Atheism Plus What?

Okay, so having declared myself for Atheism+, let me address a few controversies surrounding the issue of the relationship between Atheism+ and Humanism. Is “Atheism+” just a rebranding of Humanism as James Croft contends in his excellent consideration of the issues involved? Are there substantive philosophical differences? Will there be substantive organizational differences? If so, what are the pros and cons of these?

As I see it, Atheism+ is a hybrid of New Atheism and Humanism. Of course it was already possible to be both a New Atheist and a Humanist (take James Croft for a prominent example). But it was also possible to be a Humanist and an Accommodationist (see Chris Stedman). Stephanie Zvan does a nice job of articulating how much she prefers what I will call a “New Atheist” approach to social justice that takes religion itself (and not just bad religions) to be one of the barriers to social justice.

New Atheists have long been fighting to have religion itself called into question as one of the evils that needs to be addressed in the world. To this end New Atheists have highlighted rather than downplayed the ways that religions contributes to other evils in distinctly important ways that cannot be morally ignored. If Humanists consider their Humanist values to be of primary importance and atheism to be a secondary issue, they are more likely to treat criticism of religion itself and of the religious aspects of social injustice as secondary to the point that they compromise their atheism and team up with religiously compromised allies without ever adequately criticizing their religious errors.

Atheism Plus does not bury the “atheism” part but keeps it at the forefront of one’s socio-religious identity.

Personally, I am sympathetic to Humanists who work with religious progressives and am inclined to do so to some extent. But I would never do so at the expense of treating atheism as a matter of irrelevance and ceasing my criticisms of theistic, faith-based religion. Maybe some other Humanists are as relatively committed to atheism in addition to their social justice work as I am. They may be New Atheist Humanists. Again, I think James Croft is someone like that. But Humanism as a broader movement is much more equivocal on this issue.

Besides the issue of whether to team up with other progressives who are religious and to downplay differences with them in order to do so, there is the related issue of humanistic religion itself. Many Humanists identify Humanism as an atheistic religion and not just as an atheistic social justice movement. So far Atheism Plus is consistent with the predominant New Atheist viewpoint that religion itself is a bad thing and that there should be no atheistic, rationalistic religions to replace theistic, faith-based ones. Identifying with Atheism Plus allows someone to affirm a social justice politics and ethics without committing to what she might see as the extra religious baggage that organized Humanism has acquired.

Since not all Humanists have been in favor of making Humanism into an atheistic religion, quite possibly we may have two menu options: Humanism for the social justice conscious atheists who want ethical/religious community and Atheism Plus for the social justice conscious atheists who are steadfastly irreligious and anti-religion. In such a casemay wind up close to being a Humanist in terms of the content of my beliefs and practices but nonetheless someone who prefers identifying primarily with the word atheist and so be drawn to the word Atheism Plus anyway.

Personally, I am more open to atheistic religions (as long as they are austerely rationalistic, pluralistic, anti-faith, anti-authoritarian, pluralistic, inclusive, egalitarian, non-dogmatic, social justice conscious, and philosophical in nature). So, if the dividing point between Humanism and Atheism Plus becomes the question of religion or no religion, then I may wind up straddling the divide uneasily (as I have already been doing as a tentatively pro-atheistic religion New Atheist). This also may come down to whether I wind up convinced that the specific dangers which religion itself invites can ever be stopped, or whether they inevitably will ruin any religion.

There is another potentially interesting difference between Humanism and Atheism Plus and it is that Atheism Plus is the result of a ground swell focused distinctly on one side of social justice debates within the atheist community. Humanism, at present, is defined much more by an articulation of certain values on a more abstract philosophical level. The implementation of those values may in some cases be robust and in other cases slack, much like with other religions. There is the ostensive philosophical commitment to a rather broadly defined and vague set of values, on the one hand, and then there is the real world interpretation of those values, and praxis according to them, on the other.

