Must-read post from Adam Lee on atheism’s growing pains


This is an excellent bit of work: Adam Lee gives the big-picture perspective on the shifts within the atheist movement.

The animating idea behind Atheism+ is that atheism isn’t a stopping point, but a beginning. We’re atheists not because we want to gather and engage in collective back-slapping, not because we want to chortle at the foolishness of benighted believers, but because we care about creating a world that’s more just, more peaceful, more enlightened, and we see organized religion as standing in the way of this goal. We consider politically engaged atheism an effective way to demolish this obstacle, to refute the beliefs that have so often throughout human history been used to excuse cruelty, inequality, ignorance, oppression and violence. (Full disclaimer: I identify as a member of A+ and as a proponent of social justice.)

What’s more, we refuse to believe that skepticism and critical thinking can be usefully applied only to claims about the supernatural. We believe that it’s equally valuable to apply them to real-world power structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice. Thus, the goals of Atheism Plus: We are atheists and skeptics, plus we defend women’s rights and reproductive choice, plus we fight against sexism and racism, plus we oppose homophobia and transphobia, plus we call for equality of opportunity and economic fairness, and so on.

I agree so completely (although I don’t yet identify as a member, but do concur on social justice). We cannot use the slogan “good without god” unless we actively promote good social behaviors.

Comments

  1. carlie says

    And the first comment at the article is how A+ is divisive, and the second is how it should only focus on the separation of church and state and nothing else, both of which are explained and rejected in the article itself. Why, it’s as if there are people who reflexively state those things without even reading the article as soon as they see “atheism plus”.

  2. says

    Why, it’s as if there are people who reflexively state those things without even reading the article as soon as they see “atheism plus”.

    I was expecting the trolls to show up in the article comments almost immediately. In fact, I was counting on it. They’re the best advertisement for A+ one could possibly imagine.

  3. says

    I haven’t identified as a member because you know that the instant I do, everyone who hates it will announce that I’m the Führer (even though I wouldn’t be), and it would instantly distract everyone away from the grassroots, egalitarian focus. I’m already dunned with accusatory email denouncing me for destroying the atheist movement by making all this noise about stupid ideals (like “equality”) that no one cares about.

    So I’m in voluntary exile. I’ll cheer from the sidelines and watch it grow, but I don’t want to risk derailing it. I’ll shut up and listen.

  4. says

    Correction: honest question. I am an atheism plus supporter myself and a member of the forum, and wanted to know what PZ thinks it means to be a member of the movement, and why he doesn’t consider himself one (yet).

    Thanks for reminding me why I normally stay the hell out of comment threads here, though.

  5. says

    We’re atheists not because we want to gather and engage in collective back-slapping, not because we want to chortle at the foolishness of benighted believers, but because we care about creating a world that’s more just, more peaceful, more enlightened, and we see organized religion as standing in the way of this goal.

    This is the reason I haven’t joined my university’s atheist organization. All I’ve seen from them so far has been a bunch of self-congratulating mockery of only the most foolish religious beliefs. Now, I’m all for mockery (obviously, or I wouldn’t read this blog) but I think that an organization needs more than that to be worth my time. I can find plenty of Mormon jokes on the internet all by myself.

  6. says

    And thank you for the answer, PZ, although I’m not really sure what difference it makes because I think people just assume you to be a member already. If you’d asked me who was a member of the Atheism Plus movement, I would assume that about anyone who spoke favorably about Jen’s initial post on the idea. Heck, anyone who specifically notes that they are interested in social justice issues in addition to atheism.

  7. says

    Thanks for reminding me why I normally stay the hell out of comment threads here, though.

    I think the comments after yours were yelling at the people commenting over at Salon, not at you. Is that what you were talking about?
    Either way, I was actually wondering the same thing, so I’m glad you asked.

  8. Randomfactor says

    It seems to me that much of the pushback against A+ comes from people who reject the beliefs of organized religion but envy how organized religion has protected and nurtured assholery through the ages.

    At least for those perceived to be among the chosen. How can they be expected to give up mythology and privilege BOTH?

    Well, because it’s the mythology that has been propping up the privilege.

  9. slowdjinn says

    Gretchen, I think Carlie & Adam are referring to the comments on Adam’s article, not here.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    … because we care about creating a world that’s more just, more peaceful, more enlightened…

    Uh, Adam: My feelings about those things are why I work for feminism and against war – and happily collaborate with believers for such goals.

    My involvement with organized atheism has to do with wanting a more reality-based world.

    The two drives generally work together, but we’re committing some sort of category error to see them as one thing.

  11. says

    Speaking of religion and politics, here’s a cross post from the [Lounge]:

    Some Christian pastors are deliberately breaking the law today.

