Mere atheism


Russell Blackford (@Metamagician) made a problematic assertion on twitter (the following paragraph is from four sequential tweets):

Just to be clear. My stance as a pro-feminist man does NOT follow from the fact that I am an atheist. Even if I became a philosophical deist overnight, I would maintain the same stance. Let’s not oversellMere atheism what mere atheism entails. None of which is to deny that actual religions can be used to provide false rationales for some abhorrent views.

That’s a bit of a mess, so let’s unpack it. I find interesting because my pro-feminist stance does follow from the fact that I am an atheist; perhaps we ought to recognize that there is more than one way to be an atheist, something I’ve been saying for a long time, and apparently Blackford and I are very different kinds of atheist.

There are some peculiarities in that statement. There is also more than one way to be a feminist, so announcing that one would still be feminist if they were a “philosophical deist” is both trivial and irrelevant: irrelevant because no one denies that there are religious positions that are compatible with feminism, and trivial because Blackford selected as an alternate a philosophy that’s about as close to atheism as you can get. I think we’d have a very different answer if he had speculated about an overnight conversion to Southern Baptist, or Amish, or conservative Muslim. As he notes at the end, there are religions that would impose abhorrent views that are incompatible with feminism. So about half of his comment is empty noise that contributes nothing to his thesis.

The interesting part is this: that “mere atheism” does not entail feminism. I both agree and disagree.

The agreeable side is that if we assume he means “mere atheism” the simple position that no gods or supernatural forces exist, then it’s true that that does not directly promote feminism. We could have a hypothetical atheism that postulated other, non-divine phenomena that contradicted feminism. For instance, a libertarian atheism that rationalized virtual enslavement of half the population to serve the other half, which just happened to recognize that it was easier to maintain the existing patriarchal framework, rather than going to all the trouble of inverting it. Or we could imagine a scientific atheism on a world with extreme sexual dimorphism, where the female sex was significantly smaller brained than the male sex. Or we could postulate a solipsistic or psychopathic atheism, in which an individual atheist considered members of the complementary sex to be resources to be exploited.

Blackford says he is pro-feminist (and he lives on this planet), so presumably none of the above scenarios apply. So why would an atheist be feminist?

In my case, the absence of a god invalidates all truth claims by revelation and all the traditional authority of holy books. It creates an epistemic gap, which I suppose someone could fill with just about anything: whim, utility, emotional needs, dice-rolling, whatever. I have no idea how Blackford explains cause and reason, but I know how I do: by an acceptance of natural causes which can be examined empirically and by experiment…by science. I also concede that where I can’t apply science in evaluating human motives, I use empathy and the principle of equating another’s condition with my own.

My atheism entails using those methods to resolve ethical decisions, for instance. That’s my toolkit. My atheism has stripped me of the tools of dogma and authoritarianism (and good riddance).

So now my atheism compels me to confront the question of the status of women by evidence and empathy. And what answer do both of those give? That women are my equals. That they share all the attributes of humanity that I have; there is no deficit in the quality of the experience of being a woman vs. being a man. That I cannot make assumptions about the capabilities or desires of a person on the basis of their sex.

This same reasoning applies whether I apply it to sex, to race, to class, or religious belief. My atheism requires me to be egalitarian because the evidence of our common humanity demands it. My reliance on that evidence is not independent of my atheism, but of course people who are not atheists can also share that same appreciation of others; the difference is simply that my form of “mere atheism” which is driven by naturalism means I have no other recourse, no other way of justifying my interpretation of the world.

But then, I don’t need any other mechanism — it seems to me that science and love of my fellow human beings is more than sufficient argument to guide the entirety of my life. And those are necessary axioms that I am compelled to accept by my atheism, even if there could exist alternate axioms that would also fill the gap left by the absence of gods.

It’s just that those alternate axioms, those other atheisms, also make one a jerk.

Comments

  1. says

    Was it really necessary to put Blackford’s quote in Gumby font? He might be wrong, but he’s not mentally disabled. And even your response seems to concede that while he’s mistaken, he’s not being entirely unreasonable.

  2. smhll says

    This same reasoning applies whether I apply it to sex, to race, to class, or religious belief. My atheism requires me to be egalitarian because the evidence of our common humanity demands it.

    I like this!!!

  3. Jacob Schmidt says

    I always got the impression that you and dictionary atheist were talking past each other. You talk about what one’s atheism can mean; they talk about what one’s atheism must mean. That is, one must not believe in god to be an atheist. But one can wrap up different beliefs and philosophies into their atheism.

    Matt Dillahunty, for instance, is a dictionary atheist. He repeatedly asserts that all atheism is simply disbelief in deities. The problem comes when people start asserting that disbelief is all atheism can be for everyone, simply because that’s all it is for them or that’s all they ever want it to be. This is where Matt retains my respect on the topic; to my knowledge, he doesn’t assert that including other values within ones atheism is wrong, just that he doesn’t, and that we can’t make assumptions about what one believes simply because they are an atheist.

  4. says

    The feminism follows atheism is a non-sequitur. Blackford recognizes that. He is right on a technicality, technically correct is the best form of correct.

  5. MyaR says

    Huh, my atheism follows pretty directly from my feminism. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Yet another example of the different paths to and from atheism – changing point one is going to have different implications for different people.

  6. Ichthyic says

    The feminism follows atheism is a non-sequitur.

    good thing you never read the OP here, even the slightest bit, before you posted that.

    otherwise, people might think you’re an idiot.

  7. AtheistPilgrim says

    I have pondered for some time how my beliefs in feminism and equality were actually related to, or driven by, my atheism. Equally, I have been a little nonplussed at times by the stridency of the proponents of Atheism+. I am de-lurking to say that PZ’s response to Russell Blackford has clarified these issues for me and I feel more confident that my atheism has developed and will continue to develop my personal responses to feminism, equality, politics and other social aspects of my life in my declining years. Thanks PZ.

  8. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Or we could imagine a scientific atheism on a world with extreme sexual dimorphism, where the female sex was significantly smaller brained than the male sex.

    I predict we’re going to have about 200 little shitheads popping in to argue that this is in fact the case, citing bad or misrepresented studies. :(

  9. Ichthyic says

    we can’t make assumptions about what one believes simply because they are an atheist

    but Jacob, don’t you think it’s time to recognize this as a BAD thing?

    Atheism is finally getting international recognition, and it’s about time the positive social issues that arise out of rationally rejecting superstitious nonsense become clear. trying to distance atheism from those things does a disservice to everyone.

  10. Ichthyic says

    I have been a little nonplussed at times by the stridency of the proponents of Atheism+

    this is the thing you should spend time thinking and analyzing about yourself. You really should try to figure out EXACTLY where your nonplussed attitude is originating from. The people posting information about why A+ is needed, or the people criticizing it.

    I personally have not found any reason to apply “strident” to backers of the idea of A+, and have only felt nonplussed over those who haven’t even bothered to realize why it IS needed.

  11. says

    Tony!:

    I’ve been reading Pharyngula for almost 8 years. PZ’s use of Gumby font has evolved over time, and in the last 3 years or so he’s started using it much more loosely. He used to reserve it primarily for the really wingnutty types, of which Blackford is certainly not. I don’t think Blackford deserves it.

    As for whether a Gumby joke is a joke about mental disability, I can’t possibly imagine a scenario where a joke like this is not a joke about mental disability. I’m not saying that’s automatically bad or that PZ shouldn’t use Gumby jokes, but come on. There are obvious implications.

  12. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    My stance on feminism predates my atheism. Though, I must be honest here, my feminism of 30 to 28 or so years ago was seriously flawed. Though I supported the goals of feminism, I was fully accepting of gendered insults, casual misogyny, rape jokes, and other tactics of effective silencing.

    Since I recognized that my stance on the existence of gods was atheism (not agnosticism or weak deism), I have also changed my stance as a supporter of feminism. I have become quite intolerant of that which I once accepted. And the reason is that I, for the first time, actually read, and digested, both the stance of misogynists (not those who casually accept rape jokes and gendered insults, but those who actually embrace the idea that women are not full and equal members of humanity). Why did I change?

    I realized that the victim blaming hurled at women (and other victims of sexual assault and rapes) comes from that flawed moral document called the bible. I realized that misogyny is a way to enforce the diktat of patriarchy. How can I call myself an atheist if I support, weather tacitly or actively, the Abrahamic patriarchy which denies the full and equal rights of more than half of humanity?

    Yes, atheism means that I do not see any evidence for the existence of any gods and thus I do not believe they exist. But, at the same time, if gods do not exist, then why the fuck to I allow the supposed words of the misogynistic and homicidal asshole to determine who can get married? or who should have full human rights? If I am an atheist and still support the Abrahamic society that gives me, as a white male, unearned privilege, then what is the point? If we ditch the belief in gods but keep all of the bullshit, all of the sexism, misogyny, denial of rights, and magical thinking, that went with organized religion, organized worship of gods, then, to me, there is really no point at all in being an active atheist.

    Which is pretty much restating what others have written.

  13. AtheistPilgrim says

    Thank you for the mini lecture. An example of the stridency I have perceived is apparent in your reply. I am reasonably comfortable that I do not need “to figure out EXACTLY where your nonplussed attitude is originating from.”

    I have followed this site since early Sb days and other atheist websites for many years. I did not say I disagree with Atheism+, in fact I very much support it in principle, but I have some concerns about the stridency of the language used by by some of its more vocal supporters. PZ has articulated how and why his atheism drives his attitudes towards feminism and other social issues. I fully agree with him and the point of my first comment was to say how his response to Blackford has enlightened me. I have said nothing controversial, although I realize that I have entered, unasked, the “horde’s den” and risked criticism of my comments. Fire away. Water off a duck’s back.

  14. R Johnston says

    Personally, I think it’s time for a slight modification in “dictionary” atheism. Atheism is the conclusion, not the mere belief, that gods do not exist. A freestanding belief that gods do not exist, taken as an axiom of faith, is of no interest. A freestanding belief that gods do not exist marks a refusal to actually challenge the claim of the theist that a god or gods exist. It is a special pleading on behalf of god claims, a pleading that their justification requires no evidence, and in this it adopts the failed epistemology of the theist. It is an acceptance and justification of the ancient theist slander that atheism is merely the angry rejection of god without any actual reason to do so.

    Once atheism is accepted to mean the conclusion that gods do not exist, once it is accepted that the scientific method is valid and evidence and observation always matter, there are perforce implications beyond atheism for the set of more basic axioms, set of observations, and rules of reason that allowed the conclusion that gods don’t exist. And while there are aspects of brands of feminism that don’t follow from belief in the scientific method and good faith observation, it is sure that a rejection of rigid gender binaries and roles does follow.

  15. Rob says

    This same reasoning applies whether I apply it to sex, to race, to class, or religious belief. My atheism requires me to be egalitarian because the evidence of our common humanity demands it.

    I like this!!!

    Me too. A lot.

  16. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    I have some concerns about the stridency of the language used by by some of its more vocal supporters.

    When should those standing up for human rights, human rights for all humans, not be strident? If it doesn’t affect me, can I not be strident?

  17. Sili says

    This same reasoning applies whether I apply it to sex, to race, to class, or religious belief. My atheism requires me to be egalitarian because the evidence of our common humanity demands it.

