Atheist “gods”


Here’s an enlightening podcast: a young woman talks about her journey from Christianity to Sam Harris atheist to dissatisfaction with all of the atheist leadership. It turns out that the neglect of feminism and social justice is turning people away strongly.

Time to cast down the horsemen.

Comments

  1. Helen Huntingdon says

    “It turns out that the neglect of feminism and social justice is turning people away strongly.”
    What a shock.

  2. Helen Huntingdon says

    “Time to cast down the horsemen.”

    Are they important enough, still, to cast down?

    I should note that my experience of “movement atheism” primarily consists of ignoring its existence, since whenever I circle back thinking, “hey, have these people sorted themselves out into something worthwhile yet?” the answer winds up being, “nope, still a bunch of sad white dudes telling themselves they’re more awesome than everyone else.” So I’m not really clear on the role of these “four horsemen”, other than having noted in passing some of their appalling bigotry.

    So are they still important enough, and if so, why? The moral problems of religion and the lack of evidence for are not difficult things to spot for anyone who simply pauses long enough to think on the matter for a bit. It’s so obvious that the religiously devout people I know personally accept that severe crises of faith are a fact of life. So why does atheism need Big Leader Figures?

  3. John Morales says

    Helen Huntingdon:

    So why does atheism need Big Leader Figures?

    You’ve already made the distinction between movement atheism and atheism per se. So, yes for the former (media seeks out spokespeople), not-so-much for the latter.

    That said, they all have made a good case against theism, and they did it at a time when the internet facilitated communication but before it also facilitated bubble consciousness. You have to remember (or, at least, be aware) of how non-theism was considered but a couple of decades ago. They were agents of catalysis and the removal of much of its social stigma, thus their acclamation and notoriety.

    As for A+, well, we know what happened with that localised initiative. Those who were sympathetic were already humanists, which is more inclusive since it accepts theism ceteris paribum.

  4. Helen Huntingdon says

    John Morales:

    “They were agents of catalysis and the removal of much of its social stigma, thus their acclamation and notoriety.”

    Were they really, though? It doesn’t much seem like it, since they couldn’t even sort out basic ethics and morality, such as not being bigots. Maybe they reduced the stigma in the minds of some people, but bigoted atheists have definitely created an anti-atheist stigma in the minds of many people who otherwise had no such stigma against atheists.

    “You have to remember (or, at least, be aware) of how non-theism was considered but a couple of decades ago.”

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean — I certainly experienced how non-theism was considered two decades back — I lived it. My own lived example shook up a lot of devout people and made them think more critically, so I’ve personally seen more progress from personal exposure to an atheist who thinks deeply on ethical and moral matters than though exposure to tired white dudes bloviating about being more awesome than everyone else.

    Or are you saying that there are a lot more self-congratulatory bigoted white dudes being open about being atheists than there were 20 years ago and that is what you mean by reduced stigma? I’m not sure that would even be progress, because the small-minded changing from theist-blinders to atheist-blinders means a whole lot of nothing as far as I can see — they’re still small-minded bigots out for whatever rhetoric puts them on top.

  5. John Morales says

    Helen,

    “They were agents of catalysis and the removal of much of its social stigma, thus their acclamation and notoriety.”

    Were they really, though? It doesn’t much seem like it, since they couldn’t even sort out basic ethics and morality, such as not being bigots.

    Ethics and morality may have to do with movement atheism, but have nothing to do with atheism. That distinction is important and categorical.

    Or are you saying that there are a lot more self-congratulatory bigoted white dudes being open about being atheists than there were 20 years ago and that is what you mean by reduced stigma?

    Well, yes, it’s an aspect of it. Before, they’d be self-congratulatory bigoted white dudes not being open about being atheists. But, moreso, there are also a lot more not-as-bigoted not-as-white not-necessarily-dudes also being open about being atheists.

  6. Helen Huntingdon says

    “Ethics and morality may have to do with movement atheism, but have nothing to do with atheism. That distinction is important and categorical.”

    Huh. I can’t agree with you there. It’s a “nice” distinction to talk about in terms of theory that has no real impact — the sort of thing that straight white dudes who have never known real challenge love to pontificate over. But for those of us in the real world, trying to separate out the ethics means a price a whole lot of us are paying in blood, now, today. So really, we don’t give a shit about anyone who separates out questions of ethics and you can all fuck right off if you can’t get straight what’s most important.

  7. John Morales says

    Um, Helen, I too live in the real world, contrary to your expostulation.

    (You’re not that privileged)

    So really, we don’t give a shit about anyone who separates out questions of ethics and you can all fuck right off if you can’t get straight what’s most important.

    To which grouping do you refer to as “we” and “us”? Obviously, not atheists in general, since I am one. I became an atheist because I thought theism is very silly, and only subsequently justified that on the basis of epistemology and evidence. Ethics had nothing to do with it, nor did the “horsemen”. And I doubt I am alone in this.

    Whether or not you like it, you really should accept that you already accept that one can be atheistic yet unethical, which entails ethics are not a requirement to being personally atheistic. Which is not to say that appealing to ethics is not a proper way to promote atheism in public policy – I personally think it’s an important tool.

    Anyway, to go back to the beginning: they may not be “important enough, still, to cast down”, but they clearly are (in your own estimation) important enough to question whether they are important enough to cast down.

  8. Helen Huntingdon says

    John Morales:

    Huh, you have hared off on a tangent I don’t see value in pursuing.

    By “we”, I should have been more specific — the fairly few times I have commented on PZ’s blog over the years, I’ve generally been speaking from the perspective of one of the “missing women” — those of us about whom PZ has asked, more than once, where are they?

    So that’s who my “we” is. And what a whole lot of us have been trying to get across, when asked, is that for those of us in the real world, with skin actually in the game, your ethics trump everything, to the point that your theism or atheism is silly and trite by comparison. If you haven’t got your ethics straight, we see no value in you.

    So when you hare off on a tangent about defining the terms of debate on atheistic concepts, you’re likely to get a “meh, tired, old, done that, heard that, why is this dude still buzzing on?”

  9. Helen Huntingdon says

    “Anyway, to go back to the beginning: they may not be “important enough, still, to cast down”, but they clearly are (in your own estimation) important enough to question whether they are important enough to cast down.”

    Dude, what kind of weird fantasy land have you wandered off into? PZ says, “Time to cast down the horsemen.” I respond with, “Are they important enough to cast down?” and you spin that into some kind of fantasy about what you want to think is important to me? That is just plain odd. Really, really odd.

  10. Raucous Indignation says

    You know PZ, this is all your fault. You focused on atheism when you are, in fact, a freethinking humanist. You are solely responsible for the creation of the atheist horseshit men. If it were not for you, we would all be living in an egalitarian socialist paradise. Why couldn’t you see they were horrible? You’ve doomed the planet and human society. All your fault. All. Your. Fault.

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