But…but…is it Biblical? »« Why I am an atheist – David Lever

Following up on last night’s Atheism+ discussion

So we had this hangout last night to talk about various things, including Atheism+, and while it was fun and interesting, I don’t think we really answered the questions lurking in everyone’s heads: we wandered about a bit too much. If I were to do it again, I think I’d want to have the panel answer some more specific questions about it all.

But there were lots of questions and comments on the youtube channel and on Google+ during and after, and they weren’t all idiotic! (OK, most of the youtube comments were from idiots, but some were good.) So I thought I’d answer a few here.

Can someone explain to me what is A+?

Nope. Lots of people can give you their opinions, but it is only starting to coalesce. There are no leaders, no organization behind it, no money, no coercive power at all. It’s entirely spontaneous. Currently it’s little more than a label.

It’s an emergent movement, bubbling up out of resentment at some of our atheist “allies” who turn out to be regressive thugs. We can’t very well kick them out of the atheist movement — none of us have that power, and they legitimately are real genuine atheists who just happen to also be assholes. And some of us don’t like associating with them.

Imagine a great big party with a lot of diverse attitudes present, and you discover that a few of the invited attendees are also hooligans who wander about calling everyone “cunts” and slapping derrieres and telling women to stop being so sensitive, it was only a quick fondle. Also they smell bad. We’re the segment of the party that’s decided to go off to the library and enjoy some good conversation with the interesting people.

Question: What’s the difference between “Atheism+” and “Secular Humanism”? Is the first one encompassing people online?

Now that’s a really good question. There shouldn’t be a difference.

I think, though, it’s an accident of culture. Unfortunately, a lot of the perspective on secular humanism in the US is tainted by association. The atheist movement has benefited from a surge of enthusiasm that has already brought in a more diverse group of people, especially younger people; humanist meetings here tend to be demographically older (this is definitely less true in Europe). In addition, there is the influence of the Harvard Humanists, who infuriate a lot of us atheists: there is the perception that they want to shape humanism to ape religion. Most of us atheists are post-religionists, and we want nothing to do with a movement that borrows so heavily from religious traditions.

But otherwise, there isn’t a huge difference. Atheism+ could fade away, and it’s proponents could instead populate and energize a New Secular Humanism. I’m not entirely in favor of that, because that would then leave the growing, exciting atheist movement in America as a bastion of libertarians and jerks, and then the name of atheism would continue to be anathema. I’d rather remain within atheism and push it to be more progressive.

The Atheism+ idea really has been evolving for a while, and I think part of it is that there are elements of the New Atheist movement we like, and also elements of Humanism and Ethical Culture that we really like, and we want a more perfect movement that better reflects everything we want. If you want to see more of the roots of Atheism+, you might look at Greta Christina’s post on why atheism demands social justice, and also I published something earlier this month that said very similar things.

I propose that we adopt a third wave of atheism, a socially conscious, activist atheism that combines humanism with the assertiveness of new atheism, that joyfully embraces science and reason and uses them to advance society. And by advancing society, I mean much more than the materiel advancement of science and technology — we need greater equality, and we need a deeper appreciation of diversity. We need everyone to participate in building a stronger, more peaceful, more progressive culture — one that recognizes that all of us should have equal opportunities.

Both Greta’s and my article were published in Free Inquiry, which is kind of interesting…did Tom Flynn know he was recruiting radicals when he signed us on?

But even there I was dithering about the issues of the differences between this Third Wave and secular humanism: atheism here and now is definitely more assertive than humanism, and I like that. But then, of course, humanists can be and are pretty damned assertive — I was humanist of the year for American Humanists and the IHEU, after all.

Atheism+ is nothing more but Secular Humanism with a religious mentality

Uh, no. There’s no religious mentality at all in Atheism+. As I said above, look at the Harvard Humanists, or Alain de Botton, if you want to see a religious mentality. (And I emphasize again, being a secular humanist does not mean you automatically have a religious mentality at all.)

Based on some of the comments made on some of the A+ vs. Humanism threads, I’m afraid that in the zeal to promote A+ Humanism is getting a bad rap and all Secular Humanists are being judged based on the example of the Harvard Humanists. Not all humanists want to emulate religion, not all humanists want to build temples or conduct rituals. I whole heartedly support the values promulgated by A+ but worry about burning bridges with Humanist allies.

That’s a good comment, too. Let’s not do that. I think it’s entirely feasible that Atheism+ could evolve into Secular Humanism; marrying the atheist and humanist movements together would be a lovely outcome, I think. But I think you’re getting at the core here: it’s about values beyond science and denial of gods. People who are embracing Atheism+ as a label think atheism ought to similarly incorporate social values.

Aren’t the social justice goals of A+ already covered by existing movements? If no, in what ways are current groups insufficient?

This is not an argument that other groups aren’t doing their jobs. Minnesota Atheists, for instance, are supporters of the GLBTQ communities in our area: that does not imply that they think GLBTQ organizations aren’t as good as atheist organizations at promoting equality. We would defer to those organizations as the best tools to represent their communities. But atheists can still speak up and find common cause.

The alternative would be to reject or neglect these good groups. Why would we want to do that?

Im in that awkward position where i do agree with most of the values and dislike the misogynist idiots but see no value or reason to mix atheism and the other values. For me atheism just is the simple disbelief and my political values stand apart from it.

Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.

If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.

My take on a healthy philosophy is creating a social contract of values and ethics that create and reinforce the emerging equality that brings forth the humanity that gives value to human life. Many profit from disparity, and in that inequality find reason to be antagonistic towards equality.

Yes. I’m a white male middle-class professional. I profit from disparity, and it simultaneously gives me guilt and worry that someone might take my privileges away from me. But I can’t in good conscience live in the illusion that I somehow deserve more than a poor black woman making ends meet with menial labor; I don’t. I’m just the recipient of the blessings of chance and history.

But I agree that a lot of people do not want to consider the idea of seeing others come up in the world, because that might bring them down. And there’s also the fact that we don’t discern status by an absolute appreciation of what we have, but by relative assessments with our neighbors. We are envious apes.

Atheism Plus is destined for failure. Dogma is a cancer and this “you’re either with us or against us” mentality is about as dogmatic as it gets. . As soon as you’ve booted out all the people that disagree with you, the group will devolve into factions and splinter even further. No thanks.

There’s a lot of this strange attitude going around. If Atheism+ is a dogma, can you recite its creed? Does it have a holy book? We can’t even do a good job of defining it right now!

Also, it can’t be about booting people out. It’s entirely opt-in. It’s like announcing that you think the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan club is dogmatic because they all like Buffy, and that they’re being cruel to non-fans because they aren’t asked to join. It’s OK, guy! You can join, even if you like Spike better than Willow, and if you don’t give a damn about the stupid TV show, why are you complaining about not being in the fan club?

My whole point is that not everyone dismissed as a “misogynist” or “hate and rage filled asshole” by the Atheism+ crowd is actually anything of the kind. Sometimes that kind of response is aimed at people who simply have a reasonable disagreement with them, rather than the genuine trolls who are sending threats and abuse.

We get that a lot. In fact, I’d say it’s the source of most of the anti-atheist+ reaction: It’s a whole lot of cranky people saying that they aren’t sexist at all…they just think it’s fine to call women “cunts”, that Jim Jeffries is a hilarious comedian when he riffs on his contempt for women, that they just hate feminists, that we’re all just killjoys and cockblockers who want to interfere with their right to hit on women whenever they feel like it. But oh, no, they’re not misogynists. How dare we challenge their masculine privilege?

I have a suggestion for you. Read Manboobz. I know, if you’re the kind of guy who resents a privilege check of any kind, you probably already hate David Futrelle, but try. Follow the links. What you’ll discover is that there really are openly woman-hating misogynists out there, but also, that there are a lot of men and women who say extremely disturbing and stupid things about women who at the same time 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. It’s just those uppity, aggressive, rude feminist women that they think need to be raped into submission.

And that’s you, guy. And it’s all those other anti-feminists who turn apoplectic with fury whenever the issue of treating women as diverse human beings with personalities and intellectual interests and ambitious goals beyond worshipping your penis is brought up. It’s all of these stupid twits who infest youtube and every other online forum:

…. but FtB and Mini-Me, sorry Skepchick, have pretty much entirely abandoned atheist concerns in favor of becoming a feminist collective that is also nominally atheist.

Personally Feminism is dogmatic, bringing feminist ideals into atheism is the wrong thing to do. Looks like a wedge strategy to wrest control from “the boys club”.

You absolutely disgust me, the notion that I DON’T support diversity, care about tolerance, because I don’t want to be part of your clique. THAT is why people are ANGRY.

The atheist movement is for atheist concerns. It’s not a manatee for the parasitic feminists to glom onto. PZ’s enabled this for way too long; thankfully, other leaders are getting sick of his shit.

(A manatee? WTF?)

If you’re resentful that many atheists think that feminism is important, that we should be fighting for racial equality, that we think reason and evidence dictate that excessive income inequity does harm to the nation, that the gun madness needs to stop, or whatever social and political issue pushes your buttons, then tough. I’m not making you write legislation to increase spending for schools in poor neighborhoods. I’m not forming you up into squads going door to door to take away people’s guns. I’m arguing for the importance of those issues, and I’m finding allies who agree with me.

You don’t want to be one of those allies? Fine. But isn’t it really silly to complain about not belonging to a group with ideals you don’t agree with? Here’s your answer:

I think it would be fabulous if all the anti-A+ people committed themselves to social justice issues each and every day. No one’s going to be put out if A+ is proved to be unneeded in the long term.

I’m just going to end with a quote from my article in Free Inquiry, Atheism’s Third Wave.

Science is neutral on moral concerns; it only describes what is, now how it ought to be. And this is true; science is a tool that can be used equally well for curing diseases or building bombs. But scientists are not and should not be morally neutral, nor should scientific organizations or culture be excluded from defining the appropriate uses of science. Science without humanist moral standards leads to Mengele or the Hiroshima bombing or the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

Similarly, atheism may be value-neutral, but atheists and atheist organizations should not be. Atheism sensu stricto may be a specific assertion about a fact of the universe, but atheism as practiced is a defining idea in a mind and a powerful foundation for a human community. It has meanings and implications that we must heed and use for achieving our goals.

And what should those goals be? Because I’m an atheist and share common cause with every other human being on the planet in desiring to live my one life with equal opportunity, I suggest that atheists ought to fight for equality for all, economic security for all, and universally available health and education services. Peace is the only answer; extinguishing a precious human life ought to be unthinkable in all but the most dire situations of self-defense. Ours should be a movement that welcomes all sexes, races, ages, and abilities and encourages an appreciation of human richness. Atheism ought to be a progressive social movement in addition to being a philosophical and scientific position, because living in a godless universe means something to humanity.

If you agree with that, you’re an atheist+. Or a secular humanist. Whatever. You’re someone who cares about the world outside the comforting glow of your computer screen. It 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. I promise not to resent it or cry about joining it.


I just had a thought: maybe the anti-atheist+ people are sad because they don’t have a cool logo. So I made one for the asshole atheists.

A*

Happy now?

Comments

  1. says

    There are no leaders, no organization behind it, no money, no coercive power at all. It’s entirely spontaneous. Currently it’s little more than a label.

    How about making it a book?

    My thought: Solicit around for essays on the theme of A+, maybe a dozen. Put them together as an e-book that can be distributed for a donation, with any proceeds going towards keeping the conversation going. No leaders, minimal organization, money optional, just people working together to shape an idea.

    I’d be happy to donate resources to make this happen.

  2. says

    I’m going to copypasta what I wrote on the atheist+? thread, just to get it out of the way, because I know someone will bring it up sooner or later, despite the clarity in this post.

    Splintered/polarized/divided etc. are becoming the new idiot signal. I’d like anyone who uses these words to describe the growth of the atheist movement to effectively demonstrate the great and cohesive whole of atheism which was happening prior to egate, the harassment issue and the blossoming of misogynists climbing out from under every rock.

    Where was this most harmonious and vast movement where all atheists hummed in agreement?

    I’m damn tired of this stupid characterization. The discovery of skepticism/atheism sheltering a wealth of misogynist, sexist, privileged thought and attitude, while not pleasant, has been a good thing. Change is a good thing. Growth is a good thing. Refusing to give shelter and quarter to those who stubbornly hang on to their bigotry is a good thing. Having a solid foundation is a good thing. Having more inclusive, safer spaces is a good thing. Working for social justice – good thing.

  3. Louis says

    How about if we do it again, instead of a general ramble, we actually prepare/ask for a list of questions in advance on a specific thread?

    Is there a way to…and this could be interesting…make a poll on Pharyngula to vote for the top ten questions?

    I’m a bit disappointed with myself that the little I did prepare didn’t make it across, but that’s my fault. I mean, sorry, that’s Rebecca Watson’s fault. As indeed is everything.

    Louis

  4. says

    I’d say it’s the source of most of the anti-atheist+ reaction: It’s a whole lot of cranky people saying that they aren’t sexist at all

    It’s true that many people are saying that, but I don’t think they’re all latent misogynists. The problem is that the real misogynists are running a very effective disinformation campaign. They have poisoned the well for many people who would have been supportive, or at least somewhat sympathetic. Sadly, Richard Carrier has helped them immensely in this, with that confrontational article.

  5. says

    I was raised a Christian. Upon reading the bible for myself, I noticed two things. 1 – There were large sections that just didn’t make a lot of sense, and 2 – This god entity was kind of an asshole.

    Among the things that didn’t make sense were things like – woman is the weaker vessel (I am not weak) and should be submissive and silent (HA!) along with things like homosexuality should be punishable be death (who the fuck cares what consenting adults do in their bedroom) and that unbelievers should be shunned/killed (the pinnacle of hypocrisy).

    So considering a large portion of what brought me to atheism in the first place was the social justice issues, why the fuck am I supposed to abandon them now that I’m a member of ‘teh club’?

  6. Scientismist says

    But I think you’re getting at the core here: it’s about values beyond science and denial of gods. People who are embracing Atheism+ as a label think atheism ought to similarly incorporate social values.

    My own two cents, which has been my hobby horse for 30 years now, is that Humanism (and atheism) should recognize and promote the social values inherent in science. I learned that from Jacob Bronowski, who described science as an ethic, to act in a way such that what is true might come to be verified as true. I contrast that with religion, which entails an ethic to act in such a way that what is felt, or held authoritatively to be true might become accepted as true. Among other things, JB thought science required a democracy of intellect that goes a long way toward defining an egalitarian ethic of scientific humanism.

  7. lexie says

    Withinthismind, my only problem with what you said was two words ‘kind of’, other than that brilliant :).

  8. carlie says

    Great summary, PZ.

    Also seconding the greatness of Caine’s statement, because, yeah.

    It’s not a manatee for the parasitic feminists to glom onto.

    Calming manatee wonders how they got dragged into all this, but wants you to be happy anyway.

  9. says

    Atheism Plus is destined for failure. Dogma is a cancer and this “you’re either with us or against us” mentality is about as dogmatic as it gets. . As soon as you’ve booted out all the people that disagree with you, the group will devolve into factions and splinter even further.

    Rebecca may disagree personally, but really, elevatorgate was the best thing that ever happened to new atheism. A mild rebuke of unwanted nightly propositioning, and out of the woods came the haters, male and female. And here we are saying “fuck you then”, and move on.
    As to with us or against us, to me those atheists of the “never experienced sexual harassment” or “you’re excluding us potential allies” variety can either have a real critical think about the inferences to be drawn from the non-existence of gods and start to listen to what people are telling them about privilege, or they can get lost and meet in Hoggle’s basement in the future. As PZ says, it’s opt-in, not opt-out. No “booting out” required.

  10. David Marjanović says

    (A manatee? WTF?)

    A huge manatee!!!

    science as an ethic

    I. THE DUTY OF INQUIRY

    A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him at great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.

    What shall we say of him? Surely this, that he was verily guilty of the death of those men. It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. He had acquired his belief not by honestly earning it in patient investigation, but by stifling his doubts. And although in the end he may have felt so sure about it that he could not think otherwise, yet inasmuch as he had knowingly and willingly worked himself into that frame of mind, he must be held responsible for it.

    [...]

    Inquiry into the evidence of a doctrine is not to be made once for all, and then taken as finally settled. It is never lawful to stifle a doubt; for either it can be honestly answered by means of the inquiry already made, or else it proves that the inquiry was not complete.

    ‘But,’ says one, ‘I am a busy man; I have no time for the long course of study which would be necessary to make me in any degree a competent judge of certain questions, or even able to understand the nature of the arguments.’

    Then he should have no time to believe.”

  11. piegasm says

    I don’t even see why people have a problem with the whole “you’re with us or against us thing”. I mean, if we’re forsocial justice, then we’re against those who are against social justice. If you’re for social justice but prefer to identify as something other than A+, then we’re not against you. If you’re not for social justice, regardless of how you want to label yourself, then we are, in fact, against you and we owe you no apologies for that.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Calming manatee

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

    Rebecca may disagree personally, but really, elevatorgate was the best thing that ever happened to new atheism. A mild rebuke of unwanted nightly propositioning, and out of the woods came the haters, male and female. And here we are saying “fuck you then”, and move on.