While Humanists have of course made any number of strides towards giving their abstract values tangible and effective instantiations, more widely Humanism encompasses some people who are not as committed to social justice in practice and Humanist groups run the risk of being just as insufficiently inclusive of marginalized groups as the broader atheist movement. I have no idea apart from competing anecdotes how much the broader atheist movement’s problems with diversity are shared by Humanist communities.

But it is notable that Atheism Plus is being founded as specifically an anti-marginalization form of atheism and not a vaguely defined commitment to “the human”. In the past “the human” celebrated by Enlightenment Humanists quite often rather explicitly and tangibly meant the “wealthy white heterosexual cisgendered neurotypical male”. In practice those calling for Atheism Plus think Humanism still does concern itself only with such men, and are tired of having to negotiate with those who disagree about whether to proactively change the situation.

So, Atheism Plus does not assume that “of course if we just adopt a Humanist philosophy social justice will take care of itself”. The disillusionment Jen McCreight expressed last weekend was specifically tied up in the realization that the necessary philosophical and practical steps from abstract Humanism to real world inclusive progress and ethical cultivation were simply not happening.

Rather than continuing to wait and lobby under the broader umbrella of atheism or Humanism, movements incorporating many more types of atheists and Humanists, her call was for a splintering so that those who agree that inclusion is a first order priority could either reform existing institutions or, if need be, set up new ones rather than wait around for a consensus.

Reflecting on this over the last few days, I think her thinking is sound. A set of atheists defined more narrowly by its anti-marginalization stance is crucial given the resistance of a sufficient number of atheists and Humanists to see why this follows from their other purported beliefs and values that they supposedly share with the anti-marginalization atheists.

There is a danger of factionalism. Amusingly, I saw an antagonist on my Facebook page claiming that this schism proves Atheism is a religion after all. See? Atheists disagreeing means they share a schismatic religion. Of course if we all agreed and had no divisions then our monolithic agreement would also be proof we have a religion, make no mistake about that.

The simple fact is that we are a socio-political-philosophical group thrown together by our shared marginalization from the dominance of theism and faith-based religions in our cultures and politics. Since we find this shared minority philosophical outlook and social status to give us surprisingly a lot in common we are invested in identifying as atheists. But now we are figuring out how to work from our shared agreements, on the one hand, and how to divide ourselves from those we disagree with in practically debilitating ways. We deal with ethical questions, epistemological ones, meaning ones, metaphysical ones, and even religious ones–as all people do. Some of us may be religious. Some of us will steadfastly refuse to do so.

Having shared philosophical groups binded in part by atheism does not make us a religion. Having shared ethical groups binded in part by atheism does not either. And just because competing atheistic religions may arise does not mean we are schismatic like religious people are unless we’re claiming the others are “not true atheists”. I personally prefer the idea of multiple atheistic religions if they are to exist at all. And it is possible (or at least I sure hope it is possible) for atheists to have religions without being guilty of the faith, dogmatism, or authoritarianism we criticize in theistic, faith-based religions.

Finally, even though atheist religions exist that does not necessitate that atheism is itself a religious belief. It is grounded in philosophy–no claim to special revelation. It is held as a rational conclusion and not as a matter of rejection of evidence. Even if atheists are wrong, unlike the faithful we are not believing deliberately against evidence, nor in spite of what we take to be lack of evidence, but only in accord with what we take to be the best metaphysical conclusion or the best restraint from belief according to proper epistemic humility.

But I digress. Even if Atheism Plus does not represent a religious schism could it still be worrisomely divisive?

I think it is important that Atheism Plus denounce all hatred in thinking and in tactics. I think it is important that we not verbally abuse and denigrate other atheists. (Or religious people for that matter.) (Or anyone for that matter.)

