“Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism

Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/make-up-your-minds-atheists/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/is-agnostic-an-obsolete-term/

Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading

Racism among Atheists too?

Jen McCreight, author of the blog Blag Hag, now finds herself having to confront the ugly issue of racism among her fellow atheists after she and other women dealt so much and for so long with sexism among them. I will provide links to her blog entries in question along with excerpts from them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2013/08/on-silencing-anger-to-silence-minority-voices/

My favorite thing to wake up to in the morning is white straight cis men insisting they get to decide who your allies are and that you should not ever get angry, but rather calmly explain basic topics to hostile questions from every person that wanders across your path as if it were your personal duty on this earth. Continue reading

There is NO default position on religion

P Z Myers wrote an essay for the Washington Post that reads as follows:

Atheism is the default position. You don’t have to do anything to be an atheist, but you have to work awfully hard to not be one…..

I consider this to be a falsehood, based on my own personal experience. I was raised in a conservative Protestant family, so I naturally adopted the basic Christian beliefs of my parents and other relatives. It required no work at all to simply believe in God and to accept the Bible as the Word of God. So for me, evangelical Protestantism WAS the default position; it was not until I was attending college that I decided to stop believing in God and it was at the end of a long internal struggle that involved some emotional wrangling that I never would have experienced had I simply chosen to ignore the contradictions I had discovered and remain a Christian. Thus I had to work very hard to deprogram myself and think freely from the dogmas of any religion. And I had to undergo this process TWICE, since I later was seduced to join the Baha’i Faith and then deprogram myself from that as well.

From a universal perspective, there cannot be a default position on religion, politics, or any other subject involving dogmas (and yes, atheism is properly classed as a dogma). There are only defaults with regards to family upbringings.  The only way atheism can be a default position is if a child is raised in a family of atheists.

The Skepchicks vs. the Asses of Evil

With this blog entry, I intend to put all the past references to the battles Rebecca Watson and her allies have fought against sexism in the secular communities into one place. This will be a work in progress.

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/the-downfall-of-richard-dawkins-credibility/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/rebecca-watson-vs-stef-mcgraw/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/beware-of-justin-vacula/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/destroy-the-atheist-movement/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/atheists-on-facebook/

Atheists on Facebook

The Center for Inquiry hosted a conference for women in which it’s CEO, Ron Lindsay, made a total idiot of himself and offended a LOT of the women (and enlightened men) for whom the conference was made by implying that feminists who wanted men to listen to them were no better than the men who were being disrespectful to them.

Continue reading

Destroy the Atheist movement!

Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/05/08/policing-their-own/

We want religious believers to police their own.

We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.

So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?

I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.

I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.

And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.

And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.

Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.

So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.

Let us turn to this instead:

http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/index.shtml

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.

We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/why-more-people-should-join-the-unitarian-universalists/

 

Is agnostic an obsolete term?

Thomas Huxley, coiner of the term agnostic.

Thomas Huxley, coiner of the term agnostic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a previous blog entry, I showed via historical references that the definition of  “atheist” as merely “lacking belief in a god” had no historical foundation, being a recent invention (we used the term “non-Theist” for that already). Critics of my position (that the only true Atheists are those who deny outright the existence of any god and that therefore Atheism should be classed as a dogma) assert that the meanings of words may change over time and that there is nothing wrong with this. I disagree and here is why:

In the Middle Ages, the term “gentleman” was defined only as a nobleman who owned land and it had no behavioral or moral references. If you said a man was or was not a gentleman, you were neither praising him nor insulting him, but merely giving information about his social status. But gentlemen were expected to maintain certain high standards of behavior, and over time people began to argue that the behavior of a man was more important than his social status. This is indeed an enlightened point of view, but the critical mistake made later was to start saying not only that a man who was not a gentleman acted like one anyway, but to actually call men of good behavior “gentlemen” even if they were not of the landed nobility. This was simply inaccurate, but that usage became so common as time went by and the nobility became less important to European societies that the original use of the term was dropped completely and the mistaken usage became the norm. Today, you cannot even refer to a man in the Middle Ages as a “gentleman” without an explanation as to its original meaning. This is a barrier to communication about historical issues, and so the word “gentleman” has been ruined and it would have been better to have discarded it completely and another term invented for men of good behavior.

It is the same with “agnostic”. Thomas Huxley invented that term precisely because the only definition of “atheist” that existed in his time was “denial of all gods”, which Huxley did not do. Thus, he classed himself and other agnostics as being neutral with regards to the Theism/Atheism question, something that today’s New Atheists deny. But if Atheist is indeed merely “lacking belief in any god”, then agnostic is a useless term, just as “gentleman” is now, since it is indeed impossible for anyone to  KNOW whether or not there is a god; we merely choose to believe or disbelieve in gods. Therefore, EVERYONE may be classed as agnostic and the term can no longer be used for statistical purposes to define anyone’s beliefs, or lack thereof.

The New Atheists have a choice. They can either discard the term agnostic completely (and thus discard Huxley’s intellectual legacy), or they can reverse course and admit what we always have known, that it is indeed possible to be neutral on the issue of Theist/Atheist, that Atheism is a dogma and that agnosticism is something to be accepted on an equal level with Theism, non-Theism, and Atheism. The first choice, of course, will also disrupt communication about historical issues regarding atheists and agnostics in the past, so only the second choice is the viable one.