A+ haters, what have you got besides reactionary emotionalism?

Despite what people think the policy here is over at GroupThinkBorgBlogs, we’re all fine with trading ideas about how to pursue social justice, as long as they’re productive and positive ideas. After all, as Russell said, here at AXP, we’ve been doing “positive atheism” for years.

But we didn’t realize it was so utterly evil until now. According to this helpful comment

A+ is about sowing an “us vs them” mentality, of building a cult of personality, and demonizing anyone that dares question what the holy leaders may say. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I suggest you check out Richard Carrier’s blog post on the subject. A+ is about claiming that only you have virtue on your side and that if anyone ever disagrees with you about ANYTHING (or even just questions it) or even just doesn’t want to join your party, than they are a racist, homophobic, MRA (even if they happen to be a lesbian of color).

So you have fun with your little “split.” It helps the rest of us know who the irrational, non-thinkers are.

Wow. I must have missed the memo about fascistic I was supposed to be about all of this. Apparently, I must not tolerate anyone who disagrees with me, not only on subjects like social justice, but any subject whatsoever. Looks like I’m going to be a busy bee then.

WHAT!?!? You like peanut butter better than chocolate!?! FUCK YOOOOUUUUUU…..

So how much ostracizing and othering do I have to do to level up to being a holy leader of the personality cult? And when do I start scoring those hot hippie flower chicks?


  1. 'Tis Himself says

    First of all, Richard Carrier was speaking for himself. If you read the comments on his post, this would be obvious.

    Second, if you don’t like A+ for whatever reason, valid or not, there’s nobody holding a gun to your head and forcing you to join.

  2. KG says

    Whatever he might like to think, Carrier does not get to decide what Atheism+ means. If any one person could, it would presumably be Jen@Blag Hag, who came up with the idea (but I’m sure she doesn’t think she gets to make such decisions unilaterally either); she has a tweet up at present saying she finds Carrier’s, language “unnecessarily harsh, divisive and ableist”.

  3. says

    Which, I am sure, people like our helpful commenter will probably cite as an example of the A+ Politburo demonizing and stamping out all dissenters.

    Remember when the world had grown-ups in it, and we could have discussions about the things we didn’t agree on, and could criticize ideas and not the person holding the ideas?

  4. says

    I don’t agree with Carrier’s justifications and certainly don’t approve of his slur-slinging, but it’d be nice if all the anti-FtB/A+/whatever’s took their advice and read those comments. Here’s a guy who, after being unnecessarily harsh and called out for using slurs, apologized, corrected himself, and stopped. I have yet to see anything even approaching that from the slur-using, overly-harsh, Nazi-analogizing, vitriolic asshats on the other side. Yet more of their obvious, ridiculous double-standards.

  5. Tom Smith says

    Really? Does everything have to be hyperbole and snark? Don’t get me wrong, one’s my dessert to the other’s supper, but given the events that led to the deeming of a group like this necessary are so steeped in them, a more constructive, less combative style of debate would be a breath of fresh air.

  6. smhll says

    I thought RC’s post was good, but his responses to comments were far too hasty. I’m glad he apologized. I think he gives us a great example that we do need to refrain from assuming someone is a douchebag just because of the “flavor” of their argument.

    Hastily pigeon holing people is a form of prejudice or instant judgement that the human brain seems prone to do.

  7. says

    This doesn’t come from nowhere. Ignoring Richard Carrier, plenty of commenters have said similar stuff. I know from experience that social justice groups based on purity and defining themselves as no racists, no sexists, no classists will end up in a spiral because it encourages the idea that the more people you exclude, the better the movement is. If I can show how an alleged anti-racist activist is really a terrible racist, that means I am catchign the racism even alleged experts don’t see and am like a super anti-racist activist. Publicly confronting them about what an awful person they are just shows how I have no sacred cows and am really committed to anti-racism. This will likely lead to a situation where this person responds back and says my objections are themselves racist and thereafter creates two factions who will tell anyone who listens the other isn’t really anti-racist and is just trying ride the coattails of real anti-racists and is more interested in cookies than doing anything. For prominent examples, look at the American socialists.

    While I like the way Greta and Jen and Edwin have been talking about A+, lots of other people have been taking the new label as a chance to tell people “Fuck you! You’re not one of us.” This is sometimes necessary, but if you use it as a the basis of a movement, pretty soon you’ll find that all of us have someone else who thinks we’re an asshole.

  8. Kaylakaze says

    Don’t worry, Martin. You’ve LONG had your gold star in being an ostracizing dick.

    So now the commenters get to say “Atheism+ isn’t defined by anyone. It’s whatever you want it to mean.” You sound like a bunch of Xians bend out of shape and Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson.

  9. says

    You’ve LONG had your gold star in being an ostracizing dick.

    And it couldn’t happen to a nicer girl!

    Methinks the “lady” doth project too much.

  10. Kaylakaze says

    You’re one to talk, since I once tried to start a discussion about a topic you found questionable and you immediately started calling me a psychopath and screaming that I was trying to tell you want to do and that I should be thrown out of everything that ever exists.

  11. Tom Smith says

    A little from column A, a little from column B. Obviously you and Kaylakaze have some other previously established axes to grind. While the intarweb flame war is a well established form of entertainment, it is absolutely worthless in achieving the sort of valuable synthesis that the interaction of two separate frames of references can provide when done in a reasonable and respectful manner. If you’ve won your argument by delivering the burniest burn, then it was pretty pointless to begin with.

  12. Pinkamena Panic says

    Are you quite done with your immature tantrum? Yes? Good, now shut up, the adults are trying to have a discussion.

  13. Kaylakaze says

    I’d love to, but PZ nuked the comments. But as a reminder, it was when I suggested that maybe PZ should use his pulpit to raise money to cure sick children instead of using it to raise money to send them on vacation.

  14. says

    Tom, I have no idea who this lunatic is, and any vendetta she’s pursuing is entirely the product of whatever she’s using for a mind. Still, if she wishes to turn up here and make my point for me about the histrionic behaviors motivating some of the people opposed to A+ and FtB, I have no control over that. Then again, since she’s already made up her mind I’m chief of the Thought Police, I could just own the role and ban her, I suppose.

  15. Tom Smith says

    Great. Now I sound like a fucking concern troll. I guess I’m trying to wrap my head around exactly what Atheism+ is trying to accomplish that regular old Atheism is ill equipped to handle, since Atheism and more general skepticism have become conflated enough at this point as to be indistinguishable in most cases, and it is this skeptical mindset that allows us to ask the hard, uncomfortable questions, and look at the answers unflinchingly when they come to light.

  16. Kaylakaze says

    And for the record, many of us against A+ would be more than willing to have a civil discussion about why we disagree, yet so far, we’ve been ignored by those with the audiences.

  17. A+ Hermit says

    Well go ahead Kaylakaze; explain to me why you’re opposed to people self identifying as atheists who are also concerned about social justice. Cause I really don’t understand why that should be a problem for anyone.

  18. Tom Smith says

    Ah there’s that delicious snark I was missing. It’s somehow got a delightful piquancy when directed at oneself that is otherwise lacking. Thank you for your valuable and insightful contribution.

  19. says

    Okay, now I remember who you are. A quick update: the family of a girl with a terminal illness put up a fundraiser to fulfill the girl’s wish of visiting Disneyland before she died. PZ linked to it. Kayla turned up first in the comments, attacked the fundraising effort and the family, and insisted that money donated for something like this was totally wasted when it could be spent on other sick kids who could be saved, and so if you donated, you were evil because you were taking money from those kids. It was a stunningly stupid example of insensitive, emotional, and utterly nonsensical zero-sum thinking (and far from the mild “suggestion” she’s conveniently remembering it to be), and not only I but dozens of commenters immediately jumped in to condemn Kayla’s callousness and stupidity. PZ was so appalled by the whole thing that he thankfully deleted the entire thread and banned Kayla, because, free speech and differing views aside, the simple fact is that she was being despicably heartless and wrong, and she has the kind of ego that tells her that when everyone is opposing you, the thing to do is double down rather than admit you might have been at fault and to rethink your position. (I should also mention that that thread happened months, if not more than a whole year ago. That Kayla’s still obsessing over it after all this time ought to tell you things.)

    So, great, Kayla, now that I remember who you are, I can definitely say that in your case, there are some people in this world who are beyond respect and reason, and deserve ostracizing. Thanks for clarifying, and I will happily follow PZ’s example. Consider the thread duly fumigated. Can I collect my second gold star now?

  20. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    That was horrible behavior on your part, Kayla. PZ was right to nuke the comments. You should be ashamed.

  21. says

    Oh yes, never leave out the d-word, it’s a good one. Tell me, was your first comment here (quoted in the OP) an example of what you consider “civil discussion”? Then I don’t think that means what you think it means.

  22. says

    I guess I’m trying to wrap my head around exactly what Atheism+ is trying to accomplish that regular old Atheism is ill equipped to handle

    In short, social issues. The surprise has been that atheism, or at least it’s implementation on average, hasn’t been well equipped to handle that, for some reason. You’d think that skepticism and sexism would be mutually exclusive, but apparently not.

    Atheism+ is an attempt to balance the equation, apparently with a postfix operator.

  23. algi says

    Why do you think A+ needs defending by you? I mean, it has at least one jerky member, it is totally understandable that it gets attacked.

  24. Brownian says

    What could be more productive and civil than:

    You sound like a bunch of Xians bend out of shape and Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson.

    Gosh, just imagine what else we’re missing out on.

  25. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    A+ Hermit:

    Well go ahead Kaylakaze; explain to me why you’re opposed to people self identifying as atheists who are also concerned about social justice. Cause I really don’t understand why that should be a problem for anyone.

    I’m not sure what reasoned argument people like Kaylakaze have against A+.
    Aside from the crapfest Richard Carrier has ignited (and he’s not the leader of A+), I don’t agree with the few complaints I’ve heard from people criticizing A+.
    Given what Martin said about Kayla’s attitude in PZ’s thread, I’m not certain I *want* to engage with someone so insensitive.

  26. NH says

    The problem I have with “Atheism+” is almost entirely the name. If the idea is to make atheism open to a more diverse community (and that IS the stated goal), then choosing a name with elitist overtones is completely counter to that goal. And yes, Atheism+ DOES have elitist overtones.

    Nothing about the name tells you what the “plus” means. Those of you who are deep in the atheism movement may find the intended meaning of the term clear, but that’s because you ARE deep into the atheism movement. You are surrounded by the issues and apparently can’t see what it looks like from the outside. And since the goal is to make atheism more inviting to people that would otherwise feel uncomfortable joining, its what it looks like from the outside that is important.

    When someone on the outside hears “plus”, anti-sexism anti-bigotry is NOT going to be their first guess at what the plus means. Hell, it probably wouldn’t even be in their top ten guesses. For them, the “plus” could mean just about anything. But one thing for sure, it sounds elitist and exclusionary. And thus the name itself presents a barrier to the very thing you are trying to achieve.

    As I’ve said in another post, using a “A+” logo as a sort of seal of approval for conventions and such is fine. For that kind of usage it doesn’t matter if most people don’t know what it means. But as the name of a movement, I guarantee going forward with this name will bite you in the butt.

  27. jdog says

    What A+ is trying to accomplish is exactly the same thing as the atheism/skepticism movement (a/s, for brevity), with one difference. A+ says that certain behaviors that appear to be tolerated within a/s are offensive and/or ostracizing to others and should not be engaged in or endorsed, whether implicitly (and sometimes unknowlingly) or explicitly.

    This difference appears to be difficult to spot by those within a/s who endorse the behaviors, mostly the implicit ones. Those who engage in or explicitly endorse the behaviors seem to have no trouble at all spotting the difference, which they then misrepresent through hyberbole and other forms of dishonesty.

  28. Sonorus says

    I forget sometimes that most people are not used to reading bad reviews of themselves. You learn to ignore them. Oh, yes, I am happy to use the good ones in my publicity materials, but I can’t have a meltdown every time someone on the internet doesn’t like my singing. No matter what you do and how well you do it, someone somewhere isn’t going to like it. Sometimes their criticisms are legit, but as often as not they just don’t like anything. The reference to the flame war over the dying girl going to Disneyland is a great case in point. This wasn’t exactly Sophie’s Choice where the other children die BECAUSE this one girl gets a last wish. No, it’s just that no matter what you do someone is going to point out that you really really should have done something else. That something else is often something good too. Maybe we could donate to BOTH? But no, they will turn this into a huge deal when in fact there’s no real either/or situation here and no other children were harmed. People like that are best ignored. There’s no pleasing them anyway.

  29. says

    I guess I’m trying to wrap my head around exactly what Atheism+ is trying to accomplish that regular old Atheism is ill equipped to handle

    Well, just note that regular old atheism is just disbelief in gods, and on its own addresses nothing more than that — nothing to do with politics, social issues, your favorite ice cream flavor, anything. So to be pedantically honest, every atheist is an “atheist + something.” Why not be for the good stuff?

  30. says

    When someone on the outside hears “plus”, anti-sexism anti-bigotry is NOT going to be their first guess at what the plus means.

    Well, see, to me, that’s an opportunity. It’s a conversation starter, not stopper. Atheism+ absolutely should not be defined as “this and only this and unless you conform you’re out.” Each atheist should feel free to pick an issue about which they’re passionate and pursue that. Done that way, A+ becomes democratic, and the very opposite of elitism and exclusivity.

  31. Drew Hardies says

    My issue with this is that the definition is too general to be useful.