I think it is important that we care about more than social justice but also care about ethics in general and about rationalism and charitable debate with those that disagree. I think it is necessary that even as we draw an ethical, social, political, and philosophical line in the sand that we scrupulously evade the temptation to self-righteous hatred (which is the most seductive kind of hatred for otherwise well-meaning people).

I think it is vital we celebrate our overlaps with Humanists and other atheists and religious progressives and other human beings in general, even as we find points to contend against them. And I think it is valuable that we be perpetually philosophically introspective and open to constant reexamination of our beliefs and values and their justifications. Our commitment to our views and our values should never be dogmatic but should always be rooted in reason and refined by it.

But as long as we are doing all that, I see no problem in saying “our socio-political-ethical-epistemological values are non-incidental to our atheism, and our atheism is non-incidental to our socio-political-ethical-epistemological values”.

And I think Humanists should accept mathat for many New Atheists “Atheism Plus” is an immediately more pleasing and palatable way to affirm their shared ethical and political values than Humanism, since it allows them to simultaneously keep at the forefront both their justifiable suspicions of religion itself and their identities as atheists. I think this is some New Atheists’ way explicitly meeting you halfway, Humanists. I would take it without quibbling about whether this is a new idea or whether it horribly ignores decades and centuries of Humanistic tradition.

I think New Atheism has always been a moral and philosophical movement at its core.

“Atheism Plus” is a segment of New Atheists coming to terms with that explicitly. Great!

And it is doing so with its eye squarely on inclusiveness outcomes. Doubly great!

Let a thousand flowers bloom, dear Humanists.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://www.bolingbrookbabbler.com cethis

    Ideally, Atheism+ could become a branch of atheism, just like Judaism has branches. They have differences, but they will work together on various causes. I don’t see Atheism+ causing problems for atheism in the long run.

  • Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish

    I think if enough atheists come out and say ‘but we already share your goals’ then it’ll fade away – and for good reason; I also don’t think the people behind Atheism+ would mind all that much.

    But considering that, over the last year (and over the last few months in particular), no small number of atheists have made it perfectly clear they not only do not share those goals, but that they vehemently oppose those who make those goals the focus of their activism, it shouldn’t be surprising that people like Jen and Greta and Surly Amy and Rebecca Watson and those who support them want to disassociate themselves from them.

  • triamacleod

    Wowbagger, I think you hit it on the head.

    Atheism is simply no belief in gods but that doesn’t have anything at all to do with social justice or equality for all.

    While some might see it as unnecessary branding, I disagree. I would be far more likely to show up and pay good money for conventions or get togethers if I know I can feel safe and welcomed. That a certain level of ‘ground rules’, if you will, are in place. As it stands right now you have no idea what you will be walking into if you are female or transgender, non-hetero, let alone if the tone of your skin is a shade or two darker than what others feel is appropriate for such a function. The hurtful comments that some people make ‘as jokes’ are a big reason you don’t see a lot of diversity at events. If Atheism+ is promoted as being in effect at these events I think you will see more diversity, bigger crowds and a nice chunk of change being spent at said events. Basically its a win-win for everyone.

    For those who want to keep things as they are, they can bill their conventions as they do now and those who choose not to endure their behavior will know not to patronize them with our hard earned money.

  • http://irritually.org Per Smith

    “But it is notable that Atheism Plus is being founded as specifically an anti-marginalization form of atheism and not a vaguely defined commitment to ‘the human’.”

    What exactly do you mean by “anti-marginalization?” I keep on seeing this emphasis on “the marginalized” in posts by supporters of Atheism+ and now you seem to be defining the entire movement around the fight against marginalization. Do you mean anti-the marginalization of atheists in the United States? Or do you mean, as the idea of being inclusive of marginalized groups suggests, that you are against the marginalization of any group and want to work against the practice on a global or at least societal scale? It’s confusing because its seems rather specifically that you are not against marginalization altogether. In fact I get the sense that some groups should be marginalized. For instance any religious group right? Atheism+ isn’t the anti-marginalizing of religious “cults” form of atheism for instance, is it? I mean despite the fact that such groups are probably more marginalized than any other in our society. So what does marginalization mean when you use it? Who gets to define its parameters? And how do you support your claim on it as part of your movement’s identity?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      The anti-marginalization emphasis means opposition to the marginalization of women, minorities, gays, trans people, etc. I’m basing off this inclusiveness issue being the lightning rod that led to Jen’s manifesto that started the talk of Atheism+.

