Some important updates on Atheism Plus!
First of all, and very importantly: Atheism Plus is here! Which is to say: Atheism Plus is now more than just an idea. Atheism Plus is now a thing. Right now, that thing is a website: still under construction, but active — and with a forum happening right now!
What is Atheism+?
Atheism+ is safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime.
Right now, the forum is happening. There’s a Main Forum — “the place for on-topic discussion about atheism, humanism, skepticism, and social justice.” There’s an Educational Forum — “where introductory questions will receive civil responses.”
In discussions about Atheism Plus, a need for both these things has been widely expressed: a place where people who want to discuss social justice can do so without constantly being derailed into explanations of 101-level concepts, and a place where people who want and need to discuss 101-level concepts — which at some point is going to be all of us, probably — can do so without being flamed. As Jen says in her introduction to the site:
This is to avoid the problem of what’s known as “JAQing off” – or “Just Asking Questions.” Often trolls will try to derail conversations by repeating basic questions that have been addressed numerous times previously. This results in many veterans losing patience and attacking the person. However, this sometimes results in attacks on people who are sincerely asking questions and may become potential allies. The Educational Forum attempts to solve this problem by giving a safe space for people to ask questions and receive civil responses, while those who are not interested in responding to basic questions can continue advanced discussion in the Main Forum.
Note to bloggers (including the very important Note To Self) and to blog commenters: This introductory forum will be an excellent place to point people in a discussion thread who seem to be JAQing off… as well as people who seem well-meaning but who are nevertheless derailing comment threads by asking 101-level questions that you’re sick of answering. Speaking only for myself: My preference would be that you point people there, instead of being snide to them in my blog.
And there’s a General Chat section on the Forum, to talk about whatever you wan with others who share the values of Atheism Plus. Cats, skeet shooting, Project Runway… whatever.
The Atheism Plus website will eventually contain resources and information on social justice issues. Right now, the forum is happening. If you’ve been excited about Atheism Plus, come check it out!
In other Atheism Plus news:
Jen McCreight, the instigator of Atheism Plus, has a very good FAQ about Atheism Plus, Responding to common misconceptions about Atheism+. If you have questions or concerns about it, go there first — she may well have answered them.
There’s also a very good discussion thread on Jen’s blog, crowd-sourcing ideas for what exactly people involved with Atheism Plus could do and how. Atheism+: It’s time to walk the walk. Check it out.
Dana Hunter at En Tequila Es Verdad has a linkfest of FTB blog posts about Atheism Plus. Not completist, but useful nonetheless.
Much of the commentary and controversy about Atheism Plus has focused on Richard Carrier’s original post about it, and the “not one of us” sentiment in it. He has since clarified this point, both in an update in the final paragraph of that original post, and in a new, separate post dedicated to this clarification. He has also written a lengthy post apologizing for and re-thinking some insulting language he had originally used in comments on that post. If your concerns about Atheism Plus were focused on Carrier’s vision and perception of it, please read these updates. If you have been publicizing those concerns (via Facebook or Twitter), it would be nice if you would spread these clarifications/ corrections/ retractions/ apologies with equal fervor.
If you’re wondering whether an Atheist Plus community is viable, or whether it will eventually disintegrate into factionalism while driving off the old-timers… Kazim has an excellent post at The Atheist Experience, about how the Atheist Community of Austin has essentially been an A+ community for years… and has been flourishing.
And finally: Did I mention that Atheism Plus is a thing now? It is! If this “atheism plus social justice” thing interests you, go check it out! I’m going to be hanging out there regularly. If you’re interested, come hang out there with me!