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+.
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.