I came across an article in the British on-line version of The Guardian, describing a new group called "Atheism+". And, not a very flattering article at that. The Guardian describes the group, in the sub-title to the article, as "A new movement, Atheism+, has prompted non-believers to spit venom at one another rather than at true believers."
I was curious, so I dug a little further. It's reported that the members describe themselves as the Third Wave of atheism, rejecting the New Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens) as a group. Purportedly based upon humanist ideas, PZ Meyers, in promoting Atheism+, clearly stated that if you don't agree with the groups goals,
...then you’re an asshole. I suggest you form your own label, “Asshole Atheists” and own it, proudly. I promise not to resent it or cry about joining it.
I just had a thought: maybe the anti-atheist+ people are sad because they don’t have a cool logo. So I made one for the asshole atheists.
Part of the rejection of the New Atheists comes from a founder, one Jennifer McCreight, who stated her critique of the atheist movement is because it includes groups of old, white, men.
Noted atheist Thunderf00t did an article that eviscerates Atheism+, entitled A+ (atheism plus), For A Third Glorious Age of Total Agreement
As to myself, I can't say that I really know that much about it. Maybe what I've read so far is nothing more than unfavorable bias. And, am just wondering if anyone else has heard of this, or knows anything about it.
This is the link to go to Atheism+.
I don't see how her comments are meant to exclude old white men? I took what she said to mean that there are issues that need to be addressed among current atheist groups lacking in diversity, and that there is room for new groups to form that would be more attractive to a different crowd.
PZ is an old white man... and obviously he is able to enjoy the societal privileges that come with that. But there is a difference between calling out privilege - calling for others to acknowledge their own privilege, and saying that anyone who belongs to the privileged class "is not welcome here". The former is being said, not the latter.
To accuse them of being ageist, sexist, and racist is a reach, IMO. Every time I check out the comments on a news article, I see charges of racism, perhaps by trolls, leveled at anyone who dares to mention that racism is still alive and well in this country. The same goes for sexism and the anti-feminists who make fallacious arguments about how women are always crying rape or whatever bogus claim they make up to shift the focus away from the fact that they are sexist douchebags who, refusing to acknowledge the truth of their sexist douchebaggery, project their hatred onto those who are only reacting to the force of that hatred in the first place.
From what I've read, the sheer viciousness of the attacks on the A+ crowd... It feels a bit like that, like it's only their detractors putting words in their mouths about how they're going to exclude anyone who's not within their target demographic, whatever that is. I should say at this point that I'm not a fan of drama and I don't pay much attention to atheist blogs. So, I don't follow any of these bloggers and I don't particularly care to start following any of them, either.
Anyway. I read the Thunderf00t article linked to from the OP, and I was surprised at how nasty Richard Carrier seemed to be. Then I went to Carrier's blog... and found that Thunderf00t's quotes were taken out of context. True, Carrier's writing came off as very aggressive, but he was reacting to some NASTY stuff that happened. His post was quite impassioned. I think maybe he was too enraged at the time to mince words; as a result, lots of stuff came out perhaps not the way he had intended. However, Thunderf00t's way of "winning" the argument via selective quoting is intellectually dishonest, and that (to me) is the more offensive of the two.
If this account is true, and incidents like that are the basis for the formation of A+, then I can't find fault with them wanting to weed out the assholes who would do that shit. That the assholes who would do that shit are now turning it all ass-backwards onto the injured parties, saying that they're the ones who want to make everyone feel excluded, is just the icing on the cake.
Personally, I just want to stay the hell away from all that drama. Just reading about it is enough to give me a headache. I'm not running to join A+, but I also never want to attend an atheist convention if I'm going to have to deal with assholes like that. If A+ wants disown those nasty little buggers, all the more power to them.
Just saw this link in a post from the feminism group here. Since they obviously don't get it, I might as well throw the link here where maybe someone will. Is it satire, or just Atheism-? (Note: There's no members, so don't bother signing up.) I just thought it was hilarious that people are "disgusted" by a group that:
reject groupthink and political correctness plus those who question impetuous adoption of contrived non sequiturs relating to social justice.
The joke is on Humanism, of course.