    …I think you’re right.

    The collateral damage was fucking enormous, though.

  13. Brownian says

    Where was this most harmonious and vast movement where all atheists hummed in agreement?

    When I attended TAM some years ago, Michael Shermer surveyed the audience for their political/economic beliefs.

    So it must have been before then.

    (Or else we just agreed not to talk about politics, like good, inquiring skeptics.)

  14. David Marjanović says

    Heh. I was so excited I forgot the blockquote tags around the calming manatee. ♥

  15. says

    Is there a way to…and this could be interesting…make a poll on Pharyngula to vote for the top ten questions?

    *gasp!* Louis, how dare you??

    I haven’t commented much on the A+ topics because I’ve wanted to see where it goes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been godless for my entire life and at this point I simply can’t divorce atheism from secular humanism– atheism is meaningless for me otherwise. In other words, because religion has never been a strong focus for me, I’ve naturally gravitated toward social justice issues.

    So, yeah. I totes approve of this A+ business. :)

  16. Louis says

    Audley,

    *gasp!* Louis, how dare you??

    I know, right?

    I couldn’t resist. That is a sincere question wrapped in troll bait. I actually think it would be a good idea. Even if a Pharyngula poll got Pharyngulated by Slimepitters and sundry haters. We’d get to demolish nonsense that way, or answer good questions the other way.

    Louis

  17. says

    Bronowski! Oh, man, yes. That’s the tradition from which my atheism emerged. Back in the day, if we’d had fanboy wars, I would have been the lonely Bronowskian cheering on my team against the overwhelming Saganites.

  18. carlie says

    I just had a thought: maybe the anti-atheist+ people are sad because they don’t have a cool logo. So I made one for the asshole atheists.

    E pluribus anus

  19. Randomfactor says

    It’s speciation, not schism. I thought we all acknowledged evolution. And that doesn’t mean A+ is better, just potentially exploring a different niche.

  20. charlessoto says

    You start off by describing A+ by what (who) it excludes. Then you sort of get to what it really is (atheism + social justice). Then you mention how anybody not “with A+” calls people cunts. I can see where the commenters think this might be a turn off.

    Let’s focus on the part in the middle – Atheism + Social Justice is something anybody (who’s not an asshole) can get behind. I particularly like the idea that because religion has played a major role in the structuring of our societies, we should be very vocal about how we can do so in its absence. That gets me on the A+ bandwagon.

    And I totally agree that you should not just call it New Secular Humanism, and for the same reason – religion has had its impact. It’s time to emphasize the non-religious aspect of the social contract.

  21. smhll says

    Whoa. I think there are many people who disagree with some things at FtB or that have long standing trivial grudges, even, that are not at all accurately characterized in the tail end of your post.

    While I was offline, I was thinking that in the troll sorting process, aggravating people that disagree with us should perhaps be sorted into two categories. (Sound familiar?) Category 1 would be those who are making a consistent and coherent argument. Instead of calling them trolls, I would call them argumentative. One could even call them disagreeable for disagreeing. But persistent disagreement with a premise doesn’t always rise to the level of trolling. (Unless people don’t stop when asked.) Category 2 is trolls and douchebags (and maybe nitpickers and terribly inaccurate paraphrasers).

    I do read Manboobz fairly frequently, and it scares the piss out of me. However, I suspect that the dangerous raving ranters quoted and mocked on Manboobz are a fringe. As Andrea Dworkin is kind of on the extreme edge of one wave of feminism, I think they are extremists that do not represent the mainstream. People can use careless language with misogynistic implications without being complete scum, in my opinion. I hope to hell that a lot of people in that category will grow up. (As a fifty-something, I tend to assume that YouTube commenters skew youthwards.)

    This quote (below) seems to throw a lot of not-so-bad people under the bus and leave treadmarks on their backs. I think even a few bystanders were knocked down.

    It’s just those uppity, aggressive, rude feminist women that they think need to be raped into submission.
    And that’s you, guy. 

    Ahhh, comprehension dawns, a bit. When I read the quoted part, I thought you were addressing a “composite guy” who stood in for anyone who disagreed with FtB or ever typed that damned phrase “echo chamber”. I thought you were characterizing our opponents with a broad brush dipped in blood and venom, powdered straw and kryptonite. Your –raping into submission– comment is aimed at one guy? Because people like me who haven’t been awake long today could easily misinterpret it too broadly. I do see that you said “ if you’re the kind of guy…” but it still sounds like a description of a shoe that doesn’t fit most of the disagreeing feet.
    Did something happen offline to create a furor? Maybe YouTube comments? (Notorious for their nastiness, so I have been avoiding them and may be far too ignorant of them.) (Ah, now I see more quotes.)
    I think there are faint misogynists and flaming misogynists. It’s hard to grow up in our culture without acquiring misogynistic turns of speech on the playground. I see a lot of daylight between the faint and the fiery misogynists. I still want Deep Rifts, but I want to segregate out fewer people, I think.

  22. Cannabinaceae says

    For the haters’ symbol, I propose a capital A with circumflex:

    Â

    Pronounced “A-hat”

  23. r3a50n says

    I think I have always been an Atheism+ atheist. I am an atheist, but I am also very progressive in my politics and I have always embraced feminism, social just and all of the other things that Atheism+ has been proposed to support.

    To me, Atheism+ makes a lot of sense; it is a great way to tie in my atheism with my progressivism under an all-encompassing banner. Many, but not all or even most atheists are liberal/progressive politically and this would appeal to them, ostensibly the same way that it appeals to me. I would guess that some of the resistance comes from atheists that are farther to the right politically speaking. As George Lakoff would say, those are likely atheists that adhere more to the strict father family model as opposed to the nurturant parent family model.

    I think there will always be resistance to these ideas from the segment of atheists that are right-of-center politically speaking, but that is no reason to change the trajectory of Atheism+. They could always start their own separate movement and call it Atheism- if they wanted to.

    At any rate, resistance to these ideas is regressive and as a progressive, I am not willing to cede any ground to regressive ideas. In fact, I tend to speak loudly and vocally for the ideals that Atheism+ espouses and I don’t care if it makes some atheists (or right-wingers) uncomfortable, just as I don’t care that being vocal about atheism makes theists uncomfortable. If these things make them uncomfortable, then maybe they should feel uncomfortable.

    I am sure that civil rights made a lot of racists uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean that it was not the right thing to do.

  24. John Phillips, FCD says

    smhll, it’s not about us segregating out, but those who agree with our stance re: atheism and social justice opting in. Don’t want in? As long as you don’t actually work against those who do, no problem, after all, we all have our own way of doing things. But the majority who jumped on the kick Rebecca for such an innocuous remark crowd and the anti-Skepchick crowd, they can go hang as far as I am concerned, for they are not someone I want to be associated with.

  25. jenniferphillips says

    It was an interesting discussion–thanks to all who participated. I occupied the real time comments for as long as I could (logged in on my PhillipsPhamilyPhun* YouTube account) because SIWOTI–but damn, I barely had time in my meatspace day to hang out for half an hour and I’m in favor of A+. It stuns me that so many people took time out of their Sundays just to troll the fucking thing. It shouldn’t stun me at this point, but it does.

    *This the YouTube account where I post videos for the relatives of the kids doing their class presentations etc. I would have thought of something cooler if I’d only known :)

  26. Cannabinaceae says

    As for commentary about the session itself:

    I think one way to go about it is that each participant have a little 5 minute prepared talk.

    There was excess rambling; not that I’m against penis-talk for example, but that shit went on way too long for me.

    I found it off-putting that Louis did not show face (at least in the first hour or so – I had to leave before it ended). Nothing personal against Louis, in fact I think his posts are among the best I read here. But. Part of the draw of a Hangout is to see peoples’ faces, so having people go incognito rather makes me feel cheated.

    For comments, I propose that the host or moderator monitor Plus and Youtube and read out selected comments after the little talks, or perhaps each little talk could have 90 seconds for QnA. It could even be by somebody else on a back-channel so that the host theirself is not distracted.

    You can share a screen in a Google+ hangout – perhaps the moderator or host or assistant could participate as a separate entity with screen sharing and display the slides of the peoples’ prepared talks, if they have any.

    Finally, +Fraser Cain has tips and tricks for hangouts on air:

    https://plus.google.com/+FraserCain/posts/PaeeynDx34L

  27. dumping says

    A*, haha!

    By the time the A+ needs to get rid of some left over old school A’s there will be A# available for the next installment of progressive atheists. Almost endless variations on a theme!

  28. Scientismist says

    PZ — I think even Sagan would be cheering on the Bronowskian team. And I think that one of JB’s most well-known quotes (or it should be well known) would make a good motto for Atheism+: “We have to touch people.”

    But I suppose the question is, would the A* folks take that a an invitation to give a squeeze on the ass?

  29. says

    There’s a bit of a disjunct between humanism as a set of enunciated principles and Humanism as a social practice. I found a lot of the local Humanists want to make nice with religion in a way that I’m not interested in — and I don’t just mean eg. cooperating with progressive church groups on specific projects (which I think is legitimate), but refusing to openly criticize the central fallacy of claiming to know what the putative Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos thinks about gay marriage or economic justice (and indeed, claiming to know that there is such a being in the first place). And in parallel with that, the idea of skepticism as an organized discipline of thought, and consequent rejection of the more obvious lies like alt-med, seemed foreign to many of the people I knew.

    As a former social-justice-oriented Christian, I’m liking what I’ve seen of A+ — adding the progressive social issues back into the atheism and skepticism. I want them all, in one place.

  30. says

    @charlessoto #24

    You start off by describing A+ by what (who) it excludes. Then you sort of get to what it really is (atheism + social justice). Then you mention how anybody not “with A+” calls people cunts. I can see where the commenters think this might be a turn off.

    Actually, the timeline was:

    Some people in the atheist movement started calling other people in the atheist movement cunts. Efforts to say, “Don’t do that” resulted in even more name calling along with rape “jokes” and other forms of out-and-out misogyny. Then we defined an extant but unorganized subset of people whose worldview includes atheism + social justice in an effort to define ourselves as a group of atheists who, among other things, do not call other people cunts.

    I would say that we do not exclude anyone. Rather, there are some people who will end up excluding themselves, for any number of reasons. And that is perfectly fine.

  31. says

    Smhll:
    Since I don’t have the time or inclination to dissect your entire post, I’m just gonna comment on this:

    I think there are faint misogynists and flaming misogynists.

    And you’re absolutely right. However, the “faint misogynists” are the ones that excuse the behavior of the flaming misogynists– they’re the ones laughing at the rape jokes, using gendered slurs “ironically”, and contributing to the chilly climate. The “faint misogynists” are absolutely the ones making it damned near impossible to be an out feminist and atheist because they’re the ones questioning our every intention and whining that we’re not focusing on “important matters”. They’re the ones who are derailing the conversation.

    Besides, I have no interest in associating with someone who dismisses my concerns as out of hand simply because I am a woman. I deal with enough of that shit in other aspects of my life, I shouldn’t be expected to accomodate assholes when it comes to my activism, too.

  32. says

    However, I suspect that the dangerous raving ranters quoted and mocked on Manboobz are a fringe.

    Oh, yeah?

    I recently kicked out one slymepitter who announced his solidarity with the anti-feminist, men’s rights brigade. He was solidly in the MRA camp, and he was also a member of that bizarre cohort of anti-FTB ranters.

    We had a guy hanging out here who said really stupid things, and called himself proudmra. Also gone now.

    Justin Vacula just posted a piece on AVoiceForMen.

    Thunderf00t has recently promoted videos from AVfM.

    Sure, they’re a fringe. They’re a fringe that claims to be part of atheism, too.

  33. Quinn Martindale says

    Splitters

    If you’re unwilling to make common cause on one issue with anyone who disagrees with you on another, you’re not going to effect change.

  34. crocswsocks says

    The asterisk in “A*” leads to a footnote saying, “This ‘A’ stands for ‘assholes.’”

  35. says

    Somewhat off topic, but I’d just like to point out that Newt Gingrich and the Washington Post are using Google+ Hangouts to make money. But they repackaged Google+ Hangouts as “KAPx” so that they can make mo’ dough. It’s the Republican way to figure out unethical ways to make money in the education sector.

    [Newt is hosting] “policy classes” for Republican Convention delegates in Tampa this week…. and “Newt U” will also be available online, thanks to “a new learning technology platform pioneered by Kaplan Inc called KAPx.”

    According to a Kaplan press release, KAPx (which seems to be just Google+ Hangouts meant to be sold to learning institutions at a high markup)…

    And of course Kaplan is the money-marking test-prep and for-profit school arm of the Washington Post Company, and its many innovations in the field of extracting money from the education sector are what keep the Washington Post’s printing presses running in this unhappy time for newspapers.

    And right here on the Washington Post Company’s KAPx website is a big plug for Newt U and a link to register ” for exclusive content access to Newt University courses and discussions.” Today’s theme is “We Can Do Better” and tomorrow’s is “We Built It.”

  36. machintelligence says

    piegasm@11

    I don’t even see why people have a problem with the whole “you’re with us or against us thing”

    Possibly because there are some of us who don’t believe in two valued logic. Given a choice of this type, we will oppose, on principle, whoever proposes it. They are free to decide how they want interpret this opposition, but that is their problem. Fortunately, no one of consequence is suggesting this for A+, since I am a big fan of the concept.

  37. Louis says

    Islandstrust,

    Bad habits die hard. Apologies for making you, and indeed anyone, uncomfortable.

    Louis

  38. r3a50n says

    @ 41:

    I think you’re right; making a distinction between “faint misogynists” and “flaming misogynists” is a little like trying to make a distinction between authoritarian religions and, well, less authoritarian religions. It is a pretty useless exercise as they all buy into the same delusion.

  39. says

    Rebecca may disagree personally, but really, elevatorgate was the best thing that ever happened to new atheism. A mild rebuke of unwanted nightly propositioning, and out of the woods came the haters, male and female. And here we are saying “fuck you then”, and move on.

    Hmmyeah, I disagree personally too. I don’t like the shit I’ve stuck with ever since.

  40. A+ Hermit says

    Funny how the people whining about how the A+ idea is going to “splinter the atheist movement” in some sort of diversity apocalypse will turn around and with the very next breath complain that A+ means we’ll all be forced into Stalinist conformity…

    Which is it? There seems to be some confusion here.

    Or are they just making shit up?!!11!!

  41. says

    Quinn Martindale:

    Splitters

    If you’re unwilling to make common cause on one issue with anyone who disagrees with you on another, you’re not going to effect change.

    Atheism isn’t a uniquely important cause. Effecting other forms of change is just as important. We’re not the Judean People’s Front, or the People’s Front of Judea; We’re the Outspoken Women Shouldn’t Be Bombarded With Rape Threats and Dismissed As Self Obsessed Whiners When They Complain Front.

  42. says

    A+ Hermit:

    Funny how the people whining about how the A+ idea is going to”splinter the atheist movement” in some sort of diversity apocalypse will turn around and with the very next breath complain that A+ means we’ll all be forced into Stalinist conformity…

    Wait a minute… I was told that atheism plus is totally insignificant, and will shortly be forgotten.

  43. Stevarious says

    A# available for the next installment of progressive atheists

    Alas, that acronym is already being contested for between two groups: The Avoirdupois Retention lobbyists (who lobby to keep the metric system out of America) and the Anal Pornographers Union. There’s just no room in there for a bunch of atheists at this point – the acronym is already stretched as tight as it will go.

  44. jflcroft says

    It’s very interesting (and somewhat dismaying!), as a staff member at the Humanist Community at Harvard, to read that Humanism might, for some, be “tainted” by association with our work. It is especially frustrating to read that Humanism might be tainted by a caricature of our work which does not accurately reflect the goals and practices of the organization.

    So here is a clarification which might put some people’s minds at rest:

    It is not the case that the Humanist Community at Harvard “want[s] to shape humanism to ape religion.” We recognize that there is a perception among some that this is true, but that perception is inaccurate. Our stance on religion has been consistent and clear at least since Greg Epstein joined the organization: we think religion is a mixed bag of bad and potentially valuable elements.

    Many of the social practices and beliefs associated with religions are extremely harmful, and need to be vigorously opposed. There is no space in the modern world for them. They are inhumane as well as false. And we work tirelessly to oppose these aspects of religion. That is why we host events challenging religious homophobia (for example hosting Ted Cox to speak on his experiences at “Straight Camp”), why we host speakers like Sam Harris (who came to talk about his book “The Moral Landscape”), and why we take on service projects which we feel nonreligious people can do particularly effectively, like working with homeless queer youth in LA (something which religious organizations will often not do). Our staff includes a number of people who have themselves been harmed by the pernicious effects of religion, and we take seriously the undeniable fact that religion is too often a source of evil in the world.

