempt for “solidarity”. This is the sort of collective witch hunt mentality that I might expect from feminists, but not rational, supposed atheists.”

    This is why I am happy to join a group that defines itself as atheists, with some additional values we also happen to agree upon. Because there are an awful lot of atheists who have this opinion about the issues that are important to me- like feminism. Which does not involve witch hunts, by the way- that would be one of the things feminist atheists are strongly against.

  24. callistacat says

    @Nick Sabot

    That wasn’t directed at Digital Cuttlefish, it’s the people who claim caring if the atheist movement is sexist, racist or homophobic are trying to “re-define it.” If this is the case, why would Richard Dawkins say this:

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    Apparently hatred toward minority groups and women are only bad when done by the religious. When an atheist pulls the same shit, everyone needs to shut up because that not what this movement is about! To those people I say, you don’t occupy the moral high ground so stop acting so self-righteous when mentioning racism, homophobia and misogyny in the context of religion.

  25. callistacat says

    “We have to be able to say, truthfully, “Atheism has nothing to do with Women’s Rights.” and “Women’s Rights has nothing to do with atheism.’”

    So you take for granted that you are the default human and you’re rights are never questioned or up for debate. An atheist is a male, period. Treated women like actual people with rights in this movement is some weird special interest thing. OK.

  26. leftwingfox says

    If atheism gets entwined with a bunch of social causes, none of them will sell well.

    But isn’t this the reverse of the proposed A+?

    NCSE and atheism in general both value evidence-based education, but differ on whether that evidence is incompatible with religion or spiritualism. Similarly, groups like JREF are aligned on scientific education and anti-woo, but may not agree on god or social justice. It’s pretty obvious that there’s a sizeable and vocal part of the atheist community which doesn’t care for social justice outside the right of disbelief as well.

    Why not have a group that can fight for social justice from a godless standpoint, which stands with allies when we are allies, and criticize from a safe distance when we have fundamental conflicts? It gives secular groups the opportunity to work with atheists, without having to adopt a strict anti-religious viewpoint.

    Ultimately, I think this is going to determine whether Atheism+ is going to have an impact, or wither. Can this help grow the atheism movement, allow alliances of convenience with less tension, and actually allow for societal change? Because if this just becomes another “You’re with us, or against us” clubhouse, then it’s sunk.

  27. jenny6833a says

    @callistacat

    Cleaning up such problems as may exist among the tiny minority of atheists who attend conferences to write blogs, and among the slightly larger number who approvingly read their words of wisdom, is just fine with me. From what I’ve read, those two groups certainly need a lot of fixing.

    However, in spite of what they seem to think, they are not in charge of telling the other 99% of us what atheism encompasses. When they admit to that, and stop doing so, I’ll be much more receptive to some, but not all, of their other suggestions.

  28. callistacat says

    @jenny6833a

    I’ll assume your female by your nym, so scratch that “you” with “it is take for granted that men are the default human…” (it’s been one of those days, sorry ;))

    But your comment is even more puzzling if you are female. You’re speaking in the passive voice assuming males are the default and women’s rights is some side issue that needs to be sold separately. Would anyone *ever* argue that men’s rights are something that needs to be put aside so “we” can sell atheism to others? Who is this “we” if I’m not included?

    The point I’m trying to make is that feminism isn’t the issue (that term has so much baggage and has been so misinterpreted [hey, kinda like atheism!] that it’s hard to communicate what I actually trying to say so I’ll avoid it [not that I have a problem with the term]), the issue is just treating all people in this movement as if they are equal human beings and really nothing more. If people see this as some separate issue, I genuinely don’t understand how they have come to that conclusion.

    Does that make sense?

  29. jenny6833a says

    @ Callisticat again

    So you take for granted that you are the default human and you’re rights are never questioned or up for debate. An atheist is a male, period. Treated women like actual people with rights in this movement is some weird special interest thing. OK.

    I don’t accept any of that, and nothing I’ve said suggests that I do.

    One of the problems among the self-appointed “in group” is their tendency to respond to disagreement by making stuff up. You’re guilty.

    And since I just used the contraction of ‘you are,’ I suggest you learn the difference between “you’re” and “your.”

  30. mas528 says

    @cuttlefish (19)

    I could see the elitism right away, it really doesn’t matter how *you* see it. It matters how other people see it.

    It is the same cluelessness that the Dennet evinced with his dimwitted, “brights” notion.

