This is one of the outcomes of Skepticon.
I did not take anywhere near enough photos, but I can't express how healing it was to be around my old blogging family again after a decade away
— Dr. Jey McCreight 🧬🏳️⚧️ (@jeymccreight) July 31, 2022
Optimism? Am I ready to be optimistic again?
If you’ve been out of touch with the secular movement for a while, you may not be aware that we—the politically correct, SJWs, Outrage Brigade, the wokist scolds, or whatever other term of derision you might have heard for those of us wanting a more inclusive movement—won the secular culture wars. Movement humanism is working on being actively humanist. Secular activism recognizes issues far beyond public crosses and prayers. New leadership is clear that they’re shaking things up.
I am not sure. What I see is an incoming tide of hateful religious scumbuggery, and atheism managed to splinter itself between the people who oppose that, and the people who see an opportunity for grift and are willing to align themselves with fundamentalism in the name of hating LGBTQ people and Muslims and anyone with a different color skin or a vagina. They’re all atheists. Some of them are just more interested in pretending they’re superior and sneering at foolish people while promoting a regressive agenda.
It drove me away, and I think it alienated the good people in that photo. Maybe they’re more resilient than I am, because sheesh, I feel burned. But then, as Nathan Robinson explains, we still NEED atheism to counter the villainy of evangelical fundamentalism.
And yet: even though I have spent much less of my time arguing about God in the last ten years, and I think that is healthy, I increasingly feel as if—and I am not alone in this—atheism needs to make a comeback. The religious right in the United States was not, in fact, defeated. In fact, religious conservatives now dominate the Supreme Court, and have recently successfully revoked one of women’s core constitutional rights. Their movement is on the march, and they have a very clear, terrifying agenda that Democrats have proven themselves totally incapable of effectively countering. As journalist Elle Hardy has documented, while young Americans may not be especially religiously faithful, around the world, evangelical Pentecostalism is attracting astonishing numbers of converts, and with it pushing a toxic and often apocalyptic brand of hard-right politics.
Maybe, just maybe, I can stoke up the ol’ fire in my belly for a more positive, humanist atheism. I’ll have to try, but somebody pissed on the coals and has hidden my matches, so it might be a bit of a struggle. But yeah, let’s bring back a positive atheism, and I’m ready to at least follow other people’s inspiration.