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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Atheism+: Doing Good Without God.

It’s been said that getting atheists to agree on something is like herding cats.  I’d say it’s more like trying to herd cats into a tub of water.  Atheists tend to be an inquisitive bunch; an intellectually bunch.  We reject dogma and the authority that goes along with it, hence we are loathed to being told what to do and what to think.  You could say we are fiercely independent (at least I say that we are).  

Given all that, you can see why trying to get a consensus about where to go for breakfast might be hard enough, never mind were we should all stand on a particular social issue.  And that’s the real issue in getting us all to band together for a common cause: we don’t like to be told what we should think or feel.

Still, being openminded and skeptical (yes, they do go hand in hand) we are able to listen to each other and really consider what each one of us has to say.  This attitude tends to lead to civilized debates, respect for each other’s rights to express ideas, and compromise, or at least it should.  I believe that it can and that it does.

The atheist/humanist/secular/(add your own label here) movements have much more in common than they do differences.   Most of us in these movements (and most of us identify with more than one) understand this and this has allowed us to begin to come together in the past few years in greater numbers and with great effect in support of issues that we all feel that we have a stake in.

Still, there is an ugly side to us as well.  Anti-feminism has shown its self to be much more prevalent that most of us imagined it was.  This is both bad and good.  It is bad, for the obvious reason that it shows that we all are not as enlightened as we’d like to be.  It is bad because it distracts us from working together to achieve our common goals.

It is good, however, that this is now out in the open.  You can’t tackle a problem until you can first acknowledge it.  Also, it is an opportunity to clean house, as it were.  By exposing the misogynists in our midst ( actually they tend to expose themselves) we can shame them into recognizing  their misplace sense of privilege or shun them from our ranks.  It is vital that we do so because we have the fight of our lives with the religious and social conservitives on our hands.

This is where Atheism+ comes in.  The new movement is not an attempt to establish an atheist dogma, as some try to claim.  Atheism+ is an attempt to bring together atheists who believe that we have a responsibility to go beyond fighting against superstition or fighting for the separation of church and state.  We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as atheists to fight for social justice for everyone, theist and non-theist, the superstitious and the skeptical, the religious and the non-believers.  

Feminism, gay rights, separation of church and state are just a few of the issues that most of us feel are important and that we are doing a good job of brining to the forefront of the social and political forums.  

We have already begun to raise our profile in the general public’s minds.  Just this year we had the Reason Rally, which made the national news.  We also have many good organizations supporting critical thinking and humanist issues such as the Secular Student Alliance, CFI, FFRF, American Atheists, the JREF, and American Humanists.  

Except for American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance, most of these, while they might have many atheists as members, are not atheistic groups.  What Atheism+ is, or can be, is a way for those of us who self-identify as atheists to get out and fight for social issues in public where we can meet “average” people and have them get to know us.  It will allow us to be seen as people who care for others, who do good things.  This is vitally important if atheists hope to ever become accepted by a society that currently sees us a amoral, selfish, heartless.

I urge those of you want to fight for social justice for everyone, who want to fight against misogyny, racism, bigotry, homophobia, poverty, and ignorance to consider joining the Atheist+ movement.  Talk about it with your friends and family (if they are still talking to you, that is), write about it, blog about it, tweet about it, set your Facebook profile picture to the Atheists+ symbol (see below), join the Atheist+ forum.

Let’s show the world that we are not only good without God, but we do good without God.

 

Apluslogo sm

Use me as your profile picture on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any other site of your choice.

Christianity, The Religion of Hate

One Man’s Blog posted about  a Fox News story describing a lawsuit to prevent a cross from being erected within the World Trade Center memorial without equal opportunity for memorials of other faiths.  The comments on the Fox News site afterwards were filled with hate against atheists with the wish to kill all atheists, along with rape and other violence.

My favorite (if you can call it that) comment came from Sindy Clock who wrote,

“I love Jesus, and the cross and if you don’t, I hope someone rapes you.”

I’ve read the Bible through, several times.  I studied the Bible on my own for years before finally dispensing with religion.  I am pretty sure I never read about Jesus ever telling anyone that if they didn’t believe in him that they should be raped.