    At the same time it is our judgment that there are some valuable social practices currently exemplified in religious communities which nonreligious people might be able to learn from if they seek to develop their own communities. We know that some nonreligious people and some Humanists will not want to join communities, but for those that do, we think it is wise to look to other social organizations to try to identify best practices. We do look to religious organizations for inspiration, as well as businesses, secular social groups (like women’s groups and community groups), book clubs etc. We don’t only look to religious groups and we don’t seek to model our community after any religious groups – rather we cast a wide net and ask “how might we use effective practices from other social groups in order to make our community more welcoming and effective?”

    One example, to make this crystal clear. We wanted to redesign our website, and I looked at the website of lots of different Humanist and atheist group’s websites to get ideas. And a lot of them were quite poorly designed and didn’t do a great job of welcoming people and conveying information clearly etc. I then did a comparison of a number of websites of religious communities, to see what they were doing differently. And I found there were some broad principles about website design which some religious groups were doing really well, which Humanist and atheist groups could also do and improve their site. And I wrote those ideas up in a post:

    http://harvardhumanist.org/2011/11/30/tricks-from-the-churches-websites-2/

    I don’t think there is anything objectionable in this at all. I think it is only rational to seek good ideas in many different places, and I don’t think that a web design principle, or a system for greeting people at the door, or a method for keeping in contact with new members of our community (all areas where we’ve taken ideas from religious groups) is inherently “religious” such that Humanists should not use it. And I don’t think by saying “we’re going to try following up with our new members, like this religious congregation we visited did so effectively” means that we’re trying to “shape Humanism to ape religion”. We are simply looking for good ideas about community building and will try them out intelligently and reflectively to see if they work for us too.

    None of this means that people aren’t fully entitled to criticize what we do and what we stand for as an organization. But it is incumbent on critics to criticize what we actually do, and not an inaccurate caricature which does not represent our beliefs and practices fairly.

  45. madtom1999 says

    I wonder if the racist misogynist atheist would use a lighter font for the ‘*’ then we could accuse them of sitting in the bleachers. And there must be a joke about splitters waving their fistulas in anger.

  46. says

    If you’re unwilling to make common cause on one issue with anyone who disagrees with you on another, you’re not going to effect change.

    This is directed at those pro-social-justice atheists who don’t want to work with us because of our views on feminism, right?

  47. jthompson says

    @smhll: I’m not sure what your definition of fringe is, but I’d like you to meet the Pick Up Artist, Men Going Their Own Way, and pretty much any biblical values communities.

    PUAs tend to be younger, MGTOW tend to be middle aged, and the biblical values wankers tend to be of all ages, but are generally older. None of the three have any overlap whatsoever, and all three are somewhat popular.

    The lack of overlap is because the manner they hate women is generally oppositional to one another. PUAs think women are a hole you can use reverse psychology to trick into letting you fuck it. MGTOW tend to be insane guys that think life owes them regular access to vaginas with zero effort on their part and fucking RAGE that it doesn’t work that way. The biblical values crowd are more in favor of women being subjugated by a single man that’s backed by the rest of society. None of the three get along normally, but they’re united by hating women.

    Those are just the examples I could come up off the top of my head in a few seconds of thinking of “hard” misogynist groups. There’s plenty more out there. Any individual group might be fringe, but add them all together and not so much.

  48. drummer25 says

    I think that as soon as possible, A+ needs to announce a set of principles which encapsulate its intentions and which we can all get behind. The godbots have their ten commandments; we must have our own mission statement. We know what we are against, we need to make clear to the world what we are for.

    The principles of Humanism are a good example, also Dr Rodrigue’s The Code For Global Ethics. Whatever form our code takes, it should be brief, concise and inspirational.

  49. KG says

    jflcroft,

    we think religion is a mixed bag of bad and potentially valuable elements.

    Hmm, I think it’s a mixed bag of bad and even worse elements. Website design? Why not ask a professional website designer?

    why we host speakers like Sam Harris

    You won’t find that hosting an advocate for torture*, nuclear first strikes* and racial profiling** is necessarily going to be popular among atheists interested in social justice.

    *Yes, yes, with lots of caveats and equivocations, but that’s what it comes down to.

    **Yes yes, he says it’s not racial profiling because he’s invented this wonderful Muslim detector that takes absolutely no account of the colour of the target’s skin.

  50. says

    James “Temple of the Future” Croft? Greg Epstein, the guy who does chanting and hymns at meetings? Harvard Humanists, with their chaplaincy nonsense?

    You really go out of your way to stress your compatibility with religion, you know.

  51. Brownian says

    None of this means that people aren’t fully entitled to criticize what we do and what we stand for as an organization. But it is incumbent on critics to criticize what we actually do, and not an inaccurate caricature which does not represent our beliefs and practices fairly.

    That’s a fair complaint, jflcroft, but having had several discussions with staff members of the Harvard Humanists about the Harvard Humanists, I’ve noticed a lack of clarity about the HH by those very members.

    So it’s not entirely the fault of the critics, in my view.

  52. KG says

    The godbots have their ten commandments; we must have our own mission statement. We know what we are against, we need to make clear to the world what we are for. – drummer25

    I’m against mission statements.

  53. maureenbrian says

    I’m ever so sorry, drummer25, that we are not working to your dictated timetable but, in truth, it might take a couple of years to work out whether we need formal policy documents at all.

    After all, there are an awful lot of very different people to be consulted and some experimentation needed on ways of working together and communicating effectively. In the real world of A+ the very last thing we need is limits set before we even begin.

    We have seen over the last year the harm which comes of trying to impose narrow definitions and impossible conditions on “membership” as if one tiny sect can own atheism and punish people for thinking differently.

    We stood up to the Stalinist-Atheists, we have rejected their narrow understanding and we may well end up simply with a list of Heads of Agreement in order to include as people as possible.

    Why not wait and see?

  54. Randomfactor says

    Maybe just post the 8 I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts and leave it at that for now.

  55. John Phillips, FCD says

    KG, well apart from, women and minorities are people too and anything that prevents their being treated as such is wrong. We can always discuss, even passionately, the best ways to achieve that goal, but we can never in any way compromise on the goal itself. That’s what the + means to me.

  56. John Phillips, FCD says

    Randomfactor #67, yep the noodly one is already ahead of us with those eight.

  57. nohellbelowus says

    Hmmm… a Christian cross adjacent to the letter A. Could be misinterpreted as a symbol for accommodationism.

    The cross could also be linked, with a bit of a stretch, to the female gender symbol.

    Just some technical observations.

  58. Quinn Martindale says

    @Stephanie Zvan 57,

    It’s directed at any and all who think that complete agreement is necessary for solidarity. The biggest offenders are indeed those who waste their energy vociferously condemning their would-be allies who have other interests. As hyperdeath pointed out, there are multiple causes worth pursuing.

    As Jen McCreight said last night, work on the ‘traditional’ goals of the atheist movement will continue. AU and the NCSE are doing great work to promote those goals and deserve our support, even if people disagree on tactics. The fact that some supporters also work to advance feminist goals doesn’t remove them from the pro-reason column.

    I do have a problem with some language that PZ used (emphasis added):

    And if you don’t agree with any of that — and this is the only ‘divisive’ part — then you’re an asshole.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we have to ally with those who share our goals in some areas even if they don’t in others.

  59. magistramarla says

    “Yes. I’m a white male middle-class professional. I profit from disparity, and it simultaneously gives me guilt and worry that someone might take my privileges away from me. But I can’t in good conscience live in the illusion that I somehow deserve more than a poor black woman making ends meet with menial labor; I don’t. I’m just the recipient of the blessings of chance and history.”

    PZ,
    This is why I have so much respect for you, my friend.

    (Sorry, I have no idea how to do the block quotes thing)

  60. says

    You really go out of your way to stress your compatibility with religion, you know.

    I’m not seeing that as the problem.

    I’m seeing the problem as Croft going out of his way to post a decidedly Finckean rant about something that was a mere side mention. It’s completely off-topic, but Croft seems to have gone “OMFSM! PZ’s insinuating that the Harvard Humanists are trying to ape religion! I must PHILOSOPHIZE!” at your mere mention of “the perception that [Harvard Humanists] want to shape humanism to ape religion”.

  61. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we have to ally with those who share our goals in some areas even if they don’t in others.

    One can’t be allied with an asshole?

  62. KG says

    John Phillips, FCD,

    Well I was being semi-serious. I still recall the first time I saw a “mission statement”, at the headquarters of the AA (the UK Automobile Association, that is). Must have been 1992 or early 1993, because I know where I was working. I was incredulous that anything so obviously stupid could exist. Since then I have watched with horror as the vile things have crept into universities and other non-commercial organizations. If A+ ever acquires one, I’ll have to reconsider my initial enthusiasm.

  63. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    The biggest offenders are indeed those who waste their energy vociferously condemning their would-be allies who have other interests.

    No. The biggest time-wasters are people like you. If you’re not interested in the same issues, fine. Then what is your problem? How is that any skin off your nose?

    If you are interested, then what on earth are you offended about?

  64. Rey Fox says

    You absolutely disgust me, the notion that I DON’T support diversity, care about tolerance, because I don’t want to be part of your clique. THAT is why people are ANGRY.

    Hint: It’s not about you.

  65. John Phillips, FCD says

    KG, I don’t disagree with you re: mission statements, I just thought what I said self-evident to supporters of A+, but obviously not, at least going by the number of ‘but yes what are you about’ whines and not just on Pharyngula.

  66. says

    KG:
    Right on about mission statements. They’re silly for a group of people with similar goals but with no structure or hierarchy– hell, you might as well ask a group of feminists (or gay rights activists or anti-racists or whathaveyou) what their mission statement is. It’s pointless unless you want to play the No True Scotsman game.

    Dream:
    How does one determine if her vagina is upside down? Would I have to stand on my head? ‘Cos that sure as shit ain’t happening right now. ;)

  67. torquemada says

    My whole point is that not everyone dismissed as a “misogynist” or “hate and rage filled asshole” by the Atheism+ crowd is actually anything of the kind. Sometimes that kind of response is aimed at people who simply have a reasonable disagreement with them, rather than the genuine trolls who are sending threats and abuse.

    What you’ll discover is that there really are openly woman-hating misogynists out there, but also, that there are a lot of men and women who say extremely disturbing and stupid things about women who at the same time 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. It’s just those uppity, aggressive, rude feminist women that they think need to be raped into submission.
    And that’s you, guy.

    Absolutely! The misogynists will always try to deceive us (even as many of them have deceived themselves about their own misogyny), but we know better. Expressing concern about the possibility of false accusations of misogyny is a confession of misogyny. We know this because false accusations can only flow downward along the privilege gradient, never upward. I like the way the A† movement is shaping up; count me in!

  68. jflcroft says

    Brownian says:

    That’s a fair complaint, jflcroft, but having had several discussions with staff members of the Harvard Humanists about the Harvard Humanists, I’ve noticed a lack of clarity about the HH by those very members.

    So it’s not entirely the fault of the critics, in my view.

    You make a good point – we are an organization with, now, six staff members, and not all of them share the same views on everything. Some of us have personal blogs where we write in addition to the work we produce for the organization’s website, and so I can see why there might be confusion. As with most people who work for an organization, we reserve the right to air our individual views, which may not be precisely the same as the organization’s, on the understanding that our personal views are just that – personal. PZ’s blog here does not represent his academic institution, and my personal blog does not represent HCH. So some effort must be made to separate the individuals who work for HCH from the organization itself. Sometimes we have not made that distinction particularly clear.

    PZ says (in natty maroon, no less):

    James “Temple of the Future” Croft? Greg Epstein, the guy who does chanting and hymns at meetings? Harvard Humanists, with their chaplaincy nonsense?

    You really go out of your way to stress your compatibility with religion, you know.

    I took the name of my blog not to stress the compatibility of Humanism with religion but to make a link between my writing and the history of freethought. The term “Temple of the Future” was used in speeches by Robert G. Ingersoll and Felix Adler at around the same time to refer to the humane future they hoped to bring about. Both were staunch critics of inhumane aspects of religious practice – Ingersoll particularly – and I feel like the writings of earlier freethinkers should be remembered and recalled by people today fighting a similar fight.

    Much the same point was made by Rebecca Watson recently in a hangout about Atheism+, where she referenced people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and suggested they deserved recognition. It was partly the desire to associate myself with the staunch and effective religious criticism of Ingersoll which motivated my choice of title – quite the opposite to what you suggest. This is all made clear in the FAQ on my site and in my first few posts, which explain the choice of name.

    As for chanting and hymns I can’t personally remember any time when we’ve done chanting or hymns at meetings (although once we had a session where people sang a song – once in three years!). It’s not impossible that we might think of introducing more singing, but I very much doubt it would be hymns. Chanting I think is highly unlikely – most of our community would HATE that, and what would be the point?

    The Chaplaincy issue is a complicated one. Suffice to say for the moment that Greg took over an organization which was called the “Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard” and has changed its name to the “Humanist Community at Harvard” in order to assuage some of the concerns raised by individuals like yourself.

    I think it should be clear that none of the things we do are done in order to “stress our compatibility with religion” (whatever that might mean). Rather we do what we do because we believe it consistent with Humanist values as we understand them.

  69. says

    You absolutely disgust me, the notion that I DON’T support diversity, care about tolerance, because I don’t want to be part of your clique. THAT is why people are ANGRY.

    Well, golly gee. Your feelings are just so terribly hurt, I suppose, at the thought that someone might label you a bigot unfairly.

    My feelings were hurt when someone on Thunderf00t’s blog threatened directly to track me down and rape the shit out of me, then further hurt when Slymepitters mounted a campaign to spread the lie that I sockpuppeted myself in order to fabricate the rape threat against myself.

    Which is more important in your eyes? Making sure people like you aren’t unfairly labeled, or making sure people like me aren’t unfairly targeted for violent threats and smear campaigns?

    Your answer will tell us a lot about how fair that labeling is.

  70. Randide, Mangeons du jesuite says

    I think it should be clear that none of the things we do are done in order to “stress our compatibility with religion”

    Oh. So Greg didn’t write a book that was largely about stressing our compatibility with religion?

    Can you ask him for my money back then? Not because the book was hogwash, but because it apparently doesn’t exist.

  71. gingerbaker says

    So tell me:

    Would Richard Dawkins – if he wanted to join – have the necessary qualifications to be acceptable for membership in Atheism+ ?

  72. KG says

    torquemada,

    Your sarcasm is noted, and stupid. Of course false accusations of any kind are always possible; but those of us who have seen umpty-seven concerned individuals come in with oh-so-reasonable worries about how although of course they agree that sexism is wrong, we are driving away potential allies – and two comments, or twenty comments later, spew the vilest misogynistic garbage – just can’t help suspecting that the umpty-eighth might not be entirely sincere.

  73. KG says

    gingerbaker,

    Since at this point there’s no organization to join, your question is otiose. If there ever is, a prior question would be whether he wants to join; it would be pointless to spend time debating whether people who haven’t asked to join a club should be allowed to.

  74. gingerbaker says

    kg:

    “Since at this point there’s no organization to join, your question is otiose. If there ever is, a prior question would be whether he wants to join; it would be pointless to spend time debating whether people who haven’t asked to join a club should be allowed to.”

    Oh stop being shy. Richard Carrier, for instance, has not been taciturn about who isn’t Atheism+ materiel. Surely there is some sense of what common sensibilities are Atheism+ material.

    Evidently MRA enthusiasts are not suitable. My question is simple – does Richard Dawkins qualify?

  75. says

    Really, it’s not as if there’s a test, a yearly fee, or a membership card to go along with A+. Sheesh.

    Think of it like any other social justice cause: I can’t be “kicked out of” (or, hell, even “allowed in”) feminism– A+ isn’t any different.

  76. KG says

    Here’s a quote from Greg Epstein, taken from the wikipedia article on him:

    The New Humanism is produced by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University and is named after the 30th anniversary conference our organization held in April 2007. At that event, the title was chosen to contrast with “The New Atheism,” as the media have dubbed the work of writers such as Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins, Stanford doctoral student Sam Harris, and journalist Christopher Hitchens, each of whom had recently published a bestselling book promoting atheism. The intention was to use our conference to draw attention to the idea that Humanism, like atheism, is nontheistic and not traditionally religious, but unlike some popular atheism, Humanism is not necessarily an antireligious ideology. We also hoped our conference could serve as an exploration of the best ways in which Humanism can be more positive and constructive than what the general public had been seeing in the New Atheism. Our speakers, topics, and other conference events were chosen in order to highlight these distinctions.

    Since Atheism+ is rather obviously a development from New Atheism, the differences between it and the kind of humanism represented by the Harvard Humanist Community are clear. That’s not to say there’s no common ground, but Epstein himself deliberately and consciously emphasizes the disagreements.

  77. consciousness razor says

    jflcroft:

    At the same time it is our judgment that there are some valuable social practices currently exemplified in religious communities which nonreligious people might be able to learn from if they seek to develop their own communities.

    [blah blah blah]

    One example, to make this crystal clear. We wanted to redesign our website, and I looked at the website of lots of different Humanist and atheist group’s websites to get ideas. And a lot of them were quite poorly designed and didn’t do a great job of welcoming people and conveying information clearly etc. I then did a comparison of a number of websites of religious communities, to see what they were doing differently. And I found there were some broad principles about website design which some religious groups were doing really well, which Humanist and atheist groups could also do and improve their site.