    Apparently, it also has the same lack of social awareness that allowed the “tea party” to initially call themselves “tea baggers”.

    Since every atheist is “atheist+”, it is meaningless from the start.

    Buddhists, Jain, new agers, some wiccans are atheists, libertarians, even some jews are atheists. What separates them from *secular* humanists is dogma.

    Which leads me back to A+. A+ is simply making a church of atheism; Making a club for the “cool” people and defining rules for the cool people, and if they don’t agree? Out! We shun you!

    If the attempt to make a movement were an honest one, it would be termed “Social Justice”, maybe “Social Justice + Atheism”, but to make it an atheist cause is patently dishonest.

    On the topic of dogma and misrepresenting what was said:

    @Callistacat,

    “We have to be able to say, truthfully, “Atheism has nothing to do with Women’s Rights.” and “Women’s Rights has nothing to do with atheism.’”

    So you take for granted that you are the default human and you’re rights are never questioned or up for debate. An atheist is a male, period. Treated women like actual people with rights in this movement is some weird special interest thing. OK.

    That is simply not what jenny said or even implied. You literally made that up.

  31. callistacat says

    @jenny6833a

    Thanks for the snark over a typo. Charming.

    The self-appointed in-group? LOL. Look in the mirror.

    I didn’t make a single fucking thing up, this is the attitude that we are dealing with: women are the out-group and how dare we ask to be included as fellow atheists and not a special interest group trying to infiltrate Your Movement? How dare we ask that you don’t rhetorically ask if it wouldn’t really be immoral to rape annoying women in this movement or call us cunts and twats and say some of us should be kicked in the cunt (among other things).

    This isn’t coming from religious fanatics, it’s from men who should be our brothers in arms. Don’t you thing that’s seriously fucked up?

    So I stand by my comment that Richard Dawkins and all the other atheists who only bring up women’s issues to exploit it in order to prove how evil religion is should just seriously shut the fuck up and go about your manly man business of being The Real Atheists.

  32. Tâlib Alttaawiil (طالب التاويل) says

    sorry, but i just can’t quite wrap my brain around this:

    what kind of person says, “i’m not interested in social justice for people who aren’t like me”? “i came for the god-bashing, if you want to make the party about making sure everyone is treated fairly, then i’m out!”

    i am disappoint. i think any sane, decent person ought to be anti-theist, anti-religion, and about undoing the harm that religion has been inflicting on us for centuries–all of us. it’s not all just about you, over-privileged people, other people also exist. if you don’t give a crap, grow up.

  33. says

    To sum up @Callistacat’s statement on Dawkins et al.

    Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Clean up your own home before you begin to judge others.

  34. jenny6833a says

    @ Cuttlefish re the title “Atheism, Plussed And Nonplussed”

    “Nonplussed” means (verb) to render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely and (noun) a state of utter perplexity . You might have been wiser to use “unplussed” instead.

    Or was the double meaning intentional?

  35. spamnow says

    I think the problem with this privileged view of social justice is it’s rather abstract and tends to obsess over minor annoyances experienced by a few favored victim classes. The generic perspective can be reduced to everyone else versus the white male. Historically this was a practical reduction but today privilege is no longer restricted to white males alone.

    Now it’s about who has economic and cultural capital versus those who don’t. Those who are still wasting their time looking under rocks for racist, misogynist, and homophobes are likely in themselves in the privileged classes I am referring too as the rest have more serious issues to be concerned with on a day to day basis.

    There are about 6 billion very poor people out of a population of 7 billion. The organizations that are truly trying to make their lives better by providing them the resources they need to live good lives are the new champions of social justice. In developed societies we have another albeit richer underclass who deserve our attention. The young black male whose mother can neither afford internet nor a computer is not concerned about the white man holding her son down but the oppressiveness of her economic condition which trumps all.

    If you are a person of privilege perhaps you will see your inability to get married to your same sex partner as the greatest threat to your happiness, but you have more privilege than that women ever will as a educated, well employed person from a cultural background that prepared you for success.

    These truly oppressed people don’t have a army of bloggers defending their agenda. Their agenda is consistently at the bottom of our priority list because these people are in no position to make their voices heard. If you want to talk about social justice then these are the people who should come first.

    Poverty kills and oppresses far more than sexism, homophobia, or even racism ever will especially in the western world.

    How does this relate to atheism? It doesn’t, you don’t really have to care about anybody but yourself but a healthy mind will natural desire to care for and help others unless you suffer from a sociopathic mental disorder.

