Atheism Plus, Debating Theists, and This Blog

My thoughts on a bunch of stuff…

I am going to be out of town again for the next few days (until Tuesday again).  This is the last trip for a while.  After this trip life/work will get back to normal.   I have spent a good deal of time either in a car on a plane these past few months.  One of the nice things about this is that it has really given me the opportunity to think about what I am doing.  This post is going be a conglomeration of various thoughts I have regarding this atheism plus, debating theists, and this blog in general.

The first topic that I want to address is atheism plus.  This idea has been written about in great detail in many places.  In fact, most atheist bloggers have addressed it in some way.  My only foray into these waters was my criticism of Richard Carrier’s post a while back.  Here is the second and probably the last time I will discuss A+.  In short:

  • I find that I agree strongly with the social justice issues they have laid out.
  • I disagree with much of the initial rhetoric that surrounded this idea (Carrier and others).  Though, that seems to have calmed down, I found it curious that none of the “big name” supporters publicly rebuked Carrier.
  • I think that many people were labeled assholes, douchebags, and misogynists who probably are none of those things.  This concerns me because there really are assholes, douchebags, and misogynists out there.  Some of the people falsely labeled could really have been a large help to the A+ movement, but instead are marginalized.
  • I am not sure I buy the arguments that A+ is not divisive.  It would appear to me that it has been very divisive, but time will tell all on that score.
  • Whether or not it should be divisive is a separate topic to me.  For what it is worth, I do not feel “divided” in any way due to A+.
  • I realize that not all atheists are into advocacy or social justice.  I also realize that some atheists are interested in such things, but have different ideas/ends than what A+ promotes.
  • I have never been to an atheist or skeptic or any other non-believer type conference so I have no direct knowledge of what happens there.  That said, I have yet to see any evidence that they are any more exclusionary or offensive than any other large gathering of people.  That is not to say a problem does not or did not exist.  I do feel that we had a very large reaction in our “atheist community” over something that could probably have been dealt with much more civilly and effectively.  That being noted, I have zero tolerance for the blatantly insulting language was used by some against females.  Rape threats and telling a woman you are going to “kick her in the cunt” are never acceptable to me.  I have no problem telling those people off and no longer associating with them.

I support the ideas that atheism plus stands for, but will choose to remain a good old fashioned atheist.  I was an advocate for many of these social justice issues before I was an atheist and will continue to be one in the future.  I support equal rights and opportunity for all people regardless of race, sex, sexual preference, religion, etc.  I also understand the concept that one’s atheism can lead to progressive social justice ideas.  It makes sense to me.  Does that make me atheism plus by default?  Maybe, but labels are not important to me.  I really don’t like to label myself.   (I also understand that one’s atheism does not need to lead to progressive social justice ideas—atheists come in every possible stripe you can think of).

Instead, I like to let my actions define who I am.  If people decide to label me A+ or not…that is up to them.  There will be many times when I will write a piece, volunteer my time, or donate money to causes that A+ supports.  In that we are allies.  But for me, it ends there.  I am just a guy going about doing what I believe is right.  I don’t need a label and I don’t see any need to rebuke those who want to label themselves.

To the “atheism plussers” out there, I wish you luck in your endeavors.  You will find an ally in me many times.  If you are not a regular reader of mine, I welcome you to my site.  You will find many posts that share your views on a wide range of topics.  If you are a regular reader, nothing will be changing here.

To those of you out there who disagree with atheism plus, you also have a home here.  If you are a new reader to my blog I often write about the impact of religion on politics and social justice issues.  I welcome debate and good conversation.  If you are a reader of mine already, there is no reason to abandon ship, nothing is going to change.  I will still be blogging about the same old stuff (sadly because it does not seem to be changing).

Those are my thoughts on A+.

The next topic that I have had a great deal of time to think about is debating theists.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@logicalbeing—if you are not following me, I would love to have you join me) you will notice that I spend a few nights each week debating theists.  I do this while watching TV or reading.  I also do this in my daily life offline as well, though not as often.  I have been asked “Why do you bother doing that, you never seem to get anywhere?”  My answer to that is simple.  I believe that I can “get somewhere”.  Let me explain.

