Tell Me What You See In These…

The internet, at times, is best
Described as mostly Rorschach test

The thing about a Rorschach test is, the stimulus cards are intentionally ambiguous. In the absence of real detail, the theory is that individuals project their own thoughts into their interpretations of the blots.

Atheism plus isn’t a week old yet, but that doesn’t stop people from praising or decrying what they understand it to be. Some Humanists have been calling it humanism, despite specific claims that it is not. I have heard it called bigotry, exclusionary, a club for those who agree with us, shunning those who do not. It is the best thing since sliced bread, and it is utterly unnecessary. It is a breath of fresh air, and it is oppression itself. It is inclusive, and it is my way or the highway. (And for the record, I am seeing variability among proponents as well as detractors–liking (or disliking) what we see is easy when you create half of it yourself.

It’s not a week old yet. I, personally, have no idea what atheism+ will look like in six weeks, six months, or six years. But I do have to wonder about those who react so quickly against an explicit attempt at inclusiveness.


  1. herp says

    The problem I see is that there is pressure to define what atheism+ is meant to be, when in reality it’s much like atheism itself; there are many definitions with an underlying theme. The reality of it all means that atheism+ will be defined by the actions of those ascribing the title to themselves, not by words on a page.

    If some people wish to call it humanism or secular humanism, then by all means go for it. In the end if it energizes the title holders with motivation to do something good, then I ask you, where is the loss?

  2. baal says

    “But I do have to wonder about those who react so quickly against an explicit attempt at inclusiveness”

    Um, while inclusiveness is part of the roll-out (not sure a “roll out” per se was planned) it was also explicitly a line drawing exercise. It’s easy (normal even) to over focus on one detail and miss larger items or even the entire context. I otherwise agree that immediate responses are in the knee-jerk territory.

  3. says

    Greta Christina ‘splained it very well this way: when you bring in minorities, you will divide yourself from people who don’t like that. So it is inherently divisive, but it’s a good division.

  4. Rob says

    Who knows what Atheism+ will look like in the future. Maybe something wonderful, or maybe something that we all wish could be erased from history. My guess is something in between, but closer to the former.

    What I like about it, what I immediately liked about it, was the unequivocal statement that it was to be inclusive of the views of minorities and disadvantaged groups, while still utilising the core philosophy of Atheism. I am not (in my country) in any of those groups, but I value diversity and inclusiveness because I believe that properly constructed a diverse and inclusive society will be a healthier, happier, safer and more interesting one in which to live.

    The fact that some people have objected, seemingly on the basis of “I’m and atheist and I don’t believe in that/see that as part of the atheist movement”, Simply tells me that we agree on one point and disagree on others. That’s fine I can cope with civil disagreement. What I will not agree with is the “You can’t call yourself Atheist+ because the word Atheist is already taken by me”. If you follow the same reasoning you couldn’t have conservative/liberal Democrat/Republican, or different flavours of socialist, feminist etc. Ridiculous.

    I’m fine with distinctions that tell me about the world and the people I associate with. Having some things in common and some things not enables choices and judgement. It does not necessarily make allies or enemies.

  5. F says

    People whose thinking is congruent with atheismplus might call themselves humanists (or whatever), but they don’t get to define how anyone else identifies. They don’t get to make condescending claims and still be considered reasonable or respectable in this matter by people who choose to identify otherwise.

  6. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    A lot of the anger is coming from people who are saying they’re atheists who are also pro-social justice – the problem is that when all of the Elevatorgate and con-policy and #FTBullies nonsense was going down, they were nowhere to be found.

    The atheist ‘mainstream’ appeared to be those people attacking PZ and Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson and Sulry Amy and Natalie Reed for daring to criticise ‘the movement’ in the same way they criticise religion. This opinion has been demonstrated in the comments people have made implying that while they didn’t want to be part of the ‘old’ atheist movement, they are interested in what atheism+ has to offer.

    Those complaining now maybe should consider why they didn’t stand up to argue with those who were insisting that atheism per se isn’t interested in what atheism+ is about before a whole bunch of people decided they didn’t want to be lumped in with those who not only wouldn’t share their goals but would work very hard – and act in truly vile ways; just do a hashtag search on #FTBullies – to oppose them.

  7. Crudely Wrott says

    Of what use is a newborn child?

    (I’m sixty one but just the other day I discovered I had some growing to do. Again. Working on it. Again. I have two children in their thirties who I wish, from time to time, would start acting their age. Funny how that works, innit?)

    In all, I look forward to good things, interspersed with squabbling. That is, most every good thing I know of came of age through some sort of childhood and adolescence and, in most all cases, is still growing and improving.

    Is their any good reason why the atheist movement, its maturing, should be exempt from such process?

    Years ago a friend and I distilled the following adage:

    Step back a couple million miles and get the wider perspective. It’ll bring out the width in you.

  8. Die Anyway says

    I haven’t understood the animosity. As far as I can tell, Jen didn’t go out with a gun and force people to sew an A or A+ patch on their clothing. If there’s a group of atheists who want to focus on social justice and want to give their particular sub-set of atheists a recognizable tag, why is that controversial? If you don’t like the A+, stick with the Big Red A, which I never liked much anyway because it looked too much like the University of Alabama logo.
    Anyway, despite all of the heat and hoopla, I’m still in. I’m tired of being just a non-stamp collector. I like being a non-stamp collector and I’m proud of it, but I want to let the world know I stand for something else too. And I’m not ashamed to say that the “something else” is “treating people nicely.” All people. I mean, really! Golden Rule and all that.

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