What’s in a name?

This weekend, I went to NAPCON, the 2nd annual convention of the National Atheist Party.  While there, I mentioned that the party should change their name to the American Secular Party.  Most of those attendance seemed receptive to that idea, but not everyone.  The most resistance came from Justin Light, the representative from California.  Initially we intended have a formal debate of this topic right there at the South San Francisco Convention Center, but we ran out of time.  So we decided to do it informally, at the after party.

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  • Dan Tyson

    Justin is correct in the philosophical sense, but whilever ‘atheist’ is seen as ‘devil worshipper’, you would be better off with ‘secular’ if you want votes.

  • Dan Tyson

    Justin is correct in the philosophical sense, but as long as ‘atheist’ is seen as ‘devil worshipper’, you would be better off with ‘secular’ if you want votes.

    • Dan Tyson

      I have no idea why this appeared twice. I’m a Luddite.

  • C Tran

    I’m gonna have to insist on NSP, National Secular Party. ASP is fun but it’s playing right into the hands of the anti-atheists. The truth is that the American right-wing is better at propaganda than the left, and we atheists will never ever be able to compete with them in that field (nor should we). ASP is a bad idea.

    • throwaway, extra beefy super queasy

      *cough* NSP is taken.

      • C Tran

        Son of a…

  • It seems the two concepts being debated are metaphysical naturalism vs methodological naturalism. Although Justin seems to be phrasing atheism in the Dawkins sense: that all humans are atheist of the gods they don’t believe in, but that we (complete atheists) go further. This is unfortunately not a good definition of atheism, and problematic when engaging in discourse. He is incorrect regarding secularism being non-inclusive, as secularism is more concerned with public policy, while atheism would imply that we wish to promote atheism as public policy. This I take issue with, as we shouldn’t care whether or not people believe in gods, but whether they push for the separation of church and state and promote scientific inquiry.

    On Economic Policy:

    Science may not be able to tell us why a thing is good or bad, such as poverty, but through scientific inquiry we can certainly find out what are the causes of poverty, as well as its dissolution. The problem I find with most economics is that they are not rested on a scientific basis, in the same way creationism is not.

    As a humanist, I believe that poverty should be eliminated. It is through the scientific method, or methodological naturalism, that I believe a solution can be found. If you defend and encourage poverty, then in no way could you consider yourself a humanist.

    The problem with libertarianism, at least in the American definition of the term, is that it promotes the economics that have no scientific basis, and are not concerned with the abolition of poverty.

    National Secular Party is a step up from National Atheist Party, but it would seem prudent to go one step further and call it the Secular Humanist Party. After all, this says something about our essential ethical and methodological beliefs.

  • Eristae

    NAPCON: the convention for people who are deeply interested in naps.