    As KG said, “Website design? Why not ask a professional website designer?”

    And how is that making your point crystal clear about borrowing good things from religion (if there are any)? Are these websites using Bible-based design principles? Does making them involve elaborate rituals, using religiously-themed metaphor, meditating, or something like that? Or are you not crystal clear about what your point is?

  78. says

    I would work with Richard Dawkins on raising money to fund childcare at conferences and events. That wouldn’t stop me from criticizing the sexism in his “Dear Muslima” statement. If he claimed solidarity with A+ I’d tell him he can look forward to having people tell him to check his privilege. Like, a lot.

  79. Randide, Mangeons du jesuite says

    The only qualification is a desire to self-identify as such, so probably no

    If I self-identify, do I get the secret decoder ring?

  80. KG says

    gingerbaker,
    There is no list of qualifications, so your question is, as I said, otiose. Carrier does not speak for Atheism+; if any individual did (they don’t), it would presumably be Jen McCreight, who originated the term, and tweeted yesterday that she found Carrier’s language “unnecessarily harsh, divisive and ableist”.

  81. Ze Madmax says

    gingerbaker @ #93:

    Would Richard Dawkins – if he wanted to join – have the necessary qualifications to be acceptable for membership in Atheism+ ?

    To echo SallyStrange’s point (ZOMG! HIVEMIND!) had you stressed a different part of your comment, you would have your answer. See:

    Would Richard Dawkins – if he wanted to join – have the necessary qualifications to be acceptable for membership in Atheism+ ?

    Could he? Probably. Would he want to? I doubt it.

    And as a side note: it doesn’t matter what Richard Carrier said, because that is his own view of what Atheism+ should be, but nobody besides him is beholden to that view.

    Atheism+ (to my eyes) takes the Nac Mac Feegle approach to leadership: Nac Mac Feegle! The Wee Free Men! Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna be fooled again!

  82. Brownian says

    You make a good point – we are an organization with, now, six staff members, and not all of them share the same views on everything. Some of us have personal blogs where we write in addition to the work we produce for the organization’s website, and so I can see why there might be confusion. As with most people who work for an organization, we reserve the right to air our individual views, which may not be precisely the same as the organization’s, on the understanding that our personal views are just that – personal. PZ’s blog here does not represent his academic institution, and my personal blog does not represent HCH. So some effort must be made to separate the individuals who work for HCH from the organization itself. Sometimes we have not made that distinction particularly clear.

    I’ve never read yours or any other HCH personnel’s personal blog.

    Since every discussion I’ve had with HCH personnel about HCH have been here, on Pharyngula, I’m just going to suggest that your comments here, on this thread, fall into the exact same category of ‘personal views’ that you’re using to excuse this problem.

    So thanks for your personal views on the accuracy of criticisms of the HCH, which may or may not be precisely the same as your organization’s.

    My personal view, which also may or may not be the same as your organisation’s, is that you should probably stop using the word ‘Chaplaincy’ in your organisation’s title, since none of you seem to know whether or not you’re actually aping religion, and ‘chaplain’ is a religious title. Maybe change the word to ‘Consistency’ or something that you, all of you, really would do well to consider emulating.

  83. Brownian says

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we have to ally with those who share our goals in some areas even if they don’t in others.

    Personally, I’m all for allying with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Aztecs, and anyone else to fight misogyny and racism.

  84. consciousness razor says

    Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.

    If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.

    This is an argument against “dictionary atheism,” but not much else. I’m not sure anyone is a dictionary atheist in practice — they might claim to be, but generally it’s just a way to make excuses, deflect criticism or ignore an issue. So if we left out all the dictionary atheists, assuming there are any, we’d still have a whole lot of bigoted atheists in our ranks. We’d also have others like libertarian atheists, woo-believing atheists, faitheists, etc.; who may also be bigots but in their own way differ with what A+ has been trying to stand for (as well as I understand it).

    So what are the foundations and consequences of atheism? You’ve said that there are some, which is true and that’s a good start. But there’s not much about what they are or how they’re all supposed to hang together. We can be pluralists about it, certainly. We don’t need to claim there is only one true way to be a good, rational atheist; but we do still need to actually make the case for some or a few that we think are going in the right direction.

    Of course, many people are trying to do that, here and there, in bits and pieces. But a lot of attention is going toward answering some really silly objections from a bunch of clueless assholes. They’ll be a constant nuisance no matter what, so we can’t very well ignore them; but they don’t need to distract us from the real, legitimate issues we need to face. I don’t want or expect a perfect, comprehensive answer, just more than we have at this point, putting the pieces together into something that fills in the gaps as much as we can.

  85. carlie says

    A volcanic lair in the shape of a GIANT UTERUS!!!

    And every meeting ends with the chant “GET OUT OF MY UTERUS!”

  86. says

    Don’t count Richard Dawkins out. He’s not a libertarian thug, and what I know of his views make him a sympathetic moderate. He is a privileged old white man, just as I am, but have some consideration…we’re trying. He has different foci of interest, but I think we do ourselves a disfavor by trying to reject him outright.

  87. jflcroft says

    Randide says:

    Oh. So Greg didn’t write a book that was largely about stressing our compatibility with religion?

    No, I don’t think he did. That’s not the main message I take from his book at all (and I just reread it). I took him as trying to explain what Humanism is for a large audience of religious and nonreligious people.

    consciousness razor says:

    As KG said, “Website design? Why not ask a professional website designer?”

    And how is that making your point crystal clear about borrowing good things from religion (if there are any)? Are these websites using Bible-based design principles? Does making them involve elaborate rituals, using religiously-themed metaphor, meditating, or something like that? Or are you not crystal clear about what your point is?

    No, I’m very clear what my point is – we’re just using the term “religion” differently. I don’t use the term “religion” simply to mean “those things which are distinctly or uniquely connected with religious belief or practice”, partly for the very good reason that it is impossible to identify any such things. Instead I use “religion” to refer to the wide array of beliefs and practices which actually are held and performed by religious organizations and individuals at this time.

    So, for instance, if we take design ideas from the websites of religious groups, I think it reasonable to say that we took something from religious organizations in so doing (because we did). Whether we could have got similar insights looking elsewhere is a moot point – I, as a matter of fact, looked at lots of religious groups’ websites, and that’s where I got the tips from.

    Brownian says:

    So thanks for your personal views on the accuracy of criticisms of the HCH, which may or may not be precisely the same as your organization’s.

    My personal view, which also may or may not be the same as your organisation’s, is that you should probably stop using the word ‘Chaplaincy’ in your organisation’s title, since none of you seem to know whether or not you’re actually aping religion, and ‘chaplain’ is a religious title. Maybe change the word to ‘Consistency’ or something that you, all of you, really would do well to consider emulating.

    You were not reading what I wrote carefully, if you read it at all. I clearly stated that I was writing as a staff member of HCH at the beginning of my comment, to differentiate what I was posting there from my own personal views. And we have already removed “Chaplaincy” from the title of our organization, as I noted in the very post you are responding to. We chose to replace it with “Community”, since that clearly represents what we are, but perhaps for your benefit we should have chosen “comprehension”, which your posts seem to lack.

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, religious humanist is still boring, repetative, boring, repetative, boring, repetative, etc. ad nauseum.

  89. carlie says

    He is a privileged old white man, just as I am, but have some consideration…we’re trying. He has different foci of interest, but I think we do ourselves a disfavor by trying to reject him outright.

    I am thankful to all of those who are trying, but I just wish he’d be more…quiet… about his not getting understanding what other people are saying. It’s so disheartening to see.

  90. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I’d love to believe that about Dawkins, but:

    Retweeted by Richard Dawkins: “I’m a woman & an atheist blogger, & never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe because I don’t assume they’re misogynists?”

  91. consciousness razor says

    Whether we could have got similar insights looking elsewhere is a moot point – I, as a matter of fact, looked at lots of religious groups’ websites, and that’s where I got the tips from.

    It isn’t a moot point. Isn’t it a consistently better approach to consult a professional designer, rather than trying to find useful things (as a non-professional) in the design of a religious website? Why not from other kinds of organizations? I’ll Godwin this, just for fun: why not look to the design of a neo-Nazi website?

    Anyway, you’re not borrowing some of the religious aspects of their websites, but some of their design aspects. That is what you are borrowing. So maybe we are using the term “religion” differently, but you’re using it the wrong way.

  92. says

    I second #78 (and I can get blockquote to work)

    I’m a white male middle-class professional. I profit from disparity, and it simultaneously gives me guilt and worry that someone might take my privileges away from me. But I can’t in good conscience live in the illusion that I somehow deserve more than a poor black woman making ends meet with menial labor; I don’t. I’m just the recipient of the blessings of chance and history.

    This is me. It’s nice to have myself expressed clearly :-)

  93. smhll says

    I watched the whole video. It’s hard for me to see how anyone could listen to the emotion in Jen’s voice and be unempathetic to her experience. So, I am climbing down from my high horse and hiding my accomodationist banner in the recycling bin.

  94. torquemada says

    @KG,

    Of course false accusations of any kind are always possible; but those of us who have seen umpty-seven concerned individuals come in with oh-so-reasonable worries about how although of course they agree that sexism is wrong, we are driving away potential allies – and two comments, or twenty comments later, spew the vilest misogynistic garbage – just can’t help suspecting that the umpty-eighth might not be entirely sincere.,

    I completely agree. Such suspicion must immediately be treated as guilt. Waiting for evidence is irrational. Even if a few inoffensive individuals suffer so that the many who are guilty can be properly punished, they should be glad to make that sacrifice for the cause. And no one is truly “innocent” anyhow.

  95. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Unless you’re claiming that people cannot be legitimately described as racists or libertarians, I’m not sure how you can possibly say that my observations of people I’ve encountered count as ad hominem.

    It’s an “ad hom” because he fits into the group being criticised and he doesn’t like it.

  96. Paul says

    I’d love to believe that about Dawkins, but:

    Retweeted by Richard Dawkins: “I’m a woman & an atheist blogger, & never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe because I don’t assume they’re misogynists?”

    Is there any way to read a male RTing that as anything other than “If you assume men are misogynists, they will participate in sexist abuse against you”? I’ve read it several times since it was tweeted, and I can’t figure out any other way than to interpret it. And with no “guys, don’t do that” added to the RT it really seems like implicit support for said abuse. There is a clear cause and effect implied. Now we know that abuse is the effect caused by thinking that someone may be the type to abuse you.

    It’s surreal.

  97. jflcroft says

    consciousness razor says:

    It isn’t a moot point. Isn’t it a consistently better approach to consult a professional designer, rather than trying to find useful things (as a non-professional) in the design of a religious website? Why not from other kinds of organizations? I’ll Godwin this, just for fun: why not look to the design of a neo-Nazi website?

    Anyway, you’re not borrowing some of the religious aspects of their websites, but some of their design aspects. That is what you are borrowing. So maybe we are using the term “religion” differently, but you’re using it the wrong way.

    First, looking at potential models of websites from different organizations is not incompatible with also speaking with a professional designer. Indeed, if you actually read the post I linked you will see it suggests you do just that. You present a false dilemma. I stated quite clearly in my first reply that we do look to nonreligious institutions as well. I just gave that one example which deals only with religious websites to illustrate this aspect of our approach to religion.

    As for the rest of your point, how do you distinguish between the “religious aspects” of a congregation’s website and the “nonreligious aspects”? I don’t think that’s particularly easy to do. Nor did I suggest we were taking the “religious aspects”. What I said was that I found “there were some broad principles about website design which some religious groups were doing really well, which Humanist and atheist groups could also do and improve their site.”

    It is your and PZ’s critique that we are taking something peculiarly “religious” from religious organizations. I do not claim that we are doing that – I refute both the charge and the framework which motivates the charge. If you want the charge to stick you have to substantiate it. I will not be forced into the position of having to to defend a characterization of our activities I consider to be false.

  98. ronsullivan says

    Peez, it’s not that anyone’s rejecting Dawkins. It’s that we’ve outpaced him.

  99. KG says

    torquemada,

    Dishonest little shit, aren’t you? Let’s try taking what you say at face value. First (@89):

    false accusations can only flow downward along the privilege gradient, never upward.

    Then, after my:

    Of course false accusations of any kind are always possible

    you say:

    I completely agree.

    So were you lying the first time, or the second? (That’s an inclusive or, of course.)

  100. Randide, O che sciagὺra d'essere scenza coglioni! says

    It is your and PZ’s critique that we are taking something peculiarly “religious” from religious organizations. I do not claim that we are doing that – I refute both the charge and the framework which motivates the charge. If you want the charge to stick you have to substantiate it.

    Greg refers to himself as a fucking CHAPLAIN for crying out loud!

  101. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    He is a privileged old white man, just as I am, but have some consideration…we’re trying. He has different foci of interest, but I think we do ourselves a disfavor by trying to reject him outright.

    Sorry PZ. You do a lot of apologizing for Dawkins on this issue and it’s blatant. Dawkins gets more slack from you than anyone else who said such things would. Perhaps political reality requires you to do so, but you should know how it looks.

  102. says

    PZ Myers:

    Don’t count Richard Dawkins out. He’s not a libertarian thug, and what I know of his views make him a sympathetic moderate…

    He’s a potential ally, but I’m deeply unimpressed by his recent antics on Twitter. I think he’s one of those people who’s completely unperturbed by hostility (for example he seems to enjoy his hate-mail) and assumes that everyone else should be like that too.

  103. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Frankly I wish somebody with clout would publicly upbraid Dawkins for his repetition of dismissive memes and false claims about feminism. He gives a lot of cover to very angry anti-feminist people. He’s not just not helping, he’s giving respectability to people who distort and abuse women commentators.

  104. Paul says

    He’s not just not helping, he’s giving respectability to people who distort and abuse women commentators.

    Even worse, that earlier retweet goes past “respectability” and right into justification.

  105. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Is there any way to read a male RTing that as anything other than “If you assume men are misogynists, they will participate in sexist abuse against you”?

    Nope. The original author, and Dawkins by retweeting, are saying ‘Bitches are asking for it’.

    The extremely low opinion of men contained therein slipped passed these Chill Girls and Guys, apparently.

  106. jflcroft says

    Greg refers to himself as a fucking CHAPLAIN for crying out loud!

    He actually is a Chaplain, which undermines the idea that there is anything particularly religious about it.

  107. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    He gives a lot of cover to very angry anti-feminist people. He’s not just not helping, he’s giving respectability to people who distort and abuse women commentators.

    And lays all the blame on those selfish Western Women who should totally just shut up since he doesn’t make us wear burkas or suffer FGM.

  108. KG says

    jflcroft,

    I’ll repeat part of my quote from Epstein:

    The intention was to use our conference to draw attention to the idea that Humanism, like atheism, is nontheistic and not traditionally religious [emphasis added]

    Now clearly there would be no point at all in including the word “traditionally”, if Epstein did not mean that “Humanism”, as he sees it, is, in fact, religious: if he didn’t mean that (and assuming he’s being honest), he would obviously have said simply “and is not religious” (he could still have added, as he did, that it is “not necessarily an antireligious ideology”). But he didn’t.

    As for what you say you are using as a definition of religion, it’s simply ridiculous:

    I don’t use the term “religion” simply to mean “those things which are distinctly or uniquely connected with religious belief or practice”, partly for the very good reason that it is impossible to identify any such things. Instead I use “religion” to refer to the wide array of beliefs and practices which actually are held and performed by religious organizations and individuals at this time.

    So because some religious individuals brush their teeth, brushing your teeth is religion. That really is no stupider than your website example.

  109. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    He actually is a Chaplain, which undermines the idea that there is anything particularly religious about it.

    No, James, it doesn’t. One prominent example of a non-religious chaplain does not strip the word of its near-universal association with religion and pastors. Language semiotics don’t work that way.

    This is an example of the ambiguity at the Harvard Humanists that people have been pointing to. It’s no good saying it’s their problem for not understanding the idiosyncratic terminology. They’re not wrong. If you wish to clear up misunderstandings this would be an example to pay attention to, not dismiss.

  110. KG says

    He actually is a Chaplain, which undermines the idea that there is anything particularly religious about it. – jflcroft

    No, it most certainly doesn’t, both because of the provenance of the term, and since Epstein, as I’ve shown, quite clearly regards Humanism as religious.

  111. sc_00e1521cde4cb27b2122efb3a65cdd9d says

    @KG

    Of course false accusations of any kind are always possible; but those of us who have seen umpty-seven concerned individuals come in with oh-so-reasonable worries about how although of course they agree that sexism is wrong, we are driving away potential allies – and two comments, or twenty comments later, spew the vilest misogynistic garbage – just can’t help suspecting that the umpty-eighth might not be entirely sincere.

    I was the one who made the YouTube comment that PZ has used to label me a wannabe rapist. Just to clarify, I wasn’t so much talking about false claims of misogyny, more the times when such things are highly subjective.

    The example I used, which obviously wasn’t quoted by PZ, was the issue of Dr Harriet Hall’s “not a Skepchick” T-shirt. Reading the A+ debate over the last few days, I’ve seen people who thought it was a bit of a storm in a teacup dismissed as the kind of misogynists that A+ is designed to drive out.