When debating religion on Twitter (for example) I have no illusions that I will ever change my opponent’s mind.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, it is next to impossible to have a complete discussion in sentences of 140 or less characters.  Second, any theist who is willing to engage with me is often trying to convert me.  Not much is going to really come from that.  Third, most of the discussions are never finished.  So, what do I hope to accomplish?  I hope to urge people to think about religion.  Every time I debate a theist all of my followers and all of their followers have the potential to witness our conversation.  Many of my followers are theists.  They follow me because they like my political views or whatever.  Those are the people that I am trying to reach.  The same goes for my opponent’s followers.  If I can get any one of them to stop and think for a minute or to see how easy it is poke holes in theology/religion, then it is worth my time.

My regular readers will know that this is important to me.  I find religion to be nothing more than a limiter to our society.  It holds us back from achieving our greatest potential(s) as a species.  The more people that shed the chains of religion, the better, in my opinion.  Will my Twitter arguments be the cause of that?  Probably not, but hopefully it can start some people down that path.

The last topic I wanted to address is this blog.  As many of you know, I started this whole thing back in January.  I am having a blast doing it.  If nothing else, it gives me an outlet to share my thoughts and frustrations about what I see happening around me.  Going forward, I plan to continue posting almost daily, as I did in the past (starting next Tuesday). The topics will vary from politics and social issues and the various interactions that they have with religion to things like the bible and theology.  It has been a while since I have done a bible post. The same goes for dissecting and analyzing theological positions.  I am looking forward to writing some more on those subjects.

What will my purpose be for continuing this blog?  At the risk of sounding selfish the answers are: my own enjoyment, a place to vent, a place to have some great discussions, a place to “meet” new people, a place to share ideas, and a place where all are welcome.  It is my hope that by speaking out against religion and the various negative consequences of religion that other people will be encouraged to do to the same.  That perhaps a theist who is on the fence about their religion will decide to embark on the path to atheism.  It is my hope that perhaps my words will motivate some people to take up the same social justice, political and anti-religion causes that I feel are important.  I also hope to continue learning much from all of you.  Your comments have been great to read.   In closing, I am enjoying this ride and I hope that you are as well.  I look forward to more discussions in the future.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.


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20 thoughts on “Atheism Plus, Debating Theists, and This Blog

  1. OckhamsRazorboy from Glasgow, Glasgow City, United Kingdom

    A month or so back I found myself questioning the point of writing about atheism online and debating theists about religion; I couldn't help but think that I was either preaching to the choir or attempting to reason with people who didn't want to hear what I had to say. Several people actually got in touch with me about my concerns, but I think your reasoning about it is easily one of the best I've read; you never know who might be reading what you're saying online, and if their reading your exchange between a believer plants that seed of doubt that helps them transition towards non-belief.

    I also really like your breakdown of Atheism+. You summed it up better than I ever could.

    So yes; good show, all in all.

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for the kind words. Regarding A+, I am sure that some will be offended because I did not cover all of the issues, nor any of them in great detail, but offered a quick summary of my view. I am glad that it resonated with you.

      It is funny to think about talking with theists or preaching to the choir. To me, that would be fun and lead to some interesting conversations, but probably would have no impact on anything at all. That is okay, really. After all, it is my blog and if I were to simply have fun with it so be it. However, I do like the added idea that someone somewhere may have spark kindled inside of them from reading what we write. On Twitter it is all about that for me. When I debate a theist or make anti-religion comments, they are not directly aimed at atheists or the fundies I tend to get into conversations with. With that being said, I have "met" some really cool atheists that I like to chat with on Twitter as well, and that has been a ton of fun.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it. I will be sure to check out your blog.

  2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    Good breakdown on A+, I agree with just about all of it. The one thing I've come to realize after all this time is that the people who are really spreading A+ are people who I've entirely cut out of my blog-reading time and, to be honest, I just don't miss any of them at all. I've eliminated all but two blogs on FtB who rarely talk about A+ and I never read Skepchicks to begin with, I have much more time to find other blogs which I'm actually interested in reading now. They can talk about whatever they want, it doesn't impact me a bit.

    Secondly, I have been to plenty of non-skeptic conventions in my life and, at least from what I'm hearing, they are no better or worse than the skeptic conventions. It's just the ridiculous over-reactions that we're seeing that are different. If the problems reported are the worst things that happen there, they should count themselves lucky. This kind of whining would be laughed at in any other non-skeptic group, which is just sad on every possible level. What's even more sad is I've seen similar behavior on other subject matter in other groups and, without exception, it absolutely killed the groups in question. I'm hoping this is an exception but I'm not sure that it will be.

    Keep up the good work, RB. I sure feel a lot more at home here than I ever would over on an A+ site.