    It’s the same problem that’d come with forming a group based around, “Loves Freedom.” Pretty well everyone on every side of every issue thinks they’re the ones defending freedom. So what distinction am I actually making?

    Similarly, I’ve never any serious person say that they’re out to make society worse.

    If the principles were more specific (“we believe in affirmative action”) then there’d be a substantive distinction and we could have a kinda-objective way of drawing lines. But, that would also bring more accusations of dogma.

    Without specific principles, it seems like the label is just going to bring endless rounds of, “You’re no true A+ member because you don’t support my take on freedom/justice.”

  32. says

    That sounds good. Judging by previous conversations on various topics here, it has a strong potential to turn into people adopting the label to take anti-social-justice positions. They’ll likely disguise them as pro-social-justice, though. For proto-examples, look at the people accusing Natalie of promoting rape culture, Rebecca Watson of stereotyping men as sexual predators and talking about how racist affirmative action is.

  33. says

    I think the easiest way to explain A+ is to say that atheism, in and of itself, isn’t much of anything, and frequently descends into a circlejerk of people so self-congratulatory over their godlessness that they don’t bother to examine their other beliefs; A+ is basically the intersection of atheist activism, secular humanism, and skepticism. In a way it’s a label for what FTB has been about since the beginning.

    We’ve reached a point in our culture overall where people want to celebrate their prejudices as fact, and the atheist/skeptical community has a lot of people who are doing that under the color of logic. Instead of making the difficult decision to change their thinking and follow the evidence, they’ve circled the wagonss and taken up pseudoscience like evo-psych and big-L libertarian social and economic thinking to reinforce what they already believe. In other words, skepticism has been attacked from within by woo, and the movement as a whole isn’t weathering the storm very well.

    The psychology involved probably has a lot to do with how many geeks were outcasts growing up, and a lot of them blame women for that. Of course, things change, but let’s be honest – a lot of us haven’t really grown up right, and the people bringing the antifeminist woo into the fold are unwilling to admit that and would rather lash out than admit the problem. The result: a bunch of manchildren and their Malinche collaborators (I.e. Abbie Smith et al) who would rather tear the movement apart and terrorize uplift bitchez than actually face the problem. Look, if Mike Tyson could become a non-horrible, normal person and a productive member of society, what’s their excuse?

  34. says

    Well, it’s long been a fact that victimizers adopt the language of those they victimize to paint themselves as the sympathetic ones, so that’s not exactly a new problem that A+ is going to create.

  35. alt+3 says

    Not really. Maybe it’s like that version of the fifties that never happened but everyone remembers for some reason.

  36. Kate says

    It seems to me that those who oppose Atheism+ (because I’ve recently had discussions with a few) are opposed to the idea that, while we are saying, “Hey, we support secularism *and* humanism in all it’s forms,” they seem to think that by not identifying as atheist+, they will immediately be taken for sexists, racists, and homophobes. Before the notion to start a new facet if atheism took hold, these people didn’t really have to acknowledge or defend their own views that others might find to be sexist, racist, or homophobic, but now they will. I think the question of, “Well, *why* don’t you support atheism+?” is what scares them the most, because arguments involving “dogma” and atheism+ being fascist only go so far.

  37. Entrained says

    Well I guess Jen does get to determine if it’s A+ because she tweeted that Carrier was incorrect in his A+ view

  38. Sally Strange says

    I think the A+ symbol goes great with “positive atheism,” which is what has been promoted on the Atheist Experience for years anyway. So, speaking just for myself, I’ve been referring to it as positive atheism a lot of the time and trying to associate that phrase with the A+ symbol whenever possible.

  39. karmakin says

    This. You actually need to make an active effort to keep/push trolls (both purity and otherwise) out of such an environment, and not only is that not being done, the door is being slammed wide open. They very well could take over and own it in a matter of time.

    The other big red flag that I see is sometimes elevating misogyny as the gender issue over sexism.

  40. Kate says

    I don’t agree, and don’t think that the general nature of atheism+ is a problem that will spark a dogmatic structure. All of us in the movement agree on the notion of social justice, and that a human being should never be treated as inferior or disrespected on the basis of race, sex, class, sexual orientation, etc. That is our commonality. *How* we achieve that end, though (whether we, for example, think that affirmative action us a good idea), is up to interpretation and discussion. But agreeing that all humans, regardless of sex, race, ext., are deserving of respect and equal opportunity, and that we connect that notion to our secularism, really isn’t that hard to understand or implement.

  41. Muz says

    My take, without reading the others too closely, is that Atheism & Skepticism seems to have been for the longest time like christmas or thanksgiving: People just get together to enjoy what they have in common and not talk about all those things that inevitably end up in a fight. Politics- off the table. (In skeptic circles it’s sometimes Religion- off the table too. Which caused conflict as the atheists started to become more vocal in the crossover between the two groups).
    So A+, cheesy though its logo looks, is going to look this straight in the face instead and say if atheists intend to run the world some day, what world will it be, or can it be?

    Also, I couldn’t say from any personal experience, but it seems that, as with US politics generally, in Atheism a sort of mild conservative libertarianism has tacitly become the norm. For some reason, as with wider society, people are under the mistaken impression that this is a neutral and purely reasonable position (like their atheism). They’re wrong about this. The A-plussers intend to not let these matters go unquestioned, at the very least (and we can already see the pushback from people who don’t want to see ‘deviations’ like lefty progressive causes and feminism et al, getting a look in)

  42. Nathair says

    they seem to think that by not identifying as atheist+, they will immediately be taken for sexists, racists, and homophobes.

    I’ve seen a lot of that too, people feeling that they are being pressured to adopt the label lest they be taken for “the enemy”. It’s a very small step from there to accusing us of intentionally inventing A+ for that exact purpose, a step some people seem only too happy to take.

  43. says

    That might be valid except that no one to my knowledge is going around grilling people outside of this webzone to see if they have heard the Good News about Atheism+. It is a sort of dumb reaction where people are having both sides of the conversation and getting angry at the voices in their head.

  44. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    How? As far as I recall, if you try to multiply zero by any number you still get zero.

  45. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    I’m seeing a lot of people claim that’s happening, but have seen absolutely no evidence to support that anyone on the A+ side – other than that one post by Richard Carrier (which’s he’s explained isn’t what he meant by it) – is actually doing it.

    That the kind of people that prompted Jen and co. to instigate A+ in the first place might be flat-out lying about it, on the other hand, seems far more believable.

  46. NH says

    Well, see, to me, that’s an opportunity. It’s a conversation starter, not stopper.

    The whole reason for the idea of an Atheism+ movement is to create an environment that is more welcoming to greater diversity. And you are not going to get the chance to engage them in conversation when they are turned off by your elitist sounding name. So it’s does NOT work as a conversation starter in the very cases where you’d want it to. Also, any number of other better names could work equally well as conversation starter without the air of arrogance that would scare away those you wish to attract.

    It sounds to me like your claim of “it’s a conversation starter” is a defensive reaction on your part, rather than an honest thought through position. Like I said, you don’t seem to be seeing this how it would appear to those on the outside.

  47. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    How do the people claiming that A+ers are going to HUNT DOWN (thank you, Russell Blackford) those who don’t swear fealty to the new regime think this purge is actually going to happen?

    Does Jen have the power to excommunicate people? Can Greta come around and rip the ‘A’ badge from people’s websites? Will PZ sneak into their houses at night and steal their copies of The God Delusion?

    This nonsensical scaremongering makes anti-Communist propaganda seem sane and reasonable. What’s even more embarassing is that there are self-proclaimed skeptics who are swallowing it hook, line and sinker. So much for critical thought.

  48. says

    And you are not going to get the chance to engage them in conversation when they are turned off by your elitist sounding name. So it’s does NOT work as a conversation starter in the very cases where you’d want it to.

    Then that’s their choice, not something I’m forcing upon them. If they’re the ones not willing to engage in conversation, you can’t accuse me of stopping the conversation.

  49. NH says

    “Positive Atheism”, to me, means showing atheism in a positive way. Showing that it isn’t the horrible thing that religions try to claim that it is. Showing that we can be just as moral without religion. It’s not specifically tied to anti-bigotry or anti-sexism, though I’d hardly consider those positive traits.

    Also note that if someone said “I support positive atheism”, the focus is on the atheism. Where as if someone says “I’m an Atheist Plus” the focus is on the plus. And with that comes an air of arrogance, and that air of arrogance well hamper the very goals that “Atheism+” sets out to achieve.

  50. FedUp(OrJustFed) says

    Just listened to TAE for 8/26/2012…was a lively show. Just wanted to get these two ideas out, and the show thread isn’t up yet (AND I’ll have forgotten / become busy by the time I can put it on the show thread)
    A. Matt, an idea: Bet any caller who tries the stunt the ‘imagineer’ did, right up front, that s/he will take refuge in conspiracy theories before the call is over, and then rule such as grounds for hanging up immediately, no appeal or reprieve.

    B. Jen, I was sorry to hear you have troubles in your family life. One suggestion, from a skeptical point of view: Don’t take a third party’s word for what happened. While it might be scary / painful, go right to the source and ask her, if you haven’t already. I’m sufficiently suspicious to suggest this could be a “Let’s you and she fight”-type of situation, regardless of how reliable your source has been in the past. Your choice (OF COURSE!), but my feeling (no evidence) is that family is important enough to confirm the incident(s). Hopefully my suspicion (maybe the incident was just miscommunicated?) will be true.

  51. NH says

    I’m talking about reaching those that for whatever reason don’t feel comfortable joining the atheism movement, and your response is basically “screw those people”.

  52. m6wg4bxw says

    REG: Right. You’re in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People’s Front.

    P.F.J.: Yeah…

    JUDITH: Splitters.

    P.F.J.: Splitters…

    FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People’s Front.

    P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters…

    LORETTA: And the People’s Front of Judea.

    P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters…

    REG: What?

    LORETTA: The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.

    REG: We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

    LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

    REG: People’s Front! C-huh.

    FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

    REG: He’s over there.

    P.F.J.: Splitter!

  53. 'Tis Himself says

    Personally, I don’t see Atheism+ as elitist. To me, it says “atheism and other stuff.” But that’s just me. I don’t confuse the label for the actual thing.

  54. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Christina Hoof Sommers

    Goddamn reactionary antifeminist ungulates.

  55. NH says

    How is:

    Then that’s their choice, not something I’m forcing upon them. If they’re the ones not willing to engage in conversation, you can’t accuse me of stopping the conversation.

    equal to

    “engage those people in discussion.”

    I was pointing out that you can’t engage those people in discussion when you’ve already drove them away by using an elitist title. The point is that the name stands as a roadblock to the very progress you are trying to make.

  56. Drew Hardies says

    All of us in the movement agree on the notion of social justice, and that a human being should never be treated as inferior or disrespected on the basis of race, sex, class, sexual orientation, etc. That is our commonality.

    The trouble is that this will only remove people who self-identify as pro-sexism, pro-racism, etc. I’ve met a fair number of people who are sexist, but vanishingly few who’ll take up the label on their own.

    For instance, when asked if she considered herself a feminist, Sarah Palin said, “I do. I’m a feminist who believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and to try to do it all anyway”

    Would the A+ space include someone with Sarah Palin’s positions on gender?

    If so, I’m not seeing any real change from the status quo.

    If not, then we’re basing membership on some standard more stringent than, “says people should not be disrespected on the basis of their gender”. The question is then who gets to set the standards and how we’ll agree that someone has broken them.

  57. says

    Okay, perhaps I wasn’t clear. Let’s say someone is showing resistance to the A+ label. My reaction would simply be to explain what I think A+ could mean, and why they shouldn’t have to think it’s so exclusionary, and I would also further explain that the A+ brand wasn’t this thing anyone was requiring anyone to adopt, that it’s just something catchy that someone came up with on a blog. So in that way, I would try to engage them. Now, if they simply did not wish to be engaged on the subject no matter what, that would be their decision, but not one I could bear any responsibility for, especially if I did try to reach out.

  58. RhubarbTheBear says

    This. This is funny because it’s true, and humor without truth is failed humor.

  59. NH says

    My reaction would simply be to explain what I think A+ could mean, and why they shouldn’t have to think it’s so exclusionary…

    Except that it’s unlikely to go down that way. More likely they’d be turned away from it before you ever get a chance to even talk to them, let alone explain anything. Therefore for the explanation to reach them, you’ll have to spend a great deal of time explaining to the general public, and if that’s the case, you don’t need the label because the explanation can stand on it’s own.

    …and I would also further explain that the A+ brand wasn’t this thing anyone was requiring anyone to adopt, that it’s just something catchy that someone came up with on a blog.

    If that’s the case, if it’s really not a big deal, then why push so hard for the adoption of the term? And why call people who think the term is stupid “A+ Haters”. It’s obvious that you want it to be more than just “something catchy that someone came up with on a blog”.
    Like I said, as a sort of seal of approval for conferences and organizations and such I don’t have a problem with it. In fact I kind of like the idea used that way (I can totally picture the fliers with the A+ logo in the corner). But as a movement, that’s where I take issue with the name. I think as a movement, the name doesn’t serve the stated purpose, and depending on how people use it, it may detract for it.

  60. says

    Excuse me? Did I ask you for any suggestions about how to deal with my family? No? I didn’t think so.

    This isn’t hearsay, and in any case, my brother doesn’t instigate fights between family members. My relationship with my stepmother – about which you know absolutely nothing – will never be more important than my relationship with my wife and son.

    Now, kindly STFU.

  61. says

    Except that it’s unlikely to go down that way. More likely they’d be turned away from it before you ever get a chance to even talk to them, let alone explain anything.