    On Sunday, October 7, pastors around the country will try to bait the federal government into investigating them by preaching explicitly partisan sermons. As part of a conservative movement organizers call “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” some religious leaders will endorse Mitt Romney from the pulpit. Others may refrain from an endorsement but vigorously criticize President Obama. And some will tell their congregations that a good Christian can only vote for a candidate who opposes gay marriage and abortion. Then they’ll send tapes of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service in the hopes of being audited.

    Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck have both used their media platforms recently to help promote the event.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/10/06/14261077-this-week-in-god

  12. drosera says

    This vacuous propaganda article is not about atheism’s growing pains, it’s about atheism+’s growing pains. Atheism+ is not the Third Wave of atheism, as claimed by some, but a political movement created by a subset of atheists. A lot of animosity could have been avoided if the proponents of stheism+ had been more honest about this.

  13. says

    Pierce R. Butler:

    Some people are like you, in that they like to separate their different goals or drives. For you, the things that make you work for feminism or peace are different than the things that make you work for atheism. And that’s totally ok, of course. But for some people those things are interconnected, and we want a movement that specifically addresses those intersections. I, for example, found feminism through atheism, and my atheism affects the way I go about being a feminist or working toward economic justice or what-have-you. So, for me and people like me, it isn’t an error to put the two drives together, because for me they are one single drive. Is that the case for everyone? No, obviously not, and that’s ok. You are perfectly allowed to keep your atheist activism away from your social justice if that’s how it works for you, and there are a lot of atheist organizations you can join that will agree with you on that. Atheism+ is like an organization for those of us who don’t want to separate those drives, and in fact who don’t really think those drives are separable, at least in the way we view them. Does this mean that you and I are diametrically opposed? No. So long as you don’t say that we shouldn’t have a place that fits our needs and our goals, so long as you don’t say that Atheism+ has no right to exist, then I think our two different views of the relationship between atheism and social justice can probably get along just fine.

  14. says

    PZ:

    I haven’t identified as a member because you know that the instant I do, everyone who hates it will announce that I’m the Führer (even though I wouldn’t be), and it would instantly distract everyone away from the grassroots, egalitarian focus.

    You’re welcome on the forum. We could create a custom user rank of “Not the Führer” to assuage any doubts.

  15. consciousness razor says

    My involvement with organized atheism has to do with wanting a more reality-based world.

    The “world” can’t be anything except reality-based. (See below.) You want people to act a certain way, which you call “reality-based.” That requires that they are more just, more peaceful and more enlightened. Injustice, violence, hate, and a generally unenlightened perspective on the world generally make it impossible to be “reality-based,” because humans aren’t Vulcans, so they’re well beyond the point of just having something to do with them. I think it’s critical that people understand that.

    It’s not just “organized religion” which is standing in the way of “us.” Those things are the some of the major roadblocks to acting rationally, whether they come from a religion or not. In any case, they’re unethical in ways besides their epistemological faults, so without regard to their impact on people being “reality-based,” they are something no one should support (even those wanting to be “fantasy-based” or whatever).

    The two drives generally work together, but we’re committing some sort of category error to see them as one thing.

    Speaking of category errors…. (See above.)

  16. TxSkeptic says

    Is Lee a little confused, or just poorly written phrase here?

    (Full disclaimer: I identify as a member of A+ and as a proponent of social justice.)

    I thought the whole point of the “+” was “proponent of social justice”. Oh no, not another new movement: A++

  17. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, Drosera swings and misses thinking there has been misdirection by A+. The misdirection comes from the critics of A+, not the movement, which is just an extension of basic atheism. And boy, do the critics misdirect, tell lies, and do anything to try to kill the concept of equality for all people.

  18. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Possible meaning in the apparent redundancy: interested in A+ as its own project, and also interested in working on social justice with anyone who’ll do so whether atheist or not. Not quite necessarily the same thing, thus possibly not redundant.

  19. Pteryxx says

    (Full disclaimer: I identify as a member of A+ and as a proponent of social justice.)

    They’re overlapping but one doesn’t automatically imply the other (in either direction, unfortunately).

  20. vaiyt says

    @13:

    Wouldn’t that make Atheism+ MORE exclusive, therefore making the opponents angrier?

  21. says

    Drosera:

    [..] a political movement created by a subset of atheists.

    This is what I thought Atheism+ was. Every issue in Adam Lee’s quote up top is a political issue, so far as I can tell, and A+ membership are all atheists, though not all of the atheists, so a subset is indeed what they are. Not exactly hidden from view, is it? Or very reprehensible. Am I missing something?

  22. Jonathan, Foot In Mouth says

    @Setar: It’s a propaganda thing–lots of money gets spent to cultivate voter apathy in younger people, because if we cared, we’d vote against their interests. Thus, politics becomes a dirty word, all politicians are the same, and anyone with ideals or an agenda is crazy.