Michael Perii had this to say,

“these people are f’ing scum of the earth. can we start killing them now?  few groups fill me with  more hatred than atheists.”

Apparently, Michael seems to have forgotten that passage where Jesus tells his followers that they should love their enemies (granted, we aren’t his enemy, he seems to have made us his).

Hanns Anderson has a, well, interesting take on this:

“atheist has no rights a snail has more rights than a atheist has I say throw them out to the sharks let them eat them like the ate bin laden”

Apparently,  being a Christian doesn’t require learning how to spell, punctuate, or even write at a grade school level.

Finally, Eileen Rourke thinks that atheists,

“…should go live in another country.  You have taken enough of my rights away.”

This last comment is so common among Christians.  Many Christians feel that their rights are being infringed upon because some of us dare to insist on equality, not just for ourselves, but for everyone.

Christians make up more than 70% of the citizens of this country.  It isn’t their rights that are being eroded, it is their privileges.  Being able to put crosses up where ever you want, to expect everyone else to pray to your god, is not a right.  It is a privilege, and one that no one in a free and democratic society should be allowed to have.

These comments are not an aberration.  We see these kind of comments constantly whenever their Christian privileges are questioned.   For a group of people who like to preach about how their Jesus a god of love, they sure love to hate.

Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,”.

Christopher Hitchens wrote this in the June 2011 issue of Vanity Fair.  Hitchens was in the presence of those friends when he passed away from complications due to esophageal cancer onThursday at the age of 62.

Hitchens was fearlessly outspoken on every topic he cared to cast his sharp, insightful mind on, wether it be atheism, Mother Teresa, or the latest health fad.  Not only was he outspoken, but he spoke more eloquently and persuasively than anyone I’ve ever heard.  His command of the English language, and his powerful and precise use of it was second to none.  He is the only modern author that I’ve read where I would need to look up a word at least every four or five pages.  Yet his vocabulary was never archaic or pedantic, but rich, flowing, and precise.

He is probably best known for his championing of atheism.  Considered one of the founders of the New Atheists, as well as one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennet), he was unapologetic, even harsh, in his criticism of religion and faith.  As he persuasively and beautifully put it:

“Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”

He was reviled, yet often respected, by those of faith with whom he corresponded or debated.  Many of these, upon the announcement last year that he had terminal cancer, offered their prayers for him.  While he had no belief in prayer, rather than scoffing at them, he responded:

…that, if they want to pray for him, it’s fine by him. “I think of it as a nice gesture,” he said. “And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/sep/20/christopher-hitchens-prayers)

As always, he showed his great and deep understanding of humanity, both the good and the bad, and sought to expose it’s ills, while steadfastly supporting the inalienable human rights that we all share.

Others have eulogized him much better than I can.  Steven Novella beautifully states:

“His fellow materialists have to face this reality as well. Hitchens is gone. His brain – which was everything he thought, felt, remembered, and all the insight he had to offer the world – no longer functions, and never will function again. The same fate awaits us all. Without regret, Hitchens seemed to understand the flip side of this reality – we are the lucky few who get to live.  So make the most of it while you can.”

A sentiment Hitch would have totally agreed with.

PZ Myers plainly and persuasively wrote:

“Hitch is dead. We are a diminished people for the loss. There can be and should be no consolation, no soft words that encourage an illusion of heavenly rescue, no balm of lies. We should feel as we do with every death, that a part of us has been ripped from our hearts, and suffer pain and grief — and we are reminded that this is the fate we all face, that someday we too will die, and that we are all “living dyingly”, as Hitch put it so well.

As atheists, I think none of us can find solace in the cliches or numbness in the delusion of an afterlife. Instead, embrace the fierce strong emotions of anger and sorrow, feel the pain, rage against the darkness, fight back against our mortal enemy Death, and live exuberantly while we can. Confront mortality clear-eyed and pugnacious, uncompromising and aggressive.

It’s what Hitch would have wanted of us.

It’s how Hitch lived.”

