While browsing the outer reaches of the interweb, I stumbled across something called “Atheist +.” Has anyone heard of this? What are your thoughts and opinions? I looked into it and discovered an interesting blog post on the subject worth a read http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2012/08/atheism-plus-arguments-...

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Again these are not matters for atheism these are matters of criminal behavior. Call the police dont add a + to the atheist logo and claim victory.

Only if you believe that the correct place to draw the bright line in the field of gray is exactly at the point of criminal conduct. This is unlikely to be the case since (1) the police are very busy, (2) the police are blocked from participating in many speech issues - limiting the range of possible reactions to those of counter-speech and private actions, and (3) many laws are designed to enforce local or community standards, which require that the standards exist to begin with.

If its not criminal its not harassment. Period. 

Police should be blocked from participating in speech issues thats the fucking point of free speech.

"Rape, murder, and other forms of assault against women are a common enough occurance"

I again fail to see the link to atheism. Is your claim that "regular" atheist don't condemn this also? Is there anyone actually defending such behavior?

"we would be fools to deny that there men using their positions of power to grant favors" + "(And women, too, to be honest.)"

A self defeating argument if I ever saw one. Men and women both do the same thing; Let's condemn men(!)

-----

If A+ was about linking atheism to rationality or the scientific method or skepticism, perhaps even humanism, I wouldn't have much of a problem. Linking it to the fundamentally unscientific field of feminism I have a major issue with. 

*sigh* Once again . . . There s no "link to atheism" other than the fact that this is an attempt by people to reform a community that appears to tolerate the idea that sexualized violence is trivial and condemning it is wrong.

And it is not, "let's condemn men". It is "Let's condemn those who speak as if to endorse sexualized violence", such as those who respond to a women, "She ought to be raped with a knife" or "slap the bitch" - or responding to a post by a 15 year old who psted a picture of herself holding a Carl Sagan book from her grandmother with rape fantasies in the comments.

Your sneaky attempt at guilt by association notwithstanding, I have yet to encounter anyone in the atheist community endorsing violence, sexualized or otherwise, which is part of the criticism. Another part is an odd proclivity of focusing singularly on sexualized violence towards women, when in fact men are substantially more likely to be the victims of violence. That clearly implies a bias, and I also suspect an underlying political agenda which is far left of center of even the general atheist population (which tend to be left of center in social issues to start with).

Your examples are of what any sane person would condemn as unacceptable behavior. I can hardly see how they are in any way relevant to a debate regarding social justice.

The criticism that I see most, that you haven’t addressed, is that many things matter (such as your example of sexual violence) but they should be addressed individually and not linked with atheism.

Sexual violence is vile and abhorrent, and should be addressed aggressively whenever and wherever it occurs.  I don’t know why anybody would want to dilute the issue by linking it with their personal perspective on the existence of gods.  That seems to be counterproductive, and nonsensical.  The same holds true for other issues of justice and equality.

The other criticism that I see a great deal is the attitude and approach by A+.  I don’t know anybody that has a problem with people who share an outlook banding together for a purpose.  Indeed, the vast majority of people would be very supportive.  The problem has been with the fundamentalist, 100% with us or against us attitude.  Examples abound on FtB where somebody has questioned the linkage of atheism to cause, and they are called misogynists, douches, vile piss ants, etc.

It is the attitude and behavior of A+ that a great many people disagree with, NOT their advocacy or their causes.  Despite claims to want to reform the ‘atheist community’ [a term that is a whole conversation in itself], the extremist behavior of A+ is only serving to alienate itself from that community, and they are well on their way to becoming the atheist version of Westboro Baptist.

The criticism that I see most, that you haven’t addressed, is that many things matter (such as your example of sexual violence) but they should be addressed individually and not linked with atheism.

The link is not to "atheism" but to particular community that identifies itself predominantly as "atheist". This is a community of people that heavily interact with each other online and at conventions - substantially the same group showing up over and over again, sharing a certain set of common interest.

For somebody in that community, interacting with others in that community on a regular basis, it is important to be surrounded by attitudes that provide oneself and those one cares about with a sense of security.

In this case, it implies excluding people seen as a threat - or seen as contributing to an environment where those who could be a threat are treated better and shown more respect than those they threaten.

I think that the description of "linking atheism to a cause" is simply not accurate. A more accurate description is "reforming a community that identifies itself predominately as "atheist" so as to exclude those who threaten, or to contribute to an environment that provides a haven to those who threaten - me and those I care about."

On this model, I could defend (I think) a rule that calls for zero tolerance of anybody who introduces as if to endorse an act of violence against other members of the community, particularly those with reason to fear violence such as women.