    You say that now, but I know what happens the moment someone starts praising cats and posting pictures of them.

    You don’t fool me, Mr Bigot.

  18. says

    No, Blackford deserves it. He’s become deeply demented in the last few years.

    How so? Again, I’m not necessarily him. I think he’s wrong. But he’s not on the same level as someone like Michele Bachmann or Pat Robertson or Vox Day. He’s not even a Thunderf00t or a Matt Nisbet. Even your own response seems to acknowledge that while he might be wrong, he’s not exactly a raving lunatic.

    I’m not a fan of the concept of “mere atheism”, but the quotes you provided from him aren’t exactly insane. They’re wrong, but they’re not demented. They’re certainly not Gumby-esque. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think it’s true: If Blackford had said this same thing 5 years ago, you would not have put it in Gumby font. Hell, back at ScienceBlogs a few years ago you quoted Chris Mooney saying much sillier things without Gumby font.

  19. says

    Sorry. The word “defending” should be in that second sentence. This is what happens when I stupidly hit submit before hitting preview.

  20. says

    Five years ago Blackford had not aligned himself with the slymepit, announced that he’d blackball any conference that had me as a speaker, and turned into a flaming twit.

    Also, are you seriously going to turn the fact that I rendered his quote in Comic Sans into a major point of contention?

  21. says

    Wes:

    PZ’s use of Gumby font has evolved over time, and in the last 3 years or so he’s started using it much more loosely. He used to reserve it primarily for the really wingnutty types, of which Blackford is certainly not. I don’t think Blackford deserves it.

    I’ve only been following Pharyngula for the last 3 years or so. I haven’t read everything PZ has written in that time. I do not know if his use of comic sans in that time has been solely to mock someone. However, I do know that in all the cases of his use [of Gumby] that I have seen, none of them implied anyone was mentally disabled. Do you have any reason to think that this time PZ is using comic sans to imply that Russell Blackford is mentally disabled? Do you have anything other than a YouTube video that PZ had no hand in to support your uncertainty? If you don’t then why aren’t you willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to him?

  22. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    An example of the stridency I have perceived is apparent in your reply. I am reasonably comfortable that I do not need “to figure out EXACTLY where your nonplussed attitude is originating from.” – AtheistPilgrim

    Would it still have been strident if Ichthyic had put “exactly” in lower-case? Because I’m a bit nonplussed about your use of strident.

  23. Ichthyic says

    An example of the stridency I have perceived is apparent in your reply.

    well, there’s your problem!

  24. Brian E says

    Five years ago Blackford had not aligned himself with the slymepit, announced that he’d blackball any conference that had me as a speaker, and turned into a flaming twit.

    5 years ago I was an avid follower of Russell, not anymore, therefore post hoc, ergo propter hoc. I caused the meltdown by lack of following him.
    I don’t think he’s a flaming twit, just someone with a massive blind-spot and a pricked ego. He’s a nice bloke otherwise.

  25. Ichthyic says

    I caused the meltdown by lack of following him.

    it was inevitable then. Don’t go blaming yourself!

    ;)

  26. Brian E says

    Oh, and my feminism follow from atheism in that we’re all equal and there’s no god to justify inequality.

  27. says

    axelblaster:

    The feminism follows atheism is a non-sequitur. Blackford recognizes that. He is right on a technicality, technically correct is the best form of correct.

    Feminism *does* follow from atheism IF one gives further thought to the implications of non belief. PZ already explained this quite well in this post, as well as many, many others. Let me try.
    The followers of the Big 3 religions believe in god and a direct result of that-for many of them-are beliefs that impact their lives.
    Some cannot eat pork.
    Some cannot work on Sundays.
    Some cannot dance.
    Some cannot get divorced.
    Some are homophobic.
    Some are sexist.
    Some are anti-immigration.
    Some are racist.
    These beliefs and more are a direct result of the theistic beliefs held by vast numbers of people on this planet.
    Take away the god belief of these people, and what is the justification for the continued belief in any of the above?
    If you no longer believe in the god that told you that gay people are immoral heathens, they what is the rationale for continuing to believe that?
    If you no longer believe that the god of the bible exists, why would you continue to believe that women are the inferior of men?
    If you thought you couldn’t eat pork because god said so, and you no longer believe in god, why would you no longer eat pork?
    If, based on your god belief, you thought divorce was sinful, why would you continue to oppose divorce upon rejecting belief in god?
    (At the very least, rejecting god belief should cause one to examine the beliefs they held that were a direct extension of their theism. I suppose some people might not reject these beliefs, or find reasons to retain them, but even in this case, they’ve at least examined their god inspired beliefs.)

    This is what I mean when I talk about the ramifications of rejecting god belief.
    Believing in god encompasses much more than “I believe in god” (for large numbers of people).
    Rejecting god belief should *also* encompass much more than “I do not believe in god”.
    It really isn’t that hard.

  28. says

    scarr:

    Well then, my atheism compels me to Not be a feminist. Huh, go figure.

    So you haven’t taken the time to analyze the beliefs you had as a theist to determine if you are justified in continuing to hold them?
    Were you planning on getting around to this one day?
    Or are you one of those people who believed in god as “something” and didn’t belong to any specific denomination?

    Or, looked at from another angle…

    What is your reasoning for not seeing full economic, social, and political equality for women?

    Or, put differently, why are you an ass?

  29. sonorus says

    Since I identified as a feminist before I realized I was an atheist, I can’t say that the feminism resulted from the atheism. Whether or not there are any supernatural entities, it seems to me that it’s unfair to deny anyone rights or opportunities.

  30. Rob says

    This same reasoning applies whether I apply it to sex, to race, to class, or religious belief. My atheism requires me to be egalitarian because the evidence of our common humanity demands it.

    You say that now, but I know what happens the moment someone starts praising cats and posting pictures of them.

    You don’t fool me, Mr Bigot.

    Except that PZ can be as catist as he likes since they have no common humanity with us, they being deities after all. In fact, that probably explains PZ’s dislike of cats – hard to be an atheist when surrounded by living gods. I’ll just go back to work now and stop disrupting the serious thread

  31. says

    Also, are you seriously going to turn the fact that I rendered his quote in Comic Sans into a major point of contention?

    Not a major one. There can be minor points of contention, too. I agree with the substance of your post. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with the way you chose to portray his quote.

    And it’s not just Comic Sans. There’s a Gumby next to that quote. Speaking of which…

    I’ve only been following Pharyngula for the last 3 years or so. I haven’t read everything PZ has written in that time. I do not know if his use of comic sans in that time has been solely to mock someone. However, I do know that in all the cases of his use [of Gumby] that I have seen, none of them implied anyone was mentally disabled. Do you have any reason to think that this time PZ is using comic sans to imply that Russell Blackford is mentally disabled? Do you have anything other than a YouTube video that PZ had no hand in to support your uncertainty? If you don’t then why aren’t you willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to him?

    That YouTube video is Monty Python. It’s where the whole Gumby thing comes from. It’s where PZ got it from. I assure you that PZ’s use of Gumby is a reference to Monty Python. And, importantly, you don’t disagree with me that the Gumby sketches on Monty Python were clearly jokes about mental disability. Anyone who watches them can tell that that’s exactly what they are.

    But let’s set that issue aside. The most disturbing thing about what you said is the fact that you appear to be unfamiliar with Monty Python’s Flying Circus. There is a gaping hole in your existence if you haven’t watched that show. You must rectify this immediately. Get thee to Netflix!

  32. Ysanne says

    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible “recognising fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism?

    In my case, the absence of a god invalidates all truth claims by revelation and all the traditional authority of holy books. It creates an epistemic gap, which I suppose someone could fill with just about anything:
    […]
    I know how I do: by an acceptance of natural causes which can be examined empirically and by experiment…by science. I also concede that where I can’t apply science in evaluating human motives, I use empathy and the principle of equating another’s condition with my own.

    I think cause and effect in this part are exactly swapped for many others.
    When your mindset is fundamentally egalitarian, you’re likely to prefer to make sense of the world by the scientific approach than by religious authority: Under the assumption that people are all roughly equal, evidence that at least in principle anyone can evaluate is way more convincing than unverifiable claims of divine revelation by a small elite. Especially when these revelations somehow always seem to favour those few hearing them, and frequently contradict what evidence, your values and and your empathy tell you. From this, atheism is only one more step, and feminism is already included in the egalitarian-ness.
    So in this case, feminism and atheism are two effects of the common cause “empathy and seeing fellow humans as equal”.

    So now my atheism compels me to confront the question of the status of women by evidence and empathy. And what answer do both of those give? That women are my equals.

    How would you then explain the existence of non-feminist atheists who manage to be rational about other topics, or even MRAs? If their reasoning goes wrong or if their empathy is not functioning properly with respect to women, does that mean they’re not really atheists either? Other than doing a no-true-Scotsman, the only explanation that I can come up with is that feminism, while often born of similar thought processes as atheism, doesn’t necessarily follow from it.

  33. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Wes @ 38:

    I am English. My father is working class. I tell you that the Monty Python Gumby sketches are NOT about mental disability. They are about the educational and attitudinal restrictions of a certain part of the lower working class. And they are *barely* exaggerations.

  34. says

    Yes, I’ve been told my gay card is revoked since I’ve never seen anything related to Monty Python…

    I promise I won’t touch your gay card. But you need to watch Monty Python if you have any hope of keeping your comedy card. It really is one of the funniest fucking TV shows ever (and the movies are great too). I especially recommend the Dead Parrot and Argument Clinic sketches. Pure fucking comic genius.

  35. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible “recognising fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism?

    What is the point of being an atheist, being an active or vocal atheist, if one still embraces the Abrahamic patriarchal paradigm?

  36. Ichthyic says

    They are about the educational and attitudinal restrictions of a certain part of the lower working class. And they are *barely* exaggerations.

    Are you the brain surgeon?

  37. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    I’ve been reading Pharyngula for almost 8 years. PZ’s use of Gumby font has evolved over time, and in the last 3 years or so he’s started using it much more loosely.

    Chances we’ll ever see some factual, objective evidence for this?

  38. says

    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    19 May 2013 at 8:37 pm (UTC -5)

    Wes @ 38:

    I am English. My father is working class. I tell you that the Monty Python Gumby sketches are NOT about mental disability. They are about the educational and attitudinal restrictions of a certain part of the lower working class. And they are *barely* exaggerations.

    The working class here in America doesn’t normally go to brain surgeons. Either there’s something seriously physiologically wrong with England’s working class, or that sketch is an attempt to portray England’s working class as being mentally disabled. Or maybe it’s a lot more than just barely an exaggeration, and it isn’t necessarily meant to represent working class people.

  39. says

    I am an atheist, and a pro-feminist and a loved father. My kid does not even know of the first two, and certainly it did not stem from being an atheist. I guess this should be in comic sans font.

  40. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Chances we’ll ever see some factual, objective evidence for this?

    That’ll happen about the same time that giant winged porkypines come flying out my arse. Backwards.

  41. ekwhite says

    I am totally ignorant of Russell Blackford and his beliefs. I know nothing about Mere Atheism other than the title is a parody of CS Lewis. I can partially understand the idea that atheism, unfortunately, does not necessarily lead to a belief in social justice.

