We’ve started the hangout on Google+. Stop by if you’re interested.
And…here’s the result.
This is the brief introduction I gave, to try and focus the discussion:
For a long time, I’ve been saying that atheism is a heck of a lot more than just disbelieving in gods: we arrive at that conclusion by various means, so the history matters, and recognition of the consequent reality matters — it has implications. I am an advocate for increasing the depth and meaning of atheism, for broadening it and increasing its relevance to more people. In that sense, I’m kind of an ur-atheism-plusser.
But actually, I think we all are. Atheism has always meant more than just disbelief. Probably the narrowest interpreter of atheism on freethoughtblogs is Edwin Kagin, who has openly said that he thinks the only issue that ought to matter to atheists is separation of church and state. But even that is adding extra meaning to the word, and it’s also a terribly narrow meaning, that really only applies to constitutional issues in the United States. The New Atheists (and Old Atheists, too), blithely fold Science into atheism, with scarcely any complaint from other atheists. There seem to be some affiliated issues that atheists, even atheists who still dumbly assert that atheism just means an absence of god-belief, are happy to unthinkingly accept as natural parts of atheism.
And then there are others. All you have to do is look at the angry loons who have freaked out over Atheism Plus. You want atheists to care about equality, and ethics, and social justice? NNNNOOOOOO! How dare you add stuff that isn’t in my minimalist understanding of atheism to my obligations as a human being? I want to be selfish and self-centered and Darwinian!
Now I’m curious to see what would happen if we say that environmentalism is a natural part of atheism, too. Will there be a freak out again? Will the Libertarians finally go away? Or will a majority happily recognize it as a necessary component of an ethic that tries to build a sustainable society on a world that is not propped up by magic?
So you’re all here to agree or argue with me, to consider the ramifications, to suggest where we’re going to hit a brick wall. And maybe we can also talk about why religion is a poor foundation for a responsible stewardship of the planet.