It seems that there is a lot of fuss being made in the atheist community regarding an apparent sub-culture known as "Atheism-Plus."  I've noted a few pieces here and there on Atheist Nexus regarding it, though I don't know as any particular consensus has emerged out of A|N on the topic.  I DO know how I feel about it, and a few weeks ago, I shared my point of view on Reason Being's blog, to wit:

My personal evolution to atheism was a long and slow one, probably starting with the first time I read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land back in the late 60's though 9/11 and finally being emboldened by seeing atheists speak out on a discussion board I participate in. Somewhere in all of that I came to the conclusion that I was an atheist and began to strengthen myself in that position and become more vocal myself.

Long before then, I recognized that the GLBT community was getting the short end of the stick, that the environment was getting mucked up by indiscriminate pollution, that a woman's right to choose should remain solely HERS and not be at the whim of either government or religion. These and a lot of other issues were on my mind and I had arrived at what I think of as positive positions on them decades before my attitude toward atheism resolved itself. ALL of those positions were the result of my observations on how things were happening in the world and my own rational processing and analysis of them.

For what I understand, atheism-plus wants these issues and others to be bound together into a supposedly necessary superset of atheism. To me, this is an artificial and manipulated association of issues. I base that assertion on the fact that those positions came together within me ON THEIR OWN, not because of some supposed relationship between them but because they were all part of my own personal bent and attitude. Indeed, my position on these issues is more a product of my approach to them - rational, thoughtful, and informed - than it has been a product of any one of them, atheism included.

I am an atheist. I am also a supporter of my friends who are gay or Lesbian or bisexual or transgendered.  I support women's rights and am very conscious of environmental and other issues I care about. To me, each of these issues has one thing in common - ME. Otherwise, they have as much in common with each other as a fish does with a bicycle.

I don't associate them with each other ... and I Will NOT Be TOLD that I have to.

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Comment by Alan Perlman on February 4, 2013 at 7:46pm

I agree with the "humanist" POV.  It's a broad label, but it covers the socially liberal positions Lorne mentions.  E.g., in humanism, human autonomy and responsibility are key values, so yes, gays can marry and women can have medically-safe abortions.  We're responsible for screwiing up the environment and fixing it.  No need for God in any of this. 

Comment by Pat on February 4, 2013 at 7:45pm

I believe I'm one of the few pieces, that Loren referred to, that first mentioned Atheism-Plus, back in September of last year. Since that time, my opinion of this particular dogmatic movement, has only diminished.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on February 4, 2013 at 7:01pm

Sentient, it is not that simple. People have to pass a test before they can play my game. Sarah Palin cant play. She can play in the sandbox while others are being tested.  On issues of fundamental fairness I predict unanimous results, or damn near it.

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on February 4, 2013 at 6:55pm

Glen, I would like to believe that anyone who is thinking critically, and well informed, and curious about live and their world, and maybe intelligent, would come up with the same conclusions about important ideas that I do.  But I've learned otherwise.   I think, maybe, there are many points of connection, but it's not absolute.  There may also be a cultural aspect.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on February 4, 2013 at 3:34pm

Sentient, you bring up an interesting question. Does critical thinking result in certain positions such as atheism and opposition to discrimination. I say that it does.

Some issues do not permit of unanimity among thinkers. Others do.

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on February 4, 2013 at 3:17pm


You make a lot of sense here.

I had a fast reaction to A+ when one of the first things I read was disparagement of "old white guys".  Which means disparagement of me.  Ageist, and forgetting that all human beings are human beings.

And disparagement of people like Robert Green Ingersoll, one of the most amazing thinkers of the modern era.   Heroic and super intelligent.  And disparaging of a lot of other people.

Being a critical thinker, or skeptic, or heretic, or atheist, does not imply other attitudes.  Being a humanist does.  While I embrace and celebrate most if not all - probably all - of the ideals of humanism, the Atheism+ marketing concept was not appealing to me.

Not having heard about A+ for a while, I though they had already on on to something else.  "ooooh, shiny!"

Comment by Loren Miller on February 4, 2013 at 2:39pm

And I
Will say, "FIE!"
By and by
About pie in the sky when you die
(It's a LIE!)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on February 4, 2013 at 2:37pm

Dont say aint you momma will faint you papa will fall in a bucket of paint. your sister will cry. Your dog will call the fbi.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on February 4, 2013 at 2:36pm

Strictly speaking Mathew is correct, nothing to do with atheism. They have everything to do with anti-theism. No santa, no tooth fairy, no gods. So what. 

Women living as second class citizens, property or worse: big what. Racism: big what. Discrimination against gays and atheists and other religious groups: big what. etc.

And if the group is known as atheism PLUS it is fair to say that they are conveying more than the naked issue of is there or aint there gods.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 4, 2013 at 2:13pm

agreed Loren.  none of those issues has anything to do with Atheism, although i suppose it's not surprising that the vast majority of Atheists tend to hold them.  like you said, an analytic approach on those issues invariably leads one to the conclusions you have made. 

for example, you mentioned the environment.  most Atheists are believers in Science, and the overwhelming majority of scientists tells us that climate change is happening.  as natural skeptics, many Atheists may take a look at what the other side is saying.  it just happens that the other side makes absurd arguments often based on Biblical impossibility, or simply deny the facts that we can see right in front of our faces.  so we reject the stupid and accept the scientific view. 

same with LGBT discrimination.  when we see that the reasons for objecting to gay rights is "the Bible says so" we reject that out of hand.  the Bible says lots of stupid shit, so they got that one wrong too. 

but ultimately, i see no reason that an Atheist needs to accept these things.  an Atheist simply doesn't believe in any Gods - no other requirement needed to join the club. 


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