Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Obligatory Atheism Plus Post

I recently reached out to past interviewees for questions as a "turn the tables" interview for an upcoming post. Atheist Revolution’s Vjack asked what I thought about Atheism Plus. I decided that since I haven’t yet touched on this (and I’m one of the last atheist blogs that hasn’t) I might as well throw my two cents in the hat.

Why the delay on the A+ post from a guy who is obviously starving for content? I didn’t want to encourage what I expect to be a short-lived blip on the radar of a very niche community. I didn’t think Atheism Plus was a good or bad thing, just an unneeded thing. Now, I’ve kinda turned the corner. I think it's a bad thing and it should be addressed. To be clear, the concept isn't bad. It’s bad because it is divisive. It’s causing arguments within the atheist community that serve no purpose. The atheists who promoted atheism “plus” equality or “plus” skeptisim already did so before they adopted the label of Atheism Plus. Those who promoted atheism and skipped the rest, still do so, which is fine. Now sects of both groups are burning calories attempting to shame the rest. To what end? I’m not sure. Probably just to get back to the status quo.

It’s not Jen McCreight fault that this happened. She fired the first shot when she kicked off the movement, but she didn't know it would be a war. There's a shared blame among everyone who is still bickering about it. I think the backlash the BlagHag felt after her original posts showed the worst in an otherwise rational community. She fell in love with her idea (that wasn’t entirely hers) and expected her friends that love it too. Not so much, a perhaps rightfully so.


Politically, Atheism Plus has become a mess and for this reason alone we should cut bait. It’s not a concept that needs defending, it’s just a bundling of values that isn’t as one-size-fits-all as it appears on the surface. Atheists are more likely to support equality with women and gays ONLY BECAUSE theists follow holy books that explicitly DON't support equality with women and gays. I’ll vote in favor of gay marriage whenever it comes up and I’ve debated about equality within larger debates about religion, but feminism and rainbows aren’t my cross to bear. I won’t be guilt tripped into thinking I’m not doing enough for this or that group.

I value skepticism and critical thinking highly, but neither should they be bundled with atheism. If anything, atheism is a subset of skepticism--not the other way around. The political parties have bundled values to such a degree that someone who is fiscally conservative will likely adopt the completely unrelated opinions that capital punishment is a good method of keeping crime down while gun control doesn’t work. Blindly adopting beliefs for the sake of conformity is the antithesis of skepticism. It's the same need for belonging that motivated and still motivates people to gather to worship literary figures.

This speaks to a larger issue with which even Atheism Plus opposers may disagree. Atheism should have no qualifiers. The only atheist movement should take place while the nonbeliever is on the crapper. I'm not writing this blog to be part of a larger whole, I'm writing this blog to be an individual and to show that other individuals that they don't have to accept the norm. Theism is the norm. Church is the norm. Religion is the norm. Free thinking should be the norm. At least, that's what I think.

14 comments:

  1. When I first heard about A+ I thought it was a great idea, I put a badge on my blog and pretty much ignored it. I pretty much saw it as a thumbs up to people who are really championing those causes, but I'm not really involved in them directly.


    I've seen plenty of people say that bundling is a bad idea, and I don't know if I completely see why, but your comparison to bundling in politics is definitely interesting. Although I wonder how well the analogy holds up since we don't have to choose between 2 parties.


    I have been thinking of taking that badge off of my blog for a little while now, it's a shame though, I like the ideas behind it, it just seems that the execution has been shit.

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  2. A+ really was never a good idea, I think people saw more in it than was actually there. It was never a movement about social justice and equality, it was about radical feminism and shouting down all naysayers. I called this from the very beginning when they put out their list of "plusses". Notice how none of them say anything about equality? They don't care about equality, they are going for victory for their pet causes. Even if atheism was not attached to the disaster that it became, Atheism+ would have been a very bad idea.

    Of course, it didn't help that probably the worst examples of humanity became involved and that the whole thing brought out the worst in pretty much everyone who joined.

    Let's just allow A+ to die the horrible death it deserves and use it as a learning experience for what never, ever, ever to do again in the future.

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  3. Ockham's RazorboyOctober 23, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Good points, and well phrased. I'll never quite understand the need for some people to form all-encompassing, catch-all groups. You can be an atheist and a sceptic. You can be a feminist and an atheist. You don't need some bizarre movement that over-stretches itself trying to accomedate everyone.

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  4. I guess I understand the idea that bundling these causes isn't great. It clearly has downsides that I didn't really see. (in fact I'm still not sure I completely understand, but A+ has become a huge clusterfuck so there are clearly problems) What I don't understand is the vitriol toward the A+ crowd. Is this vitriol that was already there and A+ was just a lightning rod? Or is the anger really at the A+ idea itself? If you didn't like the idea, why not just ignore it rather than attack it?

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  5. Hausdorff, the vitriol was caused when the Atheism+ people started proclaiming that you were either with them and join their little crusade or you were a sleazeball and ought to crawl back into the sewer because the Atheism+ people wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.

    The vitriol didn't come from our side, it came from theirs. They started calling anyone and everyone who wasn't 100% on board with their fanatical ideas "misogynists".

    Blame them.

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  6. Tell us how you really feel. ;-)

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  7. My analogies hold up like an off brand dildo.

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  8. Hey, I wanted to ignore this, Vjack specifically asked me to address it so I did. I never read the BlagHag, but I think she was polarizing even before Atheism Plus.

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  9. Fair enough, perhaps her involvement from the beginning was enough to doom the whole thing to failure.

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  10. I think the main reason it created such vitriol was the tendency of some supporters to attack anyone who questioned the merits of the initial idea.

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  11. Hey, you know me, I never hold back. :)

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  12. "She didn't know it would be a war"


    A very, VERY foolish person. Any sensible person could have told you what would happen when you steal people's name, put a "+" after it, and then make it stand for an insane radical feminist worldview that labels all men "misogynists" and "potential rapists".

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  13. Yeah, there's rational feminism and nutso feminism. Important distinction.

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  14. I'm just gonna mention the Anti-Atheism Plus reddit here:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AntiAtheismPlus/

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