Sunday Morning Survey – What Makes For A Unified Atheist Movement?

Edit - Oh look, something new happened to further illustrate my post: CFI Canada: Half-truths and scandal

Sunday Morning Survey – Because I’m Still Taking A Quasi-Successful Break From Blogging And I Had This One On A

Sticky Note On My Computer For Quite Some Time Now And The Sticky Bit Isn’t Working Anymore So I Might As Well Use This Idea Before Throwing It Away.

Three things happened.

One: Alan Moore talked about how he feels about a whole lot of protesters world-wide using his idea of the V-For-Vendetta mask – “Meet The Man Behind The Protest Mask”

But with the mask’s growing popularity, Moore has come to see its appeal as about something more than identity-shielding. “It turns protests into performances. The mask is very operatic; it creates a sense of romance and drama. I mean, protesting, protest marches, they can be very demanding, very gruelling. They can be quite dismal. They’re things that have to be done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re tremendously enjoyable – whereas actually, they should be.

At one point in V for Vendetta, V lectures Evey about the importance of melodrama in a resistance effort. Says Moore: “I think it’s appropriate that this generation of protesters have made their rebellion into something the public at large can engage with more readily than with half-hearted chants, with that traditional, downtrodden sort of British protest. These people look like they’re having a good time. And that sends out a tremendous message.”

Two: I got food poisoning. Kind of unrelated, but it’s dampened down my enthusiasm for moving out of this chair, let alone heading into the city to meet up with a bunch of Perth Atheists today and try to make my way home afterwards while apologising profusely to my body for tormenting it further by waving potato wedges with chili sauce in front of it.

Three: friends and associates have been talking about for some time about how the FreeThought Blogs reflects a number of diverse voices in atheism (and skepticism and freethought and secularism and so forth). We don’t all agree with each other, and I don’t think it’s feasible to expect us to agree with each other all the time. Otherwise it’d be ‘FreeThought BLOG’ rather than the plural.

In fact, not everyone agrees as to just HOW skeptic or atheist or ‘on goal’ they are – or even what the goal should be, or even how to define what makes a skeptic, or a skeptic separate from an atheist or how a skeptic and/or an atheist should behave, and all the various permutations on this topic (even a rather odd drive-by commentator who cut-and-pasted a Carl Sagan quote unattributed and rather hilariously got told off for not only plagiarism but for coming across as a concern troll!)

Does it all make your stomach hurt too? Can we ever accept the notion of ‘many boats heading in one direction’? No massive Cruise Liner ships running over paddle-boats while trying to get to the destination? No boats piking the sides of other boats? Should bigger boats regularly throw the occasional life-buoy to those smaller travellers be standard practice?

Even if there’s no bloody way in hell that some of us will EVER want to have the logo of another group associated with our smaller craft?

Is all we need… is unity?

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • ahs ॐ

    I am against atheist unity. It’s a guilt trip, and only used to marginalize minorities.

    Individuals are entirely capable of recognizing specific situations in which it is beneficial for them to work in short-term coalitions to advance shared interests.

    For example, if I see someone being disparaged for being an atheist, I can recognize immediately that it is in my interest to defend them on this particular issue, because I want a world in which atheism is not a reason for disparagement.

    And I don’t need anybody lecturing me about atheist unity in order to recognize this. I’m not stupid.

    Whenever I hear “we’re all on the same side,” I cover my wallet and watch my back.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    We don’t all agree with each other

    Yes we do agree. We vociferously agree all the time, without exception. We all toe the party line, chanting sections of The God Delusion and God Is Not Great, and there is never the slightest hint of disagreement.

    • ‘Tis Himself, OM

      Seriously, we can’t even agree on the definitions of atheism and skepticism. But we have some excellent discussions about our disagreements.

  • Perry Bulwer

    As Groucho Marx said, ” I would not join any club that would have me as a member.”

    I consider myself an atheist outsider, blogging on the fringes of the blogosphere, unconnected to the atheist/skeptic community, if there is such a thing, with a limited audience. But as John Sayles said in a recent interview: “However small your audience is, however frustrating it is to get your version of the world or what you want to talk about out there, it’s part of the conversation. And if you shut up, the conversation is one-sided.”

    On my blog profile I couldn’t decide which adjective best described me so I used, among others, the following: Humanist, Free-Thinker, Atheist, Agnostic, Skeptic, Secularist. I have a hard time being pinned down to one label, so I figured those would cover my perspective on most issues and scenarios.

    I just do my own thing on my blog, and haven’t concerned myself with being in unity or agreement with some larger movement, though if there is such a movement I’m probably mostly in agreement with it. However, I do admit to occasionally trying to get “bigger boats [to] throw the occasional life-buoy” my way on a particular issue, so far without success. I guess I’m so deep in the fringes that I’m too hard to see.

  • colinmackay

    For the reasons outlined here, , atheist identity and grouping strikes me as moot. The world is flattening and the secular community collaborates as required with increasing efficiency. But, at some point we must address the differing nature of the secular and sectarian world-views.
    As it stands, collectively and constitutionally, around the world our voice, if not muted entirely is severely disadvantaged. The only social voice I know of which is legislatively represented, particularly through tax law but also tradition, is religion. We do need to collaborate to address this. It is no longer necessary to form institutions and hierarchy’s, it is however necessary to coordinate collective action to ensure an equivalent political voice to all the groups disenfranchised by religion, feminist, LGBT, skeptics,… Regardless of other philosophical attachments atheists are best placed to develop and implement the framework for this social action.

  • crowepps

    As the American media makes very clear, mashing a whole bunch of people who have diverse views together in order to reduce things to two opposing views is a huge mistake.

    First, it isn’t a question of ‘the atheists’ versus ‘the religious’ but instead a question of ‘what level of conformity is necessary and useful for the public sphere, who decides the profile to which people must conform, and how should the rights of outliers be protected’.

    If there are 10 different types of atheist/humanist/skeptics/ secularists and 10 different expressions of religious beliefs, allowing the conflict to be reduced to ‘everybody else’ versus ‘conservative fundamentalist authoritarians’ disguises the fact that it’s really 19 against 1. The different types of secularists and most of the religious ALL disagree in one way or another with the authoritarians.

    Catholics for Choice put an ad in the paper about how 98% of Catholics disagree with their conservative heirarchy, and Obama shouldn’t privilege the Vatican by giving them regulatory cover in their oppression of those in the CC who disagree with them. It’s not ‘the Catholics v. women’, it’s ‘the reactionary ultra-orthodox Catholics v the overwhelming majority of Catholics and the world’ and that framing results in a very different public perception of the issue.

    Secularists need to avoid allowing themselves to be trapped in that same dichotomy. There are many, many religious people who ALSO want a secular society because it protects their religious expression from being attacked by ther religions.

  • colinmackay

    Disagree crowepps; there either is an interventionist god or there is not. It’s a dichotomy pure and simple. From a constitutional perspective governments are either secular, allow equal time and resources to resources to both the religious and non religious alike; or not. The religious voice has legislative advantage and atheists, be they also humanists, marxists, nationalists, skeptics, whatever… should make no mistake about that.
    This is a battle for the equal right of non belief before the law.
    One group, the religious, with established advantage fight to maintain the discriminatory legislative and cultural framework which facilitates the oppression of the non religious. It is, and has always been, us against them. Be that in private encounters or the public sphere.