  • http://atheistshelpingthehomeless.blogspot.com/ Joe Zamecki

    All these new labels and the bickering over them make me even more proud that I capitalize “Atheism” every time, and more convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Especially when “Humanism” gets capitalized. :o)

    And hey while I’m at it, calling it “New Atheism” throws a bone to the religious. They’re always saying that we’re upstarts with a crazy new idea that didn’t exist until recently. It’s religion that’s the new idea, relatively speaking. For most of our existence, we humans have been godless. (Humanity is a LOT older than language.)

    I think the real value of Atheism is that it’s timeless. We can be very proud of that.

    • http://atheistshelpingthehomeless.blogspot.com/ Joe Zamecki

      An answer might be that it’s often called “New Atheists” and not “New Atheism.” Good answer.

      And it sure would be nice to be able to delete and/or edit my own comment…lol

    • John Morales

      All these new labels and the bickering over them make me even more proud that I capitalize “Atheism” every time, and more convinced that it’s the right thing to do.

      You really see atheism as an ideology?

      (What’s a source of pride to you would be a shame to me)

      It’s religion that’s the new idea, relatively speaking. For most of our existence, we humans have been godless. (Humanity is a LOT older than language.)

      Prehistory ain’t documented, so you’re just guessing.

      (And I bet magical thinking has been around since the beginning, where religion is just codified magical thinking)

    • http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com Yewtree

      I thought it was called New Atheism because of the extra vehemence over and above the old kind of Atheism.

    • John Morales

      [OT]

      Yewtree, Wikipedia is not a bad source regarding this.

  • Mclean

    I’ve registered my complaint about the name atheism+ (again, atheist or atheistic humanism would be much better), and criticized the arguments that atheism+ and new atheist humanists differ elsewhere.

    However, overall these issues are minor and no matter what name is chosen, or however closely whatever it comes to be called is affilated with or against humanism, I am very glad that is it happening and think this will be a net good thing for the atheist and humanist movements regardless of where it ends up.

    Let the thousand flowers bloom! (But please keep in mind that umbrellas can be pretty useful in keeping out too much sun or rain.)

  • http://www.humanisticus.com Peter Ferguson

    I think this atheism plus idea is wholly unnecessary, especially since there are so many pre-existing viable alternatives. I do not know the state of Humanism in the States, but the picture you presented above depicts it in a more appeasing state than how it is in Europe. In Europe, Humanist groups are pretty much like the new atheists with the addition of the ethical codes which the atheist+ group have laid out.

    Now before anyone has a go at me for what I am about to say, as I am not saying this is the case, but there is a more cynical side to me which thinks that atheism+ has been established just so FTB could have something they could call their own.

    • http://essaressellwye.tumblr.com Hershele Ostropoler

      I think this atheism plus idea is wholly unnecessary

      What do you propose be done about the problems it is meant to address? Or at least, ostensibly meant to address, if you don’t think that’s sincere?

    • http://www.humanisticus.com Peter Ferguson

      Use the pre-existing groups. If you believe calling yourself a Humanist does not get the point across, then use atheistic Humanist for example. You still have the atheist part there and then the Humanist part which expresses your ethical code. Also I already see people who are against the idea as being labeled as being against the ideas which atheism+ stands for, which is simply not the case. I fear it may be divisive as there seems to be the implication that those who do not go along with the idea are not for social justice.

      Also, a slight issue granted, but how is one to express themselves with atheism+? An atheist plusser?