    I am basing this on my personal experience which is, of course, anecdotal (n=1). I rejected fundamentalist Christianity because they supported segregation and used the Bible to support their bigotry. I found myself agreeing with A. Philip Randolph more than with my Southern Baptist pastor. I now find Xtianity mostly incompatinle with social justice, with a few exceptions.

    At the same time, I can see PZ’s point that a rejection of the concept of God should inevitably lead to an acceptance of the equality of all.

    I guess my point is, if there is one, is that people seem to be predisposed to varying degrees of selfishness or compassion, and will use their religious or philosophical beliefs to support their predisposition. I will admit to not being a deep thinker, and will also admit that n=1.

  42. says

    Ysanne:

    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible “recognising fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism?

    I suppose that’s a valid interpretation.
    I saw A+ more as an attempt to create an atheist specific space designed to address issues of social justice (with feminism as significant focus). More of a “you folks don’t want to discuss these issues that we feel are related to non belief? Fine. We’ll carve out our own space away from you.”
    What I’m nonplussed about is why there was as much furor over that. It’s not like anyone was forced to follow, nor could the label of atheist be torn from anyone.**

    **and yes, I read many, many of the intial “problems” people had with A+

  43. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    shripathikamath:

    Do you understand that some atheists view battling against the Abrahamic patriarchic paradigm as a logical outgrowth of the non-existence of gods?

  44. says

    It strikes me as really odd that these debates are still going on. Most of the things that are being argued are relatively straightforward, and the rest seem to be matters of how people scope their particular definitions.

    Q: Is feminism a logical necessity if one accepts atheism?

    A: Almost certainly not. If you think it is, create a logical proof.

    Q: Is feminism “consistent with” atheism?

    A: Yes. It doesn’t contradict any of atheism’s premises or conclusions. Same the other way around.

    Q: Does feminism “follow from” atheism?

    A: It can, if you presuppose a few things, some of them normative (and there are probably several paths to get there). Having a meaningful discussion about it would involve determining what those things are.

    Q: Is “mere” atheism a useful position?

    A: Not if you want to do anything normative with it. Separation of church and state counts as normative. It’s also important to keep in mind that the question of whether one should adopt a minimalistic atheism is itself a normative question.

    Q: Can normative questions be answered rationally?

    A: You can reason about normative questions. You can expect normative systems to be consistent (not contradict themselves). You can even attempt to “ground” normative questions by creating a basis for values and value prioritization, and then reason from that ground. But you can’t fully ground what you decide to count as a “fundamental value”. When you argue normative questions, it helps to understand what the other person’s fundamental assertions are and what type of argument they’re making.

    Q: Can one support feminism with “empirical” evidence?

    A: Yes. But again, you need to have established some normative fundamentals for the evidence to actually support a particular position. Much of our work should be about establishing what the most minimal and widely acceptable sets of values need to be to make our conclusions inescapable.

    I think it helps in discussing the “paths” to feminism from atheism (or vice-versa) to distinguish between paths of reasoning and “personal” paths. Paths of reasoning involve establishing normative fundamentals and then reasoning from them plus atheism to feminism (or whatever). Personal paths involve how we as individuals came to our positions. This latter brings with it issues of personal experience and revelation.

    The latter brings in personal experience and revelation. How many of us became atheists and then said, “Holy shit! I never noticed it until just now, but now that I’ve accepted that there are no gods, I see that there’s this huge explanatory gap that I must apply my reasoning systematically to fill!”. For most of us (including the religious), we act according to the moral routines already present in our brains and bodies. Do religious people sometimes say, “I want to do that…. but no! God says it’s evil!”? Sure. But by and large, they tattle, snipe, dispense kindness, cheat, empathize and confabulate just like the rest of us do. Atheism’s (and feminism’s) normative extensions apply most relevantly to the larger social sphere, in which moral reasoning needs to be made explicit.

  45. Ichthyic says

    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible “recognising fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism?

    no.
    A+ is a recognition that in fact equal rights DO follow from atheism, but like any other derived conclusion, needs to be nurtured within the community since otherwise it will be ignored by those less introspective, and those who would prefer not to have their personal privileges examined.

    nice try though.

  46. paulburnett says

    I used to say I have three reasons to be a feminist – my mother, my wife and my daughter. That has nothing to do with religion or the lack thereof.

  47. Ichthyic says

    A: Almost certainly not. If you think it is, create a logical proof.

    it’s been done to death already. you have simply chosen to ignore it.

    putting your points in bold doesn’t make them any more informed or accurate.

  48. evilDoug says

    Yes, I’ve been told my gay card is revoked since I’ve never seen anything related to Monty Python…

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Flying Circus was the thing that solidified my opinion that English humor of that era was insufferably infantile and stupid. Blech! I regard the MP movies to be considerably better.

  49. Ichthyic says

    That has nothing to do with religion or the lack thereof.

    also has nothing to do with feminism, in fact.

  50. Ichthyic says

    Asher’s list looks remarkably like the demands creationists make of scientists to “justify” evolution, in fact.

    born of willful ignorance, answers presupposed, reversal of burden of proof…

  51. says

    @Ogvorbis

    What is the point of being an atheist, being an active or vocal atheist, if one still embraces the Abrahamic patriarchal paradigm?

    That’s an interesting point. On the other hand, atheism should be careful not to define itself as a rejection of another paradigm. Here’s a quote from an actual philosopher:

    Atheism is a strategy of the besieged. One begins by admitting that the territory of immanence is just as religion describes it, then one declares that this territory is the only one that exists, and finally one invents every possible way of rendering it livable despite that fact.

    Now that’s some serious Continental nonsense, but it points out the need to establish atheism as a positive position. Oddly, when I first saw “Atheism+”, I thought the “plus” indicated that idea.

  52. says

    @Ichthyic

    it’s been done to death already. you have simply chosen to ignore it.

    I’ve read quite a bit about it, and I haven’t seen anyone claim that nothing normative needs to be presupposed. If something normative needs to be presupposed, then it doesn’t simply “follow” logically.

  53. says

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Flying Circus was the thing that solidified my opinion that English humor of that era was insufferably infantile and stupid.

    No it’s not.

  54. Randomfactor says

    I look forward to a time when atheism does NOT imply working towards reversing the unequal treatment of the sexes, just as it also would not imply working towards the elimination of bias in favor of particular religious beliefs.

    In other words, when the response is “so? Isn’t everyone?”

  55. Ichthyic says

    If something normative needs to be presupposed

    you do realize how much is actually involved in maintaining an atheist position in a theist society, right?

    if not, perhaps you should start your journey of self examination there, instead of amusing the rest of us with your misused jargon?

  56. says

    @Ichthyic

    you do realize how much is actually involved in maintaining an atheist position in a theist society, right?

    As an atheist in a theist society, I have some idea – though my experience certainly isn’t as difficult as some people’s.

    I don’t know how that relates to whether feminism is a logical necessity starting with atheism.

    if not, perhaps you should start your journey of self examination there, instead of amusing the rest of us with your misused jargon?

    How did I misuse jargon? What jargon did I even use?

    I’m not sure why you’re responding this way. If I’ve said something that’s incorrect, tell me what.

  57. hypatiasdaughter says

    #43 Ogvorbis, broken failure.

    What is the point of being an atheist, being an active or vocal atheist, if one still embraces the Abrahamic patriarchal paradigm?

    Many seem to reject the Abrahamic patriarchal paradigms,but replace them with biological imperatives and the worst distortions of evo-pscyh. Works well because they can abandon god but keep their sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes, justified by rational, scientific reasons..

  58. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Brian E., I hope the “nice otherwise” was sarcastic.

  59. says

    your misused jargon?

    If you meant “normative”, okay — that’s pretty much philosophical jargon. But I don’t think I’m misusing it. I’m using it to mean “concerning values or what ‘should’ be”. There’s no really decent shorthand term for that, except “value-based” which seems too vague, because there are different senses of “value”.

  60. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Here’s a quote from an actual philosopher:

    Oh. An actual philosopher. I guess that trumps all.

    Please note that I do not define atheism as a rejection of another paradigm. I asked a question based on the acceptance of reality, the acceptance of evidence.

    But, not being a philosopher, I guess my comments are null. Why would you even deign to answer a non-philosopher?

  61. says

    Chances we’ll ever see some factual, objective evidence for this?

    Not since National Geographic scrubbed ScienceBlogs. There are several classic Pharyngula posts that I can’t even find on the current version, including the “*I’m gonna be a movie star*” post, which I always loved. ScienceBlogs is a pathetic shadow of its former self, and a lot of its former content appears to have been deleted. This includes the fact that while PZ used the Gumby font at ScienceBlogs, none of his posts as they currently exist at that ghost town of a blog have them.

    But maybe it’s there, and I just can’t find it. I admit I that I only rarely check ScienceBlogs ever since NatGeo took over, and I could have just missed the part that has all the old posts I remember.

    So anyways, I could give you this example, where there’s no Gumby used: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/01/18/expelled-not-even-released-and/

    Except that, as I recall, that was originally in Gumby font, but it no longer is. It should have been, if it wasn’t. It’s fucking Ben Stein promoting Expelled. It’s definitely far worse than anything Blackford has said. The problem is that it appears that the Gumby font apparently has been scrubbed from PZ’s old SB posts entirely, so any actual evidence has been erased. Sucks for me, I guess.

  62. mikeyb says

    It’s interesting that according to some researchers who study the origins and reasons for religion such as Pascal Boyer, have found for general reasons for religion: explanation, comfort, social order and as a cognitive illusion. Boyer see’s some truth in all of these but doesn’t find them entirely adequate. At least one of these: social order and in particular the almost exclusive reinforced patriarchy in nearly all religions explicitly or implicitly – is perhaps one way that atheism allows one to question ones culturally and religiously reinforced patriarchal assumptions and look at things in a more empirical and compassionate manner. In that sense atheism leans towards feminism.

  63. Ichthyic says

    I don’t know how that relates to whether feminism is a logical necessity starting with atheism.

    again, you are framing this incorrectly. if you exclude the reality of the society in which you conclude atheism is valid, then you’re right that you can’t conclude much of anything about what atheism infers then.

    put it in context, and atheism in the US removes the primary causal societal factors that lead to patriarchal societies to begin with. Or pretty much anywhere the Abrahamic religions are common.

    this is common knowledge. You’re being disingenuous by ignoring it, and thus you ARE misusing terms.

    Again, your list looks remarkably like a creationist asking a scientist to justify common descent by asking them to provide a “molecules to man” scenario. It is entirely ignorant of both context and underlying information that you SHOULD already know.

  64. R Johnston says

    #43 hypatiasdaughter

    Many seem to reject the Abrahamic patriarchal paradigms,but replace them with biological imperatives and the worst distortions of evo-pscyh.

    Evo-psych is to incoherent and ridiculous a concept to distort. That’s why it’s adopted by certain people as a mode of argument.

    If there’s one thing that’s true about the evolution of human psychology it’s that we’ve evolved to be adaptable, intelligent creatures. As adaptable creatures anything beyond a very basic desire is formed heavily involving adaptation to environmental feedback. We adapt our behaviors to suit our desires, our needs, our physical and social environments, in accord with our learned knowledge.