    I don’t think these situations are always so clear cut, with evil misogynistic MRA men on one side, and decent feminists who care about social justice on the other. I think people can disagree on an issue like that without proving themselves to be woman hating trolls with no place in A+.

    If agreement with an A+ consensus is required whenever there’s an event like that, it narrows the potential membership more than its “atheism + social justice” definition implies.

    To me there’s certainly a big difference between that kind of disagreement (with men and women on both sides of it) and scumbag trolls sending rape threats to feminist bloggers. Those two groups don’t deserve to be lumped together under the same “misogynist” label.

    That was my entire point, and is pretty much the only thing I’ve contributed to the A+ debate. I’ll leave it up to other people to judge whether PZ’s response was warranted.

  112. carlie says

    I think he’s one of those people who’s completely unperturbed by hostility (for example he seems to enjoy his hate-mail)

    Well, sure, because what kernel of truth could there be to most of that hostility for him? For example, I’m sure he doesn’t get many rape threats, and even if he did, he’s not getting them under a lifetime of knowing one out of every six people just like him do get raped, or having been told his whole life if he gets raped it’s his fault for not being aware enough to avoid the situation.

    And in terms of any other potential threats, he really isn’t very vulnerable. He’s a very wealthy, very well-respected, very famous person. Any threats to his person at all are things that aren’t even logistically probable in his world.

    The one way he could understand would be to empathize with people in more vulnerable positions, and understand that this kind of hostile tactic, although not harmful to him, is harmful to others when it is allowed to flourish through either ignoring it or laughing it away. This, by the way, is ALSO what a lot of even female bloggers do; many of them aren’t particularly vulnerable either, but they understand how that kind of rhetoric affects other people specifically and society in general. So it isn’t an impossible thing to think people can do.

    Peez, it’s not that anyone’s rejecting Dawkins. It’s that we’ve outpaced him.

    I like this comment a lot. Gives him the chance to catch up.

  113. says

    The “sometimes you get called a bigot when you aren’t” comment got me thinking down a different trail of though:
    Sometimes you get called stupid when you’re not. Is it really a big issue that other people sometimes classify you incorrectly? If you really aren’t dismissing the problems of the relevant marginalized group and you really aren’t supporting groups that do and you really aren’t expressing views that privilege ought to stay where it is now? Then oops. Somebody misunderstood what you were saying and/or your intentions behind it.

    I know it is intensely not-fun to have someone calling you names and all manner of willingness to change yourself won’t end it- but too fucking bad. That’s going to happen to a few people everywhere at every age.

    So then it comes down to frequency. If you think that feminists do this a whole lot more than anyone else then the mistake is on you. You’re not familiar with the topic or haven’t given it much though – privilege is invisible, yadda yadda yadda.

    Best course of action? Be humble for ten seconds so you can say that you don’t understand why you got that reaction but also that you would like to understand if they can slow down for a minute and take you through the gist of it bit by bit.

    Not everyone will be able to explain it in a way that you understand but if they throw away an opportunity like that and continue calling you names? That’s probably the most licence you’ll ever get to ignore a person- you can’t figure out their point of view and they aren’t interested in sharing it, so what’s keeping you talking to them?

  114. says

    PZ:

    He’s not a libertarian thug, and what I know of his views make him a sympathetic moderate.

    That’s like saying “he’s not a fundamentalist, he’s a sympathetic liberal christian.”

    Dawkins actively enables sexist attitudes and toxic privilege. He’s doing harm when he does that and he doesn’t seem to care. If he truly is sympathetic, his sympathy needs work.

  115. 'Tis Himself says

    KG #146

    He actually is a Chaplain, which undermines the idea that there is anything particularly religious about it. – jflcroft

    No, it most certainly doesn’t, both because of the provenance of the term, and since Epstein, as I’ve shown, quite clearly regards Humanism as religious.

    Now maybe Croft will believe it’s not just me who see the Harvard Humanists, led by a Chaplain, as a religious organization.

    Honestly Croft, how can you not understand that chaplain denotes a religious official? dictionary.com gives two definitions of chaplain:

    chaplain noun

    1. an ecclesiastic attached to the chapel of a royal court, college, etc., or to a military unit.

    2. a person who says the prayer, invocation, etc., for an organization or at an assembly.

  116. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Now ‘Tis, don’t confuse Croft with the facts. It will cause him to lose his place in his cycle of repetitious arguments of echo chambering himself.

  117. KG says

    sc_00e1521cde4cb27b2122efb3a65cdd9d,

    Please link to where PZ labelled you “a wannabe rapist”.

  118. says

    @James Croft:

    You guys gave the Humanist of the Year Award to a noted transphobic, homophobic, racist, misogynist asshole. You refuse to acknowledge your wrongdoing over the matter. We talked about it and you came up with a “I wish I could’ve done something about it” as your only defense.

    FUCK that noise. You could’ve done anything about it. You could’ve said “hey guys, Seth MacFarlane is an asshole, do we really want to say he’s what humanists should aspire to?” And if the answer was anything but “no” you vote with your fucking feet.

    There is no excuse.

  119. jflcroft says

    KG and Josh:

    Here is where specificity and lots of detail are required to navigate quite a complex issue. Greg is not the first or only nonreligious Chaplain. There are currently a number of Humanist Chaplains at universities across the USA who do not identify as religious, and that number is growing. There have been Humanist chaplains for decades, and there are Humanist chaplains in hospice care right now who do not identify as religious. There is an effort to ensure atheists in the military have access to the supports of chaplains, too, and I assume those chaplains would also identify as nonreligious. So it isn’t a case of a single individual but a growing trend which expresses the idea that a chaplain need not be a religious figure even if they fulfill functions similar to traditional religious chaplains.

    Clearly for the moment that term still has a religious sense and connotation to it, but the point I was making was that it has not been “selected” by Greg or anyone at HCH in order to maintain that association or to demonstrate any compatibility with religion. Rather it has been selected for them by institutions which have no other title to bestow on individuals who do this work. It is not our intention to cling onto certain terminology in order to demonstrate some continuity with religious traditions, but simply the vagaries of old institutional structure we are not at liberty to alter. That this is the case is made clear by the fact that, when we do have control over the language we use (like in the name of our 501c3 organization) we have moved to remove the word “Chaplain”.

    As for the quote KG pulls, you have misinterpreted it. It is certainly not the case that Greg views Humanism to be a religion. He is crystal clear about this in his book, which is addressed to “nonreligious people” throughout. Just reading the introduction alone would give ample evidence that Greg does not see Humanism as a religion. Here are some quotes:

    “I’m often asked if Humanism is a religion. Practically speaking, Humanism is not a religion, because most of us associate the word religion with a system that includes divinities and the supernatural…Sociologically speaking, however, Humanism is similar to a religion in the way that it involves shared values with efforts to organize a community and is essentially a way of life. So I prefer the European term lifestance, meaning more than a philosophy but not a divine or revealed religion.”

    Now, some people – including some Humanists (like HUUmanists and Ethical Culturists) do use “religion” in a non-traditional way, and it is in an attempt to be inclusive to these Humanists that Greg uses the language that KG quotes. But it certainly does not imply that, contrary to the very explicit section quoted above in his book, that he believes Humanism to be a religion. He does not.

    The quote just given also should clarify further the way we approach religion at the HCH. We recognize that the supernatural aspects are false (that’s the “system that includes divinities and the supernatural” that Greg refers to) but that the sociological aspects might have some value (that’s the “shared values with efforts to organize a community”). I believe that to be a reasonable stance to take toward a complex human phenomenon, and not one which equates to “stressing the compatibility of religion with Humanism”.

  120. says

    A+ is the intersection of atheism, skepticism, and secular humanism.

    Atheism is godlesness. That’s all it is, and to the extent thatt a movement is needed, it’s only to prove that you don’t need God to be a good person.

    Secular humanism is the idea that social justice is important and doesn’t need religion to guide it. (I state this for those who, like me, grew up hearing that atheism and secular humanism were synonyms. Show me a humanist big-L libertarian and I’ll show you a paradox worthy of a White Wolf game.)

    Skepticism ensures (or is supposed to ensure) that we don’t let woo and prejudice fuck with us.

    I think I’ll be putting something like this on RationalWiki later. RW has tended towards A+ thinking for a long time despite libertarian incursions.

  121. says

    SallyStrange:

    It would be REALLY AWESOME if the Chaplaincy discussion could move to the Thunderdome. It’s really not related to the A+ discussion.

    Quoted for emphasis. Once more, this chaplaincy…nonsense has completely derailed what is an important subject for some of us.

  122. barfy says

    I like Caine’s term “toxic privilege.”

    I’m very excited about the A+ concept. Kudos to the community for picking up on the idea that an atheistic worldview can combine science with social issues.

    Feminism and its history leads the forefront of identity politics, and should be given credit for the same.

    A+ should not be seen as a division, but rather, a refinement. It simply answers the charge that one’s worldview informs one’s political beliefs. Religionistas utilize dogma. The A+ utilize science and a desire to optimize the human experience FOR ALL HUMANS.

  123. abb3w says

    @0, PZ Myers:

    There’s no religious mentality at all in Atheism+. As I said above, look at the Harvard Humanists, or Alain de Botton, if you want to see a religious mentality.

    I’d again recommend reading through Dale Cannon’s religious anthropology book Six Ways of Being Religious.

    Atheism+ does not appear to have religious mentality in the specific senses of Way of Sacred Rite or Way of Mystic Quest. As it is focused more on relation to our fellow sentients rather than our relationship with the universe itself as a whole, it also does not appear to involve the Way of Devotion. It so far seems to take part in the Way of Shamanic Mediation in utterly negligible degree — even less than Mechanical Engineering does.

    Way of Intellectual Inquiry, Atheism+ seems to partake of somewhat noticeably, in that a lot of the A+ folk appear to be trying “rational, dialectical struggle” (= intelligent argument) as a means of participation in the movement. It appears to have inherited this from the preceding (Western) “Atheist” movement.

    However, A+ seems very strongly involved in the Way Of Right Action — what Cannon summarizes as

    the concerted effort to bring life, both individual and communal, into agreement with the way things are ultimately supposed to be° (however understood) — that is, to realize and fulfill the sacred intendedness of life° — that promises individual fulfillment, social justice, and the embodiment of divine identity° in the midst of mundane, this-worldly life

    “. (The bits in funky italics° indicate where Cannon is using slightly non-standard meanings of the terms slightly more general than ordinary usage, serving as a place-holder for the various correspondingly placed counterparts in different religious traditions. They’re formatted that way in his book.)

    Of course, a heck of a lot of political movements would also seem to involve these senses of “religiosity”. Contrariwise, there’s been gray areas about politics resembling religion noted in various journal articles before. Nohow, “no religious mentality at all” seems to marginally overstate the case.

  124. charlessoto says

    #40 Gregory in Seattle, I don’t question the historical account. In fact, I know very little of it, as I’ve mostly not paid attention. I’m just pointing out that PZ’s description of A+ sounds rather like the “No Homers” club in that Simpsons episode about the “Stonecutters” or whatever. It’s being defined by who it excludes. That’s not the sort of movement I would be drawn to.

    I recommend avoiding this description and focusing on the “Atheism + Social Justice” aspect. The rest can be a footnote for the historical record, just in case anybody in the movement starts acting like an asshole and needs a reminder.

  125. abb3w says

    Oh, and yes, divine identity° is defintitely a bit odd to try and think of in an atheist context. I suppose it could be something like a Panglossian “the best of all possible worlds”, in that Atheists are trying to make aspects of our world more similar to it (even if it won’t get all the way).

    And, of course, the sense of “best” ties some manner of “better”, which requires an ordering relationship over what the possibilities are, which ties to Hume’s fundamental is-ought bridge.

  126. KG says

    abb3w,

    Why should we take Dale Cannon as an authority? I haven’t read hir, but from what you quote, xe is trying a bit of disciplinary imperialism. Both intellectual inquiry and right action have millennia-long non-religious (and often anti-religious) traditions.

  127. torquemada says

    @RT: Good. I was starting to wonder whether you are really on the side of compassion, integrity, and reasonableness, because you were slow to attack me personally upthread (merely calling my words stupid), but you’ve redeemed yourself with “dishonest little shit.” I’m now satisfied, for the time being, that you’re on the right side.

    As for the supposed contradiction, I admit I charitably read your assertion that “false accusations of any kind are possible” as being limited to false accusations of kinds that are plausible. Otherwise I would have been forced to disagree, because false accusations that are true, false accusations made by the Easter Bunny, and so forth are not possible. The privilege gradient remains a completely reliable determinant of honesty, but the relative positions of accuser and accused on that multi-dimensional gradient are not always precisely known, so rare errors can occur.

    The important thing is, we can agree that the fear of erroneous presumption of guilt must not prevent or delay personal denouncement of all potential rape-into-submission-wishers, as PZM demonstrated in the passage I originally quoted.

  128. Amphiox says

    abb3w;

    The problem with the argument you quote is quite simply the unjustifiable exclusive appropriation of this “way of right action” by religion. To my mind this is an aspect of human sociality that predates religion, which religion later assumed. But that means that non-religious social constructs are just as free to use it.

  129. KG says

    I don’t question the historical account. In fact, I know very little of it, as I’ve mostly not paid attention. charlessoto

    Then you’re not really in a position to judge what should and should not be stressed. It is quite central to the motivation for Atheism+ that atheist women who have dared to speak up against sexual harassment and misogyny have been subjected to prolonged campaigns of vilification, including threats of rape and murder; and that they and their allies want a movement where this does not occur; and which will encourage women, people of colour, people of diverse bodily and psychological conditions, and GSM* to take leading roles, speak for themselves, and be listened to.

    *Gender/Sexuality Minorities

  130. vaiyt says

    @168:

    “What about the false accusations of rape/racism/bigotry/misogyny????///eleventy!!11??? We need to keep talking about that instead of the concerns of actual victims! My fear of maybe being unfairly labeled trumps other people’s right to be treated like a human being!”

    Fuck you. A lot of people here are tired of those obviating tactics. We don’t care if you think we’re dogmatic dipshits. We hate you as well, so I guess it evens out.

  131. says

    I’m going to disagree with a lot of commenters. I think humanism as a philosophy and practice isn’t sufficiently inclusife of religious folks. Because ultimately, humanism is secular rather than atheist. As such, I think it should be an alternative to the “interfaith” nonsense, rather than its atheist member.

    In fact, strictly atheist organizations calling themselves “humanists” or worse, “secular humanists” and insisting that secular humanism is atheist undermines a lot of work atheist and humanist organizations are doing in the issue of separation of church and state, and of keeping religion out of science.

    I mean, we keep on explaining to religious folks that they should support a secular government because it’s not atheist; it’s not an establishment of non-religion, but rather a lack of religion within government, which would protect them from having other people’s religious beliefs imposed on them. We tell them the same about secular education and about how science is secular rather than atheist or anti-theist.

    And then so many atheists turn around and insist that Secular Humanism is atheist? Not helpful. For one, it means religious people will not accept humanism as something that they too could make part of their philosophy; and for two, it muddies the waters in regards to the arguments that say that secular institutions should be accepting of religious folks, even if not of the specific precepts of any given religion.

    If you want to be a strictly atheist+social justice organization, it would really be better to not conflate secular and atheist, and honestly call yourself Atheist Humanists (or A+).

  132. vaiyt says

    @torquemada:

    Why don’t you have compassion towards the victims of harassment? Why don’t you go ask those who dismiss any claims from women to be reasonable? Why don’t you go whine at the bigots that they aren’t being moderate?

    It’s always us, us, us. Because we put a very low bar that so many people still can’t cross.

  133. portia says

    Josh:

    Perhaps political reality requires you to do so, but you should know how it looks.

    Seconded, emphatically.

    RD’s RT of that horrible victim-blaming crap made me lose what remaining shreds of admiration I had left for the man. I’m done giving him chances. If anyone else wants to be patient with him and his ilk (and he is, as Josh says, making it clear who he sympathizes with) then that’s fine. But don’t chastise the objects of his disdain (the bitchez, we ain’t shit) for responding with disdain.

  134. bastionofsass says

    Caine wrote:

    Dawkins actively enables sexist attitudes and toxic privilege. He’s doing harm when he does that and he doesn’t seem to care. If he truly is sympathetic, his sympathy needs work.

    It’s bad enough when Dawkins is silent as atheist women are harassed, abused, and threatened. Especially given the number of prominent atheist men who have publicly denounced the vile behavior.

    What are we to make of that?

    Consider the response to Dear Muslima and the retweet: those that have responded favorably are generally coming from the women-bashing crowd.

    And Dawkins is OK with that? He hasn’t said otherwise to my knowledge.

    And what are we to make of the fact that the retweet was of a tweet that was fallacious, just as the Dear Muslima letter was. It’s as though Dawkins throws reason out the window so long as he’s throwing a significant number of atheist women along along with it.

  135. bastionofsass says

    charlessoto wrote:

    It’s being defined by who it excludes. That’s not the sort of movement I would be drawn to.