Well, I see a need for it. Division isn't a bad thing when on one side are atheists with humanist principles and on the other are atheists who think that screaming rape threats is an appropriate reaction to women who express their opinions. Atheist groups all over the country routinely discourage women from speaking, interrupt them, don't invite women speakers, etc. Further, sexual harassment policies just make good sense for conferences and launching WWIII in response to the idea just underlines the problem. And this is just one problem, the problem of sexism, we have other problems with racism, homophobia, and more, and this is IN THE ATHEISM COMMUNITY. When the old school atheist humanists go around saying that we have a community where all those problems have been solved, and they haven't, we need some fresh activism. Count me in.
False dichotomy doesn't have anything to do with it, it's about using the new label to promote values that you personally find complimentary to atheism. You can use it (Atheism +) or not, your choice. What was the problem with the methods, exactly? Was it just the PZ comment about assholes? I'm not sure that was a method exactly, but a bit of a broad brush. Thanks for the clarification.
Ok, sorry if I was unclear, I did not mean to imply that all those who dislike Atheism + scream rape threats, I meant that the presence of atheists that do created the need for a group like A+. I have no idea if you are a terrible human being or not. I assume not.
The us vs. them mentality was there long before A+ came into the picture. If the rape-threats-screaming-assholes aren't espousing an us vs. them attitude, then I don't know who is...
I believe that A+ was basically just a reaction to that. Is PZ an asshole? Yes. Is he as much of an asshole as the rape-threats-screaming-assholes? Definitely no. Granted, that doesn't make him right, and it doesn't make A+ right, but you've gotta wonder... Why all the backlash against A+? Why focus on how A+ is so horrible and yet not bring up the reason people would turn to the idea of forming such a community?
A+ might not be going about things the right way, but the far bigger threat to atheist communities is the presence of those idiot trolls and their idiot troll behavior. What's far more threatening to the atheist communities is if they continue to tolerate and encourage "free speech" and "freethought" as equivalent to the right to bully others into shutting up. Thinking of it in this light, A+ is only borrowing the same tactics that were used against them.
Thinking of it in this light, A+ is only borrowing the same tactics that were used against them.
I already do think of it that way and I pity those who think it is somehow right to act wrongly only if you're doing it against someone who has already wronged. The Christians say, "Let he without sin cast the first stone." Unfortunately, many Christians make stone throwing a professional career. The kids say, "Two wrongs do not make a right." Apparently, "atheists" have missed the lesson. If it means you have to make a religion to fight other religions, then you've already lost the fight before you started, because you are then doing exactly the same thing they have done. The means do not justify the ends.
If I could win an argument in the eyes of the public by making fallacious arguments, using bully tactics, and divisive, fear-mongering prose, I would rather lose the argument in the eyes of the public by making intellectual, logical arguments that people don't understand. The A+ people have chosen the opposite, and so I respect them as much as I respect OJ Simpson's lawyer -- not that much.
So why be against A+ but not trolls? Rape threat screaming trolls don't have their own community (by definition). They are trolling. They are not the ones harping "with us or against us". They are not the ones coercing atheists, in general, to join their political troll movement. As far as I'm concerned, trolls are just that -- trolls. They exist in any community. They are not actually a part of any community. They will go anywhere they think they could succeed in getting a rise out of people, or whatever their goal at that moment is.
A+ does not solve any problems. Find me an atheist that will defend "rape is okay" and we'll have a discussion and get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, there's a bunch of exorcists hunting a phantom.
Note: I'm not a part of any atheist movement; in fact, I think the very concept of having a movement centered around people that lack belief in something can only arise out of a reaction against movements centered around people who do actually share a common belief, so "atheist movements" are contrived, reactionary, and should be nothing more than a stepping stone to begin with.
--The Non-Humanist Asshole Atheist
P.S. At some point, I think all atheists (and theists alike) need to step out from behind their foreskin and stop being so damn sensitive. When you put yourself out there, online, writing blogs or spreading a message, you expose yourself to criticism. I can't count the times someone on YouTube told me to "fuck off and go die" -- and they come from all walks of life, whether Christians, liberal Humanists, or even K-pop fangirls. You can't put up a wall against stupidity; it's counter-productive.