    And as intelligent creatures we manipulate our physical and social environments to better satisfy our desires and needs. People with the power to impose social structures do so in accord with their own particular desires.

    It does not in any way, shape, or form follow that people’s psychologies are rigidly structured to be best suited to function in some imposed social structure or environment. We haven’t “evolved” for men to be socially dominant; it’s just that at some time in the past the power to impose social structure was strongly correlated with physical strength, the people imposing social structure were physically strong men looking out after their own selfish interests, and the social structures imposed have lingered long past the time when physical strength was the primary determinant of the ability to impose social structure. We are not evolved for men to be socially dominant; we are evolved to navigate and find our role within any social and environmental structure we happen to be born, raised, and live in.

    Such is the case for all interesting evo-psych claims. Every last one of them is made in ignorance of human adaptability and intelligence. Any evo-psych claim that is used to justify any specific behavior or social structure as natural or justified is almost certainly wrong. If you really want to understand how the effects of the evolved human mind on human behavior you study in neuropsychology, not evo-psychology.

  65. Ysanne says

    Ichthyic,
    if you could please dispense with the condescension…

    A+ is a recognition that in fact equal rights DO follow from atheism, but like any other derived conclusion, needs to be nurtured within the community since otherwise it will be ignored by those less introspective, and those who would prefer not to have their personal privileges examined.

    I.e. atheism alone isn’t necessarily enough to make a person feminist, they also need an ability for introspection, as well as a willingness to examine their privileges with a view of giving them up.
    Actually, it’s not the atheism here that leads to feminism, it just helps to remove some obstacles in the introspection.

    Also, one needs the basic assumption that all human beings deserve equality (PZ: “because the evidence of our common humanity demands it”) , which I wholeheartedly share, but which is not universal, and doesn’t necessarily follow from not believing in a deity. It’s perfectly possible to assign humans more or less worth and thus rights based on various criteria without invoking god, and it’s done all the time, e.g. out of simple selfishness and the desire to keep one’s privilege.

  66. says

    @Ogvorbis

    Please note that I do not define atheism as a rejection of another paradigm. I asked a question based on the acceptance of reality, the acceptance of evidence.

    I wasn’t trying to say that you were defining atheism as a rejection. I thought you made a great point. I wasn’t even disagreeing with you — just riffing to emphasize that I think it’s important to define atheism positively.

    But, not being a philosopher, I guess my comments are null. Why would you even deign to answer a non-philosopher?

    When I said “Here’s a quote from an actual philosopher”, I was reflecting on my consternation that people who publish works of thought in books on these topics actually say ridiculous things like that. I was not trying to imply that being an “actual philosopher” made one more authoritative. Exactly the opposite.

  67. Owlglass says

    With the views expressed in the blog entry, what is the crucial difference between Atheism and Atheism Plus?

  68. says

    So, its not enough to be atheist and egalitarian and socially and politically progressive — we need to start dithering on whether we’re doing it the “right” way? I thought I left this stupid shit behind with childhood Irish Catholicism…

    I am a feminist and an atheist. Chronologically, I was a feminist first, years before becoming comfortable with the label ‘atheist’. Did I do it wrong? I don’t think SK. In fact, I think that’s the most common route. I know many previously religious progressive people who slowly left superstition behind, but I haven’t met the counterpart, i.e. a single socially regressive atheist who became a feminist after realizing that rigorous atheism requires it. Such a person may exist, but I haven’t met them.

  69. anteprepro says

    But then, I don’t need any other mechanism — it seems to me that science and love of my fellow human beings is more than sufficient argument to guide the entirety of my life. And those are necessary axioms that I am compelled to accept by my atheism, even if there could exist alternate axioms that would also fill the gap left by the absence of gods.
    It’s just that those alternate axioms, those other atheisms, also make one a jerk.

    I think that this is the heart of these various debates. Over dictionary atheists, Randians, “I’m an atheist, but…” accomodationists, faitheists, Troo Skeptics, and the MRA brigade. It’s all about WHY you are an atheist and what else those underlying causes of atheism entail. And it becomes a muddle because ultimately the debate is between different camps of atheism, different subjective groups of atheism. And those groups are poorly distinguished, ill-defined, and rarely self-applied labels like the atheist label itself. (Consider comparable debates around the “atheism” of those that don’t believe in god but don’t identify as atheists, such as people who insist “agnostic” is a distinct position, non-believers who still affiliate with religious groups, and non-believers who just think “atheist” and “agnostic” are dirty words and come with their own label or just go with a joke religion). Defining these atheist subsets, much like defining the set of atheists, has always been like nailing jello to a wall. It’s a bit of a muddled issue, and it becomes hard to express the idea of Different Kinds of Atheist in any coherent fashion because the identifications we do have aren’t usually self-applied, because actual labels vary based on the fora in which the issue is discussed, because the labels are rarely an exhaustive list, and because the labels are rarely not mutually exclusive, making the dialog even more confusing. Some of this problem could easily be remedied if we had a common, consistent, well-thought out and exhaustive ways of referring to the different subsets of atheists, in a way that is unbiased so that people would be willing to self-identify as the appropriate subset. Then we wouldn’t be having a vague debate over exactly what kinds of atheism fail to imply feminism.

  70. Akira MacKenzie says

    I would have to say that my equalitarianism grew out of my atheism, largley because a large portion of my ideology was intertwined with my previous faith. It’s much easier to come to the conclusion that abortion out to be legal or there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality when you don’t think there is a deity who commands otherwise. Of course, I didn’t go from Rethuglican to socialist overnight, anymore than I instantly went from Catholic to atheist. I slide along the political spectrum, embracing anarcho-capitalism at first (yes, boo hiss) then I actually tried to make it in America’s free market my opinion of libertarian politics and the “liberty” they preach really started to so with each low-paying, dead-end job I found myself in.

    The same can be said for my sexual politics. After finally abandoning theism, I started out by becoming pro-choice. However, for the longest time, no thanks to a steady diet of Limbaugh as a teenager, I still clung to the idea that feminist == anti-sex. For a time, I had a hard time reconciling the idea of women’s equality with notion that we ought to stop seeing sex as something evil and start having fun. That was before I figured out that the two concepts were not mutually exclusive, but it was difficult getting over the strawman (strawwoman?) version of feminism that I accepted back when I was a right-wing Christian.

    Reading the discussions here really helped. Thanks. :)

  71. says

    @Ichthyic

    if you exclude the reality of the society in which you conclude atheism is valid, then you’re right that you can’t conclude much of anything about what atheism infers then.

    I wasn’t trying to answer any questions except the ones I saw posed in various places — questions that people seem to get stuck on. Something being a logical necessity could definitely depend on facts about the realities of a society. I wouldn’t exclude any kind of established facts — just “value-based” statements that need to be assumed to get from one position to the other.

    I have not seen an argument that shows that feminism is an inescapable logical conclusion if one accepts atheism and all it logically entails. I strongly suspect that there are some “value-based” statements that would need be added in to get there.

    I’m not saying that you can’t reason from one to the other. Logical necessity is an extremely high bar that not many things meet.

    Again, your list looks remarkably like a creationist asking a scientist to justify common descent by asking them to provide a “molecules to man” scenario.

    I’m starting to see how I have miscommunicated. I am not asking anyone to prove that feminism is a logical necessity from atheism. I don’t *want* it to be. I don’t think it should *have* to be in order to argue that the atheist movement *should* also adopt and fight for feminist principles. I think that when people say, “but it’s not a *logical necessity*”, the correct response is to say, “No, Captain Pedantic, it isn’t. And that’s not a criterion we need or even want to meet”.

    I’m arguing that trying to say that it’s a logical necessity puts one unnecessarily at a disadvantage when it is the “value-based” systems, reasons, and conclusions that we should be emphasizing and celebrating.

    And I’m saying that being clear about what we’re actually trying to demonstrate will make advocacy for Atheism+Feminism much more robust to criticism.

  72. says

    I would rather say that a pro-feminist stance derives not from atheism per se, but from from the same set of axioms that reasonable people ought to hold that also happens to yield atheism. But I would also contend that this is primarily a philosophical question, not a scientific question, though it’s certainly informed by science.

  73. Jacob Schmidt says

    Ichthyic

    but Jacob, don’t you think it’s time to recognize this as a BAD thing?

    Atheism is finally getting international recognition, and it’s about time the positive social issues that arise out of rationally rejecting superstitious nonsense become clear. trying to distance atheism from those things does a disservice to everyone.

    For me, my atheism follows from my skepticism. Feminism and humanism also follow from skepticism, so all three (atheism, humanism and feminism) are inextricably intertwined. I’d be very happy for atheism to become associated with the other two.

    But aside from that, when have we ever been able to identify specific morals from statements of broad beliefs? I don’t think it’s an obtainable goal in the first place. Because of that, I think I’d rather people associate my good (and bad) beliefs with me, not a broad label that nearly anyone can claim.

    Asher Kay

    Q: Is feminism a logical necessity if one accepts atheism?

    A: Almost certainly not. If you think it is, create a logical proof.

    I think the you missed the point. Why are you allowing the acceptance of atheism, but demanding a logical proof to go from atheism to feminism? Atheism isn’t supported by strict logic. Atheism is supported as the null hypothesis; until we see evidence of gods, we reject them. There is no logical certainty there.

    Feminism holds that men and women are equal. We see no objective assignment of value in our universe. Men and women are equal, unless we arbitrarily decide they are not. Hell, feminism arguably has more evidence than atheism does; there really does seem to be nothing but physiological differences between men and women, and most of them are minor. So both atheism and feminism follow from the same principle of basic skepticism i.e. not making arbitrary assumptions about reality.

    There’s also the fact that one can be lead to atheism from simple compassion. Recognizing that worshiping a mass murdering, petty, jealous, vindictive, and hateful god is the wrong thing to do is a common theme to many deconversion stories. Recognizing that holding half the population back for no reason is the wrong thing to do is the reason (or ones of the reasons) that many of us are feminists.

    This idea that we need to reduce atheism to it’s bare bones is just ridiculous; atheism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It never has. It might never exist like that. For most of us, our atheism comes from other ideals. For many of us, those ideals come from or lead to feminism/skepticism/humanism/whatever-you-do-ism. That’s why feminism and atheism are being associated. It’s not a matter of one following from the other.

  74. says

    @Jacob Schmidt

    I said that I don’t think feminism is a conclusion that is logically necessary given atheism. I said that showing the logical necessity would involve a proof. That’s it. I’m not demanding a proof, because I don’t think there is one, and I don’t see any reason why we would *want* one.

    Almost everything else you said is reflected in my original comment: 1) You need something normative (men and women being equal means they should be treated equally) because value is not an intrinsic property of physical existence (although this could be argued); 2) You can reason, using values, to get between atheism and feminism; 3) The idea of reducing atheism to its minimal thesis is not useful, because it doesn’t allow us to do anything value-based with it.

    Sorry if I seem frustrated. I thought I spoke with clarity and a decent amount of precision, and I got an unexpectedly negative response above.

  75. Jacob Schmidt says

    Asher Kay

    Sorry if I seem frustrated. I thought I spoke with clarity and a decent amount of precision, and I got an unexpectedly negative response above.

    Hmmm… I find clarity and precision are somewhat negatively correlated.

