Atheism+ : Because Secular Humanism Is Too Inclusive
    By Hank Campbell | August 22nd 2012 10:20 PM | 23 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments


    Gerhard Adam
    Ha ... the mere fact that someone feels compelled to form a group or a movement around these ideas tells you enough.  It's an affront to free-thinking.  What a bunch of fools.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You are very close if not spot-on in your observations IMO. I would add it seems to be more about attention than an actual attempt to better anything or do good. Isn't it funny how this begins as the harassment policies have been put in place and the drama has died down? I've had about enough of other skeptics and atheists telling me what I support or believe in and whether those things are good or bad. I'm not interested in that and if anyone thinks people are going to allow it to continue they are mistaken, thankfully.

    Well, let's be honest. You're doing more than linking to another article. You're levying judgment about a group of people and a movement you say you know (and care) nothing about. Maybe it escaped your notice, but like those others you say you know & care nothing about, you're simply staking out your intellectual territory and implying it's a more reasonable place to be.

    I know you don't know me, but that was not my intent.  As I said, I was interested because I saw a link to Per's article on Twitter and I didn't know why I clicked, but I did.  Sometimes a movie is better if you join in the middle, because the questions are unanswered and so you wonder about them.  So it goes here.

    Did I form an impression?  Sure, but 'staking out intellectual territory' is evidence of the us-against-them mentality that outside people see in those -isms.  It comes across as basically quasi-religion, only slightly out of phase, like if you told me you are Baptist and if I am Lutheran, I am wrong.

    Anyway, I link to lots and lots of stuff I am not endorsing as much as find cool - that is why it is buried in this links section and not a blog or an article about it. I don't know enough to write about it, but I know enough to be a little snarky if it seems like there is a schism over something trivial, like whether or not some people are indoctrinated in feminism enough. Equality is the important thing, and that sort of feminism is not about equality, it is about forcing everyone else to subscribe to a subjective world view.

    It strikes me as odd that you say you know little and care less about this movement, but you're both writing an article about and ridiculing it at the same time. If you actually don't care to find anything out about the movement, then it seems odd that you would write about it at all, unless you did so purely for the sport of making fun of something you don't understand. (I'm not trying to be rude here, but this is really the only explanation I can think of.)

    Here is the link to the blog post that started the Atheist+ movement, and I think it does a fantastic job of outlining the need for such a movement, as well as demonstrating why this is about more than attention or militant feminism. While I could very well be wrong, you don't strike me from your writing as a person who is concerned with social issues. I don't intend to sound like I'm violently angry -- I'm not -- but I am a little annoyed that you chose to misrepresent a budding atheist movement as "snarky" and "fundamentalist", and then called on people not to comment on your own blog post just because you got the idea to write it from somewhere else. If you want to talk about the pros and cons of a new atheist movement, then do so. If you don't want to hear any opinion that differs from your ill-conceived ideas about the movement, then don't blog about your ill-conceived ideas.

    I'm open to hearing criticism and debate about the movement, but all of your problems with it seem to stem from the fact that it exists to drive out the type of sexism, racism, classism, and other negative ideologies that you're presenting as a difference of opinion rather than what they are: bigotry. Saying Atheism+ is exclusive is disingenuous, because a movement that seeks to protect its own members from harassment is more inclusive than one that does not, simply because it will attract more people than it will repel (and assholes do not deserve to have their assholish behavior coddled.)

    You've certainly studied your framing! If I do not subscribe to your world view I am apparently all for racism, classism and negative ideologies'?  You are ironically doing the thing that your critics are saying.