    So since atheism excludes theists, you’re not drawn to atheism?

  136. dream says

    @Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Sorry PZ. You do a lot of apologizing for Dawkins on this issue and it’s blatant. Dawkins gets more slack from you than anyone else who said such things would. Perhaps political reality requires you to do so, but you should know how it looks.

    The 2006 release of The God Delusion coincides with a rise in atheism. He sold over 3 million copies and paved the way for Hitchens and Harris and many others. If not for him there wouldn’t be such a large audience for A+.

    Just because he ridicules someone doesn’t mean hes trying to shut them up. Also, he and PZ went to the movies together to go see Expelled. Be jealous.

  137. 'Tis Himself says

    That Dawkins did some yeoman work in promoting atheism is not denied. Nobody is arguing against The Blind Watchmaker or The God Delusion. What we are objecting to is Dawkins’ dismissal of women’s legitimate complaints about misogyny and his utter refusal to examine his own privilege.

  138. nms says

    great, thanks PZ, now pathfinding algorithms and horrible misogyny are permanently conflated in my mind

  139. Suido says

    Too many QFTs in one thread.

    A* was brilliant and I larfed.

    More structured hangout, definitely.

    My question for the hangout was – A+ is gaining traction on the internet, where/what next? However, I’m coming to realise that this needs a lot more discussion before ‘next’ can happen. Therefore, I second Gregory in Seattle’s call for an e-book collection of essays.

  140. vaiyt says

    Cross-quoting Nightjar on the other thread, because this quote expresses my opinion of torquemada’s “concerns” better than I myself could.

    It’s like all those trolls in the social justice threads going all “oh, I totally share your values and everything but now I really must spend the rest of this thread arguing with you as if I didn’t and making the discussion you want to have impossible, ’cause that’s what allies do, right?”

    Like that fools anyone (well, they may be fooling themselves, but that’s about it).

  141. benjimin says

    It might aid communication to preserve some term that only means “without any theistic belief.”

    To me, new atheism additionally implies refusal to privilege religious views (tending instead to give precedence to mainstream scientific culture and worldview). Atheism+ additionally implies both secular humanist ethics and further skeptism against psuedoscience.

    I understand it is the anti-religion banner that has rallied audience to PZ et al, so naturally they don’t wish to drop that banner (lest they lose momentum) as they transition to emphasising a broader focus (such as opposing bigotry regardless of religious basis). But this motivation is not aligned with language clarity.

    If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture..

    I’m not convinced; I think that’s backwards.

    You *can’t* argue over how, not in the sense you meant (depending upon which school of philosophy you subscribe to). Once we agree on some basic axioms of ethics, then the scientific method determines which approaches best maximise over that metric (e.g. it might be provable that under certain circumstances libertarianism is erroneous).

    But you *can* argue over the metric, the goals. The facts of the matter do not automatically prescribe a moral imperative. (Does is imply ought?) If religion is a sham I could still in principle adopt a view of nihilism or anti-social self-interest, rather than having concern for welfare of foreigners now and future. Hence the starting point includes something more than strictly just a-theism.

  142. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Just because he ridicules someone doesn’t mean hes trying to shut them up. Also, he and PZ went to the movies together to go see Expelled. Be jealous.

    You just can’t accept that a criticism might be motivated by anything genuine, can you? I’ve no need to be jealous. I worked for Dawkins’ foundation at the 2007 AAI conference. I had lunch with him, I did pack mule work at his and Dan Dennett’s book signing. He’s long been an intellectual hero of mine.

    He’s profoundly disappointed lots of people, like me, for whom he has been an inspiration and an educator. He fails on this issue. Badly. That doesn’t take away from his achievements. But neither does it make him immune to criticism. I think you know that, though, don’t you?

  143. says

    It might aid communication to preserve some term that only means “without any theistic belief.”

    Gee, there’s a tough one. *eyeroll*

    Non-believer.
    Non-theist.

    That’s just two. For those wanting a bit of flair, there’s always Dictionary Atheist Douchcanoe.

  144. Brownian says

    I clearly stated that I was writing as a staff member of HCH at the beginning of my comment, to differentiate what I was posting there from my own personal views.

    You know how I know I was discussing the HCH with HCH members?

    Take a big fucking guess.

    I have never spoken with a member of your organisation whose made it clear that they were speaking personally. You’re still all over the map. Name change notwithstanding.

  145. maureenbrian says

    Why are you getting so knickers in a twist, benjimin?

    We merely seek to apply the tools of rationality and skepticism to the matter of justice. (Note lower case ‘j’.) This may well involve spotting the daft ideas which persist long after they have been blown to smithereens by the scientific method and/or their philosophical underpinnings have been publicly abandoned by the person who still spouts them.

    This will involve asking questions. Some questions may be asked of you.

    Do you have a problem with that?

  146. bastionofsass says

    dream wrote:

    The 2006 release of The God Delusion coincides with a rise in atheism. He sold over 3 million copies and paved the way for Hitchens and Harris and many others. If not for him there wouldn’t be such a large audience for A+.

    The work Dawkins did writing about A, and promoting A, is surely wonderful.

    That is evidence that Dawkins is currently a member in good standing of A.

    And…?

  147. says

    A+ sounds like everything I want out of an organization. It’s much better, in my opinion, than simply belonging to a club where we all just agree on the same thing. I love the fact that Atheism+ is trying to effect change. It’s the same argument that comes up when some people say we shouldn’t bother working to improve gender equality in the west because Islamic women have worse problems. People can work on bettering as many aspects of society as we have time for.

    I don’t even see why people have a problem with the whole “you’re with us or against us thing”. I mean, if we’re forsocial justice, then we’re against those who are against social justice. If you’re for social justice but prefer to identify as something other than A+, then we’re not against you. If you’re not for social justice, regardless of how you want to label yourself, then we are, in fact, against you and we owe you no apologies for that.(piegasm, #11)

    WTF about the “with us or against us” = dogmatic? People are allowed to be inclusive or exclusive. What’s wrong with that? We’re not obligated to be everyone’s friend.

    Also like andrewriding #149 (I like all of it, so I won’t bother blockquoting all the text). It’s a good counter to torquemada’s point about being unjustly called a bigot. It’s less of an issue to be mislabeled something (just move on, brush it off, ask for clarification, etc.) than it is to be a victim or threatened with bodily harm.

    Anyway, I’m late to the thread and reiterating others’ points, but contributing (per Caine’s suggestion in the Intro thread).

  148. says

    I must have left out part of a sentence. After “effect change” should also have, “Detractors of A+ seem to be solely made up of people opposing the mix of feminism and atheism.”

  149. Brian says

    nms:

    great, thanks PZ, now pathfinding algorithms and horrible misogyny are permanently conflated in my mind

    And now it will be in my mind, too. THANKS A LOT nms

    Another argument for preferring Cannabinaceae’s hilarious “” suggestion.

  150. Childermass says

    “We can’t very well kick them out of the atheist movement — none of us have that power,”

    You can’t kick them out of the movement per se, but you CAN kick them out of any atheist function that you are hosting. You can also refuse to sell them a membership/ticket/whatever for any future events.

  151. Brownian says

    Jadehawk, I think I’m completely in agreement with your comment 173. There’s nothing stopping atheists from being humanists, but I’m certainly not going to insist that humanists be atheists, or even agnostic.

  152. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    It’s kind of fascinating – well, for certain values of fascinating – just how blindly reactionary much of the opposition has been. That most of these people also like to refer to themselves as ‘skeptics’, and yet go to no effort to either a) apply critical thought or b) actually read what the proponents of A+ are saying (except for Richard Carrier, since they saw that as a wedge opportunity) in order to make an informed judgment is also both hilarious and horrifying.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m now of such a low opinion of a large chunk of the atheist community that I’m honestly surprised some of these shallow-thinking dupes actually managed to claw their way out of relgion in the first place.

  153. says

    “…hey just think it’s fine to call women “cunts”, that Jim Jeffries is a hilarious comedian when he riffs on his contempt for women, that they just hate feminists, that we’re all just killjoys and cockblockers who want to interfere with their right to hit on women whenever they feel like it. But oh, no, they’re not misogynists.”

    So it is fine for woman to rip on men? That’s funny, Roseanne Barr, Lisa Lampanelli and other woman comedians can talk smack about men and that is still funny, RIGHT? Granted this is all comedy and I have a funny bone, as well as some thick skin.

    Until we truly treat women as equals they will never be truly equal and the this is a TWO WAY STREET.

  154. says

    Concerning Richard Dawkins

    If we are afraid to criticize someone because of the good work they’ve done promoting rationality and critical thinking we are fucking idiots.

    Frankly, if that’s the argument then go right ahead and bash RD, all the hero worshiping idiocy clearly demonstrates that he did a really shitty job.

  155. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    ericyoungstrom

    So it is fine for woman to rip on men? That’s funny, Roseanne Barr, Lisa Lampanelli and other woman comedians can talk smack about men and that is still funny, RIGHT?

    Its called a power gradient. There are a number of advantages women have over men, but mostly the privilege runs in the opposite direction. Negative comedy can therefore damage the standing of women in a way that is not applicable to men.

    I might be annoyed by the Peter Griffens of the TV world, for instance, but people will not internalize this trope enough to assume I am a moron just because I am a man. The (very common) idea that women are dumb, or terrible at math and science actually does contribute to the fact that fewer women go into STEM disciplines. It would have been worse if Family Guy had relied on a stupefied version of Lois for comic value.

  156. says

    So it is fine for woman to rip on men? That’s funny, Roseanne Barr, Lisa Lampanelli and other woman comedians can talk smack about men and that is still funny, RIGHT? Granted this is all comedy and I have a funny bone, as well as some thick skin.

    Until we truly treat women as equals they will never be truly equal and the this is a TWO WAY STREET.

    “I refuse to treat women as equals until EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THE WORLD has nothing but nice things to say about ALL MEN, EVER!”

    Dude you are such a paragon of logic and justice.

  157. Quinn Martindale says

    Jamie at 190

    WTF about the “with us or against us” = dogmatic? People are allowed to be inclusive or exclusive. What’s wrong with that? We’re not obligated to be everyone’s friend.

    Childermass at 193

    You can’t kick them out of the movement per se, but you CAN kick them out of any atheist function that you are hosting. You can also refuse to sell them a membership/ticket/whatever for any future events.

    Statements like these are the reason I have concerns about how atheism+ might turn out. As Lewis brought up in yesterday’s discussion, there is a long history of schisms on the left. Effecting change requires solidarity.

    Maybe my view is different since I live in a state that has public officials whose views would be inconceivable in Seattle or in Europe. Those officials are also attacking women’s rights with an unprecedented ferocity, and I stand with the religious moderates who believe it’s a bad idea to defund Planned Parenthood. And I stand with libertarians who have been one of the few groups not on the far left to consistently oppose the erosion of civil liberties in the United States since 9/11.

    My point is that all of these worthwhile goals have groups dedicated to achieving specific ends. Groups to which I can give time and money. Groups that can organize to put pressure on elected representatives. That’s not to say that safe spaces aren’t important. As many have pointed out far better than I can, those safe spaces mean a lot. And that’s not to say that anyone should stop calling out sexism or privilege. As Rebecca Watson and others have done a superb job of explaining, that’s both an important end in itself and tactically useful. But it is to say that groups with overly broad mandates tend to be less effective.

    Of course, there are people out there that no one would ever want as a friend or an ally. And maybe everyone is just talking about excluding those people making death threats. In which case, ignore everything I just wrote.

  158. Quinn Martindale says

    The (very common) idea that women are dumb, or terrible at math and science actually does contribute to the fact that fewer women go into STEM disciplines.

    There’s a lot of interesting research on that topic. The wikipedia article on Stereotype threat is a decent starting place.

  159. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    Quinn Martindale

    The link to the Stereotype threat link got borked. I fixed it.
    ——————————
    Ing

    For reference on my count Family Guy already has 3-4 rapists as regular characters with all instances of such used for laughs.

    Wow. I didn’t realize there was very much wrong with that show other than terrible humor. Then again I don’t watch it. Ever. There was a girlfriend in my past who really enjoyed that show, but we broke up in 2005.

  160. KG says

    Jadehawk@173,

    I agree with you, but I don’t think people have been insisting that humanism is or should be necessarily atheist – after all, the term is often applied to Renaissance Christians such as Erasmus – but protesting against Harvard Humanism’s “have it both ways” approach.

  161. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So it is fine for woman to rip on men? That’s funny, Roseanne Barr, Lisa Lampanelli and other woman comedians can talk smack about men and that is still funny, RIGHT?

    Please post a link to where anyone involved in A+, Freethought Blogs, Pharyngula etc. said this.

    I’m sure you have proof of this, or you wouldn’t have used it as an argument.

    because using a completely made up lie as the basis of your argument is the very definition of Douchebaggy Dipshit.

    And surely you don’t fall in that category, right?

  162. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    What’s up with all the argumenta de comico?

    [sarcasm]
    Misogyny is just part of life, but don’t anyone dare point to any stand-up comedian* and say “not funny”. Our right to enjoy ourselves at the Ha-Ha Factory will not be abridged! Any movement that can’t embrace the incoherent musings of Doug Stanhope and the puerile idiocy of Daniel Tosh equally with the no-holds-barred man hating of Roseanne Barr and Lisa Lampanelli**, is doomed to fail! This is exactly why Pepsi-Clear and the Weather Underground fizzled out.
    [/sarcasm]

    *However trite.
    **I admit that I have no idea who she is and I haven’t the inclination to wonder whether she is funny or man-bashing or whatever.

  163. says

    As a Brit, I find this all rather strange.

    This proliferation of atheist groups feels positively Python-esque: will we soon see groups like the Judean Atheist’s Front and the Atheist Front of Judea? :-)

    Also, non-belief / atheism is pretty mainstream here and politics is thankfully free from religion. The majority of people I know do not believe in god, but there is little perception (even amongst believers) that belief is required for a sound ethical or moral framework to exist. Yet this seems to be at the root of the proliferation of atheist groups.

    Personally, I prefer to separate ethics / morality from belief (or lack of belief) in a god.

  164. says

    tonyjebson

    Also, non-belief / atheism is pretty mainstream here and politics is thankfully free from religion.

    Really? What taxes does your local church pay? Does your local priest/bishop/vicar support the legalisation of same-sex marriage? If (s)he doesn’t, has (s)he taken part in the very politicised lobbying against it? Is your local council wasting rate-payers’ money by including time for prayers in the official order-of-business? How many MPs are ‘voting their (religious) conscience’ on issues like abortion and stem-cell research.? Does your local education authority allow religiously segregated schools?

    No, ours isn’t as glaring or headline-grabbing a problem as many in the US are, but to say that none of the above is political is ludicrous. Furthermore, we don’t have the advantage of a separation-clause as a safety-net against this politicised religion.

    Methinks you need to redefine your idea of what constitutes politics, if you don’t see religion in UK politics.

  165. says

    Agreed, I overstated things.

    What I really should have said is that most party-politics is free from religion and invoking “god” in political rhetoric is usually counter-productive.

    As you say, there are issues but I think there are many other things about UK politics I’d tackle first.

  166. says

    As you say, there are issues but I think there are many other things about UK politics I’d tackle first.

    You have that right. Personally I picked (well, stumbled into) religious issues and humanism as the fight I wanted to pick, not having time to fight every good fight. I also have that right.

    I’m curious though. If you don’t see it as important, why bother to comment on it? (Unless, of course, you’re trying to tell me that I don’t have the right to pick the fight I want to fight.</possible over-cynicism>)

  167. Paul says

    @Hurin

    Don’t give Seth ideas

    Actually, Lois was played as a stupid character early on Family Guy. They moved away from it when they decided to focus on Stewie being more gay than evil, and Peter being clinically retarded.

    I’m curious though. If you don’t see it as important, why bother to comment on it?

    Oh, come on. That’s obvious. No thread can go by without at least one Brit haughtily declaring that he doesn’t see what the problem is, silly Americans are just being silly Americans and tilting at windmills.

  168. says

    I’m curious though. If you don’t see it as important, why bother to comment on it? (Unless, of course, you’re trying to tell me that I don’t have the right to pick the fight I want to fight.)

    Because I’m interested. I’m also worried about the increasing polarisation of politics in the US and that this polarisation (partially) hinges on religious beliefs.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m interested enough to pick a fight over it, especially as this exchange resulted from me trying to avoid clunky phrasing (“thankfully largely free from religion” was how that clause started:-)).

    I was *NOT* trying to pick a kind of fight over religion within UK politics . . . merely contrasting the general unimportance here with the vast importance in the US.

    PS I *am* concerned that there is increasing leakage of US religious views into the UK but, at the moment, there are other more pressing fights (to paraphrase James Carville “it’s the economy, stupid:-))

  169. says

    Oh, come on. That’s obvious. No thread can go by without at least one Brit haughtily declaring that he doesn’t see what the problem is, silly Americans are just being silly Americans and tilting at windmills.

    Good grief. Does everyone here like flame wars so much they have to pour petrol onto everything?