    Well, maybe some people would react that way, and maybe some wouldn’t. You can’t claim to know for sure. People are different. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I cannot control, nor can I take responsibility for, how someone chooses to react. If they turn away no matter how reasonable I try to be in reaching out to communicate with them, frankly that says a lot more about a problem they have than any I might have.

    And I think SkepticJackal has a valid point. You’re basically saying we shouldn’t use the term because it might offend some people. Guess what: being atheist at all offends quite a lot of people. Being gay offends people. Being liberal offends people. Being conservative offends people. Being pro-choice offends people. Being vegetarian offends people. If we were to refrain from embracing movements or adopting labels for fear of the offense we might cause, we might as well stay home all day and play Tetris. Except we might offend Mario players.

    And why call people who think the term is stupid “A+ Haters”.

    Uh, because they’re hatin’? Because some of the people speaking out against A+ are overreacting to absolutely ludicrous degrees. Read the quoted comment in the OP again. There’s simply no basis in fact to any of Kayla’s paranoid ravings, yet she and other people who disapprove of A+ are acting like it’s part of the latest plot Blofeld and SPECTRE have come up with to enslave humanity and destroy the world.

  62. NH says

    And I think SkepticJackal has a valid point. You’re basically saying we shouldn’t use the term because it might offend some people. Guess what: being atheist at all offends quite a lot of people.

    I never said anything about people being offended. I’m talking about unintentionally making people feel unwelcome. Like if a woman goes to an atheist meet up and is the only woman there, that can make her feel unwelcome. It’s not that she is offended, but that she feels unwelcome.

    Besides, we are not trying to make atheism inviting to the people that find the mere existence of atheists offensive, so that doesn’t matter. On the other hand, the goal of “Atheism+” is to open things up for more diversity, so if you are using a term that hinders that goal, that IS a valid concern.

  63. NH says

    As for the people be hatin’, I will give you that. Though it seems to me like people overreacting on both sides. Which makes it hard to have a meaningful discussion.

  64. Sally Strange says

    “Positive Atheism”, to me, means showing atheism in a positive way.


    *long pause*

    Now think real hard, dearie, and ask yourself what puts atheism in a positive light:

    1. Reflexively insisting that atheism is nothing more than the lack of god-belief, and there’s no community, and mocking atheists who do try to organize around issues of social justice and inclusiveness

    2. Allowing that atheists should organize to promote atheism, but not other causes that aren’t self-evidently related to atheism–science education and separation of church and state, but not reforming drug laws or fighting to preserve abortion rights–and getting angry at atheists who want to do the things you don’t want to do because preserving some sort of atheist “united front” is the most important thing, even if that means tolerating misogynists and racists and possibly alienating some minorities from the cause


    3. Publicly identifying as atheists who care about economic, social, and environmental justice, who not only care but also organize around those issues and actively fight to create the conditions (material well-being, economic equality, no discrimination) that allow people to let go of religion’s false comforts


  65. John Phillips, FCD says

    Except we can also look at their behaviour as well as their words. In Sarah Palin’s case, i.e. her support of anti-woman measures held by her church and her party, by no reasonable definition is she either a feminist or for genuine social justice. Plus her very words show an ignorance of the problems other women face, simply because she apparently hasn’t faced them. Ironically, a fair degree of the criticism about Palin has, in my opinion at least, been worse because she is a woman, though this is generally true for most women in politics. And I say that as someone who loathes everything she stands for and thinks her a maroon /bugs. However, if all we have are their words, and their words don’t negate their claim of supporting social justice, then they at the very least get the benefit of the doubt.

  66. Josh_Co_85 says

    My initial reaction upon seeing A+ was “What the heck is this?” On further investigation I learned there were some problems at conventions about female atheists feeling uncomfortable or creeped out by male atheists in attendance, and that the e-mail some female atheists were getting from male atheists were sexual harrassment. From my understanding, this lead to the call for a new wave of atheism to make sure everyone feels comfortable and secure at conventions and when reading e-mail.

    I also read Carriers post and was turned off by the language he was using, namely the “good and evil” stuff and the “one of us” jargon. I have come to understand that social justice is a high priority in A+. As well, I noticed that feminism had a large role to play in the formation of A+.

    Some things about A+ struck me: the high value A+ places in social justice seemed counter-intuitive, in that social justice is not atheistic but theological in its grounding, and that A+ deems social justice as something that it simply knows is of high value, without trying to explain why an atheist would subcribe to social justice. My grounding as an atheist is in the Nietzschean-existential way of thinking, and so social justice is little more than Christian moralism in my estimation. In this sense I could not be A+, am not A+ material.

    Something else I noticed: while I was looking into the soil out of which A+ grew, I found that there was an issue about low female attendance at atheistic conventions, with one slide featuring a factoid that about a third of attendees at such conventions are female, about the same as the panels are. It seemed to me that A+ suggests this is due to females not feeling safe or welcome when in attendance. From what I know though, there really aren’t as many female atheists as there are male atheists, for whatever reason — according to census data anyway. It seems to me that a pressing question would be: why are women less likely to self-declare as atheists than men, or why do women remain religious while men more typically shirk their religion? I do not think that A+ has attempted to answer this.

    All in all I do not think I can join this movement but I am interested in seeing where it goes and how it does. Thank you.

  67. Kate says

    It’s easy to “self-identify” as, say, a feminist, but much more difficult to uphold oneself as such when your actions and words paint a wildly different picture.

    Part of what’s going on here is that there have been some rifts in the atheist movement because of some issues concerning sexism. Some people stood up to challenge those in question, while others (at best) wished to brush of what they’d done as nothing at all, and (at worst) defended them as heroes, while calling out the women involved as “sluts,” “whores,” “cunts,” and more.

    Atheism+ is a way for us to stand up and say that we, as a group, won’t tolerate that kind of behavior. And those in the latter half of my last paragraph can *say* that they’re feminists (in terms of this particular example), but when push comes to shove they’ll actually have to show it. That’s what happens when a large portion of a movement stands up as a whole against these types of perpetrators, and refuses to allow them to brush these issues under the rug.

  68. Cylis B. says

    I agree with the sentiment in principle, but I do happen to know a handful of people who are disinclined to jump on the A+ band-wagon. Not out of latent misogyny, racism, ageism, etc., but simply because they’re not that keen on social activism. They like plain-old atheism, because that’s what they are.
    It’s not that these people don’t *support* the additional principles A+ entails, they just think the old label it’s still the most apt label for them: simply a non-theist, with no other indicative connotations. At worst they could be said to be apathetic, lazy, or just not interested… not “against the cause.”
    That being said, since this hand-full of people are admittedly not into activism, you probably won’t ever see them jumping up and down screaming “What are you doing to my plain-old atheism!? Give it back!”
    I’m just saying we should keep a distinction between people who simply wish to salvage the basic meaning of atheism, and those who are actively against the A+ movement.

  69. says

    I seriously question your view of Nietzsche and existentialism if you see them as opposed to social justice. I recommend going and discussing this on Dan Fincke’s blog, though. He’s the local expert.

  70. Cylis B. says

    I don’t own a copy of “The God Delusion.” I don’t have a websight, – with an ‘A’ badge, or or otherwise.
    Crap! Does this mean I can’t even be a regular atheist… let alone an atheist+?

  71. Cylis B. says

    I don’t want to quibble over the “Hey guys. Thanks, but its just not for me.” sentiment of your post. I think that’s a groov-tastic stance.
    I do, however, have to split hairs a bit that social justice has theistic/Christian connotations.
    Theism, especially ones with a judgmental god and earned good/bad afterlives, actually *diminish* the importance of social justice/morality… Humanity doesn’t have to bear the primary responsibility, that’s god’s job.
    Whereas atheism realizes it is *only* humanity that can police itself, and hold each-other accountable. I think putting stress on social justice, and starting to clearly define our sense of morality, is more akin to finally putting our money where our mouth is.

  72. says

    There’s certainly a distinction to be made between people who just aren’t interested (which is fine, seriously, no big deal), and those who are out there spreading bizarre, conspiracist misrepresentations like the person quoted above.

  73. pneumo says

    Some of the A+ haters on the web clearly are afraid to be called misogynist because they actually are.

  74. Pteryxx says

    It seems to me that a pressing question would be: why are women less likely to self-declare as atheists than men, or why do women remain religious while men more typically shirk their religion? I do not think that A+ has attempted to answer this.

    Well since A+ hasn’t even been a concept for more than a week, that’s rather a silly criticism. However, the questions HAVE been addressed at length in research and previous discussions. Short answers: reasons women are less likely to self-declare as atheists *publicly* include chilly climate treatment by the atheist community, a greater dependence upon social supports that require religious adherence as a condition (a good reason for atheist and secular charities, by the way), and in many cases the threat of legal punishment via loss of parental rights. Women actually being more religious than men, however, most likely is a myth related to stereotypes of women as irrational. While declared atheists are a male-dominated minority, the major religions also are male-dominated and often train women from birth to be obedient to religious dictates. Women likely *would* display less religious adherence if religious men weren’t enforcing it upon them.

  75. RickRay says

    Boy, the xians must be laughing their heads off about us atheists arguing over a plus sign !

  76. karmakin says

    Who authorized you?

    Quite frankly, if this movement is going to succeed, attitudes like yours need to be shown the door, and pronto. Doubling down on sexism. Sheesh.

  77. says

    My problem with Atheism+ is mainly in the choice of name, which i object to down to my very core.

    Political movements are fine, no issue there, and you are free to exclude as many or as few individuals as you wish; free to set whatever political positions you wished based on whatever kind of rationale.

    What I object to is effectively co-opting the word ‘atheist’ in an attempt to reposition it as involving a whole slew of political baggage. I have read these bloggers talk of ‘atheisms third wave’ and ‘redefining atheism’ and that ‘social justice is a logical consequence of atheism’ (clearly Stalin missed out on this bit). I can think of no other reason for choosing a term for your movement so close to ‘atheism’ than for the express purpose as to confuse in people’s minds what atheism actually involves such that atheism itself become associated with things to which it is not directly related.

    For these reasons I, along with many others, will actively and vociferously oppose atheism+ whileever it is so named (and the only reason i haven’t Vlogged on it already is because the wife hasn’t allowed me the time to!).

  78. says

    The level of sexism – wherever you go on the internet where atheists and skeptics gather – is pretty terrible. That’s not particularly unusual, but it’s still annoying. Some have gotten attacked pretty terribly, and want to carve out their own swath of space without being accused of being hijackers whenever they talk about it.

    Depending on the brand of “moralism” you’ve been indoctrinated into (or others around you have been indoctrinated into); that brand of religious morality is completely counter to social justice. Women’s rights and gay rights have been directly and brutally hampered by many extremely popular theologies. So, some see their atheism as a rejection of that.

    It’s a harder sell to say that atheism somehow LEADS to social justice stances (there is usually an emphasis on acting on empathy, but in a very strict sense that has holes), but that’s where humanism comes in.

    In the end, once the religious dogma is removed, “moral” stances actually require examination instead of automatic adherence. So, the task is then to examine the “moral” stances that religion provides – including the sexist and anti-gay ones. So, even though social justice is not (philosophically) a consequence of atheism, it is literally, for many people, a consequence of their atheism.

    Unitarian-Universalists tend to see it more as you see it (they are a heterogeneous group, so opinions will obviously vary) and many have began calling their group “post-Christian” and they merit Christianity, as well as other religions, for their core moral stances in their focus on social justice.

    Secular humanism shies away from being adamantly atheist and isn’t inherently skeptical, so that doesn’t quite fit the bill either. It also is involved in creating “church like” social structures, which some atheist are not on board with.

    So, there is an unfilled niche.

    I think A+ is a wonderful idea, but with all tools and branding it can be problematic in it’s implementation, however it makes sense for anyone invested to simply point out when/if A+ is taking a bad turn to keep it on the narrow instead of squash the idea before it develops due to what *might* happen.

    I’ve already seen “A-” used as a bit of an insult; and I can see how people might find that distressing who value cohesion. However, I think cohesion went out the window a while ago. At some point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to stay in the same house as those you find abusive. I’ve had to leave an interest group because of similar problems before – after YEARS of grinning and bearing it, and trying to convince myself that I was better and stronger for being able to stay and take it. So, I see the appeal of essentially saying – screw you guys, I don’t need you, bye bye.

    The A+ folks are inevitably going to be blamed for “creating” a schism by developing a “brand”; but let the record show that they were PUSHED out and “othered” and that A+ was a reaction to that and not the cause of it. At least that is my intuition from what I have been reading. I’m sure it is more complex than that, but the reverse is also equally (and very likely more) untrue.

    I think it is a good thing for people like you as well, that we’re no longer stuck in a painful conversation about identity where the general term “atheism” seems somehow up for debate about it’s meaning. What does it *mean* to be an atheist? – now has an answer. What it *means* to be an atheist = not much of anything, in fact, the lack of something. That’s it. If A+ doesn’t appeal to you or interest you, than that’s the end of it. There is no need to fight over A+ if you aren’t invested in it. That doesn’t mean you (or anyone) is stopped from discussing it or even criticizing it; but it’s no longer a fight about you and your identity, but about a different group of people that you simply share a few key opinions with – just like most secular humanists and many Unitarian Universalists.

  79. John Phillips, FCD says

    Yeah, who cares if one subset of atheists are sexist or misogynist as long as we present an united front to the god botherers. /sarc

  80. says

    Let’s allow how Christians will react to what we are doing to dictate what we do – that’ll teach ’em!