    Anyway, I did not 'write an article' on the subject and I said all along I am not knowledgeable on the genesis of the movement, I simply liked Per's writing and this is our links section.  If 500 people see this, it is a miracle.  I also am not 'against' what you are doing - the great thing about actual freedom is that people can do things I may not necessarily choose to do.  Instead of focusing on freedom, your goal is 'driving' out behavior you object to.  I am not against that, I'd like to get rid of rapists and murderers, but if you are redefining sexism and racism to be so large 80% of the world is doing it, that is not supporting freedom, it is totalitarianism and that is the road to social Darwinism and then eugenics.
    Graaahh, does this mean you think my observation was "disingenuous" because it points out that Atheism+ appears to be in the process of creating something *more exclusive* than plain old atheism? I welcome discussion of this or any other problem you have with my observation at my blog. I think it's a bit unfair to Hank for you to force him to be a proxy to problems you have with my post. I will warn you however that I'm not coming from a movement perspective on this so if you're looking for a fight with people who oppose your movement over what is best for atheism you find one. Cheers.

    Ugh. That was supposed to read. " won't find one." As In you won't find such a fight with me, but I'm more than happy to discuss the ideas in my post with you. I should add that if people are uncertain about the "exclusivity' they should look at Richard Carrier's post on Atheism+ which is much more strident in this area than the one's I focused on, which were written by Jen. I purposefully did not use quotes from him because they were so extreme, but aren't they also being embraced within Atheism+?

    Carrier's post -

    Thanks Per, I asked people to comment over there because I am an interested observer, but really only interested because of your article. I never heard of it before, so people telling me how I am wrong is rather pointless - I don't know enough of the back story to be right.  I just linked to get it some attention and I thought I was making clever metaphors with 'in their image' and 'holy fire' - but apparently not. :)
    Thank you for linking to my post by the way. Cheers.

    Fair enough. I don't know you so maybe my interpretation was off. But using loaded terms like "fundamentalism" doesn't do you any favors here, and I took your tone to be a little too dismissive.

    You're right that atheists seem to agonize over leadership and standards, which is perhaps a weakness in terms of activism but is an (over?)reaction to the arbitrary hierarchies found in institutions, such as (and especially) churches. On the other hand, were there to be a central authority - a purveyor or distributor of atheist dogma, perhaps - then the charge of fundamentalism really might hold water.

    As for whether this is a trivial schism, I'd first like to point out that a schism can result as a group defines (or refines) itself or its goals, and isn't itself a sign of triviality or melodrama. The splits within the civil rights and women's suffrage movements are great examples.

    With your statement about feminism not being about equality, I'd be curious to learn what equality means to you, and why it seems to you as if feminists are trying to foist an unwanted worldview on anyone. Not to take this off-topic, but do you care to weigh in?

    And not to quibble over semantics, but all worldviews - which I understand to be broad conceptual frameworks by which we try to comprehend the world - could, I think, be described as subjective.

    Oops! Meant this in reply to Hank at 08/23/12 | 09:14 AM. Sorry.


    The reason I responded to you on your blog is because you wrote about the subject; like it or not, by choosing to write about the subject online, you are inviting criticism of your writing, because that is how the internet works. If I think you're blindly repeating someone else's flawed opinion, I am going to criticize both the flaws in that opinion and your request not to get called out on what you're doing. If you don't want to stand up for your beliefs, then don't talk about them. I naturally assumed you were against the movement because you spent the entire post using negative-sounding language to refer to it.

    I understand that you said you were not knowledgeable on the subject, but if that's the case, you should probably research the movement beyond one blog post before writing about it yourself, and simply state its purpose and offer no opinion. To speak from ignorance, even if you admit you're doing so, is to spread ignorance and that is what I take issue with. You seem to also not be knowledgeable about social justice issues (I'm not attacking you here, just stating that you don't seem like it's of great interest to you.) Saying the movement "redefines sexism and racism to be so large 80% of the world is doing it" is way off the mark, as anyone who cares about social issues can tell you. Way more than 80% of the world is racist and sexist, and the movement did not define it that way -- sociologists did. You end your reply to me by using a slippery slope argument: "but if you are redefining sexism and racism to be so large 80% of the world is doing it, that is not supporting freedom, it is totalitarianism and that is the road to social Darwinism and then eugenics." This is patently false, and little more than a scare tactic. As I said above, sexism, racism, and other types of bigotry are extremely pervasive in every society. Social darwinism doesn't exist -- see Atheism+ is supportive of freedom, because social justice issues are all about creating a free and equal world for us all, rather than a world in which people are discriminated against. That's literally all social justice is about: ending discrimination. I'm not sure how you get all the way to eugenics out of that -- you could have just as easily ended on mass abortion for all the sense that makes.