  23. Matt Penfold says

    Thanks for reminding me why I normally stay the hell out of comment threads here, though.

    You will need to explain what comments you have a problem with. None, other than PZ replying to you and others pointing out you seem to have confused comments at the original post with comments here have even addressed you.

    In fact, the rudest thing said so far is this silly comment of yours. I think you owe some people an apology for your hypocrisy.

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    blogofmyself @ # 14: … those things are interconnected…

    “Interconnected” ≠ =.

    My comment was in objection to Adam Lee’s overreach in stating

    because we care about creating a world that’s more just…

    That is not, as a matter of clarity, why most (that I know, anyway) atheists are atheists. Plenty of people who care very deeply about justice also believe fervently in a god – one minister friend of mine professes not to understand my motivation at all, in that for her peace & justice are embodied in Jesus, so for me to embrace one and reject the other is contradictory.

    I really like the concept of Atheism+, but I don’t think it should try to claim the entirety of peace & justice any more than it tries to own all of atheism.

    consciousness razor @ # 16: You want people to act a certain way, which you call “reality-based.” That requires that they are more just, more peaceful and more enlightened.

    Again, not necessarily. People who can think rationally in their own (and friends’/families’) long-term self-interest can see the advantages of cooperation and lawfulness from multiple perspectives.

    You bring up, very appropriately, “epistemological faults”. That is why I agree we need an organized movement of atheism: our society suffers from the consequences of magical thinking and other delusions cultivated by religion. For example, a person taken in by fossil-fuel-industry propaganda may be reachable on the topic of global overheating by factual arguments; someone who just says “god won’t do that to us” needs a lot more help.

  25. Jonathan, Foot In Mouth says

    Incidentally, isn’t it kinda disgraceful that we NEED a thing like A+? That there are really so many Rosenbaum-humping sociopaths out there that an atheist needs to positively identify as not being a misogynistic, capitalist looney toon?

  26. Pteryxx says

    I really like the concept of Atheism+, but I don’t think it should try to claim the entirety of peace & justice any more than it tries to own all of atheism.

    *sigh* Good thing it’s not actually trying to do either of those then. Sheesh.

    Not everyone interested in an atheism + social justice intersectional space thinks one factor must imply the other. The main reason for the space is because almost everywhere else, either the social justice people don’t want atheists around, or the atheists don’t want social justice people around.

  27. says

    xposted (from Adam Lee’s post at Salon):

    In social justice, not all tactics that are divisive are effective, but all tactics that are effective are divisive. That doesn’t mean we should set our phasers to “divide,” but when a tactic is labeled as “divisive” or “radical”, there is a chance it might be one worth considering. Effective tactics are divisive because the majority is most comfortable with activism that is ineffective. [Emphasis in original.]

    -Garland Gray

  28. drosera says

    @Setár, genderqueer Elf-Sheriff of Atheism+,

    What is with this use of “political” as some sort of insult? What the fuck is so bad about “political” things?

    Nothing. I don’t know why you would think I implied that.

    @vaiyt,

    Wouldn’t that make Atheism+ MORE exclusive, therefore making the opponents angrier?

    I doubt it, as I believe that much of the anger and pushback stems from the impression (rightly or wrongly) that Atheism+ sets out to supplant the New Atheism movement.

  29. nerok says

    Jonathan @27

    that an atheist needs to positively identify as not being a misogynistic, capitalist looney toon?

    Are you saying A+ isn’t for capitalists? Or maybe you want people to read that specifically as “capitalist looney toon” being a single concept, like “moonbat communist” would by no means refer to judgment of “all” communists. ..right.

  30. says

    Drosera, stop trolling. I’m going to be traveling with only intermittent access for a while, but if I come back and find you’ve blown up another thread with whiny assholishness, I will ban you. It would probably be a good idea to voluntarily confine your carping to Thunderdome for a while.

  31. vaiyt says

    I doubt it, as I believe that much of the anger and pushback stems from the impression (rightly or wrongly) that Atheism+ sets out to supplant the New Atheism movement.

    I sincerely hope so. New Atheism already proved to be as much of a trench for selective skeptics and entitled assholes as Old Atheism.

  32. says

    Pierce R. Butler.

    That is not, as a matter of clarity, why most (that I know, anyway) atheists are atheists.

    Well that’s fine for those people then. But I’m trying to tell you that for some of us that is what got us into atheism to begin with, though it isn’t the only reason that we are atheists. For those of us for whom that is the case, Atheism+ makes sense. If that isn’t the case for you, then you are still perfectly free to keep your various kinds of activism separate. So long as you aren’t being actively prejudiced and making people feel unsafe in the atheist movement, those two kinds of thinking can get along perfectly well.

    I really like the concept of Atheism+, but I don’t think it should try to claim the entirety of peace & justice any more than it tries to own all of atheism.