    No, I don’t think this needs to be a huge fight. I actually see it more as a resolution to a fight.

    However, the whole – be careful what you say and do, the “xtians” are watching – thing is obnoxious.

  81. The Rose says

    …hmmmm. Atheists bearing crosses. Nice.

    IMHO I agree with some of the other commenters here that the problem is mostly with the name, because it’s like PZ and others have said, I was already A+ before there was an A+.

    But just look at it….A† What is this? A Christian movement?

    Also, I think “NH” got it wrong to a certain point. We’re not so much trying to get more atheists – as trying to get rid of some of the not-more-inclusive A Wholes, if I get the gist of what Jen, Greta, Richard and others are saying.

    But as far as the name goes, I just think we can do better than the NEW Christian Scented A+eist Crux™

    I suggest we get even MORE pretentious and elitist sounding. How about – Sapioprozandeist? Or – Champiomanism?

  82. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    @Martin – I remember that, it reached fractal levels of wrongness. I mean, what a selfish little kid, wanting to go to Disneyland before dying! Such entitlement!

    @Kayla – you’re a sociopathic waste of carbon. As an adult with a life-limiting illness it’s shit and unfair, but a little kid who’ll never leave home, fall in love, learn to drive, or LIVE, is a tragedy.

    Only a seriously damaged individual would attack a child’s dying wish. I pity you, your life must be awful.

  83. kagekiri says

    Yeah, I became atheist when I could no longer accept the world as essentially just, and I had to stop ceding moral responsibility to God.

    Christian justice is pretty much all in the afterlife: that’s why Jesus tells slaves to obey their masters, and to be content with horrible governments and rejoice in injustices and persecution.

    Atheism led to my humanism and massive changes in my views on social justice, so A+ makes a ton of sense to me.

  84. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    Like you, I can’t understand the confusion.

    It’s always seemed bizarre to me that atheism is about rejecting religion, yet so many atheists throw the baby out, but keep the bathwater. Rejecting religion while upholding it’s ideas about women, LGBT issues and race issues makes the whole thing pointless.

    As an escapee from a lifetime of religious indoctrination I was excited by atheism, then intimidated, then outright scared. It was Christianity all over again, as I was silenced and threatened for speaking out. It even shares the religious feature of using women to police women. It’s freaky sometimes.

    I hope A+ can help break down those structures.

  85. Hayden says

    Atheism+? Meh. It just seems like a rebranding of the Brights movement. Although, I suppose it is a better name.

    There is some truth to the criticism that atheism states what you aren’t, so you need some statement of what you are (i.e. the “plus” part of A+). I prefer to label those things explicitly and separately from my atheism, rather than rolling them up into an appendix to my atheism. If pressed to label my positions other than atheism, I would go with the terms skeptic and empiricist.

  86. says

    in that social justice is not atheistic but theological in its grounding

    Must be nice, to be able to dismiss social movements that don’t fight for your rights as “theological.”

    My grounding as an atheist is in the Nietzschean-existential way of thinking, and so social justice is little more than Christian moralism in my estimation.

    Thanks for affirming my general opinion of Nietzscheans, Josh.

    It seems to me that a pressing question would be: why are women less likely to self-declare as atheists than men, or why do women remain religious while men more typically shirk their religion? I do not think that A+ has attempted to answer this.

    There’s sociological data you could look up. That is, if it’s not too theological for you.

  87. Josh_Co_85 says

    Well, Social Justice as an idea was started by a Jesuit I believe, based on St. Thomas Aquinas’ theological writing, so I think it is safe to say that Christianity is the soil out of which Social Justice grew. I do agree though that basing one’s sense of justice in humanity is more responsible than seeking approval/validation from God/gods.

  88. Josh_Co_85 says

    My question regarding why women are less likely to self-declare as atheists was in the context of census forms, which are no public but private. So, why then in public and private are women less likely to self-declare as atheists? As for the woman-stereotype, in my understanding religion tends to be matrilineal, that is the child follows the mothers religion more often than the fathers religion.

  89. Josh_Co_85 says

    I agree with the premise of your reply, and thank you for sharing your experience. Grinning-and-bearing doesn’t really change anything, which is fine when one does not wish to change anything, like at a family gathering when one member is being rude — is it really worth getting into an arguement over? That is up to the individual I suppose.

    I am saddened that things at atheist organizations have come to the point where there has to be a line drawn in the sand, but more so by how people oppose the A+ because of the division, and not the reason for it. I’ve never been involved in such an organization and so can’t really comment on it, but I think I will join one now to see how it is.

  90. Adam says

    Being for social justice, gender equality, critical thinking, skepticism and being against racism and homophobia are all non controversial stances which the vast majority human beings claim, not just atheists. In fact I would suspect that atheists at least in the west probably lead in many of these areas.

    The problem lies not with holding these non-controversial stances but with how one interprets what constitutes, for example racism, and how to address this issue.

    If you draw a line and say behavior X is racism, and say that anybody who falls on one side is acceptable and the other side is racist, then you set yourself up as an arbiter. Such positions often are self-fulfilling, where people constantly see battles where none exist.

    Consider that you are proposing a solution to a problem that might not exist.

  91. John Phillips, FCD says

    Hayden that’s fair enough, after all it is opt in. However, for many of us the + part is an important part of why we are atheists and thus see social justice (the + plus bit) as inherent to their atheism. Not everybody will and so not every atheist will want to opt in but might ally with us on individual issues more particularly important to them. Much like I ally now with believers where we agree on the goal.

  92. Josh_Co_85 says

    I’m not sure how to respond to your reply, as it seems you have someone else in mind, at least to me. I’ve already addressed why social justice is grounded in theology and religion, if you would look up. I can’t address your prejudice about Nietzsche though, or you inability to handle a little criticism without being facetious about it. I think I will read up on sociology though, and see why you think it might be theological to me.

  93. NH says

    Positive Atheism”, to me, means showing atheism in a positive way.


    *long pause*

    Now think real hard, dearie, and ask yourself what puts atheism in a positive light…

    If this is directed at me, as it appears to be, then you really need to work at doing a better job avoiding your biases and actually pay attention to what other people are saying.
    I’ve said all along that I agree with the idea behind Atheism+; my complaint is I don’t think the name is an effective vehicle to achieve those goals. At least not as the name of a movement. I don’t see the same problem with “positive atheism”, but I think that term has a much wider scope, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  94. says

    Well, this has been addressed elsewhere, but I agree with Jen and others that it’s a good thing to create an association is people’s minds between being atheist and being in favor of social justice. The prejudice against atheists is that we’re amoral evil monsters to the core, because you can only be good with God. Anything that equates godlessness with goodness is a feature, not a big, in my books.

  95. says

    I would love to say I am really excited for you Martin.
    However, I have spent the last 34 years of my life (since I turned six) identifying as an atheist. A not insignificant part of that, in recent years at least, has involved instructing people on what that is and what that is not.
    I note in your response to me you didn’t even deny that people would conflate these ideas with atheism, instead you seem to regard that as a good thing. It really amazes me that someone such as yourself, who must deal regularly on your show with people assigning things to atheism that do not result from it, is so happy to play the same game when you feel it serves your *political* purposes.
    It makes me wonder, the more I think about it, whether at any stage during your show (which I think is a wonderful thing btw) any of you guys have ever responded to a theist claiming atheists are immoral along the lines of ‘atheism may have nothing to say about morality caller, but that does not make us immoral, our morality is based on x, y and z’. It is such a common retort, that atheism itself is amoral, having nothing to say on the issue.
    So what would you say now?
    “Well actually caller, atheism is actually not only the lack of belief (or disbelief, let’s not get into that one) in a deity but it also has a fifty page treatise on morality attached covering everything ranging from the treatment of indigenous peoples to upholding the non-commercialisation of Antarctica”.

    Ok, so maybe that is a little overegging the pudding, but I don’t want to have to defend this shit – even if I generally commend the statements themselves (ie, I am pro-equality) – and spend the rest of my life correcting people who think I am making some kind of political statement when they find out I am an atheist.

    I really do feel like you guys are attempting to steal this term for a political movement here by using this ambiguous label of atheism+.

    Anyway, interesting to see how this will pan out, thanks for the response,

  96. says

    Could you perhaps give me an explanation as to why, as an atheist, I should not be invested in positive social change that betters the lives of people?

  97. says

    I think it is admirable to be involved in positive social change, I would also advise you to go on long country walks and listen to the very best of a wide variety of music.
    As an atheist you should do these things but none of them are resultant from you being an atheist.

    Or I could have answered thus:
    As an atheist you should be in favour of positive social change, so you should as a socialist or a capitalist; a deist or a pantheist; a postman or a midwife.

    Or I could have pointed out that I can see of no reason whatsoever for an atheist not to accept the modern evolutionary synthesis (and I suggest to you that acceptance of this theory is more universal amongst atheists than these political standpoints you guys are promoting) but that i would equally object to anyone attempting to confuse evolutionary theory with atheism

    I am nowhere arguing that ‘positive social change’ is a bad thing, although there is something a little tautological there inasmuch as whatever social change you prefer, from the predilictions of Hitler through to Stalin, you will self-define as ‘positive’ surely?

    I must admit I have some issues with some of the particulars that would rule me out signing up, whatever the movement was to be called, but these are more concerned with the scope of the terms and some of the more extreme viewpoints they subsume rather than anything else (and I DO intend to detail my objections in video format on YT asap, probably tomorrow).

    My REAL issue, as I have said, is that you are co-opting this term in ways that will lead to confusion and a re-packaging of atheism as a political movement.

  98. Brandi says

    I have a feeling that people who are against A+ and see no reason for it are (at least a lot of the time) going to be the same people who will see someone talking on behalf of atheism and say ”
    No! Atheism is just lack of belief in gods, it has no other stance on social issues,politics, and etc.”

    I have heard that little line about atheism numerous times when there is discussion of social issues in atheist forums and the like. It is true, and it is repeated all the time so I can totally see the point of branching off into A+. It should save those “atheism has to no place in social issues” conversations from happening because now it will very clear why a lot of atheists speak up about social issues.

  99. Cylis B. says

    Not everything religions have ever done is completely bat-crap crazy. Social justice is a fine concept, and one atheism happens to a superior outlook on.
    I fail to see how the soil from which a plant comes should indicate the plant itself is completely invalid.

  100. Cylis B. says

    I respect your postition. I know many other people that are at least hesitant about this new initiative.
    The thing is though, many atheists (myself included) really do think it’s important to directly equate our morality and social activism with our atheism. You pointed out yourself that many people associate atheism with immorality.
    This is a misconception I wish to confront directly, becuase I don’t think I’m at all unique as an atheist when I say my morality directly lead to my atheism, and my athiesm directly strengthens my morality.
    So while I honestly do understand that frustration (the last couple of decades spent saying “No, really. It JUST means I don’t believe in god… that’s it!), there is a reason why we still wish to/insist on using “atheism” in our identification. We don’t wish to show we are moral *dispite* our atheism, but *because* of it.
    This why though the movement isn’t about co-opting atheism in totality, it does make it clear we are an off-shoot thereof.
    I guess in closing I’d like to apologise. Assuming this A+ thing gets any traction, it will undoubtedly lead to instances where you will have to further explain “No, really. Not ALL atheists are A+… and atheism still JUST means I don’t believe in god.” That is gonna suck.
    I just can’t help but think it’s worth it, if it helps to break the social stigma we have hanging over head.

  101. Cylis B. says

    Crap! Someone figured it out!
    Call the Vatican! Tell the Pope “Opperation Judas” is a bust!

  102. Stan says

    I think it unlikely that Christians are looking in and even less likely that they’d give a damn about this so-called schism in the atheistic community.

  103. says

    I cannot be on board with Atheism Plus, not because of what it stands for, but because I cannot stand for those things in the name of atheism.
    I support everything Atheism Plus supports–really, I do!–but I don’t see that atheism has anything to do with them. Atheism is not believing in god, nothing more. I cannot wave an atheist flag, join an atheist army, be an atheist for anything other than “I don’t think there is a god.” I don’t think atheists should band together for anything other than self-defense against theist misbehavior.
    I think Atheism Plus is a bad idea, ultimately; just be a Secular Humanist if you want to champion causes other than not believing in a god, and leave atheism out of it.

    MY VIDEO ON THE TOPIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtxI7Crhwvk

  104. theBuachaill says

    I found Jen’s original postings introducing the concept very interesting. While Atheism is a position on a very specific question, the same reasoning which brought you to that position should, if followed through, bring you to a host of other areas when personal responsibility rightfully usurps the god delusion; in particular, for me at least, secularism, humanism and issues of equality.

    I have a slight concern at the introduction of another label, in so far that given the wide range of positions it will encompass, it will be difficult to define and easy to misrepresent. Atheism itself couldn’t be much easier to define, and is still widely misrepresented.

    I also want to add to the previous comments regarding the lengthy post from Richard Carrier. It was the first time I came across the guy, and at various points I really wondered if he was a theist being more than a little sarcastic just to make free thinkers look bad. If it was just his own personal diatribe, I’m happy to step over it and move on. Though if this guy has any position of influence in the new Atheism+ movement, his GTFO attitudes are likely to besmirch a movement which I believe wants to be founded on principles of reason and self-respect. It’s time-consuming enough trying to counter the dishonest trumpeting of militant secularism, without goons like Carrier beating the war drums for Atheism+.