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks Cephus. I am glad that you are comfortable here. I appreciate your thoughts on A+ as well, even if I do not agree with all of them. To be honest, out of all the blogs that were pushing A+ the only ones I read prior to this debacle were Greta's and Carrier's. I still read both of theirs as I think they do have a lot of good things to say. I have liked many of Greta's posts in the past and assume I will like many of her future ones. The same goes for Carrier. I think he is an excellent scholar. I have learned much from reading his work. I anticipate that I will continue to learn more about the history behind religion from him in the future. The other blogs I only read if a title caught my attention, which I assume I will still do. However, I completely respect your decision to read what and who you want, that is, how this whole things works after all.

      Thanks for the kind words about my blog. They do mean a lot to me.—-I look forward to next week when I can get back to it daily.

  3. Reality Enthusiast from Golden, CO, United States

    As an enthusiastic supporter of Atheism Plus, I appreciate the measured and considerate way you've presented your thoughts about the group. I certainly agree that in the end, the most important thing is a person's behavior, not their label. I am heartened to see another atheist speaking out in support of social justice and against misogyny and discrimination.

    I wanted to mention that Jen McCreight (whose blog entry inspired Atheism Plus) did tweet about Richard Carrier a few days later, ( saying, "His language was unnecessarily harsh, divisive & ableist. Doesn't represent A+". I didn't appreciate Carrier's tone, nor did I appreciate his "with us or against us" rhetoric. The way I see it, Atheism Plus is a leaderless, grassroots, bottom-up organization where anyone (Carrier and McCreight included) is free to express their opinion on what the group is and their vision of what the group should be. The actual character of the movement, however, is determined by the consensus of the participants–and, thankfully, I have not seen a lot of support for Carrier's militancy among the people carrying the Atheism Plus banner.

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it. Thanks also for linking to Jen's critique of Carrier. I have not yet had time to read it, but it is a very worthwhile correction to point out in my piece. For what it is worth, it would seem to me, that on Twitter, the anti A+ folks are the ones who are being much more militant than the A+ people at this point. I see countless tweets trashing A+ daily. One does have to ask, who is it exactly that is being more divisive at this time, the A+ers or the anti-A+ers? I think it is time that we move on and do our things. If people do not want to join A+ then don't, but I do not see any need for further animosity. Just be a part of whatever activism you want, and the rest will be what it will be.

  4. Hausdorff from Troy, MI, United States

    Great post RB. One thing I wanted to punctuate in your post, when talking about your twitter discussions, you said

    "The more people that shed the chains of religion, the better, in my opinion. Will my Twitter arguments be the cause of that?"

    I think the obvious answer to this is no, your twitter arguments wont be THE cause of someone leaving religion. However, I think there is a real chance they could be A cause of it along with many many other things. I know for me, leaving religion took many years and countless arguments from many different sources. You never know what arguments are going to get people thinking about these things for the first time, get them thinking about a new thing in the middle of their transition, or maybe something you say will even be the last straw for someone. This is the same reason I blog, it's not like I think I'm going to convince someone in 1 shot, but maybe I'll help in some small part along the way.

    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      I think that much of the language used against Jen is outrageous, ignorant, and does fall under the category of general assholeishness. If people can't learn to disagree without hurling derogatory insults, then we are all in trouble. We need to be able to disagree rationally and reasonably.

      1. Infidel753 from Portland, OR, United States

        I think this is rather a bigger deal than that. If sexist harassment — from fellow atheists yet — can result in someone like McCreight being hounded out of the blogosphere, then we have a gigantic problem. This is a wake-up call, especially to everyone who has tried to minimize the issue.

        It's hardly worth talking about anything else until we figure out how to deal with the sexist-harassment problem.

        1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

          You have to remember, these are people who freak out over t-shirts, somehow I don't see anyone getting legitimately "hounded", it's likely another over-reaction. I absolutely decry anyone who makes physical threats against people's lives, wellbeing or employment, but a lot of the Atheism+ crowd has shown a general inability to tell the difference between genuine threats and trolls.

          1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

            Yes, I read it and while I'd agree with her for any threats that actually go to her job or actually go after her or her family or the like, the vast majority of things she complains about are just Internet trolls. Not only is the Atheism+ movement bad at threat assessment, they're really bad at threat identification. They lack the ability to tell the difference between what is really a threat and what is just a bunch of Internet stupidity.

            Pretty much anyone who has been online for more than 5 minutes ought to have figured that out for themselves.

  5. Pingback: The Logical Fallacy | Reason Being from Columbus, OH, United States

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