    Knowing what you meant now, I see it. To me, it read like a dictionary atheist’s attempt at saying, “Atheism is no more than disbelieving in god, all that other stuff is just extra you’re adding,” with the added implication, of course, that we shouldn’t or are some how not allowed to add our values to our atheism, or vice versa. I think it was the Q&A list format you had, plus the “logical necessity” bit; I see a lot of people use the fact that there’s no logical imperative to dismiss any association. Sorry I let my bias get in the way and didn’t read clearly.

    I retroactively retract my criticism (assuming I can do that). Let’s all pretend my above post is just an expansion on yours.

  76. Jacob Schmidt says

    So,if the existence of (christian) god is proven, you stop being a feminist.

    Could someone explain to me how someone unable to read was able to write?

  77. Island Adolescent says

    Having a discussion what how your atheism became recognized/developed and what other trains of thought accompanied it or followed from it, or even caused it seems fun, but out of curiosity are there any actual patterns or regularities behind it, or is this a case where diversity is the norm? Just from reading around on here and other posts of PZ of this nature, so far it seems like everybody is too diverse for the values or thought processes that come along with atheism to be “standardized” in any way.

    My own story was that I thought all religions, Christianity included, were myths just like the Greek religions, but were dropped from society a bit later. It was in 6th grade at the age of 11 that somebody finally explained to me that people still believe in a God and used the word atheist in front of me for the first time in my life to describe me.
    As such, my atheism really was a dictionary-type atheism. Feminism and humanism worked its way into my perspective largely from reading the blogs/works of other atheists, but it never tied into my atheism, because my atheism was so detached from religion in the first place.

  78. Island Adolescent says

    Jeebus, I am never posting from a phone without first hitting the preview button again. Sorry for that mess.

  79. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    @ joedelaney

    I know many previously religious progressive people who slowly left superstition behind, but I haven’t met the counterpart, i.e. a single socially regressive atheist who became a feminist after realizing that rigorous atheism requires it. Such a person may exist, but I haven’t met them.

    Hi! *waves* I grew up fundamentalist xian, left the religion and began the slow slide towards atheism. I suppose I paid lipservice to being a feminist inasmuch as I thought women like me should have equal rights a little after I left the church, but I didn’t actually read or accept any of feminism until long after I became an atheist. I still had a lot of unexamined religious programming to get through. But, as you said, I realized that my atheism demanded that I examine those things and discard them–to truly learn about the world that I’d been lied to about for so many years. So, I read social justice text, feminist theory, anti-racist theory…it blew my hair back. It broke my heart. It changed the way I viewed the world.

    So yeah, people like me *do* exist. Its probably be rare, but we’re out there.

  80. Jacob Schmidt says

    Island Adolescent

    It was in 6th grade at the age of 11 that somebody finally explained to me that people still believe in a God and used the word atheist in front of me for the first time in my life to describe me.

    I have a similar story. I remember I was in 5th grade when I was thinking about Hercules and Zeus, and I realized they were gods too. No one believed in them, so I just assumed no one believed in the christian god either. I assumed they were both just stories.

    I got quite a shock when my 6th grade teacher chastised me for “damning god”.

  81. says

    Just out of curiosity, could atheism still follow from feminism (or vice versa) if religions were woman-made?

    He’s a nice bloke otherwise.

    I LOL’d.

  82. gruebleen says

    Asher Kay @84

    I thought you spoke/wrote with considerable clarity and precision … and even a modicum of pertinence and a great deal of forebearance.

    I am at one with your all … and I appreciated your use of bolded subheadings to structure your propositions.

  83. brive1987 says

    Asher, I may be wrong but I imagine many here feel that making feminism dependant on (presumably) subjective values statements sounds like an equivocation. PZ has previously stated some things like slavey are “non subjectively” wrong. So while it may not be philosophically pure to say that feminism “logically follows” from atheism to say anything else in the public space is opening a wedge space.

  84. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Wes #47

    The working class here in America doesn’t normally go to brain surgeons.

    The working class here in England have the NHS.

  85. echidna says

    Tony:

    Asher:
    I don’t understand where Ichthyic is coming from either…

    I do, or at least I can guess. Ichthyic has a science background, and the words you are using as if everyone should know them have different meanings in different academic disciplines. In my world, “normative” means “prescriptive”, referring to standards. The “scope” of a variable refers the area (of computer code) it would be defined in. Ichthyic probably understands these words in subtle, but important, different ways.

    Jargon is a compressed form of language, encapsulating complex ideas, sometimes quite subtle, specific to a discipline, or trade, or whatever. It’s why it’s best to communicate in plain English outside of your area of specialty. I

  86. says

    So,if the existence of (christian) god is proven, you stop being a feminist.

    well, if the christian god somehow turned out to be actually real, that would undermine the notion that men and women are equal; that gender roles are social constructions; that people have to create their own purpose in life. Given that, a feminism in the world of a god who wrote patriarchy and female inferiority into the very laws of the universe would be a… reality denying sort of thing.

  87. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    The working class here in England have the NHS. – Thumper, Atheist Mate

    But not for much longer, if the government gets its way, as seems well-nigh inevitable. We in Scotland may hold out for a few more years.

  88. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    So,if the existence of (christian) god is proven, you stop being a feminist. – ovdk

    Yes, certainly. As I will if it is proven that 2+2=5.

  89. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Nick Gotts, sadly, I think you may be correct :( I don’ think the Tories will manage to get rid of it this term, but they may damage it irreparably and to such an extent that people lose all confidence in it and the possibility of getting rid of it may become a political reality.

  90. ChasCPeterson says

    I was going to comment on the OP, but then I figured I ought to read the comments first…mistake.

    if you exclude the reality of the society in which you conclude atheism is valid, then you’re right that you can’t conclude much of anything about what atheism infers then.

    I know you think you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard was not what I meant.

    Sorry if I seem frustrated. I thought I spoke with clarity and a decent amount of precision, and I got an unexpectedly negative response above.

    Nothing wrong with your writing; your coments were easily the least tedious parts of the thread. Even though I had to look up what you meant by ‘normative’.

  91. ChasCPeterson says

    re the OP: Perhaps Blackford should face the fact that Twitter is not his optimal platform.

    That would be, like, philosopher Hell, wouldn’t it? Imagine Wittgenstein and Berkeley spending eternity trying to communicate 240 characters at a time.

  92. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    “Whereof one cannot speaktweet, thereof one must be silent.” – Wittgenstein

  93. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Nick Gotts, sadly, I think you may be correct :( I don’ think the Tories will manage to get rid of it this term, but they may damage it irreparably and to such an extent that people lose all confidence in it and the possibility of getting rid of it may become a political reality. – Thumper

    Worse than that I’m afraid. Once an aspect of public service is opened up to “competition” (read: cherry-picking), EU law forbids reversing it, and the WTO is also available as an enforcer for the gangsters of private medicine. Possibly if the Labour Party wasn’t such a useless bunch of duds they could find a way of resisting it if they win the next election*, but I’ve met slugs with more backbone (sorry for the vertebratism, but I can’t think of a better metaphor right now).

    *I’ve recently seen a couple of union leaders putting a left case for leaving the EU. Given the savage cuts currently being forced on Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Cyprus… and laws such as the above, I’m starting to wonder whether they might be right, although my preference at present is still to stay and fight for a Red-Green Europe.

  94. Martha says

    It seems to me that part of the disagreement on this thread has to do not so much with the difference between dictionary atheism and other views of atheism, but with what kind of atheism is worthy of our time and effort. I have no problem conceding that the lack of belief in the supernatural imposes no obligation to embrace feminism, or anti-racism, or any other social justice movement. I just think that atheism without social justice is not worth a lot of my time and energy. I think that’s part of what Asher Kay was saying when he opined that mere atheism isn’t a useful position if you want to do anything normative with it.

    Atheism certainly leads to the conclusion that there is only one life to live, but I’m not sure it supports– by itself– the conclusion that all human beings are equal. When the Ayn Rand acolytes assume that they’re superior to others without their great talents (ignoring luck, of course) and therefore deserve more than others, they’re not being bad atheists. They’re being miserable human beings.

    An acceptance that we have only one life to live can just as easily to the view that I’d better get mine before I die as to the view that I have an obligation to help prevent suffering in this world. So I actually disagree with PZ’s contention that atheism necessarily leads to egalitarianism, but I completely agree with him that we must use our empathy to define out morality, and that empathy naturally leads to egalitarianism.

    However we define the terms, I have no wish to work closely with people who reject social justice, be they atheists or theists. The only difference is, if they’re atheists (or secularist theists), I’m willing to hold my nose and work together with them on issues of social justice for atheists (which even the most misogynistic, anti-SJ atheists seem to value), while I’m unlikely to share any common causes with anti-SJ theists.

  95. says

    Ichthyic 19 May 2013 at 9:30 pm (UTC -5)

    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible “recognising fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism?

    no.
    A+ is a recognition that in fact equal rights DO follow from atheism, but like any other derived conclusion, needs to be nurtured within the community since otherwise it will be ignored by those less introspective, and those who would prefer not to have their personal privileges examined. nice try though.

    No.
    Atheism follows from critical thinking. Feminism follows from critical thinking. If there had never been religion, then there would not be atheism. I(we) would still support feminism. It results from critical thinking.
     
    Critical thinking is the beginning of rational conclusions. Saying that feminism follows from atheism is like saying that science follows from atheism because ‘well, if there is no magic, then science.’ The problem with that is that you wouldn’t know there is no such thing as magic without scientific thought in the first place. Same with fucking feminism. As little kids we know about sharing and equality before we can conceive of god, or religion, and we do not have to be taught religion to learn atheism which then causes feminism. Occam’s razor and all that. Critical thinking -> atheism. Critical thinking -> environmentalism. Critical thinking -> economic equality. Critical thinking -> racial equality. Staring to notice a pattern here, icthyic?
     
    Isn’t the whole point of having A+ that all the sensible
      “recognizing fellow humans as deserving equal rights” stuff does not directly follow from atheism? – That it needs to be nurtured within the community since otherwise it will be ignored by those less introspective?
     

    Introspection -> understanding our personal values -> feminism. I never once equated feminism with atheism, and many others here state the same thing. That comes from critical thinking and empathy.
     
    The Bible says that we should love others as we love ourselves. The Bible says we should give to the needy.

    Following your logic, we should hate others. Following your logic, we should be selfish, because hey, if the Bible says it, it must be wrong! Animal sacrifice, wrong! Women are possessions, wrong! Killing babies, WRONG! We DON’T NEED to be atheist to see this, and being atheist doesn’t mean you suddenly think a certain way, or we would all think the same way about everything already

    I mean, aren’t we always having to tell many Christians that atheists have morals, and they come from a sense of compassion and empathy?
     
    Feminism is a moral value, we arrive at it by having compassion. And we don’t arrive at compassion because we think religion is wrong. We arrive at it by thinking, critically, that “if I don’t like being treated as a slave, then why would anyone? Hey, women are people with feelings, like me, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that they don’t want what I don’t want, and that is to not be thought of as properties and receptacles for anger and abuse.
     
    I am not an environmentalist because I am an atheist – I am an environmentalist, and an atheist, (and a feminist), because they are the results of critical thinking, not because the bible is against them.