    • AKAHorace

      Peter,

      I agree with the use of the name Atheists plus as I do not want to be part of them. Better that this group has it’s own name and clearly distinguishes themselves from other atheists than try to “own the brand”.

      A lot of what is defined as progressive will look pretty foolish in 50 years. If you don’t believe me look at the rubbish that progressives have swallowed uncritically in the past (e.g. disarmament in the 1930s, support for Mugabe in Zimbabwe, support for Mao in the 1970s).

      We need an atheist movement that can be as critical of popular trends as it is religion. Failing that, we need the term atheist to be as broad as possible, this way at least some of us will be right and we won’t have to live with the embarassment of atheism standing for the program of the atheist plus movment.

  • Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish

    Peter Ferguson wrote:

    I fear it may be divisive as there seems to be the implication that those who do not go along with the idea are not for social justice.

    It’s meant to be divisive. A group of people said, ‘hey atheist movement, we think there’s a misogyny problem’, and then got hit with a truckload of hatred that – funnily enough – illustrated exactly the point they were trying to make.

    There are quite obviously people who are not for social justice. And they’re a very loud and very enthusiastic contingent.

    What is so difficult to believe about people wanting to clearly disassociate themselves from those who have expressed naked hatred for them as people and who seek to cause them harm?

    • http://www.humanisticus.com Peter Ferguson

      Disassociating yourself from people is one thing, coming up with a new label for yourself is different. The misogynists within the atheist movement are a tiny minority and by separating yourselves in this manner you are almost grouping those who simply label themselves as atheist with them.

      Also, you may find it hard to recruit people as long as you have Carrier calling people retards and douchebags for commenting on his blog. What happened to rational discussion there? As he is a minority, maybe I should create atheismsuper+. It is atheism+ but I am against people slandering others for merely trying to have rational discourse.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      maybe I should create atheismsuper+. It is atheism+ but I am against people slandering others for merely trying to have rational discourse.

      That’s probably closest to my position.

    • John Morales

      Purity is paramount?

      (If they’re not for you, they’re against you!)

    • http://heartheretic.blogspot.com/ Lance Armstrong

      “That’s probably closest to my position.”

      Ditto. I don’t think Carrier’s take on this is going to get traction. I’m seeing too many people that are appalled by it to believe that Atheism+ is going to look like what Carrier describes.

      http://heartheretic.blogspot.com/2012/08/atheism-and-richard-carrier-exclusivity.html

  • Steve Schuler

    I’m glad to see that Peter Ferguson has referenced the Carrier post and comment thread on this matter. Not a particularly encouraging start for Atheism Plus from my perspective.

    I think that the biggest difference between Atheistic Humanism and Atheism Plus is that sometime in the not too distant future the former will still be a useful and meaningful expression while the latter will have found it’s way into the linguistic dustbin.

    But like Yoggi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

  • John

    Atheism plus seems to pretty much the rest of the atheist community as a little Freethought Blogs clique. It hasn’t been taken seriously, primarily because of the actions of it’s founding members. I sincerely doubt it will gain any traction.

    • Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish

      It hasn’t been taken seriously, primarily because of the actions of it’s founding members. I sincerely doubt it will gain any traction.

      Perhaps you aren’t looking in the right places.

      It may not gain any traction amongst some atheists, but others who would not otherwise want to be involved – at least not in a movement with so many people who openly disdain, if not flat-out despise, them – have already indicated, it’s making a difference.

      Personally, if it attracts even one person who wouldn’t otherwise want to regularly read/comment then I’d consider it a success.

  • leftwingfox

    The purity issue is a mixed bag. Atheism+ should be a home base, where people can identify with these goals, and can work together on those goals with a common framework. It should not be a fortress, at war with allies over our disagreements.

