I don’t even know what’s going on in atheism anymore


I feel good about that, too. I still get email from various organizations, though, so I still get sent the Atheist Alliance International newsletter, AAI Insider. The latest issue contains this dodgy gem:

Earlier this year, two AAI staff members made false accusations regarding a Director, then resigned and immediately set up their own organisation with a deliberately similar name, claiming that we are corrupt and that they are white as snow. We have refuted their accusations and they have acknowledged that they were groundless, but they did so on condition that we didn’t tell! We have the evidence. Draw your own conclusions…

Ooookaaaay. I think they’re talking about the International Association of Atheists, which formed a few months ago, but they can’t tell us, and they can’t tell you that they refuted everything that triggered the schism, but they did. Sorta.

I’ve attended a couple of AAI meetings, 8-10 years ago, and they were pretty good. I don’t understand what happened to them since, and I really don’t want to know. Deep rifts, ongoing fragmentation, and crumbling reputations seems to be the order of the day in atheism.

Comments

  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    The same type charlatans that rise to the top in religious orgs seem to rise to the top in atheist orgs. Once you get any semblance of a cult of personality in a group it is time to check that group off your list. I would have liked to have some involvement in an atheist org, but have never found one that did not give out huge warning signal.

  2. raven says

    These schisms and fragmentation seem to be common in human movements.
    They happen all the time.

    .1. The classic case is religions.
    There are now 42,000 xian sects with more being formed all the time.
    They don’t agree on anything including such basics as how many xian gods there are.

    .2. This is also what happened to the Old Left in the USA, from what I remember of recent history.
    There were some large leftist organizations in the USA in the early to mid-20th century with Communism or Socialism in their name.
    They kept having schisms over ideology, politics, and personal disagreements until there were many small organizations that were too small to be really effective.

    .3. Even such mundane organizations as the Boy Scouts USA have had this and recently.
    One group left because the BSA officially discriminates against atheists and Pagans and formed the Spiral Scouts or some such.
    The fundie xians left when the BSA started to drop their anti-gay kid policies.
    The Mormons left also and formed their own version based in Mormon churches.

    Fragmentation is more the norm than the exception for organizations and movements.
    I’m not sure that I can even think of a movement that didn’t fragment sooner or later.

  3. Artor says

    Umm… “We have refuted their accusations and they have acknowledged that they were groundless, but they did so on condition that we didn’t tell! We have the evidence.”
    So they just did tell. Does that mean the deal’s off? Will this other organization refute their refutation now? What is this evidence they speak of, and what are the accusations?

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the Atheist Alliance International … the International Association of Atheists…

    I hereby announce formation of the Atheist International Alliance! Who’s with me?

  5. wzrd1 says

    I learned, long ago, the hard way, those with minimal to no power, when promoted to a position of power, can trivially become abusive and demand that which is not their due.
    Trying to sort out who would be that way and not, I’ve yet to fully define it without a hell of a lot of time closely associated with the individual, the damnedest folks can turn out that way, once given authority.
    If anyone can figure it out, I’ll eagerly await a set of defining traits or other signals and signs.

  6. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Deep rifts, ongoing fragmentation, and crumbling reputations seems to be the order of the day in humanity.

    Fixed that for you, unfortunately.

  7. leerudolph says

    raven@3: “They don’t agree on anything including such basics as how many xian gods there are.”

    I would assume that the distribution of “how many xian gods there are” is bimodal, with loads of sects for which the answer is 1, and other loads for which it is 3; and that at least some sects (e.g., some kinds of Latter Day Saints) contribute to (possibly indefinite) various answers strictly greater than 3. Do you know of any examples where the answer is 2?

  8. jenorafeuer says

    @wzrd1:

    I learned, long ago, the hard way, those with minimal to no power, when promoted to a position of power, can trivially become abusive and demand that which is not their due.

    Yeah, back in University I came to two conclusions when dealing with things like student club and fandom politics:
    – There are people out there whose primary purpose in life is to find a small enough pond that they can be a big fish in it.
    – Once they find it, they will defend their pond all out of proportion to its actual worth for fear of losing what they have, even if they destroy it in the process.

    I would later find out that the latter was essentially a variation on Sayre’s Law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”

  9. johnk83776 says

    It always seemed to me that trying to base an organization on what you aren’t, as opposed to the more typical basing it on what you are, was asking for trouble. PZ, you interpreted lack of religion to imply there would be room for social justice. Unfortunately, it also left lots of room for psychopathy, and that seems to predominate now.

  10. KG says

    Whatever happened to the Popular Front? – LykeX@8

    It turned out to be Unpopular.

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    wzrd1 #9: “I learned, long ago, the hard way, those with minimal to no power, when promoted to a position of power, can trivially become abusive and demand that which is not their due.”

    Likewise, there are people who have always had privilege and power, and abuse them, so I am not clear that you have discovered anything profound.

  12. chrislawson says

    “We have refuted their accusations and they have acknowledged that they were groundless, but they did so on condition that we didn’t tell! We have the evidence. Draw your own conclusions.”

    Filed under Impossible To Satirize.

  13. jenorafeuer says

    @chrislawson:
    No kidding. If nothing else, the sheer unprofessionalism of that statement should be a red flag to anybody interested in the organization, and a sign that whoever sent that needs to be kicked out of any PR position.

  14. R. L. Foster says

    Reading this blog is as deep into an atheist organization that I wish to venture. Organized anything has always put me off. When I was in the Navy that was the last time I ever subsumed myself to an organization that demanded rigid conformity. I do not like others doing my thinking for me.

  15. says

    Are we supposed to draw conclusions based on someone saying they have evidence and not showing it? I see that one a lot, often from people who think antifa is some organized shadowy group. Trump does that too.

  16. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    All of the professional shitlord atheist organizations should come together and form the Atheist Secret Society, since we’ve already seen their ASS.

  17. says

    @12 I think it’s becoming worse as we become more alienated as a society. People need to build identities out of whatever scraps they find and then zealously defend them well past the point of reason. What you describe is why fans of comics and games get homicidally angry when their passions are threatened. It challenges not a consumer product but their very identity.

  18. wzrd1 says

    @Reginald Selkirk @16, as others have observed that long before I first drew breath during the ice age, I’m not especially, terribly convinced it is even a slightly profound observation. It’s just an observation I’ve made, confirming the observations of others.
    For your example, it’s also been my observation that some people, indeed, many people with significant wealth are just simply miserable bastards. Tis what it is.

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