Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Atheism+. Why I Am More Resolved Than Before To Support It

Jen McCreight quit blogging yesterday.  This from Almost Diamonds who wrote a post explaining some of the reason why.

I’m angry that Jen has been pushed to the point where she has to stop blogging.  She’s done so much, especially with the SSA, to help advance atheism.  The detractors say that those who support Atheism+ are trying to take over the atheist movement, that we are being hateful and divisive, that we are not thinking critically and are letting our emotions cloud our judgement.  

Of course it is emotional.  We are enraged and appalled at the misogyny that has become so apparent in the past year.  We aren’t automatons, but human.  Using our anger at the misogynists and others like them in the atheists movement to try to build something better is good, as Greta Christian says in her book.  

Anger can motivate people to right wrongs and gain rights and recognition in society.  We want to be seen as atheists who do more than just attack religion.  We want to take this movement to the masses, as it were, beyond the atheist community, by working openly, and publicly on important social issues that, until now, religion or other organizations have owned.  At least, that’s what I would like to see.  I think many who support Atheism+ feel this way too.

The people who drove Jen away want to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  It can’t, and won’t, stand.  But, I’m not going to attack those people, I’m going to ignore them.  They aren’t worth my time.  Instead, I’m going to do something positive and try to make Atheism+ a thing that will unite all those atheists who want to focus on social issues instead of just bashing religion and slapping ourselves on the backs for how much more clever we are than theists.  

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September 5, 2012 - Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. ==The people who drove Jen away want to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them.== Just like she banned anyone who expressed dissenting but polite concern about her movement?

    == But, I’m not going to attack those people, I’m going to ignore them. They aren’t worth my time.==
    So just like Jen you are deciding who is a worthy atheist and who is not. Lovely. There is not one thing divisive about that attitude… not.

    ==Instead, I’m going to do something positive and try to make Atheism+ a thing that will unite all those atheists who want to focus on social issues instead of just bashing religion and slapping ourselves on the backs for how much more clever we are than theists. ==
    That’s probably what you should have done in the first place. Creating a religion and claiming it’s purposes are noble is not the right way. You should first go do honorable things and when there is support, go ahead and give it a name and call it a movement if you like.

    There is no need for atheism plus. Just go ahead and call yourself a humanist that is also an atheist. Wait a minute, I get it. You can’t call yourselves humanists because Humanists don’t want your self-important pity party and name calling either. Hmmmmm who would have thought that?

    Comment by myatheistlife | September 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. Looking at the comment above reminds me why we need A+ so very much. If you don’t support our goals, then don’t join. If you support them, then join or don’t join, either is fine. But why spend so much energy opposing the idea of an interest group forming within our community to work on specific goals? If we formed an “atheist knitters” group, I don’t expect that there would be such an outcry. If we are ever going to get anything important accomplished, we need a safe space where we can work on projects without the constant barrage of criticism and vitriol.

    Comment by ubi dubium | September 6, 2012 | Reply

    • It’s a good thing that all the world’s great explorers did not think like that. They sought adventure where it was NOT safe to travel for the very reason that it was not safe. The reason for opposing is that they are trying to tell others who is worthy and who is not. If they had simply focused on an issue or 5 without trying to separate themselves as some shiny happy faction of atheists… well, nobody would have taken much notice. And for that reason, no, atheism plus is not needed. You may indeed rightly claim that society needs to pay more attention to a number of social issues, and further that atheists can play an important part in that, but don’t start out by saying which atheists you think are not worthy of being in your group. It’s exactly like saying “we’re going to go do something really important and you’re not good enough or worthy enough to participate”

      The right reaction to that is to say “get your nose out of the air, sit down, shut up… quit making a fool of yourself”

      Oh, but that is the thing that makes me unworthy… right? The fact that Jen was banning anyone who did not agree 100% with her is a full blown clue that she was being exactly as I described. The fact is that Jen has been banning people that don’t agree with her for a long time. That you did not know or did not see that is neither here nor there. The truth doesn’t need you to be a witness to be true.

      The fact that she offered up an attitude that she was starting a group of ‘good atheists’ implies that regular atheists are not good…. or not good enough, and implicitly states that good/worthy atheists must have a belief system – the same one as her.