    It has never done either of those things. In fact, I find it kind of strange that you would say something like that in response to a comment where I explicitly say that we can all still get along and work together. Atheism+ is a place where people who care about both atheism and social justice and want to do both at the same time can congregate. If you don’t like the idea, you are not being forced to join. There are dozens of other atheist communities and organizations that are strictly secular that you can be a part of. I don’t understand how us making a space for the combination of atheism and social justice is somehow trying to “claim the entirety of peace & justice” or “own all of atheism.”

    Atheism+ is the first time that I’ve ever felt like the atheist movement really cared about people like me, and I’m tired of people saying it shouldn’t exist because it doesn’t agree with their clean view of what atheism should be. If you prefer your atheism to be pure and unadulterated, then have it that way; no-one will stop you. I prefer my atheism to be intersectional.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I doubt it, as I believe that much of the anger and pushback stems from the impression (rightly or wrongly) that Atheism+ sets out to supplant the New Atheism movement.

    Gee, if the liberturds and MRAs have to take the back seat, I’ll play my microviolin for them. They are the dead baggage A+ is leaving behind.

  34. Emptyell says

    We cannot use the slogan “good without god” unless we actively promote good social behaviors.>

    We could always use the slogan, “Good enough without god.” and call ourselves Aleph Null.

  35. Pierce R. Butler says

    blogofmyself @ # 34: … I’m trying to tell you that for some of us that is what got us into atheism to begin with…

    Fine – whatever cranks your tractor. All I wanted to say was that Adam L was overgeneralizing a bit; otherwise I agree with him (and with you) all the way down.

  36. Ichthyic says

    We could always use the slogan, “Good enough without god.” and call ourselves Aleph Null.

    I like it, but then there would be cagematches over what the word “enough” meant.

  37. Ogvorbis: broken and cynical says

    Atheism+ is not the Third Wave of atheism, as claimed by some, but a political movement created by a subset of atheists.

    First off, who claims it is the Third Wave of atheism? With citations, please. And the citation should be a direct quote from someone who self-identifies as A+.

    Second, if atheism does not affect the body politic then it is mental masturbation. What’s your point?

    Not exactly hidden from view, is it? Or very reprehensible. Am I missing something?

    Only the tinfoil chapeau and the conspiracies.

    that an atheist needs to positively identify as not being a misogynistic, capitalist looney toon?

    I’m an atheist and a firm believer in capitalism. Now, that capitalism needs to be filtered through decent socialism — welfare, medical care, public education, public infrastructure, and strong and effective regulation, for example.

  38. Pteryxx says

    First off, who claims it is the Third Wave of atheism? With citations, please. And the citation should be a direct quote from someone who self-identifies as A+.

    Um…

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/how-i-unwittingly-infiltrated-the-boys-club-why-its-time-for-a-new-wave-of-atheism/

    It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

    The Salon article linked to Jen’s post. So yeah.

    However, it’s all of two months old. Whether it becomes Third Wave won’t be known for a while yet… years? (And since when is a Third Wave *not* initially ‘a political movement created by a subset’? That just seems like a diss, not a point of discussion.)

  39. Ogvorbis: broken and cynical says

    Sorry. I do remember that now. My bad.

    It’s been a long week? Not enough caffeine? Er, I’m the parent of a teenager? I work for the government?

    Seriously, though, sorry about that. My memory really is starting to suck like a Hoover.

  40. says

    Are you saying A+ isn’t for capitalists?

    A+ is about social justice before it’s about capitalism. Is capitalism compatible with social justice? Not in my experience. Capitalism requires restraints in order not to evolve into a system of predatory monopolies. Capitalism in its current form seems designed, although we know it happened more or less by accident, to turn fertile ecosystems into the barren wastelands that remain after unbridled extraction of natural resources. Capitalism causes companies to choose marginalized communities as sites for toxic waste dumps rather than taking responsibility for their waste. I could go on.

    Basically, the requirement of endless growth–whether it’s 1.5%, 5%, or 9%–is inherently unsustainable given that we live on a finite planet. If we want economic justice then we need a new economic system.

  41. Jeffrey G Johnson says

    While I think the goals behind atheism+ are well intended, I can’t see how it can go far as a movement for economic justice or any world changing political reforms. The apparent goals are too vague and broad, and the world far too complex. What atheism+ appears to want to do has been tried over and over. To think you have the answers to all problems is naive and foolish. An effective atheist movement must focus on clearly identifiable and achievable goals. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that Atheism+ is reaching for the sky.

    It is quite easy for atheists to agree about theology. Even fundamental human rights issues, such as are widely accepted and articulated as guiding principles of the United Nations, including equal rights and opportunities for women, should be more or less non-controversial in principle among atheists (even if some have sexual behavior problems), and among all rational human beings for that matter.