I would not include intolerance of those who would object to the policy or those who object to applying the policy to a particular person. I think that good arguments can be constructed against that.

However, I can see a couple of points that can be offered in its favor. It can be seen as providing a haven for those who would introduce violence into a discussion and, as such, as contributing to violence.

Still, in response to this, I would argue that it is important to allow debate on any policy and that any person (who may be unjustly accused of violating a policy) to have an advocate in their defense.

The link is not to "atheism" but to particular community that identifies itself predominantly as "atheist". This is a community of people that heavily interact with each other online and at conventions - substantially the same group showing up over and over again, sharing a certain set of common interest.

I think that the description of "linking atheism to a cause" is simply not accurate. A more accurate description is "reforming a community that identifies itself predominately as "atheist" so as to exclude those who threaten…

 

The intent may not be to link atheism (or the broad atheist community) to a cause, but that is the consequence with the name Atheism+.  No care has been given to indicate that the name refers to this specific group.  This seems to have been the bulk of the initial criticism; criticism that was met with hostility, name-calling, and denigration.  I have yet to see a response where somebody has so much as admitted that the point has validity.

Your response has brought to light another factor in the criticisms that I’ve seen, and that is the split references between A+ being a haven for a small group who is atheist, and the broader “reforming the atheist community” and “new wave of atheism” commentary.  These broader responses also give the distinct impression that A+ has the intent to bring their ‘brand’ into the atheist community at large, and not simply be a safe haven for a few.  As with the above, I have not seen this addressed in a coherent way.

It can be seen as providing a haven for those who would introduce violence into a discussion

That is both admirable and noble, and I (and I’m sure many others) fully support this.  It is a shame that more people don’t.

Still, in response to this, I would argue that it is important to allow debate on any policy

This seems to be the greatest current source of criticism of A+.  When others try to engage A+ in discussion or debate about their policy, they are met with the above mentioned hostility, name-calling, and denigration.

Again, I want to express that I respect and support the ‘safe haven’ aspect, and the social justice issues under the “+”; there was a rather lengthy list of them posted on one of the FtB threads, and they are all more than worthy of support..  If it is the intent of A+ to engage the ‘atheist community’ with the intent of reform, then it should be ready to engage in a great deal of debate and discussion indeed.  At this point, you can probably plan on that anyway.  However, if it is the intent of A+ to be a small group of like-minded individuals in their haven, might it be best to communicate that more clearly and consistently, and with the same respect that you would like of others?  Otherwise you may find that you’ve alienated the bulk of that broader community, and have to rely more and more on your small haven. 

Either way, take care, and I hope all the best for you.

RAAAWR - Atheism must be liberated from the oppressive patriarchy!

US based atheists self destructing, who woulda thunk something like that would be possible..?

My main problem with the idea is the suggestion that there is in a meaningful sense a community of atheists who should have goals. Although I'm on this forum, for example, because I like to talk and think about atheism, I've never met up with anyone *because* they're atheistic. So being an atheist is something I'm happy to describe myself as, but describing yourself as A+ as well as saying you believe in social equality etc. also says that you are in a particular club. Not wanting to join any atheist club seems to suggest to some of this crowd (Richard Carrier, I'm looking at you) that you are against them. They also seem to think that if you identify as atheist without adding the Plus that you will be less worthy of conversation (thinking of one of Jen McCreights posts here). This is divisive no matter what they claim.

Hello,

I just joined this site for this discussion after an invitation on Twitter.

It's gotten longer than I intended.

I support A+. As I understand it, A+ is

  1. a collection of people who came together as atheists but are also for (several) social justice issues
  2. a safe place for discussions where trolling and certain derailing techniques are moderated perhaps more quickly than in other places
  3. an expression for any atheist who is also for social justice, even if they don't take the label

The history of A+ is rather longish, and I can only tell you my recollection.

In the distant past several people involved in atheist blogs and conventions noticed a lack of women participating and tried to both find out why and try to bolster those numbers. One of the reasons mentioned was the atmosphere in many atheist forums and communities which some women considered too hostile to women, to dude-bro-ish, and not welcoming to their input - ie. being dismissive, mocking, trolling (maybe as part of dude-bro-culture, I don't know. I just know that I like a dude nerd culture very much, but only to a certain point and certainly not as the only nerd culture. There is nothing wrong with that culture as such, but if it's the only one and dominating and excluding other cultures, say, female nerds, that community may not be as much fun for women).

When it comes to conventions or general active participation online (blogs for example) many women were trolled, harassed, impersonated and sometimes even threatened. Every blogger who writes about religion, against creationism and such gets those threats, but usually from christians. Many women bloggers also got them from fellow atheists, especially when writing about feminist issues.