  105. theBuachaill says

    Sorry let me please clarify that last sentence to mean that secularists are frequently sullied by religious groups referring to us as militant, and my point is that Carrier’s language and approach would lend some credence to this when it comes to his involvement with Atheism+. Which would be unfortunate.

  106. says


    “The psychology involved probably has a lot to do with how many geeks were outcasts growing up, and a lot of them blame women for that.”

    Really? Are you really going to try and pull that dick move? Are you aware that there are many women that are geeks? You even go on about manchildren.

    Please tell me that you arn’t some guy with a chip on his shoulder that is overlooking the fact that women can be as geeky as men. Women geeks are as likely to suffer from feeling like an outcast as they grow up, it’s also worth pointing out that there are many geeks out there that don’t have issues with having been an outcast whilst growing up.

    Please engage your brain before typing, because you are only going to have egg on your face when a female geek pulls you up on this twoddle……like now.

  107. The Rose says

    Ha ha ha! Thanks, I needed that.

    That’s pretty funny but…can you imagine if it really, really was true? OMG…I’m just sayin

  108. David says

    Hi John.

    …for many of us the + part is an important part of why we are atheists and thus see social justice (the + plus bit) as inherent to their atheism.

    I don’t mean to butt in to your exchange with Hayden but your reply genuine baffles me.

    Am I to understand that you are saying that your atheism is largely due to the social/political agendas that constitute the ‘+’ part of this movement?

    I can’t think of or find a definition of atheism where that is even remotely coherent.

    I don’t intend that last sentence to be confrontational, I just think that what you said is an example of the conflation of terms that is a big problem with this new movement.

    Have I perhaps misunderstood what you meant?

  109. John Phillips, FCD says

    But a secular humanist isn’t necessarily an atheist, e.g. a few of my closest friends who are believers also consider themselves secular humanists. I.e. religion should not interfere in the secular world. So where we agree on the issues and the goal, we stand together. Much of my stance on social justice, ignoring the recent disappointing appearance of so many atheist/skeptics apparently against social justice issues, originally arose from my atheism and having seen how religion often poisons much of what it touches, so A+ suits my position perfectly.

    As to believers, in particular, getting confused by different ‘versions’ of atheism, so what. many of those most vocal against us already define atheism in as negative a light as possible, whatever we say or do. FSM, just openly voicing one’s atheism gets us branded as militant so I’m not going to waste time worrying that they may get confused by a new label.

    Finally, there is atheism, the lack of belief in gods and there is A+, a stand for social justice as a side effect of our atheism and to distinguish ourselves from those atheists who don’t agree with us, especially over matters of inclusion for minority voices. Don’t want to opt in, fine, no one is forcing you to, how could we.

  110. says

    Nobody is forcing me in technically, no…but I’ve certainly been hearing a lot of “you’re with us or you’re against us” language from certain people (*cough*RichardCarrier*cough*), which more or less amounts to peer pressure.

    And I still disagree with doing this kind of thing in the name of atheism; I support atheism partly because it’s true and partly to remove the stigma of the term…but I don’t think turning us into a Special Interest Group is the way to go. That just makes us One Of Them™, more or less.

  111. markrichardson says

    I don’t disagree with the aims of the atheism+ idea – but really hate the name.
    I agree with Noelplum99 – I am a lifelong atheist and have spent a lifetime banging into the head of any one who would listen, that atheism is NOT a worldview or a political movement.
    Now you have chosen to take a word that I have used to describe myself for 40 years or so (and stick a + on the end)and make it mean member of some political movement.
    Stalin was an atheist – Bertrand Russel was and atheist.
    The average “woman in the street” is not going to understand the subtleties of “I am an atheist but not a Movement atheist”.
    This will confuse and blur the distinction of what we are -atheist – with what we believe – feminism – liberal politics vegetarianism – environmentalism etc.
    If this actually takes off – I suppose I will have to stop identifying as atheist – I will have to fall back on “godless” and unbeliever.
    Until Unbeliever+ comes along to mean someone who is a vegan who loves dolphins.

  112. John Phillips, FCD says

    And I notice you don’t mention how many have taken him to task for it. Personally, my stance on social justice, my atheism and skepticism are inextricably linked and always have been. Since elevatorgate, I also see it as defining which side of the skeptic divide one is on with respect to social justice and the inclusion of minorities in the ‘movement’.

    For those on the other side of the elevatorgate divide, then I have no problem in asking whether they are for or against inclusion and treatment of women and minorities as equals. Sadly, there are many in the ‘movement’ who don’t, as has been seen over the last year or so and I have no problem, or even a desire, for any on the other side of that particular divide to opt in. This was after all a significant part of the reason behind Jen suggesting A+, i.e. separate us from atheists and skeptics who don’t truly believe in social justice.

    Again, you don’t have to opt in and you will, to me, and I know to many others anyway, only be ever regarded as ‘them’ if your words or actions align with those who have proved themselves opposed to social justice. After all, there are quite a few causes I support where I haven’t formally ‘joined’ or opted in to the groups working for those causes, except indirectly through my words or deeds.

  113. says

    I didn’t mention how many have taken Carrier to task for it because that’s not the issue; I’m glad people have given him holy what-for…but that he held such a position at all is the true issue.

    And I hope you’re right about what will truly classify a person as “one of Them” in the end…but I’m not sure I share your confidence, given what I’ve seen so far. But I do hope you’re right.

  114. David says


    The average “woman in the street” is not going to understand the subtleties of “I am an atheist but not a Movement atheist”

    Of all the posts, comments and videos I’ve read/watched on this issue, that statement sums up the frustrations of many (myself included) very succinctly.

    Well said.

  115. Cylis B. says

    I’m relieved you took it as the light humor I intended. After I posted, I realized it could’ve been taken as much more snarky than I intended 🙂
    As a conspiracy goes, yeah, it would be frickin’ terrifying.
    To be brutally honest though, this is a movement, a revolution of sorts… or at least it’s trying to be (remember, it’s less than two weeks old).
    So was Islam, and Christianity before that, and Judaism before that; so was Protestantism, the Pilgrims, the First Congressional Congress, the Civil Rights Movement, LGTB, etc. Quite frankly, I’d be more worried if there WEREN’T some similarities along the line.

  116. says

    It just occured to me that I never responded to your comment of a day or two ago when the very least I could do was to thank you for your apology in advance for any future annoyance A+ causes me!

    I do actually realise that the people involved in this overwhelmingly do so with good intentions, i just feel they are misplaced, misleading and dragging political motivations where I increasingly feel justified in saying they are overwhelmingly unwelcome (except perhaps in the community of FtB).

    I actually committed my thoughts to video over on YT if you are interested.
    take care,

  117. John Phillips, FCD says

    Well considering that he was almost immediately taken to task by quite a few people, rethought his position and apologised, would, I think, be very much the issue. I.e. an early attempt by someone of some, but IMO not major significance to the ‘movement’, to inculcate ‘ideological purity’ was very quickly quashed. What more could you expect from such a nascent movement, unless you expect perfection from the off, let me know if you ever find such a beast.

  118. Cylis B. says

    ” I’m glad people have given him holy what-for…but that he held such a position at all is the true issue. ”
    A) That’s really taking an intentionally lop-sided view.
    B) If I’m following the two-week-old history correctly, A+ arose initially to confront the over-the-top exclusionary views if some in atheist community, so the “holy what-for” he received really is A+ in action.
    Also I would just like to mirror John Phillips sentiment (which is one I share, and have seen reiterated by many): There is no separation between the aspects of my world-view that lead me to atheism, and those that form the foundation of my moral out-look, and my political leanings.
    Yes, by definition, atheism is JUST a disbelief in god… but how I got there, and who I’ve become since, is much more complex. It’s not necessarily that “atheism” says a lot about a person, but HOW they came to be one, and how that process informs the rest of their life CAN say a great deal.
    Finally, to repeat something I said in an earlier post (becuase I think it’s worth hammering home), atheists are a wildly stigmatized social group right now, if you hadn’t noticed. Ducking away from who we are, saying “Oh, never mind that I’m an atheist… pay attention to my secularism, or my humanism, or my skepticism… anything but my atheism,” is just tacit acquiescence to the idea that atheist should be at best marginalized and ignored, at worst reviled. It does absolutely nothing to combat the misconception that atheists CAN’T have positive views on other matters, or be moral activists within our societies.
    I am an atheist.
    I am moral.
    I can benefit our society…
    And I aim to prove it. That’s why I’m A+.

  119. Cylis B. says

    I sympathize with the sentiment entirely.
    I will not deny that won’t be/already isn’t a consequence of this. So on behalf of at least myself, if not others, I am truly sorry for that.
    But in order to break the stigma all atheist have against them, we do have to not only go forward with a proactive movement, but also by necessity identify ourselves as atheists in the process.
    For what its worth, I do also share your sentiments that crow-baring food-choice, politics, animal rights, etc directly into the movement’s stated platform when its not even two-weeks old yet, is not only ridiculously premature, but potentially fatal to the idea as a whole. I do agree that we are trying to make it mean A LOT more than it should, but I just can’t see my way to saying that it needs to be completely scraped then.

  120. says

    I don’t think that view is lop-sided so much as focused; that other people have taken Carrier to task for his words is beside the point, that point being about the behavior and attitude of A+’s more vocal proponents, and what I’ve seen so far has been pretty ugly. Talking about other peoples’ reaction to that behavior would have been off-topic and redundant, as I see it.
    B) I really don’t see Carrier being told his behavior was inappropriate as being A+ in action at all…I see it as people who wanted nothing to do with A+ reacting to someone being really obnoxious in their direction when they disagreed with him.

    Also, I see what you’re TRYING to say with your last paragraph…but I couldn’t disagree more strongly.
    I’ve made over 700 videos about atheism on YouTube, and I have 12,000+ subscribers there; I’ve all but howled from the rooftops about atheism.

    …yet I still don’t support A+.

    And I don’t support it because, as you agreed, atheism is JUST a lack of belief in a deity. And there is nothing about that non-belief that drives me to do anything at all except not believe, and occasionally tell people why I think belief is chowderheaded and harmful.
    To say, “I don’t believe in a god, therefore I support feminism!” or “I don’t believe in a god, therefore I’m against homophobia!”…that’s nonsensical. You can’t get from Point A to Point B. It’s entirely possible to believe in a god and be okay with homosexuality. It’s entirely possible to be an atheist AND a homophobic bigot.
    Atheism Plus, I feel, misses the point. And Atheism Plus, I feel, attaches baggage to atheism that doesn’t belong there. And Atheism Plus, I feel, is the beginning of atheist dogma, and will result in a schism within an atheist community which is ALREADY fractured due to the herding-cats nature of most atheists.
    And Atheism Plus, I feel, ultimately harms atheism as an awareness movement because of this, and that’s why I cannot support Atheism Plus. I agree with what A+ stands for…but not in the name of atheism.

  121. John Phillips, FCD says

    Now I call you intentionally dishonest as much of the criticism he received was from those behind A+ and of greater significance in A+ than Carrier is. So, which are you, liar or charlatan?

  122. Cylis B. says

    What I think you’re missing is that the impetus for A+ was a ground-swelling of attitude against exclusivity-based rhetoric from within the community. Granted, it was more focused on anti-feminist/bigoted individuals, but has grown as people want to translate that into a more inviting and inclusive community overall.
    Bits and pieces of both sides of the coin will exist in most individuals. Did exclusivity-based rhetoric come from an early proponent of A+ in the form of Carrier? Yup. The push-back against such positions represents the fundamental thought-line behind the movement though. I’d also like to point out that (in case you missed it) Carrier swiftly capitulated and apologized.

    I am well aware that the YT/Blogosphere/local group-based atheist community has been around for a long time, and has done wonders for atheism as a subset of society. The point is, the community IS established and growing… and in some ways it’s growing into mentalities that are rather dangerous (anti-feminism, exclusivity, etc.) To be completely honest, this push to stabilize the community from within in an absolutely natural and necessary mechanism of social evolution, that would be seen in ANY community as it grows and becomes more established.

    I agree, statements such as “I’m an atheist, therefore I’m a feminist” are rather nonsense… that IS going from A to C. I think you’re missing my point again, though. To draw an analogy, if atheism is point A, and feminism is point C, D, J or what have you… I (and many like me) got from point A to B to C and beyond via the same vehicle, and by following a remarkably straight road. You’re right, these things are not directly causally linked, but for many they are very interconnected.
    For me, A+ is a direct refutation of the stereotype that atheists are morally bankrupt scabs on the greater society. To state it again: There is no way to directly combat that notion without activism that implicitly identifies ourselves as atheists. To put it bluntly, the YT/Blogosphere community has taken us a far as it can. Atheism does have to move forward eventually.

    I agree that *some* of the baggage currently being attached to A+ is premature at best, wholly unwarranted at any point at worst. But the movement is so very young. Agreeing on it’s core foundation and initial direction will simply take more time than has currently passed. I think both sides, pro A+ and against, need to take a communal deep breath and realize nothing is set in stone, it is literally in it’s infancy, and good ideas will pop up just a regularly as bad ones to begin with. I think far to many people are focused on end results we simply cannot be sure of yet, as opposed to what can/should actually be accomplished in these early stages.

    That being said, I can’t stress enough A+ IS LESS THAT TWO WEEKS OLD! Of course at this point in there will be dissension, disagreement, and a bit of chaos. I want to make it very clear (and I need to apologize for not doing so earlier) that I do not wish to stifle of marginalize your dissent, or anyone else’s. Having an open discourse about what this all means is just as normal and vital to any sort of social evolution, as the evolution itself.
    I encourage your dissent, I just wish it could be more along the lines of “Here’s a potential danger I see in the future, here’s what I think is the root of that danger, and here’s some ideas of how it might be avoided.” Not “I see a problem, scrap it all.”