      Still, no, that group is not needed. Just join up with Humanists. You know, the group that cares deeply about social issues and whose members are predominantly atheist.

      Comment by myatheistlife | September 6, 2012 | Reply

      • If the world’s great explorers had to do their initial planning in a room full of people heaping abuse, threats, and sexual advances on them, day after day, they would never have gone anywhere either. Jen has had to put up with hundreds of abusive comments, tweets and emails per day. Her blog is her personal space, and if someone is behaving badly she has every right to chuck them out. She does not owe you unlimited use of her platform, you can start your own blog if you don’t like the rules at her blog. If you were one of those heaping the abuse on Jen, or Greta, or Rebecca, or Amy, or anybody else, then you will find there are simply going to be some places on the web where that is not allowed anymore and will not be welcome. (And you should watch this talk from TAM9 by Carol Tavris about the way we dig in and rationalize our past bad behavior http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSYF4hzCHKA )

        If you were not one of those heaping abuse on people, congratulations on being a decent human being! And if that’s the case, what are you complaining about? Nobody’s trying to make you join anything, or demonize nice people who simply choose not to join.

        Humanist groups don’t fill the need. There’s too much woo-woo thinking among the non-atheist humanists, and that gets in the way of the things we want to accomplish.

        Comment by ubi dubium | September 6, 2012

  3. At least you don’t automatically assume I’m abusive to anyone. Thanks for that.

    ==Humanist groups don’t fill the need. There’s too much woo-woo thinking among the non-atheist humanists, and that gets in the way of the things we want to accomplish.==

    And when this new ‘group’ gets going, what makes you think that people won’t feel exactly the same way about your “feminist atheists working on social issues group” as you do about humanists?

    By the way, you’ve just insulted humanists in general while trying to complain that Jen gets too much abuse. Equality is not easy, simple, or convenient. Humanists deserve equal treatment too.

    My ‘complaint’ is not that atheism plus’ issues of concern are bad, but how they plan to address them is bad. It’s a poor way to start(cart before the horse), diminishes others, unnecessarily besmirches the reputation of atheists, and Jen did herself no favors by banning people for nothing more than simply not agreeing with her 110%. The entirety of it smelled of ‘play the victim’ feminists who think they are better than other atheists and humanists and agnostics et al.

    Jen and some of the ‘founders’ of atheism plus are the type to want to discuss only female genital mutilation and refuse to discuss genital mutilation generally because they feel that FGM must be addressed and then if other forms of genital mutilation still have to be address, well, I guess we can talk about them after ‘our’ pet concerns are addressed. In this and other issues she and other founders have shown that they are not interested in equality, rather they are interested only in furthering their own hobby horse concerns. Giving such nose-in-the-air attitudes a shiny new name does not make them more palatable, except to those who seem to share her ideals of what is important and what is not. She further demonstrated just that by banning anyone that did not agree with her completely and the like-minded thinkers don’t see anything wrong with that.

    I don’t doubt that she has received a fair share of shit over the internet. That is how the Internet works. /B Chan does not stay only on /b chan. Expecting them to do so is hubris of the highest order. I don’t make excuses for them but neither do I expect that the world will play fair if I threaten to cry and go home. This speaks to why I think she started her little group off badly. If you plan to climb a mountain you should do a fair bit of preparation before hand, not simply walk up and start climbing without so much as a pair of gloves.

    So, without condemnation, let me finish by saying that if these things seems odd or unfair of me to say – sit down and think it through, consider at least briefly that I might have a point. I made the effort to think things through, explore their meaning, and consider what might come of it. You could do at least the same.

    Look at any secular or atheist group which is growing nationally and consider the differences between their mission statements and that of atheism plus. Then compare the mission statement of atheism plus to that of a prayer circle. Yes I just said that. Which is the more even comparison?
    A prayer circle and atheism plus will both admit an atheist on about the same kind of criteria.

    How can you see that as good for what is called the atheist community? How is it not divisive?

    Comment by myatheistlife | September 6, 2012 | Reply

    • There is no point to complaining about this being “divisive” because the divisions were already there. That’s been very apparent ever since elevatorgate. What you are disparaging as a “her little group” is over 1300 members already. That’s a lot of people who are tired of having abuse dumped on them, and who want a safe space to work on projects that are important to them.