    I'll be by your blog a bit later to discuss this (I think I'm about done on this one -- I can only respond for so long when someone is making leaps in logic so wide they can only be made with a portal gun.) For the sake of anyone else reading this here, though, I'll answer your comments.

    Your post certainly doesn't have the same overtly negative overtones that this one does (but I was linked directly to this one via a friend on Facebook, which is why I stopped here first.) I'm not making Hank a proxy for anything -- I'm asking him to stand up for what he said above. Your post actually does seem to describe more of an actual problem, and a much more subtle one, than anything said above on this blog, and that is "What is the difference between atheism, atheism+, and humanism, and why is there a need for atheism+? My answer to this would be simply that atheism+ seeks to combine both the rejection of theism and the promotion of social equality (theism seen as being primarily a tool that inhibits social equality). But I'll come by your blog later and debate a little more -- I'm at work at the moment and I've wasted too much time as it is writing this.

    Graaahh I'm still interested in hearing your thoughts on my post. I've had no negaitve feedback, which, given that I know there are people don't agree with my observation, I consider a bad thing so I was quite happy to hear that you might offer some. Regarding your discussion with Hank I'd like to quibble with your definition of fighting for social justice. You wrote:

    "That's literally all social justice is about: ending discrimination."

    Not really. Perhaps that's what A+ means by social justice, but even that would be an odd statement because the movement is emphatically and purposefully discriminating. We can argue about whether or not it is "just" discrimination, but it is discrimination nonetheless. On the other hand I'm completely on board with social justice incorporating discrimination, because it really has to if it wants to work towards human equality. Let me emphatically state that human equality is not the same thing as no discrimination and equating the two does real significant damage to arguments about equality. Here are some examples of what I mean. How do we fight income inequality and poverty? We actively discriminate against those who have and earn more money. That's what a graduated income tax is for instance. I'm all for it, but I'm not going to pretend that it isn't a form of discrimination simply because discrimination is a code word on the left (where I sit) for something bad. You can argue, that some people with more money have privileges that those are poor don't have. Absolutely, but we can't actually level playing fields, instead we try to balance one imbalance with another. That's how it works. When someone is born handicapped how do we help them? Again by giving them a kind of assistance we don't give others. We discriminate based on who they are. The examples could continue endlessly, and again I'm on board with all this. What I'm not on board with is the uncritical use of rhetorical code words like "discrimination," "marginalized," etc. etc. that have certain values within the left/liberal culture that I'm a part of. Cheers.

    Thank you for saying this, you put it far more eloquently than I could have.


    I found this article while doing a search for Atheism+. I am still not 100% clear on what it is, but you have made me want to join if for no other reason than this statement:

    Don't think a guy asking you for a coffee is rape? Maybe you are the wrong kind of feminist, Richard Dawkins.

    Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever asked a woman for coffee and had her cry rape, or are you just constructing a straw man? I mean, if we're going to be using bad argument tactics, let me give you this anecdotal account as to how this has never happened to me, so you must obviously be lying. How about now I introduce my own claim that caricatures my opponent in a way that is plausible only because it fits a stereotype: women get turned off by you approaching them because you just stare at their tits and don't listen to what they say. Maybe you should try looking in their eyes for a change?

