What is Atheism+ and Why Does It Make Me Slightly Angry? September 08, 2012 10:40 130 Comments
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Atheism+ Logo, and then a unique take on it that may or may not be an accurate assessment of its tenets, who knows, I sure don't. (Source: SecularCafe, Photobucket)[/caption]
EDIT: After reading and reading and reading this ongoing discussion, I'l like to start by saying Atheism+ no longer makes me "slightly angry." Not changing the title of the article, as that was my initial gut feeling based on very little understanding. Let this blog be a time capsule for future generations.
A "New Wave" of Atheism Seems a Bit Too Vitriolic
At least, for this amateur bloggist's taste. But then, this is all very new to me. I only first heard of this "Atheism+" business when The Raw Story shared this story from The Guardian. I've done a bit of internetular browsing, and have seemed to come up with bits of info here and there: a perfectly nice woman named Jen McCreight, who blogs on the FreeThought network, has created a new atheism movement called Atheism Plus, with the plus represented by + just like Prince did for a while. Her movement "cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime." Now, this all sounds well and good, right? So why is there such a divisive attitude towards it, and why do I immediately share it? Some think that it's become atheism's moral thought police, run by people who know better than you and I. Some feel that, while it claims to not be purposefully alienating, but as anyone whose even offered a polite rebuttal to their stance has been trolled to web-based death. Some feel that atheism itself is inherently socially progressive and humanist, and attempting to create an actual doctrine is foolhardy at best. And some feel that Atheism+ is a platform for extreme feminism fueled by disdain for the notion that the current realm of atheism is run by white middle-aged men of means.
I don't really want to get into my thoughts about this just yet. I still don't completely understand what it is! Is it just a name for a few people's ideas on a blog? Is it a burgeoning political movement looking for donations and memberships? Is there really a virulent swarm of caveman woman haters who are also vocal atheists? If you have thoughts about Atheism+, positive (Ha!) or negative, please comment. I'd love to talk to you internet folks+ about this, and really get into my initial reactions.
EDIT: Yeah, I figured this would be the case. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone - except for you, Jizzer. You are awful. You will miss everything good in this life, and you have our pity.
I want to stress that I still know very little about it, so my opinions are just that - opinions, initial judgment calls, but minds made up can be easily changed, if they're open to new evidence. But right now, I see an attempt of a select few to become the moral authority for a diverse number, and attach a name to it that, at its core, has no real ethical bearing. Yes, most of us who define ourselves as atheist or agnostic feel that, inherent in that, is a strong sense of humanism and social progress. I can't honestly say that I've met an atheist who wanted fewer rights for women, an amendment against gay marriage, or anything like that. But that doesn't mean that all people who don't believe in a god also agree on all the issues.
And that's entirely fine - the good parts about what I've discovered of Atheism+ through this little blog experiment is that it's an opt-in thing, it's not FORCING anything on anyone. Call yourself whatever you want, support whatever you want, Atheism+ don't care. It hopes to affect social change and fight religious influence on policy, and that's a noble ideal. Here's where my "slight anger" comes in -
Now, it looks like a lot of Atheism+ stems from a tree of feminism whose seed was that whole elevator debacle a while back. If you're unfamiliar with that whole mess, a convenient breakdown can be found here. It feels like a lot of what Atheism+ is about is in response to this environment that may very well exist - I don't know, I'm a white, unattractive male, I get ignored more than attacked or abused. But I do remember my initial response to the elevator story was similar to Dawkins' rather than Wilson's. I felt, and still do feel, that to cry misogyny and sexism in that scenario was overblown - the cry of feminism in that instance made women all the weaker, rather than equal. <---OPINION
And it feels like instances like this, especially with Dawkins' response, are why Atheism+ is so stridently opposed to being represented by the names we're all used to. No more Dawkins, Dennet, Randi, Hitchens, Harris, and the rest - since they're aged white men, their opinion must be at least a little sexist! Could it be coincidence that a lot of the people we currently see as the "faces" of atheism are older white men? Or are these the people who just so happen to be the experts on the subject? I feel like atheism+ is seeking to disassociate with these men simply because they are men. <-----OPINION
But is there really a huge, vocal base of hateful, sexist, monster atheists making death threats against Atheism+ bloggers and leaders just for speaking out? Or is this the internet, where anyone can feel the sensation that space and anonymity gives to the id? Any online gamer will tell you - all you ever hear are the racist, bigoted, vile monsters screaming obscenities. It's the power of the internet. Creating divisions and shouting back only does so much, and I think all it does is "feed the trolls," as they say. <---- OPINION.
That's all for now. Let us never forget - this would not be the first time I, Kyle Van Son, could be 100% wrong.