      Comment by ubi dubium | September 9, 2012 | Reply

      • There is a point in complaining, or as I like to call it, stating the obvious. The point is that this little temper tantrum they are throwing is corrosive. We’re better, we deserve more than the rest of you… till we’re sick of it is nothing more than a temper tantrum. Sure, they might espouse reasonable and worthy causes but they didn’t need a special group to support them. The only reason for having a special group is to BE divisive. There is no other reason. I dare you to prove otherwise.

        At no point have I stated they should accept status quo or just go along to get along. All I have criticized is their need for special dispensation. When they called for that I’m all out, and will call them out for the antics of throwing a temper tantrum, for stating they are more than and others are less than and not worthy. Since elevator-gate they have consistently used less than optimal approaches to problems and called anyone who disagreed less than worthy and misogynist. This is exactly how to create an bad membership drive. It is exclusionary, and by definition divisive.

        Yes, hell yes there is a need to call it out. If you are tired of the abuse, rethink your strategy. No, I’m not being typically misogynist, I’m saying that your approach is divisive and demeaning. Stop it. The Internet, I’ll remind you, is not where you go to find an echo chamber. Echo chambers are best done in private and not announced to the world before you even have a mission statement. By the way, I wish you had answered all my points. It would be much more interesting if you had. 1300 people is a good sized country church. No matter how many people believe something, without truth on its side it is still false. 1300 is a paltry number. More people than that go through a popular club’s doors each weekend. It’s an unimpressive number with regard to this discussion.

        So, how did those mission statements compare? Afraid to say?

        Comment by myatheistlife | September 9, 2012

      • That’s a lot of anger you’ve got there. Interesting. You seem to be taking the fact that we want to do something about mysogyny, bigotry and homophobia as a personal affront. Perhaps you are ticked off that Jen banned you from her blog (an assumption on my part, but I think a reasonable guess, since you complained about her “banning people” more than once), and so are determined to oppose and belittle anything she might support. Let’s see, you said “stop it” “nothing more than a temper tantrum” “paltry” and “corrosive”. Lots of anger. (You’ve really dug yourself into this position. I really do recommend that talk from Carol Tavris.)

        Anger can be a positive thing when you use it to focus on change for the better. From your comments above, it seems that you consider male circumcision a major issue. I agree that it’s a bad custom that ought to be discouraged and prevented as much as possible. Perhaps you should take the energy behind that anger, find some allies, and start an “atheists against circumcision” group. I probably would not join, since, being female and having only daughters, it’s not a priority issue for me. But I would not consider your forming an interest group to be divisive, either.

        Your “prayer circle” analogy really put me off trying to respond to any of your points specifically. As far as I can tell you are more interested in throwing insults than having a real discussion.

        There’s an FAQ up on the A+ website now. You might want to read it before you continue ranting about how divisive A+ is.

        (Apologies to our host for the length of this back-and-forth. If it’s annoying you, I’ll gladly buzz off.)

        Comment by ubi dubium | September 10, 2012

      • Your assumption that I’m not focusing my anger on change for the better is … misguided at best. There is no need or purpose in a group ‘atheists against circumcision’. None. Atheism is not a positive statement of belief. Chaining atheism to positive statements of belief is hubris. It’s like saying that you believe in equal rights for equal pay and you don’t collect stamps, you know, philatelists+. It’s absurd and asinine.

        Oh, now you’re put off. Hmmm, you didn’t respond to them in the first place. Personally, Jen shows how useful this new group is. She demonstrated what kind of divisiveness they really intended. It’s not because she has something to do with it that I don’t like atheism plus, it’s because atheism plus is a tremendously divisive and bad idea. It is unsurprising that she is involved, to be blunt. That said, I’d not begrudge her having a good idea or starting a trend that is useful. Atheism plus is neither of those. It fails on its own merits, and does not require any issues I have with Jen to make me dislike it.

        I have not yet heard any useful or defensible explanation for why the world needs atheism plus. With all that has been said I would think that if there were such an explanation we would have heard it by now. I’m going to assume you don’t have one either.

        Comment by myatheistlife | September 10, 2012

  4. These are truly fantastic ideas in about blogging.

    You have touched some fastidious points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Comment by Curt | September 19, 2012 | Reply


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