  123. says

    *psigh* I got your point…I think it’s irrelevant.
    The A+ movement’s motivation matters not at all to me; I care about the effect they’re having, what they’re ending up being.

    What they’re being is a Special Interest Group for causes that have nothing to do with non-belief in a deity in the name of non-existence of a deity.

    And I’m not on board with that.

    That’s the bottom line; nothing else matters, all else is added baggage that has no real effect on the end result. When you strip away all the chaff, what Atheism Plus is, really, is Point A trying to add Points X, Q, and J into its platform when Point A is all there is. A = A, and some of us don’t agree that A should be more. In fact, some of us are quite strongly against A being more, think A trying to be more is A Bad Idea™.

  124. Cylis B. says

    You’re dissent is duly noted.
    I do just have two quick questions then:
    1)- You said: “[A+]… will result in a schism within an atheist community which is ALREADY fractured due to the herding-cats nature of most atheists.” OK, do you have any better ideas as to how to address this issue?
    2)- How would you propose to combat the stigma against atheism in our society from within the current fractured cat-herd that is the current atheist community?

  125. says

    1) Better idea: Do it exactly the same, just don’t mention atheism. Done.
    2) Be loud, be vocal, don’t hide your atheism, and eventually people will get a clue. Worked for other marginalized groups; it can work for atheism.

  126. Cylis B. says

    Oh FFS!!

    “Do it exactly the same, just don’t mention atheism.”
    “Be loud, be vocal, don’t hide your atheism.”

    Can you not see the hypocrisy in that?

    We ARE being loud and vocal… yet it’s YOU telling us to hide our atheism.

  127. says

    Can you not see the quote-mined, out-of-context, deliberate misunderstanding on your part? Hmm? I knew–KNEW!–you were going to pull shit like this…and like clockwork, you sprung the trap. couldn’t resist, could you?

    Let’s review, shall we?
    I say repeatedly that I have no problem with championing humanist causes, only not in the name of atheism because those causes are not related to non-belief in a deity.
    Then I say that you should be vocal about non-belief and why it’s reasonable and the rest of the world will get a clue.

    …and because of the wording, you jump on it and try to make it sound as if I’ve contradicted myself.
    Congratulations; you’ve just shown yourself to be dishonest and not worth talking to. Well done.

  128. Cylis B. says

    Alright after this I’m done.
    This is not quote mining. Let me fill you in on the complete context.
    -It is the general contention of the A+ movement that the current state of the atheist community is not entirely functional, something you agree with (ref: fractured cat-herds).
    -The aim of A+ is NOT to change the definition of atheism, but to prove that while the *word* atheist just means non-belief in god, *atheists as social community* has much more to offer (a point I think you fail to fully grasp).
    -Atheists as a social group are marginalized -in part- because we have failed to functionally demonstrate that we can, and DO, as a community have views on social morality that go beyond simple “atheism,” but are not nullified by our atheism… and are in fact a direct relation thereof (another thing I think you missed).

    To be honest, I DID set you up. Not to sneakily quote mine you, but to illustrate you ARE being hypocritical. I asked the two questions as I did because I think your main problem is that you don’t understand those two questions -those issues- are inexorably linked.
    The community is becoming fractured BECAUSE it is now a large (and still growing) community. It will invariable and unavoidably start taking on new meanings, augmenting it’s identity, and assuming more “baggage.” There is no avoiding that.
    And the continued marginalization is a result of that fracturing. All we’re good for currently is going “Nope. No god.”
    A+ is an attempt to acknowledge and adapt to that change while NOT losing our identity as atheists.
    To not see that the fracturing of the community as a whole, and our continued marginalization are rooted in the same problem IS hypocritical. The problem is that being an atheist -NOTE: *being an atheist* not *atheism*- must start including more of our identity if we are to continue to grow together as a community and relevant part of society. To say we should do that WITHOUT labeling ourselves as atheists undermines the process and is patently hypocritical.

    I stand by what I say.

  129. says

    No. Let ME give YOU the context:

    I said two different things about two different issues that were worded similarly.
    You took them out of context, tried to make them seem to be about the SAME thing, then called them hypocritical.

    You…are dishonest.

    All we SHOULD be good for is going, “Nope. No god.” That’s all atheism is.
    Trying to make it more misses the point entirely. Atheism Plus DOES change “our identity”…by giving us one. By trying to make us into more than just people who don’t believe in a deity. By trying to attach to atheism artificial–yes, artificial–“good” baggage instead of “bad” baggage, “good” baggage which has nothing whatsoever to do with god-belief.

    You seem to miss the point entirely: I don’t WANT an “atheist identity”. To me, atheism is a trait I possess; it’s not who I am. You and you Plussers are trying to make atheism my identity…and I’m saying an emphatic NO.

  130. says


    The only reason for atheists to gather as atheists is in self-defense against theist misbehavior.

    Atheism Plus wants atheists to gather in the name of atheism for other reasons. And many atheists are saying no.

  131. Cylis B. says

    I respect that. I honestly and truly do.
    Please respect that others like myself wish to do more, and that we do so as atheists… which is why we use the name.
    You don’t have to move with us, that is absolutely your liberty. But please stop saying we shouldn’t have the liberty to move on.

  132. says

    Where EXACTLY did I say that you “shouldn’t have the liberty to move on”…? Hmm? I never said that.

    I said I thought it was a bad idea. I said I didn’t like it. I offered criticism of it. I DO think you shouldn’t do it.

    …but I never said you shouldn’t be allowed to be Plussers. Since when is criticism a cease-and-desist order? Hmm?

    But, no…you don’t get my respect. You’re doing something I think is a bad idea; why on earth would you ever even expect my respect? *raised eyebrow*
    I may or may not give you my rabid-and-screaming contempt; that depends on your behavior and the effect it has. But I don’t see how you could possibly think my respect was forthcoming. That’s just…weird. *boggle*

  133. Cylis B. says

    I do not ask for nor expect any respect from you. This has gotten far too acrimonious for my taste, for which I take full responsibility.
    So let’s stop this. Let’s try to pull it back to a civil discussion. (or barring that, end it here)
    We both agree there are issues within the existing atheist community… or at least I think we do. Lambaste me more if I am wrong.
    I think we also both share a rather passionate desire to safe-guard the position of atheists within our society.
    So why don’t we just start there: What problems to you think are the most pressing currently (pre-A+), and where do you think they stem from?
    This is not bait. I am merely trying establish common ground to work forward from.

  134. says

    Problems facing the atheist community, such as it is?

    Well, for starters, we don’t all speak the same language; we can’t even all agree on what makes a person an atheist, or whether there are degrees or strength of atheism. I’m engaged in a rather heated debate right now on that very topic, about how there can be implicit atheists, explicit atheists, strong/weak atheists, etc. Even just defining ourselves is difficult; some people insist atheism must be an ‘-ism’ in and of itself, while others point out that the ‘a-‘ negates ‘-ism’ right along with the ‘theos’ part of ‘theism’, and atheism is nothing more than not having god-belief. Some insist that to not have god-belief you must make a choice between belief and non-belief while others say that any absence of god-belief at all makes one an atheist.
    That alone is enough to cause division.

    Then there are the folks who see the negative baggage that comes with atheism, at least socially, if not inherently. Most atheists know that baggage is unearned and untrue and wish to combat it somehow; obviously there is some dispute as to how.
    I think shows like “The Atheist Experience” and “Ask An Atheist”, and religion parodies like “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” are doing the job of raising awareness just fine without the whole Atheism Plus business, personally. People are starting to get the hint, and atheism awareness is starting to spread into the general public.

    Beyond that, I don’t see much that is hampering atheism beyond needing to raise awareness among those who don’t know know what atheism really is about, and just how little baby-eating actually goes on among atheists.

  135. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    BionicDance- there’s a fallacy in feminism known as “I choose my choice”. It’s where someone argues along the lines of:

    “I can still be a feminist and not have a problem with: removing all of my body hair/dressing only in pink/thinking that childcare is women’s work. It just: feels nice/looks pretty/seems like common sense”

    It’s where someone claims to have made a free choice in a vacuum, something that’s impossible. Where they truly cannot see that these “choices” have been shaped by society, where they honestly believe that absent of any cultural programming, they would automatically choose to rip out secondary hair, or only wear an impractical colour that denotes weakness, or view all fathers as unable to parent effectively.

    You’re doing the same thing with your assertions that there’s no conflict whatsoever with being atheist and not believing in equal rights for women or LGBT people.

    By refusing to examine where these memes of woman as inferior to man, and straight as morally right, you might as well be saying:

    “My atheism is perfectly compatible with my belief that meat and dairy should not be eaten at the same meal, or that making effigies of people isn’t right. The fact that I don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that concepts kashrut and idolatry have no place in my life”.

    Homophobia and misogyny were born of the Torah and compounded by the Bible. Disavowing religion while following some of it’s core precepts, and especially refusing to acknowledge their roots, is wholly contradictory. It’s lazy to boot. It’s “Sure I’m a vegan, I just love eating bacon and I can’t live without Cheshire cheese. Problem?”

  136. says

    One Way Monkey
    I’m sorry, but no. You’ve made unwarranted assumptions about my atheism, what it means, and what it stems from.

    I’m against belief if a deity, because it is unfounded, because it is unsupported by the evidence. That’s why I’m an atheist.
    But you’ve decided that my atheism is also anti-theism, that I’m against dogma…which I may well be, but when I say I’m an atheist, what I’m saying is that I think god-belief is bunk. Nothing more.

    And when I say I support feminism, it’s because I want women treated equally. When I say I’m against homophobia, it’s because I want LGBT folks treated equally. And both are in my own self-interest, being a lesbian.

    I’m sorry, but you’ve made incorrect assumptions, you’ve put words in my mouth, and you’ve misconstrued my position. Badly.

  137. says

    Cylis, I just wanted to backtrack a little on your exchange with BD and comment on this:
    “There is no separation between the aspects of my world-view that lead me to atheism, and those that form the foundation of my moral out-look, and my political leanings.”
    I am not really sure quite how this works and it makes me wonder if we may be defining atheism differently to one another.

    From my perspective I am considering how a universe formed without involving the agency of a sentient being leads to specific moral conclusions apart from perhaps easing the ontological questions of what morality actually amounts to.
    I suspect, tell me if I am wrong, that you see atheism instead as specifically the rejection of Abrahamic monotheism. Thus, when you talk of the aspects of your world view that lead you to atheism, you really refer to those aspects that led you away from Christianity and so, when you apply those same arguments to these socio-political questions they are exerting some leverage there as well.
    I have to say, if this is the case, I don’t see that as a very rational viewpoint. The same reasoning may well have led you to the view that the earth is substantially older than you used to think (depending on your original beliefs) but that would be no reason to conflate geology with liberal ideology. Why? Because firstly the two themselves are unrelated and secondly because geology is more than just the rejection of young earth creationism. Such as it is with atheism: unrelated from liberal ideology (even if the same factors led you from your faith to both) and pertaining to so much more that just Islam and Judeo-Christianity.


  138. Cylis B. says

    Right on. Would tend to agree with, well, all of that.
    As for the in-house atheism definition debate. I agree it’s can be a pretty big bone of contention. For me personally (not an attack, just extending the same courtesy of explaining my position), this is an arena of atheism that doesn’t concern me much. I think these are wonderful talking points especially for new atheists looking to further define what it means for them personally. Ultimately though, what “type” of atheist one is or how strong/weak their atheism is concerns me very little. For what it’s worth, I do think there are gradations of atheism, but I’m rather OK saying they’re all atheist in the end. My hope is that eventually on that point we can come to agree to disagree on the specifics and still salvage the community as a whole.

    The external stigma (if you hadn’t guessed) is obviously where I do place more of my concern. I couldn’t agree more that AXP, AaA, and all the rest have been absolutely instrumental in the advancement of atheists. I just as obviously have my doubts as to whether they can ultimately be enough to rid us of the overlying stigma (I know it will never fully disappear, I’m talking about just gaining the relevance of any other minority group).
    Now I’m gonna tell you something that will either make you laugh, or hate me for the rest of my life.
    A+ scares the shit out of me.
    Not the idea behind it, or the idea of actively changing the face of atheism as we know it, that excites me. What scares me is the fact it’s so freaking young, but already some people are trying to define it’s exact stance on animal-rights, and insisting on a hard-line pro-vegan stance. That is insanity.
    What I would much rather see is A+ set itself up as a system that helps various atheist groups get more involved in ANY sort of activism that the individual group decides is important to them, without such a stringent “party-platform” as it were.
    A+ could/should also compile a list of causes actually WILLING to associate with atheists and take our money, so these groups know where they can start. It could open avenues of dialogue and cooperation with established Humanist and Secular groups, and build better ties with those communities. This is what I hope the A+ movement becomes. I will admit that I am pretty resolute that activism that is “expressly from atheists” is important, but I don’t think A+ needs to be an all encompassing umbrella for what that activism must be.
    The bitch of it is, I am kind of neurotic in my apologetics. A lot of what people are saying ARE worthy causes in and of themselves. I hate to impede on what is really just unrestrained enthusiasm. But I think we are in agreement that some (or a lot of) restraint is necessary. It would be a sad thing indeed if atheism died over infighting between pro-meat vs. vegan plussers.
    I am just not going to say I’m against it until the dust settles some more… I mean really… less that two weeks old, and people (on both sides) are acting like we’re signing the next Geneva Convention.
    I think we actually agree on this more that either of us realized right away. Again though, please correct me if I’m wrong in thinking that we’re at least agreed-adjacent on this.

