Not whether but what kind

So, you can’t have a state of no groups, no criteria, no filters, no beliefs, no commitments, no ideas. Or, you can, maybe, but then you’re a boring empty zero who does no good in the world of any kind; what’s the point of that?

It’s no good aiming for a state of zeroness, and it’s no good pretending to do that while actually just treating your own beliefs as if they were magically not beliefs.

The issue isn’t beliefs or no beliefs, commitments or no commitments. The issue is which ones.

If atheism is going to define itself as being necessarily assholish and anti-feminist and “politically incorrect” then Ima have to say fuck atheism, I’ll be an atheist humanist instead. I’m already a de facto atheist humanist, I suppose, but I haven’t identified as a humanist for various reasons to do with precision and history and not having gone to Harvard. But if atheist is going to start meaning abrasive dudebro harasser, then I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

I hope atheism doesn’t define itself that way though. I hope atheism can manage to remember that if it gains a whole lot of braying bullying jerks while it loses a whole lot of people who don’t like braying bullying jerks – it has made a bad bargain.


  1. clamboy says

    It’s broccoli, dear.

    Why? Dudebro says so, and since dudebro is always logical and rational, you get no dessert.

  2. says

    I don’t identify as like Atheist, Humanist, Naturalist, or whatever, primarily, anymore. I identify, politically, as an unorthodox Maoist, which is pretty nice actually, because lots of people think I’m like the Wicked Witch of the East or something at the end of it. It actually feels pretty liberating to be viewed as an evil person by ignorant morons, comical even. Of course, I will encourage this comical view…

    Oh yes where were we? The Atheist dudebros, oh them. I mostly ignore them, along with the ‘Humanist’ crowd that tends to be full to the brim of transphobes swearing they’re anything but transphobes, or that their transphobia has just been magically misinterpreted somehow, and it’s still transgender peoples’ fault for misinterpreting their transphobic bourgeouis sellout liberal humanism.

    Atheist dudebros are really the worst joke in a field of jokes, all of whom think they’re social justice warriors, willing to kill, die, and bleed for the emancipation of other human beings at home or abroad.

  3. Al Dente says

    It’s interesting that the dudebros whine about Atheism+ having “usurped” the atheism brand but they want to define atheism as misogynist, racist and libertarian. Deep rifts indeed.

  4. quixote says

    So you have to go to Harvard to be a humanist? I didn’t know. No wonder it’s such an endangered breed.

  5. atheist says

    But if atheist is going to start meaning abrasive dudebro harasser, then I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

    Exactly how I’ve been feeling lately.

  6. Minnow says

    I’ve never really understood what the purpose of atheist societies, rather than humanist or secularist is supposed to be. I suspect that the current upheavals have something to do with an absurdity underlying the project of organised atheism that is beginning to make itself felt. An atheist is just not something that you can really be, the way you can be a cyclist, or a democrat or a know-nothing or whatever.

  7. Minnow says

    Dan, they are not similar at all. Humanism is (or can be) a positive world view, an idea about how the world should be organised. Being an atheist just means you don’t believe there is a god. Nothing follows from that, although it may be an important consideration. I don’t get what an atheist group should really do. Get together and spend an hour not believing in god, or discuss how much you like not believing in god, or find new gods not to believe in? I think there is a basic absurdity there that has led to a lot of mischief.

  8. Dan L. says


    They are not similar along the one axis you are using in your analysis…but they are more similar than say, “cyclist” and “humanist” are. Furthermore, “humanist” is an ambiguous term. Wikipedia says this:

    Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). The term humanism can be ambiguously diverse, and there has been a persistent confusion between several related uses of the term because different intellectual movements have identified with it over time

    So in some sense, “humanist” means even less than “atheist” — at least the term “atheist” has a fixed and meaningful definition unlike “humanist”. Given the ambiguity of the term “humanist” I cannot see that it actually delineates a particular positive philosophy. At best it refers to a family of related positive philosophies.

    However, I also take issue with the term “positive philosophy” in the first place. Any logically consistent “positive philosophy” is necessarily a negative philosophy with respect to other “positive philosophies” which it contradicts. Which brings us back to atheism — in a world where religious belief is the majority opinion and the default and where apologetic arguments proliferate it seems to me that atheism could very well be a positive philosophy, especially if atheism forms a coherent historical phenomenon, i.e. if those who self-identify as “atheists” are borrowing the arguments of earlier self-identified “atheists”. And if we look at atheism in the real world, lo and behold! this is the case.

    (The same arguments pertain to all sorts of non-“positive philosophies” including anarchism and protestantism. Although a strict definition of “protestant” wouldn’t mean any more nor less than “non-Catholic Christian” there’s nonetheless quite a large number of people who identify as “protestant.” If you insist I’m sure I can find you lots of examples of similar philosophies originally defined only by opposition to existing philosophies but which have built up their own intellectual and cultural legacy over decades, centuries, or millenia.)

    Get together and spend an hour not believing in god, or discuss how much you like not believing in god, or find new gods not to believe in?

    You can attend atheist meetings and conferences and find out for yourself. You can also read atheist blogs to find out what there is to say about atheism besides your lame joke topics. This sort of pejorative mockery is a particularly lazy form of argumentation.

    I think there is a basic absurdity there that has led to a lot of mischief.

    Be specific: what sort of mischief?

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