  36. says

    @One Thousand Needles #20

    Could you explain how the failure of Atheism+ would affect the whole of atheism? Just one example would suffice. And please don’t bother with any “it makes us all look bad”. We survived the Brights, we can survive this little bump.

    The conceit of this concept is just amazing.

  37. Me says

    @spamnow:

    I am so tired of being told that the issues that are important to me are just not that important when compared to other issues. As if it’s a competition to see whose issues are worse, and as if we have to choose just one or two at a time to care about. I’ve come to understand that the person who says, “you shouldn’t care about that thing you care about because this other thing impacts more people so that’s the only thing worth focusing on, if you absolutely find it necessary to focus on something” are really just saying “I really wish you’d just shut up already because that thing you care about is not why I am here. And that other thing I compared it to isn’t why I am here either, I just brought it up to make you feel insignificant so you’d go away.”

    Yeah, poverty is a terrible thing. I can hate poverty and fight against it and ALSO be a feminist and an advocate for LGBT rights and the rights of people of different colors and even religions, and many others too. And guess what? Guess who are more likely to be poverty stricken in our country and across the world? I’m sure you guessed it- minorities. It’s one of the defining characteristics of what makes a segment of the population a minority, despite how many of them there might actually be. So my version of social justice isn’t that far off from your version of social justice, which I’d like to believe you’d see if you weren’t so busy trying to use one to minimize the value of the other, when experience tells me that you don’t really care about either one.

    And also? Don’t be throwing that word “privileged” around like you know what it means, because you clearly don’t. Privileged implies a blindness to the advantages society has granted you simply by virtue of being you. Standing up for the rights of any one person or group of people whose rights ARE systematically being attacked is, in no way, a “privileged” point of view- even if you happen to think that some other group has it worse off than the group I would like to stand up for. Which, as previously stated, I don’t think you actually give a shit about.

  38. mas528 says

    @spamnow,

    Yes, there are people in other countries worse off than us in both poverty and bigotry.

    That does not mean that we as a people should stop striving for better rights, less bigotry and less misogyny.

    We have very limited options with sovereign nations. The only country that we have any direct control over the is our own (the USA in my case).

    But I still think that Atheism plus is a bad name.

  39. mas528 says

    @me,

    He actually used privilege correctly. Your screed totally ignored other countries, so you are an example of western privilege.

    It is illegal to kill a gay person for being gay in this country. In other countries it is the law.

    He just ignored the fact that just because something sucks in another nation, doesn’t mean that we can’t do better in our own nation(s).

    He is of the opinion that women and gays are still better off here than, say Saudi Arabia. On the povetry side, better off than Haiti, China, India, and Pakistan.

    All of your examples were local.
    You ignore other places poverty and misogyny.

    Two sides of the same coin. Not necessarily in a bad way. Both sides need to be tackled.

    “Atheism Plus” is not the way for a balanced anything. It is just the creation of a religion.

    Oh well. There are lots of religions. what’s one more?

  40. Me says

    Atheism + is, in no way, a religion. I really don’t understand this mentality at all. Just because I choose to define myself as an atheist who cares about social justice issues, that does not make me religious. It also does not make me think less of people who choose not to define themselves the same way. You know why? Because I care about social justice.

    And while we’re at it, just because I choose to define myself as an atheist who cares about social justice issues, that does NOT mean that I only care about those social justice issues if they impact people in the USA. I’m not even sure where that particular idea came from, since at no time did I exclude anyone or any place from the issues that concern me. Do you really think that misogyny, LGTB discrimination, poverty, racism, and a thousand other social justice issues are all LESS important in other countries, or that I implied they were? Here we go again with the comparing degrees of suffering and injustice, with the sole purpose of trying to invalidate the suffering right in front of your face. Two injustices over there do not cancel out my one injustice over here. Otherwise nobody would ever be able to fight any injustice at all, because we’d all be too busy looking for the one person who had the most injustices, since that would be the only person who deserved our attention. Injustice is injustice is injustice- and turning your back on one because someone else might have two is just another injustice. I know darn well how lucky I am to not have been born a gay woman in Uganda. I am not minimizing her plight by saying that nobody should be subject to any one of the many injustices that she surely suffers on a daily basis. After all, if I can alleviate any one of them, I alleviate her overall burden by just that much… which is more than those of you who insist that there is someone worse off out there than she is, so why bother? are doing.

    Sometimes I think I’m talking through a tin can, for all the missing the point completely that goes on in these conversations.

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