  139. says

    What scares you is much of why I think Atheism Plus is a rotten idea; it’s already turning in to dogma, making atheism into a “religion” in and of itself, if you see what I mean.

    I want nothing to do with it. It misses the point. Badly.

    I’ll be an activist because I care about those causes. I’ll be an atheist because I care whether a god exists. And never the twain shall meet; they have nothing to do with one another.

  140. Cylis B. says

    I get what you are saying, and in-so-far as it pertains to the *start* of my journey to atheism, you are correct.
    The hypocrisy I saw in Christianity lead me to question it’s foundations, from there I questioned many other religions, and found in the end there is no evidence that satisfies any criterion necessary to believe there is a god. That’s how I became an atheist.
    Along the way however, I also came to the conclusion that appeals to a removed “source” of authority inherently holds the danger of limiting ones moral growth. I also noticed that what initially disturbed me about Christianity (and later religion as a whole) wasn’t actually hypocrisy, it was the end result of when such appeals to removed sources are coupled with blind adherence to unsubstantiated claims.
    Once I tumbled to that, it wasn’t long before I realized that similar systems (not theologically based, but still appeals to greater authority, and unsubstantiated fact claims) were at the root of almost every bit of political corruption, bigotry, and all manner of social woes. This all further reaffirmed and strengthened the skepticism that started me on the road in the first place.
    Atheism was really just the mid-point of a life-long process of figuring out how I view the world, how I determine “truth” to the the greatest extent I am able, and what morality means to me.

    In the end, you are right again, though. It has come full circle. I now wish to wear my atheism as a badge of courage against the ideology that started it all, and I had hoped I had simply left behind. I strive for activism against it because so often (granted, not always) it is a direct cause of some of the most grievous social problems we have today: corrupted education, gay rights, women’s reproductive rights, the erosion the First Amendment, just to name a few.
    All I can say in my defense is I didn’t go looking for this enemy. But when I am told by a large swath of our nation that I am untrustworthy, sinful, immoral, and evil… because I’m an atheist? You’re darn tootin’ I’m going to put on my atheist hat and go out there and show that I can, in fact, be moral and good.

  141. Cylis B. says

    For me, I’m just gonna wait a while before I give up hope. Assuming insanity gives way to reason I think this could be a positive thing… but give it a month, I may very well be staunch opponent, depending on how this falls. In the mean time, I’m gonna do my best to try and interject some reason.
    The point at which I think we will have to “agree to disagree” is that I am all for combining atheism and activism into other cause.
    In hopes of avoiding setting us both of again, I just want to point out I a draw a firm distinction between “atheist activism” (quite ridiculous: “We are atheists, so we all think fur is bad”) and “activism as an atheist” (which to me is simply activism, but not being afraid to point out “by the way, I’m an atheist”).

  142. Tomasz R. says

    Atheism is a view of supernatural. It covers only the us supernaturals area of interactions. Any introduction of us us interactions into atheism is a failure by design.

    Atheism doesn’t need to humanism. An atheist can as well have an opinion that humans should be replaced by machines, which is as anti-humanist as it can be. Atheism doesn’t also lead to left-wing economic views – a convert can as well choose to chase the money and become a robber-baron. Atheism may even not lead to secularims – an atheist can as well promote a fundamentalist atheist government. Atheism also doesn’t lead to “equality” in any way – an atheist can as well deduct that it’s better if people with bad genes don’t reproduce or that people with no talents don’t deserve any job and those with no job deserve to die from starvation.

  143. Tomasz R. says

    The process of becoming an atheist may even add to the non-support of gay issues. In the process of becoming an atheist (or a sceptic) you may learn to rely on analitycal thinking rather than on emotions, to control your emotions and to disregard their directions. And then realize that this whole gay stuff is based on emotions – which since the transformation moment are alien to you. So you have no positive motivation to support them.

  144. says

    And I think this is just a naive point of view. Neither belief nor nonbelief exists in a vacuum. And in a world where people who do believe in God act upon that belief in very harmful ways, it’s unrealistic to say my opposition to those acts does not in any way stem from my nonbelief. I oppose religious homophobia, not simply because I think homophobia is unjust, but also because I don’t believe the God that people cite as justification for their homophobia exists, or that the proclamations this imaginary God makes in his holy book are true and a valid reason to oppress gay people.

  145. says

    *pshrug* Martin, I’m sorry, but in my case, my opposition to religious misbehavior stems from empathy and compassion, not unbelief; I’d be just as against that misbehavior if those committing it were entirely secular, and I’m fairly convinced I’d be against that kind of behavior if I were myself religious. Because empathy and compassion are behind my dislike of treating others poorly more than anything else.

    Yes, much of that behavior is justified by religious dogma, and yes, that’s worth arguing against…but not all of it is; some of it is just because people are selfish jerk-wads. And I’m going to oppose all of that sort of misbehavior…because it’s immoral and wrong, because it hurts people, and not because of religion or atheism.

    If somebody pointed to misogyny or bigotry, my first thought is not going to be, “In the name of no-gods, I must fight this!”; that just doesn’t even make sense.
    My first thought would be, “You’re making other people hurt, you selfish rat-bastards! Stop that!” Atheism would even occur to me.
    And if they tried to give a religious justification(excuse) for their behavior, my first thought would probably still be along the lines of, “I don’t care! You’re making them hurt, and you don’t get to; you’ll stop, or my friends and I will make you stop!” I still wouldn’t be thinking, “In the name of unbelief, desist or face my wrath, you cad!” Just not gonna happen.
    When people are no longer being hurt, well, then I might be willing to have a discussion about the merits of religious thinking with the perps…but I gotta tell ya, that’d be a secondary thought at best.

    Now, look…I’m not stupid; I understand what the Plussers are trying to do. But the mindset and the reasoning don’t speak to me. They just don’t. My motivations and reasons don’t jibe with Atheism Plus. My atheism is about unbelief; my objections to the behavior of bigots is about compassion. So for me, Atheism Plus just plain gets it backward.

  146. Alex says

    My problem with Atheism+ is that I resent the politicizing of a metaphysical belief I hold. It’s pretty apparent that the politics associated with this movement is going to progress into a very left kind of secular humanism and I’d rather not risk excluding any right leaning atheists from joining in any given community.
    The whole thing seems unnecessary really, from one of the primary blog entries on the subject:

    We are…
    Atheists plus we care about social justice,
    Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
    Atheists plus we protest racism,
    Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
    Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

    Am I to take seriously the accusation that someone doesn’t support women’s rights because they think it should be OK to flirt at a convention? Any reasonable person agree with those basic principles, but reasonable people can also disagree over what constitutes homophobia/racism etc. The treatment of a couple of bloggers (and Michael Payton of CFI Canada, who’s work recieved requests to fire him after he made a negative tweet about FTB) who disagreed with the shared opinions of several prominent bloggers about what justified the label misogynist means that it actually IS justifiable to worry about towing the party line for fear of being kicked out of the movement and branded a bigot.
    The movement IS divisive, and its demonstrably NOT just a bunch of crusty old bigots who oppose it, a quick google search for ‘A+’ will pull up examples of many different demographics of atheists who are suspicious of the motives of the originators of the movement.

  147. says

    Well, I will just pose one of the questions Greta has for people who think A+ is divisive. Do you also think that when feminist atheists receive multiple threats of beatings, rape and death, that that is divisive to atheism? Os is it only divisive when people speak out against such behavior? Was the thread at the Rationalia forum a few weeks ago titled “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick” divisive? If not, why?

  148. says

    Well, I don’t see why empathy, compassion, and atheism can’t all be part of the same happy soup. But it’s okay if you don’t see it that way.

  149. says

    Martin, it’s not that I think atheism can’t swim in the same pool as empathy and compassion.
    It’s that I don’t see what about non-belief in deities requires or generates empathy and compassion. I mean, “I don’t believe in a god, therefore I have empathy and compassion!” just seems a nonsensical statement to me. As I see it, atheism is about one question: does a deity exist. That’s it.

    Now, if Atheism Plus were called Anti-Theism Plus…well, then I might be on board. To put it as simply as I can, God-Not-Exist-Therefore-Political-Action-Group doesn’t make sense; Religion-BAD!-Therefore-Political-Action-Group, hell, fuckin’ yeah!

    See the difference and the problem?

  150. Alex says

    It (A+) evidently IS divisive, whether its reasonable to think it so might be up for debate, but that it is in unquestionable.

    Of course death/rape/violence threats are divisive, have there been any worth taking seriously or are you referring to the internet trolls who just see an easy target? I have received numerous ‘threats’ from all kinds of people and my web presence is negligible. When I suggested in a forum that gore websites, while tasteless, should be protected by free speech/freedom of information, I had several people tell me that they were going to cut me up and post pictures to family and see if they agreed with me. A rational response is not to parade these howls for attention disguised as empty threats around as evidence that the pro-censorship group is full of homicidal psychopaths, its to realize that people online will say anything in an attempt to offend a stranger.

    Yes the thread on Rationala is/was divisive (I’m assuming, having never read it) so what? stop reading that site would be my advice, it’s not hard to get a presence online, and people will always say horrible things for the sake of getting a reaction, what will A+ do about this? Can’t you hit unsubscribe without forming a movement first?

    I’m not really sure what your point is actually, are you suggesting that ANY response to genuine injustice is necessarily good? My objections to A+ were not predicated on an absence of Sexism in the atheist community (though I personally am not aware of, or have seen much evidence that this is a genuine problem, I’m open to being convinced that it is, my objections would still stand)

  151. Jim says

    Wait so how come when Martin Wagner or Jen McCreight says something about A+, that’s correct, but if Richard Carrier does, then it doesn’t represent A+ at all?

    Isn’t a group represented by a culmination of its members actions?

    Or maybe its just easier to avoid legitimate criticism of A+ if you pretend that anyone in the movement who says anything bad isn’t actually a true A+er.

    Also in case you go literal on the “Richard Carrier was speaking for himself” thing, when he said “Join us or admit you are our enemy”, who exactly did he mean by “us”? Or when he said “It is us vs. them: the new New Atheists vs. the sexists, racists, and uncaring and irrational douchebags”?

    Definitely sounds like he’s talking about more than himself. Almost sounds like he’s a participating voice in the definition of a movement. There are people who agree with Richard so don’t act like he’s some fringe nut.

  152. says

    Well, that’s fine. As has been said many times, if the way A+ is being used in selling the whole social justice idea doesn’t work for you, find something that does work for you. (Though I do like “Anti-Theism+” more, I must confess.)

  153. says

    Well, spend a little time reading the blogs by Greta and Jen and others who do find themselves impacted by misogyny and sexism in the community. Obviously, being dudes, we don’t see how it’s a genuine problem, because we aren’t targeted by it. That’s why it’s helpful to listen to the perspectives of others.

  154. says

    Well, Richard did walk back some of those initial remarks. All I can say is that neither Jen nor Greta nor Kazim nor Matt nor Beth nor I nor anyone I know who like the concept of A+ is down with the idea that it should be a “with us or against us” movement. Most of us have said so, explicitly, time and again.

    Here’s Greta:

    If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

    Here’s Jen:

    I don’t give a diddly what label you want. Atheist, atheist+, humanist, pastafarian, Supreme Crusher of God-Belief. Whatever. I care more about getting stuff done, and I see the humanists as our natural allies… No one has to agree with me, and I don’t want dogma. I want to be able to discuss social justice issues from the context of atheism and skepticism. Discuss, not dictate.

    I have a feeling they’ll be able to say all that again and again, a million times from now till we’re all raptured away by the FSM, and there will still be commenters going “Atheism+ is a CULT! Waaarbargl!”

  155. NorskVind says

    I’m not really sure what all this complaining is about. Does it make it seem like there are people who don’t want to associate with the group of just “vanilla atheism?” Maybe, but at the same time they aren’t saying “vanilla atheism” is full of bigots, misogynists and racists. It’s just a claim that (at least from the way I’ve been looking at it) that type of behavior is simply not acceptable, and that seems perfectly reasonable to me. I can’t expect every group of people I run into to be completely agreeable with me all the time, but I can at least expect them to act with a certain amount of decency. If having a silly name such as “Atheism+” will help me and other people find it easier to have those expectations met, then I think it’s worth supporting.

  156. Alex says

    This initially strikes me obvious nonsense, I’m not black and I can identify or be made aware of racism despite people not aiming it at me, and not gay and I can identify or made aware of homophobia despite people not aiming it at me. Why is sexism different? The examples I have read all strike me as absurd: One girls was reduced to tears because an older woman wore a t-shirt saying she didn’t want to be associated with the group the younger girl was in, and people citing internet trolls as if I ought to take them seriously. I don’t read blogs so I wouldn’t really know where to start looking for examples of sexism of misogyny, if you post a link I’ll read it but really, like I said, my objections to A+ are not predicated on the absence of sexism.

  157. Tomasz R. says

    Why start with discrimination?

    “Atheists plus we support women’s rights,” – with no interest taken even to mention their stance on mens rights. This really sound like a special-interest feminist group, even if this was not what it means.

    “Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,” – again no mention of heterophobia. Like they didn’t care – who knows maybe even they are pro it? The message they send is unclear, and will be probalby interpreted as being a special interest group.

    Why go into politics?

    “Atheists plus we protest racism,” – notice that this 2 latter goals define ACTIVITIES. Which means it’s not the gathering of people with similar state of mind (like atheism), but about obligatory WORK done by the members. An activist group, rather than a commnity!