    Yes, it might, … might… be expected, that an atheist would also be a feminist, and suppose that they do go hand in hand – that is a correlation, not a causation.

    See, now I went and made a long post. I was doing so well ;)

  96. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Nick Gotts

    My reply was rather long and, as interesting as this conversation is, we are beginning to derail the thread so I posted in Thunderdome :) Hope you don’t mind.

  97. mnb0 says

    I believed in equal rights long before I decided to call myself an atheist, so I’m with RB here. Moreover deriving equal rights from atheism smells too much like an is-ought fallacy to me. I think you lack skepticism in this respect, PZ.

    “My atheism entails …”
    “So now my atheism compels me …”
    That’s yóúr atheism, PZ – and largely mine too. But ours is not the only one, so Feynman’s quote applies – you should consider the possibility that you are fooling yourself by constructing a logical sequence that isn’t really logical.
    Anyhow, if I ever would convert (highly unlikely as I just decided to grant myself a 7 on the scale of Dawkins) I would make sure to pick a religion which doctrine includes equal rights. So no Abrahamisms.

  98. ivycannon says

    Perhaps it’s time to put your own house in order and make women equal partners at Freethought Blogs. It doesn’t seem right that it’s run by a couple of old white men.

  99. says

    @brive1987

    Asher, I may be wrong but I imagine many here feel that making feminism dependant on (presumably) subjective values statements sounds like an equivocation.

    If true, this is really unfortunate. Many people argue that values can be placed at least to some extent in the physical world. For example, purpose- or goal-directed (philosophers call it “teleological”) behavior is value-based, and the way some self-organized systems seek to preserve themselves is based on their very physical structure.

    It also seems unfortunate that we get caught up in the subjective/objective dichotomy. “Objective” reasoning often requires presupposed statements, just like moral reasoning. And value-based statements can be be used in reasoning. This reasoning:

    Premise: All blue things should be disposed of.
    Premise: All snarflets are blue.
    Conclusion: All snarflets should be disposed of.

    works just as well logically as:

    Premise: All blue things eat bacon
    Premise: All snarflets are blue.
    Conclusion: All snarflets eat bacon.

    As I said in my original comment, if we try to establish the minimal and most widely acceptable value-based statements necessary to get us to our conclusion, value-based arguments aren’t really at a disadvantage. Any argument is going to require setting out its needed assumptions. That some of those are value-based statements doesn’t affect the validity of the argument — and we tend to accept or reject them using the same sorts of intuitions that we use for “objective” assumptions.

    TL;DR: value-based statements are not inferior.

    PZ has previously stated some things like slavey are “non subjectively” wrong. So while it may not be philosophically pure to say that feminism “logically follows” from atheism to say anything else in the public space is opening a wedge space.

    That may be true. But from my perspective, it can be overcome by arguing rigorously. If you make clear what is value-based and what is not in your argument, and you make your chain of reasoning clear, there’s no foothold for bringing in things like the subjective/objective dichotomy. You have the assumptions (which people can accept or reject) and the argument (which people can find flaws in or not) — nothing more needs to be imported.

    But nobody expects blog posts to establish rigorous frameworks for connecting atheism and feminism. The whole “opinion article” framework, in my opinion, isn’t going to be sufficient for convincing organizations to expand their focus.

  100. says

    Ivycannon:
    FtB is not run by a couple of old white men. PZ is not in charge of the place. That would be Ed Brayton. And there is a diverse group of bloggers here. The point is giving a platform to a diverse group of people, not eliminating all the ‘old white men’. I think FtB has done a good job in that vein.

  101. says

    @echidna

    Ichthyic has a science background, and the words you are using as if everyone should know them have different meanings in different academic disciplines.

    Yeah, the fault was mine there. I comment on philosophy blogs half the time, and the people here are so often intellectually inclined that I forget that the readership is different. Luckily, the term “normative” is simple and easily clarified.

    @Jacob Schmidt and @gruebleen

    Thanks for the kind words :)

  102. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @ivycannon

    Since FtB is not an actual, physical space or an organisation with the financial power needed to sponsor it, I doubt it.

  103. ivycannon says

    What is your definition of bullshitting?– Does it apply to everyone who doesn’t practice your brand of feminism? Does everyone here have to agree on what is and isn’t bullshit (or face banning?)

    My point is that FTB needs to get their own house in order before telling everyone else they are doing it wrong. Can you hear anyone other than yourselves without flying of the handle and calling for a witch hunt? I hope all of you that are calling for people to lose their jobs have something similar happen to you.

    Moreover, I think that because you thiink you are the experts on women in secularism– you should run the conferences instead of making life hell for those who aren’t doing it the way you think it should be done.

  104. says

    ivycannon;
    My first notice of you was your post #111, and my second was #115.
     
    A little tip: people interested in actual discussion don’t throw poo. You are way too obvious.

  105. ivycannon says

    I also think it’s weird that FTB wants to dictate everyone else’s harrassment policies, but it has no harrassment of it’s own. Posters here can harrass people at will. Then you ban people and talk about them and don’t let them respond. Then you mount a fatwa about them if they talk about you on some other space and try to get the “secular community” to “shun” them.

    It’s getting old.

    I’m a feminist. But I am not a FTB type femist.

  106. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    witch hunts, fatwa…
    you forgot to accuse “FTB bullies” of lynching people

  107. says

    No, ivycannon. If you actually read the threads around here you’d know that disagreement is the norm, actually.
     
    You just happen to be transparently throwing poo.

  108. says

    Q: What type of feminist uses the term “witch hunt” unironically to describe substantive feminist criticism of allied organizations and individuals who express problematic views?

    A: The stupid kind. Alternately, the kind that’s lying through their teeth about being a feminist.

  109. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @ivycannon

    What is your definition of bullshitting?– Does it apply to everyone who doesn’t practice your brand of feminism?

    No, but it does apply to people who come onto a thread throwing clearly contrived “grievances” with FtB around (absolutely no one could fairly claim that FtB does not do it’s best to promote diversity) before JAQing off everywhere and making the thread all sticky; e.g. you.

  110. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Fuck me, the phrase “witch hunt” has lost all meaning at this point…

  111. karpad says

    My own journey had feminism predate atheism in any meaningful sense. I was never a believer. My Jewish background was always more a statement of cultural identity than actual belief in the existence of a supernatural being, even as a child. But while I didn’t believe, I didn’t really draw inferences about what that means until high school. Prior to that it was unexamined in detail. But even from a young age, feminism was present in my family life, and sexism was something I saw and understood needed resistance. I was fighting for that well before I made any connection that religion is categorically sexist.

    I’m totally in favor of advancing the narrative linking the two, since encouraging anyone who is one but not the other to embrace both would be better for everyone. But I think Blackford is right. In the hypothetical Revelation Event that somehow convinced me, I don’t think I would stop being feminist simply because a hyperpowerful alien being somehow demonstrated it created the universe and humanity with deliberate intent. That wouldn’t change that treating half the human race as inferior, subject to abuse and without agency, is a shitty thing to do. Even if that hyperpowerful alien then personally said that yes, he really did set down a bunch of rules to treat women shittily. Even if this supreme alien were to use his obscene power, either controlling free will or simply threat of horrific punishment, to command me to follow his sexist rules, I would think he was a jerk with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t think that misogyny was morally right.

    Feminism does follow from atheism, but it isn’t the only way to reach that conclusion, and it merely sounds like Blackford was saying that, for him, that isn’t how he arrived.

  112. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Also ivycannon I believe each FTBlog has their own policies vis a vis harassment. I invite you strongly to read the Pharyngula Standards & Practices. Including You don’t get to criticize people for what they are, so don’t bother with your gendered, racist, classist, or ableist insults, but please do tear into bad ideas.

    Mostly we harass bad ideas. Though if the poster, through persistent posting of idiocies, shows no sign of intelligent thinking we may follow that to the natural conclusion that they have the cognitive ability of a cabbage.

    Banning is usually reserved for repeated acts of trollage, though they get extra points towards that if it turns out they come from the slymepit. It’s possible there are some people who can make intelligent points who hang out there, but we’ve yet to discover any who come over here from there and do so.

  113. monesy says

    Whether one is a philosophical deist or an atheist are both equally trivial and irrelevant with regard to being pro-feminist.

    If PZ were replace his utterances ‘atheism’ with ‘critical thought’, his argument would be a lot more robust. He’d be correctly identifying the very root of humanism, atheism, and feminism, not to mention the toolkit that he has rather narrowly labelled ‘atheism’ (Of course, he is free to still call it whatever he likes.). In fact, I wonder if, upon this revision, PZ’s argument would then resemble Blackford’s argument. It seems that it likely would, although admittedly, I haven’t read Blackburn’s argument beyond PZ’s comic sans fonted passage.

  114. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Yes, yes ivy, we know. You’re just disagreeing and the liars, stalkers and harassers are really just critics, but calling out bigoted, dishonest and threatening behavior is totes a witch hunt/fatwa/shunning. We’re after all, obligated to give you this space to lie and make horrible arguments in, because of your freeze peach. If we point out how dishonest and badly thought out your arguments are, that is harassing you…clearly. I mean you didn’t choose to come here and you’re special. You don’t have to support your claims or even make sure you have your facts straight. After all, banning here means you can’t possibly post anywhere else or run your own blog however you like. That’s just reality, right? Also, up is down, love is hate and I’m America’s next top model! (..and why not? *in Zoidburg voice*) We’re the real harassers, not the people sending rape threats, telling women to get out of the movement for daring to speak out, doxxing them or photo-shopping their faces onto porn. I mean, we used non-bigoted insults and bad words, which is awful, but calling women cunts is just freedom of speech and if that offends us it’s because we’re weak and prudish while simultaneously being gestapo inquisitors with the power to ban people forever from teh intrawebs.

    There, there, Brave Hero. Have a nice cup of tea. Those mental gymnastics must have made you dizzy.

    The “brand” of feminism the people you support claim looks just like anti-feminism to people who know what the fuck feminism is.

    And ivy, if I act like a complete ass and fail miserably at my job one day, I also hope I’m fired. I’d rather not be a boorish burden on an organization I care about. I don’t mind at all being told I’m wrong. Because it causes me to reflect and correct myself. If I were to lend my support to bigots while creating a chilly climate for minorities at an event for those minorities, I would not expect to be allowed to represent the organization that held the event anymore.

  115. dshetty says

    Russell is technically correct – he is also a philosopher so they spend a lot of time on technical correctness, which is a part of their job profile.

    Practically speaking however if you give up religion you have no good reason to be against feminism – but that’s not a philosophical conclusion.

  116. daniellavine says

    Whether one is a philosophical deist or an atheist are both equally trivial and irrelevant with regard to being pro-feminist.

    If PZ were replace his utterances ‘atheism’ with ‘critical thought’, his argument would be a lot more robust. He’d be correctly identifying the very root of humanism, atheism, and feminism, not to mention the toolkit that he has rather narrowly labelled ‘atheism’ (Of course, he is free to still call it whatever he likes.).

    Practically speaking however if you give up religion you have no good reason to be against feminism – but that’s not a philosophical conclusion.

    This is only the case if you concede that philosophers are using language correctly and that the 6 billion or so human beings who are not philosophers are using it incorrectly.

    But that is not the case.