P.P.S. I think what's threatening against communities in general are nihilistic warlords, or people who employ Sun Tzu's "divide and conquer" without any clear goal.
P.P.P.S. I'm typing all this as a matter of fact. I'm not emotionally invested against A+ (like I said, I don't identify with atheist communities in general), and it frankly wouldn't bother me that they succeed or fail. They are less than a blip on my radar. What annoys me a bit, generally, though I am not consumed with it, is ideologues who pretend not to be, or wolves in sheep's clothes. For example, the Council for Secular Humanism claims to represent free inquiry (they have a magazine by that name) and challenge humans to develop their own values. But then, in the same stroke claims (emphasis mine):
Indeed, say secular humanists, the basic components of effective morality are universally recognized...
Secular humanism offers a nonreligious template that may one day guide much of humanity in pursuing fulfilling and humane lives—lives that are rich intellectually, ethically, and emotionally, without reliance on religious faith.
In my opinion, recruiting newly converted atheists using a template of religion is quite disingenuous.
(Edit: It says non-religious, but really it's a quite-specific philosophy with a social structure, support groups that "help" you to find their goals. Saying, "we challenge you to find your own morals", and then saying, "all morality is universal" is like Buddha encouraging his pupils to be skeptical of the truth, but then stating that there is only 1 truth. In other words, it's Glenn Beck-style coercion, "Do your own research, I don't claim to speak the truth, but...".)
I will shut up now //end-rant
Sorry, I don't speak for Matthew, but to me PZ's broad stroke is very indicative of Humanist methods. The fact that you characterize this thread as "WWIII" against, presumably, feminism, is also indicative. This is the kind of attitude that I often see Humanists hold: a sort of hasty assumption of rationality against everything else which they see as irrational. We've seen several posters in this thread who claim to be in favor of Humanism. They commonly describe their views as the rational next step to atheism. Several posters here have also come out to say that atheists, lacking any patriarchal structure (what does that have to do with it?), must also believe in a variety of things, otherwise they practically are assholes, in agreement with PZ.
The problem is when someone assumes an opponent is de facto irrational, that gives them somewhat of a justification to act condescending, or even irritate easily, because they presume their beliefs are "common sense" and self-evident, when in fact they are not.
Humanists, however, are not unique in thinking they hold rational views, but cannot prove them. Objectivists also get irritated easily when you challenge them on what they assume to be a self-evident fact that because humans need to live to act, that any act that improves their chance of survival becomes moral. Socialists get irritated easily when you try to argue that trade is not exploitation. Capitalists get irritated easily when you tell them the free market is inherently self-contradictory, that powerful corporations will eventually fix the markets in their favor. Christians get irritated easily when people argue the irrationality of believing a bunch of things with no empirical or rational proof.
Some of these ideas might actually be true, but they are in no way self-evident or common sense and cannot be easily decided.
To clarify, I did not say or intend to say that this thread was WWIII, I was referring to the reaction of various blog commentators to proposals from atheists and skeptical groups to institute anti-harassment policies at their respective conferences. Many of those were indeed way out of all proportion to the intended actions.
Took the words right out of my mouth.
Matthew, I agree about those who have expressed their opinions in a dignified way one here. When I first came across the idea of Atheism+, I honestly had no idea what it was all about. And, after reading the links I initially put up, my opinion was somewhat less than favorable. And, less than favorable in this respect. I actually agree with the principles of Atheism+ that I're read about. Anti-racism, anti-misogyny, anti-homophobia, etc. In fact, I support equal rights and equal treatment for all. I guess what rubbed me the wrong way was, as Jonathan Chang elucidated, that which appears to me a dogmatic approach tolerating no dissent. As I stated earlier, I'm not a fan of dogma. And, while I tend to agree with principles espoused by Atheism+, I've yet to see how those principles, and atheism, are inextricably linked. I know liberal, libertarian, and conservative atheists, and atheists who have adopted various positions of all three. In many cases, the only commonality is a rejection of the supernatural. Like the quote attributed to Madelyn Murray O'Hair, "Organizing atheists is like herding cats."