    But I can’t see atheists agreeing on what the right polices are to accomplish economic justice. Neither can I see any of these issues at hand as belonging exclusively to atheists. There are liberal Christian and other religious groups, or secular but not explicitly atheist institutions that can agree with the human rights and justice positions of Atheism+. For these reasons it does not seem to be a rational choice to bind up support for justice and equality as contained within atheism in any way. It excludes natural allies of the political goals by definition. Isn’t that a bit silly and thoughtless?

    I think atheism+ is an illogical name for it. It seems rather more like (political values)+atheism would make more sense. It is properly a subset of atheism, yet the name implies it is a superset of atheism. They say politics and religion shouldn’t mix, but it seems there is good reason to keep anti-religion and politics separate as well. Secularism is a more productive attitude toward religion in the political context.

    The only thing ALL atheists should be expected to agree on is the non-existence of god, and the harm done by fase belief, of which separation of church and state is a natural consequence. We have to quarrantine the poison. Anything beyond that is no longer just atheism, and can’t speak for all atheists, nor do its additions to atheism speak for only atheists. I have nothing against any of the goals of Atheism+. I’m sure many will find fulfillment parading under that banner, but I don’t see it as an intelligent or effective way to marshal resources, and I don’t like to see the name “atheism” being commandeered to a cause that will not represent all atheists.

  42. Ichthyic says

    What atheism+ appears to want to do has been tried over and over.

    conclusion: We should just give up then. Uh, atheists have existed for eons, yet only in the last decade or so have they actually become a political force in religiously dominated countries. Should the 10th atheist have said: “Oh, well, this atheism stuff is obvious, but it’s been tried before and had no impact so…”

    To think you have the answers to all problems is naive and foolish.

    to think that this is what the people who started this think is naive and foolish.

  43. Ichthyic says

    The only thing ALL atheists should be expected to agree on is the non-existence of god

    all atheists do.

    why the fuck are you so determined to think that’s ALL they should agree on?

  44. Koshka says

    and I don’t like to see the name “atheism” being commandeered to a cause that will not represent all atheists

    I hope you are not too distraught over someone using a word that is important to you.
    You do realise that it is not a registered trademark?

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I may be wrong, but it appears to me that Atheism+ is reaching for the sky.

    So was the first organization fighting for gay marriage when it started out many years ago. Nothing is wrong with legitimate dreams of equality.

    But I can’t see atheists agreeing on what the right polices are to accomplish economic justice.

    Gee, sounds like you are a pessimist.

    For these reasons it does not seem to be a rational choice to bind up support for justice and equality as contained within atheism in any way

    This concedes the moral ground the the theists.

    I think atheism+ is an illogical name for it.

    Very logical. I am smelling something very close to concern trolling. It is easy to criticize, hard to build. Why don’t you build your own group instead of criticizing a new one?

    The only thing ALL atheists should be expected to agree on is the non-existence of god,

    No, not all atheists have to agree on anything beyond the non-belief in imaginary deities. You don’t have to join. Just stand back and let those who want do join without your concerns.

    but I don’t see it as an intelligent or effective way to marshal resources, and I don’t like to see the name “atheism” being commandeered to a cause that will not represent all atheists.

    Show me where using the term atheism means a unanimous vote. Or, just fade away like critics should do. You added nothing cogent to the debate.

  46. Matt Penfold says

    While I think the goals behind atheism+ are well intended, I can’t see how it can go far as a movement for economic justice or any world changing political reforms. The apparent goals are too vague and broad, and the world far too complex. What atheism+ appears to want to do has been tried over and over. To think you have the answers to all problems is naive and foolish. An effective atheist movement must focus on clearly identifiable and achievable goals. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that Atheism+ is reaching for the sky.

    The world has many groups striving for economic and social justice. In many parts of the world they have managed to obtain political power, and have made changes that have improved the world enormously. Now I know the US is rather backwards amongst developed countries when it comes to social and economic justice, but of course the US is not the entire world, or even very representative of developed countries. One only needs to look to Western Europe to get a better sense of what can be achieved. Of course, Western Europe is not perfect, but it shows that your claim we are reaching for the sky is simply false.

  47. Matt Penfold says

    Oh, and I would add that Western Europe also shows that is quite possible for people who have the same aims, of social and economic justice, to come together to achieve those aims regardless of what motivates them to do so.

    Many left-wing progressive parties in Western Europe are an amalgamation of religious and non-religious people who share similar aims.

  48. vaiyt says

    @Jeffrey G Johnson

    It is quite easy for atheists to agree about theology. Even fundamental human rights issues, such as are widely accepted and articulated as guiding principles of the United Nations, including equal rights and opportunities for women, should be more or less non-controversial in principle among atheists (even if some have sexual behavior problems), and among all rational human beings for that matter.