    Will this relieve or exacerbate tensions with groups like the NCSE regarding the role of atheism with science education? Or with the RDF on the role of social justice? When we do suffer a political break with an organization where a difference in values results in irreconcilable politics, like the JREF, will we be able to channel our emotions into positive change, such as supporting alternatives, or channeling efforts and resources into new effective systems?

  • http://Templeofthefuture.net James Croft

    I think this is a strong analysis, and it clarifies some important differences. If Atheism+ is going to be considered “NEW Atheism plus social justice concerns” then there is a legitimate distinction between that and Humanism.

    But the question is then raised, what will Atheism+ do about those aspects which have come to be seen as characteristic of New Atheism which seems to me to contradict social justice aims, and how will they manage their priorities?

    For instance, New Atheists have become notorious (fairly or not) for ill-judged and harmful rhetoric regarding Islam and Muslims. This iphas repeatedly been criticized by Humanists on grounds of social justice – it reinforces negative stereotypes about Muslims, lacks contextualisation and nuance in analysis etc. What does Atheism+ do about this? Which will win – the New Atheism or the Plus?

    In a more general way, I would ask how high a priority the anti-religious program of New Atheism should be in a social justice movement. One benefit of Humanism is that it enables Humanists to decide, contextually, what might be the most important factors to focus on in order to improve human flourishing at every turn. Sometimes that might mean relegating an anti-religious impulse in order to focus on a greater need (my writing on interfaith work explores that a little). Are A+ – ers going to be willing to do this? If not, the focus on a single issue represents a conflict, in my mind, to a truly Humanistic concern for social justice.

    Just some thoughts.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Excellent questions, James.

  • Eric Steinhart

    It’s nice to see that an idea I suggested to you months ago (which you flatly rejected and ridiculed as inappropriate) is gaining some traction – and that you’ve signed on. How did that happen? What made you change your mind?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      It’s nice to see that an idea I suggested to you months ago (which you flatly rejected and ridiculed as inappropriate) is gaining some traction – and that you’ve signed on. How did that happen? What made you change your mind?

      This exact idea? There are a lot of ideas with a lot of nuances. Which are you referring to?

    • John Morales

      [meta]

      Dan, before your question, I had imagined it was this one:

      Personally, I am more open to atheistic religions (as long as they are austerely rationalistic, pluralistic, anti-faith, anti-authoritarian, pluralistic, inclusive, egalitarian, non-dogmatic, social justice conscious, and philosophical in nature)

  • http://anythingbuttheist.blogspot.com Bret

    It looks like Atheism with a cross added. Good luck bearing that heavy thing…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=611844223 Balstrome

      Did someone not try this a couple years back with that Brights idea? Yes, it is the same thing, just a different name.

    • John Morales

      Balstrome, arguably, both are in the same category of things; but if they were the same thing, then any constituent member of either would ipso facto also be a member of the other.

      (Not really the case, in reality)

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Did someone not try this a couple years back with that Brights idea? Yes, it is the same thing, just a different name.

      Really? The Brights were a backlash against misogynists in the movement too?

    • John Moriarty

      Nailed it

    • mas528

      I still think the name is a mistake.

      Social justice is my concern, and I don’t care if you’re a Muslim, dominionist, or atheist.

      I don’t really care whether it is humanism renamed or adding dogma or not. . .

      My atheism is a teensy-weency thing, social justice is not.

      “Atheism plus” is not my big problem. The natural shorthand, “A+” is.

      It is a letter grade which will automatically bring associations to “brights”.

      I compare it with the same obliviousness that led the new political “tea party” to initially call themselves “teabaggers”..

      I think I understand slightly, people who have deconverted from religions that worked and collected for charity. . They are left adrift in atheism.

      The other problem I have with “atheism plus” is that *all* atheists are atheists plus. How about the white middle aged guy who is atheist plus libertarian?

      Do you really want to be associated with him?

      How about a hardcore Buddhist? Or Jain? Or Laveyist?

  • Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish

    Balstrome wrote:

    Did someone not try this a couple years back with that Brights idea? Yes, it is the same thing, just a different name.

    The Brights thing, as I recall, was simply a different word for the same thing, without a real driving force. Atheismplus sounds to me more like a bunch of people who’ve come up with a label for a group/network formed on shared goals.

  • Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish

    Hmm, is there anyone in the world who considers the current state of atheist activism to be the same as it was in 2003?

  • http://www.flame.org/~cdoswell Chuck Doswell

    My reasons for not being wildly enthused about joining A+ have nothing to do with my concerns for social justice (including, but not limited to, gender equality). It would be a mockery of the whole set of ‘beliefs’ being adopted by A+ to infer or imply that “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!” Yet, I get that vibe from several of the A+ founders …

    It’s clearly hypocritical for anyone associated with this group to engage in vitriolic denunciations of those who choose not to support or participate in A+ As a friend likes to say “The hypocrisy always reveals the lie!”

  • John Q Public

    Atheism+

    Attaching dogma & philosophical opinion/believes to Atheism.

    Apparently people have forgetting what Atheism is, you should probably stop calling yourself Atheist since your adopting a believe system…

    • sqlrob

      Since when is a belief system required to be theistic?

    • http://heartheretic.blogspot.com/ Lance Armstrong

      John Q Public @ 18:

      Vanilla atheism, implying only dictionary atheism, still exists with no attachments. As I see it, Atheism+ simply declares a group that occupies the intersection between atheism (or New Atheism) and concern for social equality. You seem to be implying that no group should identify as inherently both atheist and ________. I have no idea why that should be. New Atheist already implied both “atheist” and “disposed towards confrontation with religion.” That definition didn’t seem to be controversial in the same way that Atheism+ is.

      Also, being an atheist does not mean that you have no belief system. A belief system is not necessarily a religion; it can be philosophical. Many (nearly all?) atheists are also naturalists, for example.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_(philosophy)

  • http://askanatheist.tv Becky

    In practice those calling for Atheism Plus think Humanism still does concern itself only with such men, and are tired of having to negotiate with those who disagree about whether to proactively change the situation.

    One of the more alarming trends I’ve seen is A+ proponents assuming this/that/the other about what Humanism and Humanists are. Since when did those dedicated to rationalism and skepticism blow off a movement or a well-articulated philosophy (that is routinely revisited and refined) based on what they think said movement might concern itself with? This point that you reiterate above has been echoed across FtB, facebook, and other A+ blog entries and tweets. So disappointing. Even when provided evidence of Secular Humanism’s long history, philosophy, and activities, the response more often then not is “Oh. Well. I see. I still think we’re different.” Then when faced with that reality, A+ proponents who want to maintain the distinction will be forced to articulate the differences which have already led to exaggerated characterizations of Humanists as ritual-obsessed yearners for church, or as sentimental softies on religion, or as an old-boy hippies club.

  • slothrop1905

    mas528 put it well:

    “I still think the name is a mistake.

    Social justice is my concern, and I don’t care if you’re a Muslim, dominionist, or atheist.

    I don’t really care whether it is humanism renamed or adding dogma or not. . .

    My atheism is a teensy-weency thing, social justice is not.”

    And the above is exactly why I want nothing to do with A+. Reality is actually more important to me than social cohesion, which is why I left a pleasant life with the church in the first place, and have gone through hell ever since. I’m looking for a community that actually values what’s real, and NOT surrender that at the expense of everyone feeling good. I will keep looking…

  • Chris

    I’m a member of Atheism+Christ.

    It’s a new group that is cool like Atheists but we also accept the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ!

    I’m an “old wealthy white man” but let me tell ya, I’m not threatened by accepting Jesus!

    So get on board with Atheism Plus Christ!

    … this is basically what feminists have become, trolls.

  • Callie

    Comment removed for violating the blog’s policy against slurs and other demeaning insult words.


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