    “Atheists plus we care about social justice,” – that’s the worst one. It moves the organization into the realm of politics. It has known and proven negative effects (parasite class of handout takers, budget deficits, hardworking people and successful corporations being ripped-off with high taxes, rise of government bureaucracy plus corruption relatedo to this, escape of people and corporations whose level of affluence is supposed to be lowered down by such policy). It’s not accepted or even fought by something like half of the population. It has religious (Catholic) origins. And in all fairness you should nos support it until you learn some economics and can support it with real numbers…

    Why start with insults?

    “Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.” Most atheist do use critical thinking ans skepticism already, suggesting that you need to add these is an insult to them.

  158. Tomasz R. says

    Don’t you see a clear conflict of interest between the environmental issues, and “material well-being, economic equality”?

    Nature would be much better off if human population would be cut quickly and the material standard of living was lowered down (less ecological footprint per human). Do you plan to grant it to nature at the cost of humans?

  159. says

    Bah. You spout Libertarian memes uncritically, and yet pretend to skepticism? Libertarianism is a political and economic religion, not a philosophy, and has no basis in empirical observation of the world.

    Your comment only demonstrates further the need for Atheism+.

  160. Cerex Flikex says

    I have to side with BionicDance and noelplum99. I don’t get why these ideas should mix. Atheist, Vegan, Equal Rights… these are all separate issues. How one person answers the Theism/Atheism question does not mean they will answer the same for the others. And to me, this feels like if someone decides not to join Atheism Plus, they are against these other issues. What if the person agrees only on some of the A+ points? Are they still an A+? Who judges this? Why even bother making this term? What about people who are so into a certain set of principles that they are like A++? Do we give them a higher level or different name (Such as A++)? I mean… Atheism is just about God Belief/Disbelief. It should not be changed. I just see this as a method to confuse the general public. I would probably be an A+ member, in that I would most likely agree with the majority of the positions, but I do not agree with this term/label.

  161. Tomasz R. says

    “to prove that while the *word* atheist just means non-belief in god, *atheists as social community* has much more to offer (a point I think you fail to fully grasp).”

    That’s a good point. Atheist communities could include self-help groups relating to issues that connect all humans, like the need to care for health, or the need to make rational decisions via analytical thinking, rather than being directed by emotions, advertisment, habits etc. This was/is lacking now – all those fat, smoking, soda-drinking atheists don’t paint a good picture of completness of a movements.

    Jumping into the middle of political fight, by associating with extreme left-wing slogans is a wrong kind of activity. You can loose the case for atheims, if these political views loose to competition. Atheism itself has a chance to get close to 100% of population, while associated with politics only a tiny fraction. Entering political fights means loosing rationality, as politics relies on appeals to emotions.

    Besides do A+ people even have enough competence in the fields they want to enter? Politics is about conflicts resolution, what they did before was just claims validation. It’s easy to say “I value humans material well-being, and I value environment”, but without showing a method to resolve a conflict between the two these are just empty slogans.

  162. thebuachaill says

    Thank you for that pointless paragraph on what Atheism does not lead to. Why it was posted in reply to my comments I can’t guess, as I made no claim that Atheism leads to humanism, secularism, etc.

    But don’t let a lack of English comprehension stop you!

  163. Alex says

    ‘While Atheism is a position on a very specific question, the same reasoning which brought you to that position should, if followed through, bring you to a host of other areas when personal responsibility rightfully usurps the god delusion; in particular, for me at least, secularism, humanism and issues of equality.’

    ‘Why it was posted in reply to my comments I can’t guess, as I made no claim that Atheism leads to humanism, secularism, etc. ‘

    You can’t guess why someone might think that you were suggesting atheism is linked to humanism and secularism? And you’re making comments about other peoples comprehension skills?

    The reason someone might post a reply, pointing out that atheism is not antithetical to misanthropy or sectarianism, to your initial statement is because you claimed that atheism is the product of a process which should also result in the affiliation with political stances, such as secularism or humanism. It’s not unreasonable to infer that you believe atheism is incongruent, at least logically, with the attributes he mentions. Especially given the topic of this thread is objections to A+, most advocates of which do, at least tacitly, assume this to be the case.

  164. Cylis B. says

    I have, and will continue to agree with your stance in principle… but there are two point that I have, and will continue to try to hammer home:

    1) Currently the A+ movement is just over TWO WEEKS old. Nothing is set in stone yet.
    2) There is a wild difference between “atheism” as a simple concept, and “atheists” as a social group. A+ focuses on the group, not the concept.

    For example, you are right. Atheism, in concept, has little to nothing to do directly with food-choice and equal rights. In the grander scheme of the group, I would also agree that food-choice should remain individual choice. However, the concept and promotion of equal rights within the community as a whole is incredibly important. Not because we’re atheists, but simply because we’re a community. That’s what A+ cares about.
    Finally, I highly suggest you check out [http://atheismplus.com/]. It is the “official” website, where you can actually get a feel for what it’s founders intend, and what is actually being done, as opposed to speculation from the fringe.
    I fully admit that the dogma from the fringe is scary, but I was very heartened to find out that those directly shaping the movement do not want a dictatorial regime, but rather to set up more of a system of facilitation, where A+ just helps individual atheists and atheist groups get more involved in activism in whatever way they choose, and to promote social equality within the community as a whole.
    They are NOT trying to dictate exactly what that activism must be, or force atheists to BE activists if they wish not to be. Nor are they trying to take away the “atheist card” of individuals who prove themselves harmful within the community. They are just trying to limit the impact those individuals can have on the community.

    I understand your concerns against dogmatism, I share them. In all honesty though, its simply not actually happening.

  165. says

    So if we’re going to redefine atheism to include all this other stuff, which new word will we use to describe somebody who simply does not believe in the existence of God or gods?

  166. Cylis B. says

    I forgot to mention that I also highly encourage you to express your concerns to the Atheismplus.com forums, found here: [http://atheismplus.com/forums/index.php].
    Again, this is a very new thing. I think you’ll find the people actually in the middle of all this are incredibly open and eager to hear feedback and concerns.

  167. says

    I disagree with #2, with regard to A+.
    It sure seems to me as if the Plussers are trying like hell to change the concept right along with everything else; Atheism Plus is–as near as I can tell–an attempt to make certain causes part of atheism.

  168. Cylis B. says

    That’s cool, think as you will.
    I appreciate the “seems to me” and “near as I can tell.” It denotes honest opinion, and I can respect that.
    I still encourage you to check out the website forum, if you wish to know what they actually are doing.

  169. theBuachaill says

    Yes I’m questioning the previous commenters’ comprehension skill. But yours is twice as bad, as you didn’t read or didn’t understanding both mine and his comments.

    The previous commenter did not make an argument about one issue being *linked* to another. He argument is about one *leading* to the other. Your first mistake

    Again, I made no claim that Atheism should lead to humanism, secularism, etc. I said that similar *reasoning* can. Reasoning is the process, not the conclusion. And I said that for me *personally*, similar reasoning led me to secularism, positions on equality, etc. Both cogent and flawed reasoning can bring people to all different sorts of positions; but then that an issue of their particular reasoning process.

    So yes both you and the previous commenter didn’t read or didn’t comprehend the comment.

    The main point however is that Atheists can and do have positions on all sorts of other questions other than the question of the existence of gods.

  170. arbor says

    I initially welcomed the idea of A+. I am ambivalent about it now.

    I am not a movement kind of guy – I have never encountered a movement or an organization that hasn’t severely disappointed me.

    Conferences and meet-ups will never see me – I am averse to crowds (> 2 people).

    So, for me, joining an organization movement is a means of affiliating myself with others, of declaring that the others and I have enough of importance in common to stand together, that I think these are people worth associating with.

    I am fine with Jen’s characterization of A+. I am for all of the socially progressive positions that she advocates.

    Who is to determine, however, which other positions will be allowed under the A+ umbrella?

    Who is to determine which specializations of these positions will be required, tolerated, or anathema?

    The problem, as I see it, is that how both of those questions begin: “Who is to determine”. I am not looking for someone to guide me or give me permission. I am looking for a clarifying idea that fairly accurately clusters me with people that I wish to be associated with and not with people who I find to be abhorrent, uncouth, or merely assholes.

    I have a really issue with authority. I don’t want to be associated with any creep who gets off on trying to assert authority.

    Richard Carrier is such a creep. Not only does he lust for power and control, but he can’t stand anyone thinking that this wasn’t his idea first. His ideas are not to be questioned. I want nothing to do with him or with any orginzation or movement in which he has influence. I understand that his ownership of and influence over A+ is entirely in his dreams, but there are many megalomaniacs like him that see A+ as an opportunity to gain power and money.

    If A+ is to thrive and be worthy of my support, there can be no purity police, no czars, no refinement of positions, no leaders, no decision makers, and no Richard-Carrier behaviors.

    Anyone who wishes to can choose to align themselves with A+, publically or privately. I will decide whether I think someone who claims to be aligned with A+ is being honest, accurate, deluded, or lying. I expect everyone else to do the same.

    I do not associate with bigots, charalatans, those who lack integrity, accomodationists, the power hungry, or those who are wilfully ignorant. I do not associate with people who may believe much the same as I do but who are are repugnant to me in manner or attitude.

    I do not associate with Richard Carrier or his ilk.

  171. PatrickG says

    Am I to understand that you are saying that your atheism is largely due to the social/political agendas that constitute the ‘+’ part of this movement?

    I really don’t want to pretend to speak for John, but I will definitely offer the following:

    I became atheist as a direct result of seeking religion as a teenager/young adult. Too many things didn’t make sense, I started thinking, and I rejected religion/gods and identified as atheist.

    I may have reached the conclusion of atheism from rational lines, but that inquiry was directly prompted by the injustices religion perpetrates. For me, the ‘+’ part is the important part. Identifying as atheist is definitely meaningful, but at this point “I don’t believe in gods” is a logical conclusion effectively equivalent to “Well, I don’t jump off bridges because everyone else does, too…”

  172. says

    I may have reached the conclusion of atheism from rational lines, but that inquiry was directly prompted by the injustices religion perpetrates. For me, the ‘+’ part is the important part.

    But the ‘+’ part really isn’t part.

    I’d be just as against those injustices whether they were religiously motivated or not, whether I believed in god or not; injustice is injustice. Hurting people is hurting people. I’m motivated by my compassion and empathy, not by my religious leanings; I think other people should be as well.

    For my part, atheism is not having a belief in god, regardless of how that condition was reached; piggybacking a bunch of political agendas on top of that makes atheism into something it’s really not. And if the A+ movement catches on, I won’t be able to explain I’m an atheist without that extra baggage being assumed of me…and I don’t want that; atheism already has enough (patently false) baggage attached to it.

    If you want to fight against religiously-motivated injustice, great! I’m 100% with you. But when you co-opt the word “atheism” to do it, I can’t be on board; atheism is about belief in deities, not political beliefs, and attaching the word “Plus” on there doesn’t help, cuz you know that’s not the word people are gonna focus on.

  173. says

    just a quick comment. the idea that “atheism” has some kind of magical purity than can never be disrupted by other ideas or implications is a completely bogus argument. it is amazing to me that several youtube bloggers (among others) dropped by to point this out while their channels routinely advocate for all kinds of things while they fly under the banner of “atheist blogger”. i’m willing to make a bet that the purity rule applies only to atheism+. it seems some extra baggage is more equal than others.

    there’s something not quite about these arguments. how does something they don’t need to join or care about at all – essentially opinions of other people – become such a monstrous burden for them to carry.

    well, that wasn’t quick. sorry.

  174. Cylis says

    Also, just carrying the idea of the “purity rule” to it’s logical extreme…
    If atheism is “just a lack of belief in god,” then it would also not include a fervent defense of the definition of words. Truly “pure atheists,” by their own logic, shouldn’t take a stance on what word defines their position… because hey, strictly speaking, atheism has nothing to say on etymology.

  175. Paul says

    It’s all in the name – Atheist+. There way too much potential for it to become conflated with atheism in general (minus the plus sign) to those outside the atheist community who have no idea what the plus means and will be too lazy to look into it. From what I can tell, I think this is where most of the disagreement stems from. If the name were something more distinguishable, I doubt all these complaints would even exist.

  176. says

    The point is that atheism is an attribute…not an identity.

    When I argue that atheism is just non-belief in a deity, I’ve had a lot of people object by saying, “That makes the terms so broad that it’s meaningless! It tells me nothing about you!” What they’re really objecting to, I think, is that they think saying I’m an atheist should give me as much hint to my identity as saying I’m a Christian. It should tell them my morality, my rituals, my group affiliation, my stance of various issues, etc. Being an atheist should be the exact opposite of being a theist; they’re expect symmetry. They think “atheist” should be as much an identity as “christian”. And it’s not.

    When I describe myself to people, I tell them that I’m a “left-handed, adopted, multi-racial, lesbian, atheist”; “atheist” is just one part of the puzzle. All it tells you is that I’m not a god-botherer…and that’s all it should tell you.

    You see, atheism is an attribute…not an identity.

    The problem is that Atheism Plus seeks to make atheism into an identity. And I think that not only misses the point, but it also alienates those who might otherwise be our allies, should they happen to disagree with the tenets, dogma, and behavior of the Plussers.

    The only reason for atheists to gather is in self-defense against theists. If you are hungry for identity, join a fan club or something; don’t co-opt atheism for this purpose. Square peg, round hole. Just sayin’.


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