The non-beleiving and humanist community has lost a great spokesperson, but more importantly, the world has lost a great human being.  I think the world would be a much better place if we could all follow Hitch’s example of living life to the fullest and fearlessly seeking justice for all of us.

 

Atheists Raise $180,000 for Charity

It is said that this is the season of giving, and you don’t have to be religious to do good by giving.  It was reported the other day that atheists have used crowdsourcing to raise $180,000 for Doctors Without Borders. I bring this up because there is this prevalent belief that atheists are amoral, hedonistic, and only concerned with their own self interests.  I want to show that this belief is false.

I’m not going to try to pretend that atheists are more giving than their religious brethren, I just want people to realize that we, as a group in general, put a very high value on doing what is morally and ethically right.  Our understanding that this in the only life we have leads us to cherish it and, since we don’t believe in any finally judgement where the bad will be punished and the good rewarded, we are greatly appalled at the suffering of others in the here and now.  We see the huge injustice that millions are living lives of desperation, with no hope of relief, unless we, as fellow human beings do something about it, today.  Nothing is more terrible than the thought that so many innocent people suffer and that a painful death is all that many of them have to look forward to.  The waste of human life, of human potential is overwhelming.  When you know that this time on earth is all that each of us has, this kind horrible waste and suffering is unconscionable.

The fact that this suffering of millions is often brushed aside because people delude themselves into believing that those who suffer will find peace some other future existence is what makes us so angry.  We aren’t angry with god, or with believers in general.  We are angry that human suffering is often minimized by reference to some insubstantial afterlife, or worse, justified by the whim of some invisible deity.

We give what we can to help those who suffer, not because we are told to by a holy book, or a church, but because we are moved by a shared sense of humanity to do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do.

There are plenty of charities that you can give to, if you are, like me, uncomfortable with the idea of giving to a religious charity, such as the Salvation Army, which espouses homophobic and bigoted beliefs, or a church where most of the money stays in the church rather than going to where it is really needed.  My personal choice is Doctors Without Borders, which I believe is a great charity since they provide needed medical care anywhere in the world that it is needed, with no religious, ideological, or political agenda or strings attached.

Where ever you decide to give to, don’t do it because you expect some ineffable reward in a nebulous, unlikely afterlife, or to please your pastor.  Do it because it is the right thing to do.

I Chose Not To Believe

I think that the one of the most compelling reasons that I have chosen not be believe in any supernatural god(s) can best be summed up by the picture below.  Look at it. Think really hard about it.  If you do you will begin to understand what lead me to shed my supersitious beliefs.

poly_atheism_demotivational_by_hull612-d39xom1

By hull612 (Otherwise known as Jon)

The Secular Humanist Anthem

My pick for a Secular Humanist (or agnostic, or atheist, or just plain sensible) anthem:

Imagine there’s no Heaven 
It’s easy if you try 
No hell below us 
Above us only sky 
Imagine all the people 
Living for today 

Imagine there’s no countries 
It isn’t hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people 
Living life in peace 

You may say that I’m a dreamer 
But I’m not the only one 
I hope someday you’ll join us 
And the world will be as one 

Imagine no possessions 
I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger 
A brotherhood of man 
Imagine all the people 
Sharing all the world 

You may say that I’m a dreamer 
But I’m not the only one 
I hope someday you’ll join us 
And the world will live as one

– John Lennon

Sexism Among Atheists and Skeptics

There is a great blog post from PZ Myers that discusses sexism in atheism.  I just want to add that this problem is also found within the skeptical community as well, perhaps not quite to the same extent, but close.

This is just a microcosmic example of what we find in society at large.  I would say that the problem of sexism in the atheist and skeptical communities isn’t nearly as entrenched or as vicious as in, say, the gamer, science, or other similar communities, which is a good thing.  If we can make the efforts that PZ describes, we can be leaders in including women as equals.

As atheists, skeptics, and secular humanists, we already have a greater sense of, and support for, social justice than the population at large.  We need to keep working to include all segments of society in our communities and show the often bigoted, sexist, and racist religious believers what real brotherly, and sisterly, love means.