    Let me break the sad news to you: they should be. They aren’t.

    The whole debacle that started out A+ stemmed from the realization that atheists aren’t more likely to care about the rights of others. In fact, the ego boost that comes with feeling smarter than most of humanity seems to make them less likely to apply skepticism to their own deep-seated prejudices.

    There’s plenty of false belief that isn’t religious in nature. Why shouldn’t we apply to “bitchez ain’t shit” the same level of skepticism applied to UFOs? The former does much more damage than the latter as well. I don’t understand what makes one and not the other somehow out of the purview of atheists.

    Much like the Gnus adopted a new label to distinguish themselves from mealy-mouthed religiot appeasers, now the A+ people have decided to band together and form a safe space distinct from the mealy-mouthed MRA/liberturd/racist/etc. appeasers. Did Dawkins get it all wrong?

    Maybe you should start reading the A+ as “Atheists+” instead of “Atheism+”. It’s a group of atheists who happen to also care about social justice issues. It’s nothing more and nothing less than that. Everything else is your projection.

    Neither can I see any of these issues at hand as belonging exclusively to atheists. There are liberal Christian and other religious groups, or secular but not explicitly atheist institutions that can agree with the human rights and justice positions of Atheism+. For these reasons it does not seem to be a rational choice to bind up support for justice and equality as contained within atheism in any way. It excludes natural allies of the political goals by definition. Isn’t that a bit silly and thoughtless?

    But maybe, just maybe, these fine people here don’t want to join with the fucking religious. It may make sense in your burned out brain to call whatever irrational bullshitter that shows up at your door an “ally” because the voices in their heads happen to agree with your goals at that particular moment, helping them spread their bullshit in the process. For people who care about rationality, they see the danger of such a proposal.

    They want to fight for atheism AND social justice. Not one, not the other. Both.

  49. Ichthyic says

    You could always join the forum anonymously and contribute without any worry about being assumed to be the commandant.

    if you’re referring to PZ, what makes you think he hasn’t already?

    I mean, if here were doing it anonymously, he would hardly announce it here now, would he.

  50. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    if you’re referring to PZ, what makes you think he hasn’t already?

    I mean, if here were doing it anonymously, he would hardly announce it here now, would he.

    I strongly suspect PZ is honest with his pronouncements that he isn’t actively supporting A+. I’m not either, although there is no doubt my sympathies lie in that direction. I simply have no time/energy left over after dealing with the Redhead’s problems to engage outside of this blog. Period, end of story.

  51. Liz says

    I am thinking that among the non-troll folks who are trying to sort this out there are two groups…those who tend to compartmentalize their world view with extreme boundaries between categories (the dictionary atheists) – and those who have a more integrative systems orientation who see strong connections between categories…. ie theism and sexism and the cultural artifacts of those beliefs which linger – even when one is no longer a theist in some cases.

    There are some personality traits at play in the discussions which have little to do with basic disagreement but with the characteristics of how one creates and maintains one’s POV which are about cognitive differences rather than the result of logical discourse forcing a conclusion.

  52. says

    hyperdeath, “You’re welcome on the forum. We could create a custom user rank of “Not the Führer” to assuage any doubts.”

    Or, “Trophy Husband”, to indicate the real power behind the cephalopodian throne? XD

  53. says

    Pierce R. Butler:
    I just wanted to add that I didn’t mean to attack you in any way, and I hope I didn’t make you feel like that’s what I was trying to do. I do understand how you could view the post as being too general, even if I don’t quite see it that way.

    Vaiyt #53
    Well said.

    Liz #56
    I think you’re probably on to something here.

  54. unclefrogy says

    I do not really see the point of some people trying to say that there should not be an A+ “subgroup” or what ever it is that they are complaining about. If enough people decide that they want to form a group and call it A+ they will and nothing any one can say will stop them. So what do they think they are doing anyway? What do they get out of trying to tell others what they think they should do or who and how they should identify?
    If I am not mistaken there were atheists involved in the American Revolution and their thoughts about God and the nonexistence of, influenced their thinking about how they should be governed. I could be wrong as I am hearing a lot of talk these day about how we are a christian nation which must be right cause I heard it of TV

    uncle frogy

  55. drosera says

    Drosera, stop trolling. I’m going to be traveling with only intermittent access for a while, but if I come back and find you’ve blown up another thread with whiny assholishness, I will ban you. It would probably be a good idea to voluntarily confine your carping to Thunderdome for a while.

    Well, it seems as if this thread died young even without me blowing it up.

    No, thanks, I’m not bored enough to comment on Thunderdome. I do have a life. I know something better: never to comment here anymore and to delete this blog from my Reader.

    Done.

  56. Brownian says

    I know something better: never to comment here anymore and to delete this blog from my Reader.

    Heard that one from you before.