    I'm an atheist and I care about social justice. Try saying that in an atheist thread, and see how many times you get told that atheism is just a lack of belief in god and that you can't use it as a platform for social issues. Women are not treated equally. They just aren't. They still earn less than men for an equal unit of work. They are still underrepresented in graduate programs in science and math. They are still raised in a culture that tells them (while they're growing up) that math is hard for girls (not to mention uncool) and that it is unnecessary that they aspire to more than being a housewife and mother. If I ever have a daughter, I hope that she never feels that she can't do math because it's not a girl thing - she will never be given a barbie or an easy-bake oven, she will get the microscope, telescope, and chemistry set that I had growing up. She will not be read fairy tales about being rescued by some prince so she can get married and live happily ever after. These are the realities of how women are raised, even in the West, and to try to say that we don't need to correct this is just ignoring the problem.n

    Gerhard Adam
    ...she will never be given a barbie or an easy-bake oven, she will get the microscope, telescope, and chemistry set that I had growing up.
    It is obvious that you've never had children.  What makes you think that you can impose your interests on a child?  Are you really so naive as to believe that children are subject to such brain-washing that they are psychological prisoners of their parents?  How insulting.  Do you think that you're the first would-be parent that has thought of this?

    You think you're doing your future daughter a favor, but you're the one that is engaging in brain-washing.  You think that you can shape her interests and desires by forcing an alternative set of values and ideas on her.

    I can already guarantee you, that this will NEVER happen as you describe it.  If you try it, I will also guarantee that you will ensure that your daughter hates math and science, and that she will throw that chemistry set away.

    You don't raise girls by pretending that they aren't girls.  Why would you deny your daughter a Barbie?  I'm sorry, but it is sheer foolishness to presume that the way to strengthen a female is to raise her with your stereotypical view of what a boy is.  Genders are different whether you like it or not, and they will gravitate to those differences whether you approve of them or not.

    Kids need encouragement.  The don't need some parent that thinks they can mold them into some arbitrary fantasy image the parent has.  Your daughter isn't going to be a scientist because you will it.  She will do so only if she is interested.  It would be no different than deciding she is going to be a musician or a dancer, or a CEO.  She will decide ... not you.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever asked a woman for coffee and had her cry rape, or are you just constructing a straw man?
    That example, and Richard Dawkins, were well-known references for the atheist community. Saying 'unless it has happened to you' - I have been married for over 50% of my life so I am not asking any women for coffee - it did not happen at all is like saying unless I was raped, rape never happens.  Basically, it is a really dumb argument to try and make in an actual rational community, as opposed to the Atheist + kind.

    The rest of your argument is fine, you want atheism to be about more than atheism. Atheists want to stay on point.  Calling it Atheism + is a mistake, in that sense.  Why not call it Social Justice + and incorporate atheism, since atheism is not the core tenet?
    Gerhard Adam
    Here's a link to the elevatorgate issue.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Yeah, since this was a link to Per's piece rather than a blog or an article of my own I didn't want to distract people with an earlier link, I assumed anyone caring enough to read this knew about the incident and what my sentence was in context. 

    The assertion that it was a straw man is pretty funny, since apparently we are supposed to all care about rape - but never criticize exaggerating hyper-militant types unless one of them actually screamed rape in our faces over nothing. Which is it?  Should society care or not?  Or are opinions only allowed when they match a predetermined world view?  Doesn't sound very tolerant to me.  It sounds, as Per wrote, like just another flavor of dogmatic sectarianism.
    Gerhard Adam
    As I said before, in examining sexism it would be appropriate to ask if the "rape" comment would have been made if she had been hit on by another woman.
    Mundus vult decipi
    A couple of days ago I wrote a follow up post to the original here:


    These Venn diagrams were intended to clarify the picture of where A+ was located in the larger social world. What they have clarified instead, perhaps, is how A+ defines the social world, and their own supposedly unique place within it
    And that is really the crux of the matter.  What they are, perceptually, is whatever they choose to say.   The most militant progressive social authoritarians will still call themselves liberals, not knowing what the root 'liber' actually means.  So while perception can be whatever they want, reality may be something else entirely.   

    People who wreck science labs and send bombs to scientists don't think they are wrong, they think they are in the social justice business.
    NO NO NO!!!! You people have it all wrong. Atheism+ is nothing more than a fitness sub-group at freeofthoughtsblog.
    You know, for those heavy hitting atheists with a little too much junk in the trunk... like PZ and Aronra.