  117. monesy says

    This is only the case if you concede that philosophers are using language correctly and that the 6 billion or so human beings who are not philosophers are using it incorrectly.

    But that is not the case.

    My comment doesn’t require this at all. No philosophy degree or conflation is required.

    Perhaps you are referring to dshetty’s comment? I don’t believe his/her argument requires it either. It appears that dshetty is simply pointing out a reason for the correlation between atheism and pro-feminism, while still admitting that atheism still does not logically necessitate pro-feminism.

  118. markbrown says

    I became a feminist long before identifying as an atheist, though this just goes to show how little importance religion had in the day-to-day lives of people my age in the UK. In truth I was an atheist while attending church and singing in the church choir; My attendance was purely based on enjoying singing, and having good friends at the church.

    If I had not been a feminist before, however, it would still have followed after I identified as an atheist, because it was at this time I was actively questioning and learning the truth (and lack thereof) of what society had been teaching me from birth. So yeah, I totally agree with PZ here.

  119. blbt5 says

    You’re either a feminist or not. A “pro-feminist” is just a fellow traveler.

  120. ivycannon says

    I see– so you are telling me to “shut up and listen”– because I am not the right kind of feminist/woman.

    Well, some here might want to try and take their own advice before dishing it out to others. (Or keep your fingers in your ears and keep patting yourself on your backs about all the good you imagine you are achieving while achieving nothing at all.)

    FTB-Skepchick doesn’t want equality for women– it wants equality for women who think like them. I think that’s pretty clear to everyone now, and I’m guessing the invitations for speaking engagment will dry up because of this– which is ironic, because this is the group that tried to be the power that made this happen to others. You wanted to make Dawkins, Kirby, Smith, Shermer, Vacula, etc. into the pariahs– but it’s you who are the pariahs now. You are being shunned in the ways that you tried to get them shunned.

    You want the freedom to criticize others but are completely unable to tolerate the same when it comes back to you. You want skeptic organizations to kowtow to your demands, but even peace making opportunities are shat upon when offered to you. You are unable to apologize and no apology is ever good enough when made to the FTB-skepchick cult. You make American atheists look privileged, petty, loud-mouthed, demanding, and self-absorbed to those outside the U.S., and I suspect that atheist Ireland is not eagerly anticipating the FTB-skepchick panelists it has invited. You tried to make others into pariahs, but instead its you have become the ones no one else relates to or wants to be around. And you tell yourselves that it’s because you are “winning” something or other– and that those who don’t want anything to do with you are all misogynists anyhow. You’re hypocrisy and professional victimhood have made you fodder for humor across the secular-atheist community… at least amongst groups that have heard of this nuttery. People find those that you’ve tried to silence to be much bigger and better people than you. And no one else thinks they are the misogynists you’ve tried to convince others they are. The people you’ve labeled as misogynists are NOT the anonymous internet users making rape threats who may or may not even exist. None of them want to take away womens rights. All of them believe in equality.

    I AM a feminist and I think the term witch hunt applies– or McCarthyism if you prefer. Or perhaps a Lord of the Flies reference. You have tried to destroy those who don’t think skep “chick” and goofy ceramic jewelery and PZ are very good examples of feminism nor strong women nor rational thought.

    You exaggerate or make up reasons to vilify others and are utterly blind to your bigger more glaring faults. You foster hate towards people once you get a whiff that they might have a fondness with anyone you have declared a “misogynist” or “chill girl”. You think people should be eager to hear your opinions of them while being utterly unwilling to even consider the tiniest bit of criticism in return. You shun people if they don’t shun who you demand that they shun! And you are huge hypocrites– and now everyone knows. What in the world do you imagine you are achieving? What have you achieved? Who has this benefitted? Which women or under represented group has been bettered by FTB’s foray into feminism/ social justice work? To me, it looks like all the best people have said a few nice vague things and fled not wanting to get sucked into the crazy.

    I was one of you… I used to post here… you are “friends” with me on facebook. But I am scared of what you have become and so now I hide from you. As I’m sure many others do to. I pretend I don’t know about all the crazy that has gone on. I never mention it in real life. I ignore it on facebook. I post at sites that aren’t involved.

    You may wish to start running your own cult… er conferences –with your own harrassment policies where you can pretend to care about those outside your group as you demonize those who have contributed much more than you and pretend that your first world coffee in elevator concerns are more important than real problems that the rest of us have to face. Your double standard for how you treat “in group” members versus how you treat “out group” members is looking more and more like Scientology and I predict success for those you tried to destroy and increasing irrelevence for the FTB-skepchick alliance.

    But, what goes around tends to come back around. You are the ones who will be marginalized now. I suspect that the vast majority of secular woman want nothing to do with what is going on at FTB-Skepchick… that you do not speak for them.

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You are the ones who will be marginalized now.

    Citation needed, or you are a liar and bullshitter. But then, I don’t need a lack of citation to convince me of the truth. Your attitudes are script #9 from the Slymepit.

  122. says

    Haha, that was funny. You’re scared of FTB and us. What are we going to do to you? Say mean things… and then leave you alone. Boo!

    Hint: it’s the “leaving alone” part that makes it not harassment.

  123. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and Ivy, if you are serious about discussing issues, it all starts with “this is what I believe, and this [link to the google scholar evidence] is what backs that up”. Funny how those who complain about feminism, etc., like you, never, ever, do that….

  124. jodyp says

    If these clowns are silenced I’d sure hate to see them when they speak freely.

  125. dshetty says

    @daniellavine
    This is only the case if you concede that philosophers are using language correctly and that the 6 billion or so human beings who are not philosophers are using it incorrectly.
    When you use the word “logically follow” as a philosopher or mathematician , its not used in the same sense as the general population. The general population(including me) use logical as a synonym for the more weaker reasoning.
    Language is a funny thing – for e.g. see the word theory in maths v/s science v/s detective novels v/s creationists v/s general population :)

  126. chigau (違う) says

    … keep your fingers in your ears and keep patting yourself on your backs…

    I tried this and I think I tore something.
    —-
    But I guess ivycannon sure told us.
    Does anyone know what ivycannon told us?

  127. unclefrogy says

    there is something about this discussion that seems left out.
    regardless of any other reasoning from any of the sides of whether feminism that understanding all humans are equal as regardless of what sex they are and that it is an extension atheism or it is one of the conclusions derived from atheism.
    the opposite, patriarchy needs to be enforced by rules external to the individual.
    It is not a philosophical question given the choice women will choose equality over subjugation.
    as will most men. except maybe the faithful.
    uncle frogy

  128. says

    ivycannon claims to have been someone who used to post here.
     
    I don’t recall them ever posting anything.
     
    Were the posts as lacking in actual content as ivycannon’s recent posts have been?
     
    If so, it’s no wonder I don’t remember them.
     
    On the other hand, since ivycannon seems to make statements that bear little relation to reality, it could be that the claims of having posted before are also non-reality-based.
     
    Either way, I don’t think I missed anything.

  129. says

    Why can’t these douchebags stay away if FtB is so repulsive to them? Ivycannon clearly has made up hir mind about everything that is FtB (I wonder how many blogs xe has read here), but decided to share hir mind with us. As if we’ve never heard this BS before. Unevidenced BS as that. The talking points of all the anti-FtB crowd, with nothing new. Yawn.
    Do they get paid to come here to show off their stupidity?

  130. alwayscurious says

    But I guess ivycannon sure told us.
    Does anyone know what ivycannon told us?

    Projection–it’s more about ivycannon than anyone else.

  131. anteprepro says

    FTB-Skepchick doesn’t want equality for women– it wants equality for women who think like them.

    “The gay rights movement doesn’t want equality for gays- it wants equality for gays who don’t oppose the idea of gays being treated equally!”

    Here’s the clue: Even if they are opposing the fight for equality, we are still fighting for equality. We don’t have plans to somehow push the Overton Window, reduce discrimination against women, fight against patriarchy and rigid gender roles, cause broad social changes that benefit women, and somehow prevent women who opposed all that from happening from reaping the benefits. Not only is that needlessly spiteful, it is near fucking impossible. And I don’t know what fever dream where you discovered this nefarious plot of ours, but the most dastardly thing we do to anti-feminist women is criticize them and not give them speaking engagements in feminism oriented events. Oh, the Inequality!

    You want the freedom to criticize others but are completely unable to tolerate the same when it comes back to you. You want skeptic organizations to kowtow to your demands, but even peace making opportunities are shat upon when offered to you.

    Where is a BOTH SIDES shouting fencesitter when you need ‘em?

    professional victimhood…
    I think the term witch hunt applies…
    first world coffee in elevator concerns are more important than real problems

    If you were trying to cram MRA memes into the post, you could have done a bit of a better job. If you were trying to hide the fact that you have a perception of events heavily skewed by MRA talking points, you could have done a much better job.

    You have tried to destroy those who don’t think skep “chick” and goofy ceramic jewelery and PZ are very good examples of feminism nor strong women nor rational thought….You exaggerate or make up reasons to vilify others….But I am scared of what you have become and so now I hide from you. As I’m sure many others do to.

    So I take it amateur victimhood is acceptable to you folks? And that exaggeration is all well and good as long as a good hearted person on the side of Truth and Justice is doing it, and not us filthy uppity angry folks? Didn’t you have some sort of issue with hypocrisy? Is this a case of “Hypocrisy for me, but not for thee?”

    I predict success for those you tried to destroy and increasing irrelevence for the FTB-skepchick alliance.

    And why is your prediction worth jack shit? Are you a social movement meterologist or something? Or a psychic? I mean, either show your work, or give me some winning lotto numbers, dammit!

  132. jagwired says

    You may wish to start running your own cult… er conferences –with your own harrassment policies where you can pretend to care about those outside your group as you demonize those who have contributed much more than you and pretend that your first world coffee in elevator concerns are more important than real problems that the rest of us have to face.

    ivycannon,
    Kudos to you for taking up the brave and heroic fight against those that would impose their McCarthy-ish witch hunts under the banner of “harassment policies”. What nerve these Bullies have, trying to attend a conference while not taking the time to listen to the other side of the debate. Do they think they’re entitled to all the frozen peaches?

  133. says

    @155:
    I’m not certain how to parse this comment.
    Part of me can see a sarcastic ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’, but then there’s a part of me that can see it being straightforward.
    Enh, maybe it is bedtime.

  134. anteprepro says

    It is sarcasm Tony. To reassure yourself of that: Reread the final sentence.

  135. Ichthyic says

    FTB wants to dictate everyone else’s harrassment policies, but it has no harrassment of it’s own. Posters here can harrass people at will.

    while clutching your pearls on your fainting couch, you might actually want to spend some time looking up what the word “harassment” actually means.

    …because insulting you for being the ass that you are is not it.

  136. Ichthyic says

    Is every disagreement with the party line “throwing poo”?

    I’m genuinely curious exactly what you think the “party line” is?

    spell it out.

  137. jagwired says

    Tony! The Virtual Queer Shoop,

    Sorry, I should have capitalized BRAVE, HEROIC and OTHER SIDE to make the sarcasm a little clearer.

  138. David Marjanović says

    ivycannon claims to have been someone who used to post here.

    I don’t recall them ever posting anything.

    They’re hiding from us, didn’t you see? Obviously that means a new name and a new e-mail address (that’s what the avatar is hashed from, and I’ve never seen it before).