Many complained and usually found lots of support with many fellow atheists, but there were and to this day are quite many atheists who either don't believe that trolling and such is happening, or if it is, that it's no big deal and part of being on the internet (i.e. dismissing and mocking victims of this abuse).

There is proof of that harassment, trolling and threatening. There is a threat that started to document it (most of it is rather newish).

http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=422

Many discussions on many blogs and in many forums had taken place over the last year about the problem with lack of women in atheism and secularism and, of course, the thing that made everything explode: Elevatorgate.

Again, too many people reacted with dismissal, mockery and trolling. People continued to complain about these reactions and other problems like the lack of anti-harassment policies at conventions. The general reaction was good, but even with such a rather simple thing many questioned the need for such polices, dismissing, mocking and trolling those who argued for it. In the debates, just like with the occasional christian who comes to a forum and thinks they invented debate when they start with "You just don't believe in God because you want to be immoral, if you'd just read the Bible you'd become a believer" or similar nonsense that's already been debunked about a hundred times, some critiques just repeated nonsense that (at least to our satisfaction) had already been explained ad nauseam (like feminism 101, privilege 101).

From the epiphany that atheism really is just a disbelief in god(s) and nothing else came the conclusion that atheists really aren't any better than others and don't necessarily have the same values or interests. It was obvious that many atheists ARE for social justice and many don't like the culture of dismissing, mocking and trolling that too often happens when issues of social justice are discussed on the net (and, at times, in Real Life, too).

So that's where A+ as a label, the idea and the forum started, as a place where they can participate without having to worry too much about people "just asking questions" that have already been answered (they get a link to links to educate themselves) or dismissing, mocking and trolling them (they get then moderated very quickly).

If I understand correctly the main issues people have with it are:

  1. The leadership
  2. Concepts that we consider established, like feminism (in general, not every position) "privilege" or "rape culture"
  3. The name
  4. The message or impression we give of in general
  5. Questioning of the need of such a thing
  6. Divisiveness of Atheism+


1. Well, first, there is no leadership. There really isn't. Not Jen MCreight, not Greta Christina, not Richard Carrier, or anyone else. They are certainly influential and have participated. There is no official authority or or spokesperson who speaks for the movement. There is also no real official agenda or goal beside the bit vague "for social justice, for equality" and so on. There probably will be, but since we don't have any leaders that may take some time.

I am also no official spokesperson, I don't represent A+. I'm not even as involved as others.

________________________________

2. Some concepts like "privilege" are accepted and defended as a source of the dismissal, mockery and trolling - and of much of the doubting - that we have encountered. In simple terms:

There is a lot of harassment, mockery, trolling and threatening happening that you don't notice.

Either because you weren't there when it happened, because it happened per email or behind doors, or because you don't consider it problematic. Not every blogger keeps records of those things, and I don't blame them, because even if they produce evidence there is a lot of reaction of "That's just a troll, ignore it".

We don't want to have to. In the A+ forum is a special subsection, the Educational Forum, where anyone can ask basic questions, and get answers and links for self-education.

Is there widespread misogyny in our general culture? Yes, but it's often subtle.

It's similar to religious influence. You might debate a christian and they might be mighty surprised if you tell them that there is religious discrimination in the U.S., simply because they don't suffer from it, just not notice it or consider it, consciously or not, normal.

The privilege of religion permeates our whole society, if often in a subtle way. Christianity is, in the U.S. and many other countries, the privileged religion. They are so privileged they can cry "persecution" when they don't get to dominate anymore.

The same thing happens with some privileged men when they're told they're not the standard anymore (and that their opinion on something may not be very relevant because they lack experience on the subject). And just like the Churches some men (and fewer women, or when it comes to race, white people, and so on) don't like being told that they shouldn't eat all the slices because other people want to have pieces of the cake, too and they now have to share.

Our culture was and still is heavily influenced by religion, especially but not only Christianity.This can manifest itself as

  • subtle peer pressure to baptize babies (or circumcise them)
  • ignorance about people who are not in the dominant group, especially unbelievers ("But you have to believe in SOMETHING?" "So, you worship Satan?")
  • acceptance of hierarchy, reverence for authority figures of faith
  • dismissal of victims of sexual abuse by religion's figures (victim blaming)
  • not too subtle sexism when it comes to gender roles
  • more subtle racism

and so on. We atheists grew up in that culture and even if we don't believe (or never believed) or aren't part of churches and congregations, a lot of Christian (or other religions) influence is still everywhere and we grew up with that, so normal that sometimes we don't even notice it.