  170. says

    For the record, I’m also British.

    tonyjebson

    Not trying to pour petrol here, but your initial comment and your first reply to me did seem to add up to something like “I don’t think it’s important, so you shouldn’t be treating it as important.”

    Still an’ all, you might want to look into the mess religion’s making of our education system before assigning priorities. The kids coming up through the academes etc are our future voters; possibly even future politicians. And that really is scary shit.

  171. donny5 says

    To PZ and company, I am totally with you. I like the idea of A+ and it will interesting to see how it evolves.

    As for those who don’t like it, tough. You don’t control the word or idea of Atheism, not you or Dawkins or anyone else, so if you are not interested in particpating I think you should go away and leave the rest of alone to build this. You voiced your dissent and now it is time to be a human being and mind your own business.

    No one cares to hear from you.

    Donny

  172. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Because I’m interested. I’m also worried about the increasing polarisation of politics in the US and that this polarisation (partially) hinges on religious beliefs.

    Maybe here is where you are confused. The polarization is not the result of a split between those with religion and those without*. Atheists are too small a minority to be a polarizing factor in American politics even if we voted as a block. Which we don’t.

    The divide among American atheists is of little political concern.

    At this point in time, anyway.

    *It’s the ignorant and malevolent allied against everyone else.

  173. says

    I’d worked out you’re a fellow Brit:)

    Not trying to pour petrol here, but your initial comment and your first reply to me did seem to add up to something like “I don’t think it’s important, so you shouldn’t be treating it as important.”

    Fair enough, and I guess I was being too oblique. What I find strange is the proliferation of atheist groups, not the concern with religiosity in the US (which as a strong atheist, I fully share). It feels to me that there is a danger that atheists in the US descend into civil war rather than concentrating on the real foe.

    On the UK, yes there are dangers with academies (in particular with allowing religious schools) that I fully agree with. Basically, NO school can be allowed to teach religious doctrine on an equal footing with science . . .

  174. says

    Daz with the long name wrote:
    No, “thankfully free from religion,” was what you said. If you’d said “largely,” I wouldn’t have disagreed.

    Yes, I stupidly edited out the “largely” before posting as the overall phrase was clunky . . . of such things are flame-wars made:-)

  175. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    [meta]
    tonyjebson: This ain’t no flame-war. This is Pharyngula.

    *Kicks Persian messenger into a very deep well. Flexes abdominal muscles*
    [/meta]

  176. coyltonian says

    The whole anti-mysogyny crusade of the last few months PZ has spearheaded the last few months amuses me greatly if for no other reason he seems to think those poor little femanists need a big, strong, patriarchal defender like him.

    I see his clique have been kerbstomping RD over a retweet in the comments here and couldn’t help thinking “wtf, why would he need to correct a female blogger’s tweet? is it really so unthinkable that she have her views shared without some bloke moderating it, or worse agreeing with her and her experiences?”

    Anyway the reason I felt compelled to wade in was to comment 201 RE: women in science. the NSF own data from 2001-2009 (i’m guessing the most recently published since it was posted earlier this year) shows that throughout the period not only were more women enrolling in undergratuate programs than men, but >50% of all science enrollments were also female.

  177. says

    Antiochus: I know, FAR too good natured to be a true flame-war:)

    I’ve survived some truly horrific ones in the past, ranging from the really nasty (with the clams) to the utterly bizarre (with folks who think there are 300 made-up years)!

  178. says

    It feels to me that there is a danger that atheists in the US descend into civil war rather than concentrating on the real foe.

    Maybe you want to/should reread all the posts about Atheism+. And the many on, for instance, feminism before that.

    My “real foe” is anyone who thinks women or various minority groups deserve less rights (either legal or ‘social’) than men/the majority. Religions fall very much into the category of organisations which tend to strip those rights away, but I don’t see any real difference between a person whose bigotry is religiously based and one whose isn’t. As far as that goes, anti-theism (as opposed to dictionary, “don’t believe in god, end of discussion,” atheism) is a subset of humanism, not the other way around.

  179. says

    The whole anti-mysogyny crusade of the last few months PZ has spearheaded the last few months amuses me greatly if for no other reason he seems to think those poor little femanists need a big, strong, patriarchal defender like him.

    Wow. You take idiocy to a whole new level. Amazin’…

  180. Paul says

    Wow. You take idiocy to a whole new level. Amazin’…

    It gets better.

    I see his clique have been kerbstomping RD over a retweet in the comments here and couldn’t help thinking “wtf, why would he need to correct a female blogger’s tweet? is it really so unthinkable that she have her views shared without some bloke moderating it, or worse agreeing with her and her experiences?”

    Oh, so you aren’t genderblind when it suits you. Funny how that works. The problem wasn’t that Dawkins didn’t decide to correct a female blogger’s tweet. The problem was that he forwarded it on verbatim with no qualifications, implying agreement. It wouldn’t have mattered if the tweet was by a man, woman, child, alien, etc. It was just flat wrong, and disgusting. If he hadn’t forwarded it on, nobody would have cared about Dawkins’ relationship to the tweet.

  181. Paul says

    Good grief. Does everyone here like flame wars so much they have to pour petrol onto everything?

    No. But there’s a long history of various Europeans (Brits get special mention) popping in and talking about how surely what we’re discussing can’t be an issue, unbelief where they come from is just as normal as breathing and nobody thinks anything of it. It comes across as extremely dismissive.

  182. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    The whole anti-mysogyny crusade of the last few months PZ has spearheaded the last few months amuses me greatly if for no other reason he seems to think those poor little femanists need a big, strong, patriarchal defender like him.

    What makes you think PZ is spearheading it? Ever heard of Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson, Talisma Nasreen, or Greta Christina (among others)? It couldn’t be that you don’t bother to pay attention when it isn’t a man doing the talking could it?

    Also, “the last few months”? Where the hell have you been living, under a rock?

  183. says

    Hurin:

    Also, “the last few months”? Where the hell have you been living, under a rock?

    Speaking for myself, I’ve been a feminist since the early 1970s. We didn’t have the wondrous internetz then. :D

  184. Beatrice says

    Women include men in feminism : “Bwahaha, you little feminists need men in your movement because you can’t do it yourselves”.

    Women don’t include men in feminism : “You feminists want to destroy all men and take over the world!!!”

    Yeah, misogynistic assholes totally make sense. *eyeroll*

  185. vaiyt says

    @coyltonian, 229: Ah, a “PZ just wants to be Atheist Feminist Pope” accusation, with a smattering of “We’re a post-misogynist society”.

    Seen it before. Try a new strategy.

  186. neilschipper says

    Positions defended vehemently by (esteemed Molly) Wowbagger (as well as Kel), cheered along with caustic vitriol by (esteemed Molly) “I should know, I’ve been doing science for 30+ years” Nerd of Redhead, are, in this post, spiritedly denounced by PZ:

    There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense.
    [..]
    If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society.
    [..]
    Atheism sensu stricto may be a specific assertion about a fact of the universe, but atheism as practiced is a defining idea in a mind and a powerful foundation for a human community. It has meanings and implications that we must heed [..]

    In the above, PZ is only making brief assertions. This is not a complaint given the broad territory covered in the post; I don’t know if he’s made the case more formally in the past.

    In any event, the case was made with some formality “in these pages” two years ago:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/04/26/gray-vs-grayling/

    May 3, 2010, 3:58 am
    May 4, 2010, 5:42 pm
    (and intermediate comments)

    How the esteemed Mollies howled in derision!

    As I said back then: Gradually does the fog begin to clear.

  187. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, self-important godwinning egotist acts self-important. Film at eleven.

  188. John Morales says

    neilschipper @240, to what positions do you refer, and how is PZ purportedly “spiritedly” denouncing them by that which you have quoted?

    PS Kel is also an (esteemed Molly).

  189. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    It’s hilarious that neilschipper would link to a post where so many Pharyngula regulars took turns refuting his baseless nonsense and revealing him for a harmless, if determined, crank – thanks for that, by the way; I enjoyed reading it.

    But, amusement aside, you’re still missing the point. No-one’s claiming they’re necessarily driven by their atheism to fight for social justice. That’s just as true now as it was then – unless you’ve managed, in the two and a bit years since, to find some actual evidence to support your claims?

  190. neilschipper says

    Back then, WowbaggerOM, May 3, 2010, 5:52 am:

    [A]theism alone cannot be linked to causality; it is the absence of belief in gods and that cannot determine a course of action because it provides no guidance, no motivation, no suggestion, no moral teachings, no parables – nothing. An absence of something cannot, in and of itself, proscribe action.

    Compare and contrast with what PZ wrote, quoted in #240 above.
    Nerd is bored!
    Wowbagger revels in the hilarity!

  191. says

    I will point out (as one of the people linked above) that my position is that atheism simply is and ought to remain a descriptive position for those who don’t believe in God.

    That said, social justice is something that any decent human being should care about. Social justice is a political issue; and atheists are as political as any other individuals.

  192. John Morales says

    neilschipper:

    Compare and contrast with what PZ wrote, quoted in #240 above.

    Sure:

    [Atheism sensu stricto] = [Atheism alone] ≠ [Atheism+].

    (You are so very hopeful that your scrabbling has found an inconsistency, but if so, this ain’t it)

  193. Nightjar says

    Oh noez! Some years ago people who regularly comment at PZ’s blog weren’t saying exactly the same things PZ seems to be saying now! Whatever happened to the echo chamber!?

    *snicker*

  194. says

    I guess the question is would what was said then still be said now given the apparent change in the blog’s focus. Apart from a few points of rhetorical bluster that could have been toned down, I still endorse everything I wrote then.

  195. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m bored by folks who pretend there is a problem where there is no problem. Things change and people evolve. Whoopie shit.

  196. neilschipper says

    so there is utter denial that the faux logical position “atheism cannot be a cause” was vigorously pronounced and defended

    that in itself is a reason for y’all to return your mollies

  197. vaiyt says

    Atheism still doesn’t imply anything other than non-belief in gods.

    What PZ and the Atheism+ folks are saying is “this is not enough for us.

  198. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, NS still here playing the twit pretending to have a point? Boring. Who cares? Only he does apparently.

  199. neilschipper says

    Nerd,

    I failed to notice your terse Things change and people evolve.

    So sorry! I claim distraction due to it being nobly buried between two super excellent insults. (What was that about people evolving?)

    Anyway, your bud Wowbagger remains in denial that he trotted out the argument atheism cannot, by definition, be a cause of anything in a discussion relating to human actors in the world. (Being in or out of agreement with the blog host then or now is not the central issue.)

    The oxygen of intellectual honesty can make one dizzy. It can be like getting the bends upon ascending too quickly from a deep dive.

  200. Stevarious says

    The oxygen of intellectual honesty can make one dizzy. It can be like getting the bends upon ascending too quickly from a deep dive.

    No, you’ve just been breathing nothing but your own farts for too long. I recommend that you go outside and get some fresh air, or at least open a window.

  201. neilschipper says

    Poor old bored Nerd!

    In another universe, you are a wise and thoughtful intellectual grandfather helping children like Wowbagger, Kel, Nightjar and vaiyt learn to think more clearly.

    In this universe, it’s all anxious defensiveness and insults.

  202. neilschipper says

    #254 has not even a shadow of a whisper of a hint of engagement with the issue raised.

    The pharyngula commentariat has descended to the level of youtube.

    Proud, Nerd?

  203. KG says

    Also, non-belief / atheism is pretty mainstream here and politics is thankfully free from religion. – tonyjebson

    One which Daz missed out was the bishops spearheading the defeat of “right to die” legislation, which opinion polls showed had overwhelming public support. Some of them didn’t even bother to pretend it was concern that old people or those with disabilities would feel pressured into asking for it, but made clear it was because they think that until God’s finished torturing you, you’ve no right to try and escape.

  204. brocasbrian says

    I applaud the social justice goals of the atheism+ movement but the methodology of you’re with us or you’re against us was repulsive enough with the Bush administration. A rational movement should know better than to start off with a False dichotomy or Black and White Fallacy.

  205. Nightjar says

    Kel,

    I guess the question is would what was said then still be said now given the apparent change in the blog’s focus.

    Probably. I mean, you’re basically saying it now, and I don’t disagree with you. But maybe it would have been said in a different way (emphasising the atheism sensu stricto part) after the whole ‘dictionary atheists’ debate, or perhaps not by the majority of commenters.

    *shrug*

    ***

    neilschipper,

    Were you around during the “dictionary atheists” debate? You may want to go search for those posts on the old site to get a better idea of where PZ is coming from and what the disagreement was/is about. Though I just checked, and unfortunately the comments on those posts aren’t up yet, so you’ll only get a glimpse of it.

    Being in or out of agreement with the blog host then or now is not the central issue.

    It isn’t? If that’s true, shouldn’t your first post have consisted only of quoting PZ and agreeing? Why bring an old argument into it?

  206. Nightjar says

    I applaud the social justice goals of the atheism+ movement but the methodology of you’re with us or you’re against us

    There is no such methodology.

    Applaud social justice goals and want to be part of the movement? Fine. Applaud social justice goals and don’t want to be part of the movement for whatever reason? Fine. Applaud social justice goals and still not sure about being part of the movement for whatever reason? Also, fine, I’m still in that camp myself.

    Really, as far as I can see, the only “against us” are people who are actively fighting against social justice.

  207. brocasbrian says

    “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?

    Then at least we’ll know who to work with. And who to avoid.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/2207/

    I like the atheism+ idea a lot. I also think this approach is going to rub a lot of atheists the wrong way. We’re an anti authoritarian bunch.

  208. Stevarious says

    #254 has not even a shadow of a whisper of a hint of engagement with the issue raised.

    The pharyngula commentariat has descended to the level of youtube.

    Proud, Nerd?

    Actually, my comment was just a drive-by troll. I’m not a member of the commentariat.

  209. Nightjar says

    Oh, alright, I’ll bold it for you:

    or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself)

    If someone disapproves of social justice values and aims so much they’ll even refuse to say “I approve of social justice values and aims” once just to show some support without having to label themselves or dedicate any more of their time to social justice causes… well, yeah. I guess “against us” applies there. But how could it not? And why should it not?

    We’re an anti authoritarian bunch.

    Honestly. Who is so anti authoritarian that a simple “hey, if you support our goals can you at least say something to that effect to help us out a bit, don’t even have to label yourself or anything, just help us getting heard” request is enough to piss them off and make them stop caring about social justice all of a sudden?

  210. brocasbrian says

    Nightjar,

    I read that part and I do approve and cheer the social justice goals. That’s not the point. There are some people who are going to be uncomfortable associating a social justice/political movement with atheism. I don’t have an issue with it myself but I do think it’s a reasonable position. Calling these people sexist, cruel and irrational is a good place to start.

    are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality

  211. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The pharyngula commentariat has descended to the level of youtube.

    Proud, Nerd?

    Considering you are one lowering it NS, why should I be bothered pointless one? If you have a point on topic, it isn’t well enough defined for the commentariat to engage it.

  212. jasonlocklin says

    ericyoungstrom:

    “So it is fine for woman to rip on men? That’s funny, Roseanne Barr, Lisa Lampanelli and other woman comedians can talk smack about men and that is still funny, RIGHT?”

    Two jokes about men:
    Funny: making fun of male U.S. presidents.
    Bad taste: making fun of male homeless people.

    See how one joke gets it’s humour from harmlessly poking at societal quirks, while the other derives from reaffirming societal bigotry? Some jokes not only sting worse because you are repeating taunts the victims have probably heard all their life (both in jest and in serious harassment), but also serve to legitimize, rather than stigmatize, the bigotry surrounding that group.

  213. says

    There are some people who are going to be uncomfortable associating a social justice/political movement with atheism.

    Why should they? if they’re part of the atheist movement, they most likely already associate the two, to some extent.

    Even if all they’re concerned with is direct injustice against atheists, or with more general injustices directly spawned by religion, they’re already addressing social-justice/political issues.

    Still, an’ all, no one is forcing people to join any movement if they’re uncomfortable with it. Hell, you can be an atheist without being part of the atheist movement, let alone any particular sub-group.

  214. Nightjar says

    There are some people who are going to be uncomfortable associating a social justice/political movement with atheism.

    I know. And that’s fine. Then atheism+ isn’t for them. They can still say “I am an atheist and I am for social justice but I’d rather keep those two fights separate, personally” and that’s still support of the values, even though it isn’t of the idea of an atheist+ kind of group. They should also understand that some people are comfortable associating social justice with their atheism, and that those people getting together to form a group is… fine, really.

    Calling these people sexist, cruel and irrational is a good place to start.

    Ah, but here’s the important context you are ignoring. Recently or not-so-recently, we’ve seen an incredible amount of hate, sexism and cruelness thrown by some atheists at some atheist women within the movement. All the way to rape threats. And this is something no one should tolerate. Whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable with associating your atheism with your social justice concerns, you should call this disgusting behaviour out. Not because it’s happening within the atheist movement, but because it’s happening dammit.

    That’s why you’re being asked to pick a side. You’re not being asked to label yourself, you’re not being asked to associate your atheism with anything, you’re being asked to lend some support to those who are calling out sexism within the movement. That’s it. Saying you support social justice and are not okay with sexism including when atheist women are on the receiving end of it is enough. And if you actively refuse to say that… well, why would any decent human being do that?