    Why did you post another comment immediately after this one?

  57. averagetruth says

    Sleazy Myers doesn’t really care about what’s best for the Scouts. He just loves that feeling of narcissistic moral superiority that comes from such posturing. Or maybe he’s a gay pedophile (ever hear his voice?). Does your wife know, Sleazy?
    You’d just love to get your hands on some boy scouts, eh? Luckily, the majority of scouts aren’t falling for it.

    And hypocritical douchebags like you can’t do a thing about it. Must be frustrating to an enlightened pedo like you.

  58. Brownian says

    Whoops, got the order fucked up.

    Well, drosera, as you’re leaving, I only have one thing to say: PZ has done more for the cause of atheism than you ever will.

  59. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And hypocritical douchebags like you can’t do a thing about it. Must be frustrating to an enlightened pedo like you.

    Ah, you must be one, or you wouldn’t even have it in your vocabulary, which is weak. Beside the wrong thread, you have nothing but insults, no content on thread. Only a true loser would make those types of mistakes.

  60. says

    He just loves that feeling of narcissistic moral superiority that comes from such posturing.

    What a pity you shot your narcissistic moral posturing in the heart by being incapable of commenting on the right thread. Tsk.

  61. hotshoe says

    averagetruth –

    Sleazy Myers doesn’t really care about what’s best for the Scouts…

    I see you were hoggling too furiously to notice you had more than one tab open and replied in the wrong thread. Way to go, you fucking idiot!

    Wonder why users with “truth” “reason” etc in their user names are never capable of saying anything truthful or reasonable.

    We should keep a list of all the examples we have dumped on us. We can start with averagetruth and work backwards into the thread archives.

  62. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why do drama queens always have to announce their departure?[/rhetorical] The mature way is to just stop posting.

  63. says

    Uh, Adam: My feelings about those things are why I work for feminism and against war – and happily collaborate with believers for such goals.

    My involvement with organized atheism has to do with wanting a more reality-based world.

    The two drives generally work together, but we’re committing some sort of category error to see them as one thing.

    consciousness razor said it well above, but I’ll expand on it a bit. A more just social world and a more enlightened (reality-based) social world are inseparable goals, because our social reality is what shapes our epistemic practices. This is captured well by the concept of privilege, as I know you’re aware. People often read references to privilege as accusations, when what people are talking about is how conditions of inequality and oppression and people’s position in them constrain and distort how they see the world.

    Unjust social systems require justification, which means encouraging bad epistemic practices and false beliefs. So there are ideologies – religious and nonreligious – of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, speciesism, class and corporate power, religious power, imperialism, and so on (they’re intertwined and have the same basic features, which we need to understand and address).

    Getting rid of the social relationships that necessitate these bad practices and beliefs is essential to getting rid of the practices and beliefs themselves, in every individual case and in general. These have to be done together. Challenging unenlightened ideas about gay people, for example, couldn’t happen without social movements fighting the relations of oppression that have required those ideas and in which they’ve flourished. Or take the next post here, about Rushton. His bad epistemic practices, flawed reasoning, and false claims would possibly not have arisen and certainly not have received the support they did in a society that wasn’t marked by racial oppression, and the structural features of and epistemic practices associated with racist ideology are shared by many other ideologies.

    In general, a movement that wants to promote enlightenment while leaving in place the systems that obstruct enlightenment and promote distortion and ignorance will fail. Unequal and oppresive social (in which I of course include economic) relations are the biggest thing standing in the way of enlightenment today.

  64. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I do have a life. I know something better: never to comment here anymore and to delete this blog from my Reader. – drosera

    What a very welcome decision – but will drosera stick the flounce?

  65. Anri says

    It is quite easy for atheists to agree about theology. Even fundamental human rights issues, such as are widely accepted and articulated as guiding principles of the United Nations, including equal rights and opportunities for women, should be more or less non-controversial in principle among atheists (even if some have sexual behavior problems), and among all rational human beings for that matter.

    This may sound a bit mean, but you’re new around here (and by ‘here’, I mean the world), aren’t you?
    The fact that this should be obvious to people not bowing down to The Mighty Sky Penis Lord is one of atheism+’s primary tenets.
    The fact that, apparently, it isn’t obvious to many atheists is the primary reason the movement was started in the first place.

    Let me put it to you this way – where do you think the primary pushback against atheism+ is coming from? The primary opponents of the movement aren’t thinking:
    1) Agree with atheism+’s stated goals
    2) Disagree with atheism+ as a social or political force
    3) ???
    4) Profit!
    It’s the people who don’t worship gods but still believe that women are semi-human, or that social structures should consist of boots on necks, or that LGBT people are just plain perverted, that are pushing back. They don’t like the fact that the same level of scrutiny is being applied to their sacred cows… as to actual sacred cows.