  139. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Is this a case of “Hypocrisy for me, but not for thee?”

    Which is in itself hypocritical. Ah, the irony.

  140. thedude says

    ekwhite

    I now find Xtianity mostly incompatinle with social justice, with a few exceptions.

    From that statement I would guess that you are a citizen of the USA. I find the US christians to be particularly abhorrent. This might be because of selection bias, as one could argue that only the worst examples makes it to international media. There are many examples of christians who have been, and are on the right side of some social justice issues. You have the famous people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu, but there are also the liberation theologists in South America.

    Here in Norway the Christian Democratic party, which are against many rights for gay people and women, are the staunchest defenders of the development aid budget and support a liberal refugee policy:

    Program for the norwegian Christian Democratic Party

    Recently several priests and other church employees broke a local ordinance which bans sleeping outdoors in Oslo as a protest after the ordinance was extended from banning sleeping in parks to banning sleeping in any public areas in the city. The extension of the ordinance was caused by an influx of Romani people the last couple of years:


    Breaking the law

    My point is that there are many christians who are on the right side in some social issues, but they are usually on the wrong side (from my point of view) in other social issues. The world is not black and white, neither is it a large number of nuances of grey, it is a large number of nuances of every color imaginable. Those who claim that it is black and white are, at best, committing intellectual laziness.

  141. thedude says

    PZ Myers:

    No, Blackford deserves it. He’s become deeply demented in the last few years.

    PZ Myers:

    You don’t get to criticize people for what they are, so don’t bother with your gendered, racist, classist, or ableist insults

    WTF?

  142. Stacy says

    Moreover, I think that because you thiink you are the experts on women in secularism– you should run the conferences instead of making life hell for those who aren’t doing it the way you think it should be done

    The Women in Secularism conference is not “run” by Ron Lindsay. It is “run”–conceived and organized–by Melody Hensley.

    Melody Hensley has the gratitude and support of every single person who attended the conference in good faith.

    Our problem is not with the woman who ran the conference. Our problem is with Ron Lindsay, who shat upon her, the speakers, and the conference-goers at the outside in his condesplaining opening speech.

  143. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My point is that there are many christians who are on the right side in some social issues, but they are usually on the wrong side (from my point of view) in other social issues. The world is not black and white, neither is it a large number of nuances of grey, it is a large number of nuances of every color imaginable. Those who claim that it is black and white are, at best, committing intellectual laziness

    As are you by not taking the time to understand the USA experience, and how besoaked in toxic fundamentalist religion it is. Then you should stop pontificating from your ignorance. It is black and white here.

  144. Amphiox says

    re #164;

    It is a good thing then, isn’t it, that nobody here of significance has ever claimed the issue was black and white.

  145. anteprepro says

    This might be because of selection bias, as one could argue that only the worst examples makes it to international media. There are many examples of christians who have been, and are on the right side of some social justice issues.

    Speaking of “selection bias”, I’ve always thought that the “here’s some Christians who advocated for social justice!” defense smacks of the base rate fallacy. There are a ton of fucking Christians, you see. A ton with a fucking ton of power. And consistently, someone looks at the sample of champions of social justice, sees some Christians in there, and proceed to tut-tut those black and white thinkers who associate Christianity with opposing social justice. Christians are 75% of the American population. Assuming a 50/50 split on any given social justice issue, assuming that Christians make up 100% of any given side, the other side will have the remaining 25% of Christians, meaning that it is half Christian. So, sure, one side can be blatantly more Christian than the other, but the other can still have a significant number of Christians. That’s the nature of their numbers: It cannot be otherwise when they make up 3/4’s of the population without meaning that there is effectively no chance for debate. But it is hardly a credit to Christians, especially when I sincerely doubt that the side that is majority Christian is the side of social justice. Sadly, I don’t even have reason to suspect that Christianity is neutral on the subject, and that the number of Christians on any given side of the issue is a matter of chance, meaning both sides would be roughly 75% Christian. No, it seems that consistently the anti-social justice side skews higher in terms of religiosity, skews higher in terms of volume of Christians, and definitely skews higher in terms of religious rhetoric. Which makes sense, given that it is consistently a right-leaning position in a country with a right-wing that merrily courts theocracy. In America at least, conservatism correlates with religion and religiosity. There is just no way around it: Even with Christians supporting social justice, opposition to social justice is Christianity’s primary side, because it is the Republican’s primary side. Even though there are plenty of non-Republican Christians, the vast majority of Republicans are Christian, and thus a majority of Christians are Republicans.

  146. Ichthyic says

    From that statement I would guess that you are a citizen of the USA. I find the US christians to be particularly abhorrent. This might be because of selection bias, as one could argue that only the worst examples makes it to international media

    yes because UK xians like Tony Blair are so much better…

  147. anteprepro says

    Just to make it clear that I’m not just conjecturing:

    The religious are significantly more anti-gay. (See also: Duh)
    Link between religiosity and racism , mostly as part of in-group/out-group dynamics. (See also: The Authoritarians )
    Personal and national religiosity correlate with views antithetical to gender equity. (See also: Fundamentalist sexism ).

    And the piece linking it all together: Homophobia is linked to racism is linked to sexism is linked to religiosity.

    It may not be black and white, but the contrast is still fucking there.

  148. thedude says

    John Morales:

    WTF WTF?

    Are you so used to him breaking his own rules that you don’t react anymore?

  149. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    thedude #165

    PZ was criticisng Blackford for the demented ideas he espouses, not for what he is. Is that a particuarly difficult distinction?

  150. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @anteprepro

    In America at least, conservatism correlates with religion and religiosity.

    In the UK too.

  151. thedude says

    Thumper:

    PZ was criticisng Blackford for the demented ideas he espouses, not for what he is.

    No, he wasn’t criticizing Blackfords ideas, he was calling him demented:

    PZ Myers #17

    He’s become deeply demented in the last few years.

    Thumper:

    Is that a particuarly difficult distinction?

    No it isn’t, that’s why I find it strange that you get it wrong.

  152. John Morales says

    [meta]

    No, he [PZ] wasn’t criticizing Blackfords ideas, he was calling him demented:

    He did both.

  153. Ichthyic says

    No, he wasn’t criticizing Blackfords ideas, he was calling him demented:

    and how do you know Blackford hasn’t?

    PZ knows him pretty well, and they have a long history.

    can you claim the same?

  154. Ichthyic says

    Are you so used to him breaking his own rules that you don’t react anymore?

    are you so used to trolling you don’t even pay attention to what you’re saying any more?

  155. says

    From that statement I would guess that you are a citizen of the USA. I find the US christians to be particularly abhorrent. This might be because of selection bias, as one could argue that only the worst examples makes it to international media

    yes because UK xians like Tony Blair are so much better…

    Or Finnish ones like Päivi Räsänen. Whenever she opens her mouth it’s obvious she’s just as bigoted as the average Klansman, but she’s slowly learning to not mouth off because of great backlash. And she’s our minister of interior, for fuck’s sake.

  156. thedude says

    Weed Monkey:

    Or Finnish ones like Päivi Räsänen.

    The fact that nearly 40.000 members left her church after she participated in a tv debate about same-sex marriage shows that she is perceived as extreme by her fellow christians. It also shows that I am right when I claim that not all christians are all bad. But when it comes to attitudes towards LGBT rights, my experience is that the average christians that I have met are several decades behind the average atheists that I have met.

  157. Ichthyic says

    It also shows that I am right when I claim that not all christians are all bad.

    this is trivial, and not a point worth making.

  158. Ichthyic says

    Or Finnish ones like Päivi Räsänen.

    yes, I believe she visited NZ a couple months back, and managed to insult the entire Maori population during her visit.

    which, of course, the National government here apologised for…

    *sigh*

  159. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But when it comes to attitudes towards LGBT rights, my experience is that the average christians that I have met are several decades behind the average atheists that I have met.

    Thank for backing what PZ said. You have no point. Gee, that seems to be your MO, complaining unnecessarily in some hopes of finding PZ is a fiend. Look in the mirror for one.

  160. thedude says

    Ichthyic:

    are you so used to trolling you don’t even pay attention to what you’re saying any more?

    It is pretty weak of you to accuse me of trolling when I point out that the blog owner doesn’t follow his own rules.

  161. Ichthyic says

    It is pretty weak of you to accuse me of trolling when I point out that the blog owner doesn’t follow his own rules.

    LOL

    actually, it’s spot on.

    you just reinforced it with yet more stinky bait.

  162. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It is pretty weak of you to accuse me of trolling when I point out that the blog owner doesn’t follow his own rules.

    What rules? You invent some?

  163. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @TheDude #178

    Thumper:

    Is that a particuarly difficult distinction?

    No it isn’t, that’s why I find it strange that you get it wrong.

    “Psychological projection was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world instead. Thus, projection involves psychically expelling one’s negative qualities onto others, and is a common psychological process. Theoretically, projection and the related projective identification reduces anxiety by allowing the unconscious expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires through displacement.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    I am assuming you don’t often experience anxiety?

  164. thedude says

    Thumper:

    I am assuming you don’t often experience anxiety?

    Your problem seems to be that you assume a lot, but know very little.

  165. John Morales says

    [meta]

    thedude, this thread is not about whether PZ breaches his own commenting rules nor is it about you, but rather about Russell Blackford (@Metamagician) making a problematic assertion on twitter.

    (Thunderdome is the place for out-of-topic sniping)

    See, like this:

    Take the claim that My stance as a pro-feminist man does NOT follow from the fact that I am an atheist.

    This is perfectly compatible with his stance as a pro-feminist man being a result of the same epistemology and reasoning as that which results him being an atheist.

    (It’s a prevarication)

  166. thedude says

    “Nerd”:

    Thank for backing what PZ said. You have no point. Gee, that seems to be your MO, complaining unnecessarily in some hopes of finding PZ is a fiend.

    If you had read the thread you would have seen that this part of the discussion started with me giving “ekwhite” examples that showed that christianity wasn’t incompatible with social justice, it has nothing directly to do with PZ. Ekwhite states that s/he comes from a “fundamentalist christian” (I don’t like that expression, “fascist christian” seems more accurate to me) background, so I can understand that it appears like that to him/her like that. I come from a more liberal european christian background and therefore my experience is quite different. Usually when I was at a christian meeting as a child there was either a collection of money or a raffle where the money was given to some good cause, usually in poorer countrys. The money was as far as I know given through christian organizations so they were probably preaching while they gave them food, water, etc. I have chosen to support non-christian organizations since I became an atheist, but I am able to see that the christian organization also can do some good. The reason that I find it important to mention that christianity isn’t incompatible with social justice is that I don’t want to give the “fundamentalists” the power to define what christianity is. I would prefer that people were atheists, but as I was born into a christian family I understand that it can be difficult to leave a religion, and I prefer liberal christians to “fundamentalists”.

  167. John Morales says

    [meta]

    thedude, your recital stuff that you believe and opinion you hold about various religious and social issues may be all very ego-soothing for you, but very boring to everyone else — and worse, out of topic.

    Again: this thread is not about whether PZ breaches his own commenting rules nor is it about you, but rather about Russell Blackford (@Metamagician) making a problematic assertion on twitter.

    (Thunderdome is the place for out-of-topic sniping)