  215. says

    @ Ing: The World is Dying,

    Not even close bub! “So by your argument, are we all now free to abandon logic and give derpy “YOU DO IT TOO!” childish arguments?”

    What is your damage? I was simply imposing that if we continue to treat woman with kid gloves or give them “special treatment” because they are woman they will NEVER BE EQUAL!!!

  216. brocasbrian says

    Nightjar,

    I essentially agree with you but I think you’re missing the point I was trying to make.

    are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality

    This kind of statement labels anyone who isn’t Atheism+ as the enemy and sets up a clear black and white fallacy by denying the possibility of other positions. There are plenty of atheists who are going to draw a distinction between atheism and humanism. Despite what PZ says I think there can still be socially conscious and ethical humanists who prefer to keep their atheism separate. These people aren’t necessarily sexist, cruel, irrational or a bunch of MRA assholes. Thunderfoot et al are douchbags. I’m not talking about them.

    I’m part of several facebook discussions on this subject and the we/they message is getting out there louder than the real goals. It’s turning off a lot of people who would naturally be atheist+.

  217. says

    @SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius,

    So we should treat woman special, with “kid gloves”? I am not for attacking or degrading woman, but men talk to each other in ways we don’t talk to most woman because they can’t take it or men fear a backlash of hate because they thought they could speak to a woman as an equal or a peer.

    Equality, like I said before, is a 2 way street. I am against the hostile or purposely negative treatment of woman, in general, for being woman. An individual that acts out is one thing but to attack a whole group because of (A, B, C, ect.. ) is bullshit.

  218. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am against the hostile or purposely negative treatment of woman, in general, for being woman.

    Ah, closet MRA. Meaning your OPINION can be ignored.

  219. says

    @ jasonlocklin,

    “Two jokes about men:
    Funny: making fun of male U.S. presidents.
    Bad taste: making fun of male homeless people.”

    I don’t see you point there. Either one of the possible jokes could be funny in the right context, or could not be. Gender or social standing is irrelevant. Funny is funny.. .PERIOD!

    Maybe you can tell what jokes about men and woman are funny so I know from now on. I am talking about TRUE equality not psudo equality like so many others want. Are woman treated worse overall than men in most societies? YES! BUT are woman given a double standard in others? Yes.

    “treat me as an equal! But also treat me as a lady with special privileges.”

  220. says

    @ Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls,

    Obviously you have never dealt with and individual that was negative or hostile before huh? Never had an angry woman or man in your face?

    Do me a favor and save you petty comeback because it will be ignored. Learn the difference between groups and individuals.

  221. KG says

    I am talking about TRUE equality not psudo equality like so many others want. – ericyoungstrom

    No, you’re not.

  222. says

    @ KG,

    Really than what am I talking about KG? I see it in the military all too often. Woman get treated different than men, it is not written and not spoken of but there IS a double standard. Sure there are woman they get the shaft, so to speak, on things but I never got the easy job or had people falling over to help me out with anything that another man couldn’t do.

    Understand that men are to blame for this as much as woman but woman take advantage of it when it comes more often than not. Maybe where you work this is not common but in the military it is all to common.

  223. Ze Madmax says

    ericyoungstrom @ #280:

    see it in the military all too often. Woman get treated different than men, it is not written and not spoken of but there IS a double standard.

    And that same standard is what makes women less likely to achieve higher status positions within the military, because the same idiotic, sexist ideology of “women need help” that makes people “fall over to help [them] out” is what makes people think women are less capable to deal with the demands of higher rank.

    But I’m sure you’d be willing to trade. People will be more willing to help you now, at the expense of others seeing you as less capable. Deal?

  224. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Do me a favor and save you petty comeback because it will be ignored. Learn the difference between groups and individuals.

    Then learn the difference beween saying something sexist and not saying something sexist before you post off here if you want to be taken serously.

  225. thetalkingstove says

    Understand that men are to blame for this as much as woman but woman take advantage of it when it comes more often than not.

    So if women sometimes take advantage of a sexist system that usually works against them then…what? They’re not allowed to complain about anything else? They shouldn’t protest against sexual assault in the armed forces because sometimes they don’t have to lift heavy stuff?

    Great.

  226. says

    sex·ism
    noun
    1.
    attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.
    2.
    discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex,  as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.

    So what was sexist on what I said? Maybe you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are sexist.

  227. Ogvorbis: broken says

    So what was sexist on what I said?

    Well, for instance, this:

    I am not for attacking or degrading woman, but men talk to each other in ways we don’t talk to most woman because they can’t take it or men fear a backlash of hate because they thought they could speak to a woman as an equal or a peer.

  228. says

    @ Ze Madmax,

    “And that same standard is what makes women less likely to achieve higher status positions within the military, because the same idiotic, sexist ideology of “women need help” that makes people “fall over to help [them] out” is what makes people think women are less capable to deal with the demands of higher rank.”

    I hate the shit personally and I fight it where I can but I can honestly tell you I would rather work with all woman and men or all men. All I care about at work (Navy) is doing my job, getting the job DONE. I hate drama and man/woman bullshit. I am sure that women are limited by some of this but in other cases standards are lowered (mainly physically) to ensure we have woman in certain positions so not to appear “sexist”.

  229. says

    @Ogvorbis: broken,

    “… because they can’t take it…” I misspoke and I apologize. I should have said “some” couldn’t take it or the fear of backlash on those that can’t take straight talk. Not all woman are like this but for fuck sake I can’t be alone in this thought that men feel they have to speak, act and behave in a certain way to ensure they do not lose their jobs or receive reprimands. I can only speak from my experience in the Navy but it is a lot of “she said, you (man) wrong.” and it is very difficult to prove your innocence with sexist bigotry from the opposite gender, in this case woman.

    I remember the one of many briefs we had (years ago) when the unit I was in was integrated with woman. They had us so fearful that every woman out there was just looking for the opportunity to say they were harassed or what have you, that most guys wanted nothing to do with the woman that were serving with us. It was put out to us that if a woman put out a report on you that your career was over.

    So maybe I have a different perspective than those here.

  230. Ogvorbis: broken says

    Not all woman are like this but for fuck sake I can’t be alone in this thought that men feel they have to speak, act and behave in a certain way to ensure they do not lose their jobs or receive reprimands.

    You mean treat women like human beings? Don’t use gendered insults? Don’t support rape culture? Yeah, we privileged ones (and I am one (white, male, middle-aged, middle-class, college educated)) do need to think long and hard about how we treat others who are not privileged. And the banter and rough language that is used among men, did it ever occur to you that gay-bashing, misogyny, sexism, ethnic and racist jokes, and all of that silences a fair number of men, too?

    Even in the military, which you claim as a utopia for women, females are not privileged. Look at the number of women in lower ranks. The percentages, not absolute numbers. Notice how those percentages get smaller and smaller the higher up you go? What percentage of master chiefs are women? What percentage of seamen 2nd are? They why has already been explained.

    You say you miswrote. Okay, fine. That was a long typo. But it fits in perfectly with the other sexist things that your comments make it appear that you support. It did not stick out as jarringly different from your other comments, so I’ll take your retraction with a grain of NaCl.

  231. KG says

    ericyoungstrom,

    Given the reported high incidence of sexual harassment and indeed assault in US armed forces (mostly though not exclusively of women), it is very hard to take what you say at face value.

    those that can’t take straight talk. Not all woman are like this but for fuck sake I can’t be alone in this thought that men feel they have to speak, act and behave in a certain way to ensure they do not lose their jobs or receive reprimands

    What do you mean by “straight talk”? What “certain way”? Of course you have to speak, act and behave in certain ways in any job: professionally, which means somewhat different things in different types of work, but should always include treating colleagues at the same level and subordinates as well as superiors with respect, irrespective of their sex. No, you’re certainly not “alone in this thought”, but our experience here is that most of those with that kind of thought turn out to be misogynist arseholes. You may not be one, but it’s impossible to be confident of that from what you’ve said so far.

  232. Nightjar says

    brocasbrian,

    are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality

    This kind of statement labels anyone who isn’t Atheism+ as the enemy and sets up a clear black and white fallacy by denying the possibility of other positions.

    Sorry, I still don’t see it that way. Because the alternative to that statement is “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)”. So I think even Carrier is allowing for the possibility that some people may not want to be an atheist+ but still are firmly against the “sexism and cruelty and irrationality” (and the excuses made for it) we’ve been seeing coming from some corners of the movement, and wants those people to speak up too even if they refuse the label.

    If my interpretation is wrong and yours is right, then I would have a problem with his stance too. But I really don’t think I’m wrong.

    Despite what PZ says I think there can still be socially conscious and ethical humanists who prefer to keep their atheism separate.

    I agree. As long as they’re not using “separate!” as an excuse to not deal with sexism in the atheist movement or to avoid talking about ways to make atheist women feel more welcome and comfortable.

    These people aren’t necessarily sexist, cruel, irrational or a bunch of MRA assholes.

    They aren’t, but again, I don’t think they are being called that. At all.

    I’m part of several facebook discussions on this subject and the we/they message is getting out there louder than the real goals. It’s turning off a lot of people who would naturally be atheist+.

    OK, I have no idea what’s going on on Facebook (I’m not even there). I’m talking mostly from what I’ve read here on Pharyngula and the impression I was left with. I still doubt that those people who are all for social justice and willing to speak up for it but don’t want the atheist+ label for themselves are being called sexist, cruel and irrational (unless they are coming across as concern trolls).

    Especially since that would mean that I‘m being called sexist, cruel and irrational (I haven’t adopted the label, at least not yet). :)

  233. says

    What I said back then, Neil, I stand by now. Unless you can find me saying anything to the contrary, it’s no good citing me saying something different to someone else. My opinions are my own.

  234. Nightjar says

    Despite what PZ says I think there can still be socially conscious and ethical humanists who prefer to keep their atheism separate.

    And despite what anyone says, there can still be scientifically literate people and supporters of good science education who prefer to keep their atheism separate, for whatever reason.

    But I really don’t think anyone who identifies as a scientific atheist is implicitly calling them unscientific, creationists, and science denialists just because they refuse the “scientific atheist” label.

    Not even if one of them said “are you with the scientific atheists, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s scientific values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Unscientific Atheism and its apathy towards bad science and bad science education?”. The answer I would expect to that from those people would be “I care about good science education though I’d rather keep that separate from my atheism, so I won’t label myself”, not “why are you calling me unscientific?”.

  235. brocasbrian says

    Nightjar,

    The only difference here is we’re reading that sentence differently. Aside from that I’m agreeing with what you’re saying.

    To me it contradicts the earlier part you bolded and paints a we/they dichotomy of atheism+ or atheism less. You’re not reading of it is that the earlier sentence modifies the dichotomy to include people sympathetic to the goals of atheism+ but call it humanism or some other thing.

    The more I reread it the more I think it can be read either way.

  236. Nightjar says

    brocasbrian,

    The more I reread it the more I think it can be read either way.

    I guess so. I’m not a native speaker, so I’m not comfortable claiming that I’m the one Reading It Right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. :)

    I admit I’m going a lot by what I’ve heard from people here on Pharyngula and FTB who are more enthusiastic about the A+ thing than I am. Perhaps you’re getting a different perception from reading the discussions on Facebook. I don’t know.

    Glad we agree on the important stuff, though.

  237. clydey2times says

    Now people who disagree with Atheism+ want women to be raped? Go away, PZ, you sad lunatic.

    I’m sure Dawkins, Harris and Kirby will be thrilled to read that they want women to be raped.

  238. Stevarious says

    Now people who disagree with Atheism+ want women to be raped? Go away, PZ, you sad lunatic.

    I’m pretty sure all he said was that there are some people who only want certain types of women to be raped. Your reading skills aren’t that great if you think he was referring to ALL detractors of A+.

    Also it’s pretty hilarious that you came to HIS BLOG and told him to go away. If you don’t want to read what PZ has to say, don’t come here! It’s really that easy!

  239. clydey2times says

    @Stevarious

    I’m glad you clarified that we only want certain women to be raped. That’s much more accurate.

    And you’re taking “go away” too literally. It’s an expression people sometimes use when dismissing nonsense.

  240. clydey2times says

    @Nerd

    I’ve noticed that you never really contribute to the discussion. You just make random comments without backing them up.

    And the point was pretty clear.

  241. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And the point was pretty clear.

    No, it wasn’t what anybody here said. And it wasnt’ funny. Pointless and inane actually, adding nothing to the discussion. Why you thought so, it beyond rational people. Ergo, you added nothing to the discussion. Care to play some more?

  242. jonathanwest says

    It is possible to be an atheist and be of just about any political persuasion. There is nothing about lack of belief in gods that necessarily propels you to a particular social agenda.

    As an atheist you can agree with PZ Myers in the political philosophy he has described here.

    It is also perfectly possible to be an atheist in the rugged individualist mode and be a follower of the philosophies of Ayn Rand, and so adopt political positions which are about as far from PZ’s position as it is possible to get while remaining within the spectrum of democracy.

    I wonder if atheists of a particular political persuasion are making the (incorrect) assumption that since they believe their atheism has informed their politics, that most other atheists will tend to share their political views.

    Those who do make this error are in my view in danger of thinking and acting in the way the religious already believe we do, treating atheism as something rather like a religion, or at least an all-encompassing worldview.

    There’s nothing wrong with atheists who happen to share political views getting together to promote their ideas. There’s also nothing wrong with atheists making common cause with religious people who share their ideas (after all, plenty of religious people share much of Ayn Rand’s philosophy). But I would counsel a bit of caution in saying or even appearing to say that atheism itself is associated with particular political causes, except when we are dealing specifically with religious privileges and the teaching of science.

    So I have a little bit of a reservation with Atheism+, not with the fact that there is a group of atheists who share a progressive social agenda, but rather with their choice of name.

  243. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There’s also nothing wrong with atheists making common cause with religious people who share their ideas

    Why? At the end of the day, we do nothing but help them without “reservations”. If we agree on a topic, makes sure the world knows that while we agree on the ends, we don’t agree how we got there.

  244. Tethys says

    What now people?

    The movement evolves.

    The bigfoot debunkers and atheists with sexist issues can stay in their bubble of delusion, and the rest of us will be happy to be rid of them.

  245. says

    I am sympathetic to the political goals of Atheism+ but I see it as very different from Atheism. I would strongly prefer it change its name. One of the reasons I became an atheist was because I saw the pernicious results from entangling metaphysical outlooks with political outlooks.

  246. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I saw the pernicious results from entangling metaphysical outlooks with political outlooks.

    He said metaphysical folks. Grab your wallets and your brains, as bullshit follows.

  247. says

    “No, it wasn’t what anybody here said. And it wasnt’ funny. Pointless and inane actually, adding nothing to the discussion. Why you thought so, it beyond rational people. Ergo, you added nothing to the discussion. Care to play some more?”

    Sure Nerd, I’m your Huckleberry… That’s just my game.

    You again dodge, like you are called out on previously by clydey2times,

    “I’ve noticed that you never really contribute to the discussion. You just make random comments without backing them up.”

    What have you actually brought to this discussion? All you have done is muddy up the waters.

  248. skinner says

    While PZ is very poignant and tactful in his message. However, I think I disagree with his huge swath of opinions, which is full of pointing fingers, namecalling, and asserting opinions as facts.

    One example being:

    there are a lot of men and women who say extremely disturbing and stupid things about women who at the same time 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.

    Let’s reverse this: There are a lot of men and women who say generalized and stupid things about men who at the same time claim that they don’t hate men. And they don’t: they don’t hate men who fit their narrow, limited version of what men should be.

    This kind of argument proves nothing. Both men and women have many adaptations that would outright disturb feminists if they actually looked into the evolutionary cause. Take Stockholm Syndrome or learned helplessness, both of them blatantly used as fuel (ie. to get male recruits) in African civil wars and coups. It is also the cause of Battered Wife Syndrome, to which many of you would be much more sympathetic, and are more likely to use as a tool for your movement.

    People against Atheism+ are not against it because we’re opportunists, wife-beaters, or whatever insults you have up your sleeve. We don’t agree with your methodology, your overt preaching in public [including but not limited to calling women "my fellow vaginas"], nor of your naivety regarding the subjects in which you claim to have expertise.

    I am in favor of social change, but only using the proper tools. I am in favor of lowering rape statistics, but only with proven methodology that doesn’t rely on politicizing and shame tactics. If that makes me an regressive thug, I’d rather take that alone than take part in this religious ideology.

    Asserting that atheism is a social movement is like saying religion itself is a religion. Secular Humanism, unlike atheism, is a movement because humanism itself is an ideology. Atheism is a rejection of god. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I want to be part of a group, I’ll go join the humanists.

    Thanks, at least, for giving a crap. And good luck.

  249. vaiyt says

    I am in favor of social change, but only using the proper tools.

    And what would be the “proper” tools for social change?

    Please lecture more on how you know better than everyone about their own suffering and how to deal with it, o wise one. I’m sure it will be enlightening.