  66. gregvalcourt says

    I can behind this idea. I like it. It’s much better to create a new term than hijacking an existing word.

  67. Ichthyic says

    I only have one thing to say: PZ has done more for the cause of atheism than you ever will.

    heh.

  68. Ichthyic says

    dross sez:

    I do have a life.

    strangely, magic 8 ball again says the same thing:

    “My sources say no.”

  69. says

    Are you saying A+ isn’t for capitalists?

    Inevitably capitalism requires classification to work and coercion with threat of death to generate a work force. It is a nicer form of coercion than out right slavery but at it’s core it is gathering all the food and putting it under lock and key and making one group of people do what the other group of people who have the keys want.

  70. says

    I can behind this idea. I like it. It’s much better to create a new term than hijacking an existing word.

    FFS It is not hijacking an existing word. Words are descriptive not proscriptive. The only way anyone can change the meaning of a word is if that new meaning catches on and becomes popularly used. This is why propaganda is needed. this is why Fox runs 24/7 sending out new definitions of ‘socalist’ and ‘fascism’. Because it takes a lot of work to actually consciously redefine a term.

  71. Ichthyic says

    sending out new definitions of ‘socalist’ and ‘fascism’.

    something suddenly struck me reading this.

    If you asked me to provide a quick and accurate definition of what socialism is, I could, but I realized that I really couldn’t for fascism.

    so, I thought I would refresh my memory. Maybe the Wiki page on fascism would be a good start?

    Go ahead and visit that page, look at the contentious debates in the talk section.

    I’m still unable to give a good definition of what fascism really is, apart from systematized nationalism.

  72. Ichthyic says

    …I would say though, looking back at what has happened in the US over the last 40 years, that the things traditionally associated with fascism sure appear to have some well established, and increasing, representation.

    *sigh*

  73. says

    @Ichthyic

    My going definition from the top of my head is a state noted by extreme nationalism and authoritative control of the government with privileges and punishments for obedience and disobedience to the state; maintained by heavy use of propaganda, selective law enforcement, militarization, violence, and populism/faux populism. Different from just authoritarianism in that it is largely a phenomena of democratic states that arises internally.

    …I would say though, looking back at what has happened in the US over the last 40 years, that the things traditionally associated with fascism sure appear to have some well established, and increasing, representation.

    Well I do buy into the definition that fascism is a disease of democracies.

  74. Ichthyic says

    so, a nationalistic police state, effectively?

    hence you could still have a “fascist democracy” as well as a “fascist dictatorship”

    hell, I suppose you could also have “fascist communist” states too.

    if so, how close, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being a pure fascist democracy, would you personally rate the current US?

    just curious. I’ll volunteer my own rating first:

    7

    if that sounds a bit high, recall I actually left :)

  75. Ichthyic says

    fascist communist states…

    Is Putin an indicator of a rise in fascist communism, you think?

    …or is that more pure authoritarianism.

  76. says

    hence you could still have a “fascist democracy” as well as a “fascist dictatorship”

    I’d argue that from my definition all fascist states are dictatorships (or some equivalent but being ruled by a committee/party rather than individual, probably still would have a figure head) but also faux democracies. They run on the idea that the party/dear leader is the voice/hands of some nebulous idea of teh people

  77. Ichthyic says

    They run on the idea that the party/dear leader is the voice/hands of some nebulous idea of teh people

    I meant purely in terms of structure.

  78. vaiyt says

    @gregvalcourt

    I can behind this idea. I like it. It’s much better to create a new term than hijacking an existing word.

    Who gave you the authority to decide who calls themselves atheists or not? You can’t take the A out of A+ without making the name misleading.

  79. says

    You can’t keep atheism “separate” from social justice because if atheist activism of any sort is happening, it is being done by people who will probably at some point be in contact with each other (either IRL or online), making movement atheism a sort of micro-society–a community or movement or scene or whatever you want to call it. That atheist-activism microsociety can be either just or unjust. If you don’t know how to make it just, it will be unjust. If you don’t try to make it just, it will be unjust. Currently the atheist movement in general is very unjust, therefore unwelcoming to a lot of people.

    It’s not mission creep to try and avoid unjust behavior within the movement.

  80. says

    vaiyt, to Jeffrey G Johnson:

    It may make sense in your burned out brain to call whatever irrational bullshitter that shows up at your door an “ally” because the voices in their heads happen to agree with your goals at that particular moment, helping them spread their bullshit in the process. For people who care about rationality, they see the danger of such a proposal.

    This. Yes, THIS.

    Can someone, for crying out loud, sculpt this in a wall and stamp the heads of insufferable acommodationists like Chris Mooney and his ilk against it, repeatedly, until it bleeds? I really despise their idiotic arguments of having “rational” believers as allies, singing songs near the fire and being all happy and rational… no, wait… all happy and together.