And we atheists are not immune to that indoctrination. We usually shed the belief in god(s) if we ever had it, but other beliefs might still be in our heads (for example acceptance of "teach the controversy", "science can't explain everything" in non-believers or cultural christians who go to church for the feeling and marry in  Church because of tradition).

A lot of those still-influencing-us remnants of religious indoctrination are tackled by feminism. There are atheists who believe men are more rational and women more emotional (and thus hysterical, overemotional and imagining things) without noticing the origin of that belief.

Why can't women be priests again? Because we aren't as rational as the men.

Why can't women simply be believed when they say they were harassed? Because we aren't as rational as the men and that way you'd put the word of a woman over the word of a man.

Why do (not as bad as in the past, but still bad enough) too many not believe it when a woman says she was raped? That she must have an agenda (see Assange)? Because we aren't as rational as the men and thus hysterical, overemotional and imagining things. The poor dears can't help themselves.

Now, if you had told me a year and a half ago I would never have believed that a substantial part of atheists would either believe that sh*t or make excuses for those that did. But that's exactly what happened during Elevatorgate.

Why did I think until a year and a half ago that feminists weren't right and didn't really have anything worthy to say anymore (after all, we have equal rights, don't we?)? Because I thought they were hysterical, overemotional and imagining things (because my experience didn't match theirs - yet).

Notice the pattern?

So, whatever you may think about feminism in general and certain theories/concepts/explanations in particular, there is lots of good and true stuff in it. But much of it is depending on your experiences to notice those patterns and recognize those concepts when they show themselves in Real Life.

________________________________

3. The name

Yes, atheism is only a disbelief in god(s) and nothing else. No morals, no ideas, nothing follows. Just as theism is just the belief in god(s) and can mean anything, atheism is the opposite and just a lack of belief.

Atheism is part of my personality, but I am also other things. I usually like atheists because they can usually talk about the same things I like, and many can tell me stuff I didn't know before (because they are usually well educated) and it's just nice to know people who don't go to church either and I don't have to justify why.

It's normal to try to find people who share our interest because, well, it's nice?

Nothing follows from atheism. Not even being against religion.

But I am. I want religious domination to end, I want equal rights for everyone and religious beliefs are often still in the way of that. I am, kind of, an atheist activist.

I am more than just an atheist. Atheism+ has "Atheism" in it because we all started in an atheist community and identify as atheists. There are other communities or even organizations that are more than just atheists and have "atheism" in their name. American Atheists, atheist meetup-groups, atheist forums, atheist blogs, and so on.

This forum is on a page that calls itself "thinkatheist". 

What does the "about" say:

Think Atheist is a social networking site focused on current events and building a global Atheist community. Our goal is to create a space where people from all over the world can connect and share their Atheist experiences and/or their conversion stories.

Nothing follows from atheism but lack of belief in god(s). So from atheism social networking doesn't follow, a global community doesn't follow, sharing stories doesn't follow.

Now imagine someone came along and protested the use of "atheism" in your name and told you you were divisive end excluding people who maybe don't want a community or social networking, and you being for all that means "everyone who isn't is lacking something and/or a bad person" somehow. (Yeah, it doesn't make sense)

So, why is having atheism in our name a bad thing again?

________________________________

4. The message or impression we give of in general

I don't really understand this problem but apparently there is one.

The message "we" want to give out is, in my estimation, essentially "we are people, and we have feelings, and we are part of the movement/society too, and we don't want to take this abuse anymore so come join us if you want, we have coffee and cookies. If you don't want to play with us that's nice but then leave us alone and in peace (and stop shitting on the lawn)"

________________________________

5. Questioning of the need of such a thing

Is there a need for such a movement? Well, apparently some people want there to be one. People want an atheist movement, too. Shouldn't they have one just because atheist is only disbelief in god(s)? Maybe they want to join a community of like-minded people. It's so nice if you don't have to justify yourself all the time but instead have people around you who know what you mean and support you.

I can tell you I'm tired of being dismissed as overemotional, especially when I'm angry because people tell me to "just ignore the trolls" and "it's just the internet". Internet is part of Real Life and online abuse is still abuse.

________________________________

6. Divisiveness of atheism

KarenX has written wonderfully about this, so I'll leave you the links.

http://morewomeninskepticism.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/who-divides-t...

http://morewomeninskepticism.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/49-let-splint...

In short:

Guess what? The movement was already divided.

________________________________

Now that I've written so much I might just make a blog post out of it.


Edit: One example of the trolling, mocking and dismissing (maybe even harassment) I'm talking about is this:

Trigger Warning, it mentions rape

Picture of a Tweet

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