Instead of Talking About What Atheism Isn’t… August 20, 2012

Instead of Talking About What Atheism Isn’t…

(In response to this post)

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  • Yay! Positive atheism that is about and for something rather than just reactionary. Awesome idea Blag Hag!

  • Justin Miyundees

    How about “Atheists Believe in YOU!”

  • Why make atheism more than what it is? Why have people decided that atheism is something you’re supposed to care about? I don’t care about being an atheist. It’s a simple fact of life, one that I would never even have to ponder except for the fact that I happen to live in a heavily religious society.

    I don’t think atheism “sucks” because the only thing it involves is not believing in gods. Atheism isn’t supposed to make people happy, and it’s not supposed to be a replacement for religion. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. We can still blog and have conventions, but these things are not something positive that atheism is giving to us. They’re a reaction to a religious culture. Personally, I hope there is a future when the label “atheist” is no longer in use because there’s no need for it.

  • Changing the definition promotes tribalism and sectarianism.
    Two of the very reasons why I’m an atheist.

  • The problem I see is that the cart seems to get put before the horse. As you say, atheism isn’t a thing, it isn’t a positive assertion. Atheism doesn’t lead you in any particular direction. Rather, there is a common set of values, and a common sort of rational thinking, that leads many people to have an overlapping worldview, which includes the things listed in the referenced blog- and atheism. This suggestion is given:

    Atheists plus we care about social justice,

    Atheists plus we support women’s rights,

    Atheists plus we protest racism,

    Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,

    Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

    I don’t disagree, but I think “atheists” here is too narrow a category. None of these “pluses” follow from atheism. “Atheist” should be replaced with something like “Freethinker”, and to the end of the list we could add “Freethinker plus we are atheists”.

  • rg57

    You don’t care that you don’t believe in the magic man in the sky?  Somehow I doubt that.  He demands a lot.

    Atheism doesn’t suck.  You might want to consider whether your post does.  The alt text is AtheismPlus, a label recently designed solely to divide atheists literally into the two groups “us” and “them”. 

    Be honest… is that friendly, or sucky?

  • Efrique

    “See? Right there in the dictionary! Nothing beyond absence of hair, no social issues, no conventions, no blogging, no friendships, no hat-wearing,… man, baldness sucks.”

    I sometimes blog about atheism, but my blogging isn’t atheism, it’s blogging, and when I blog about mathematics, it’s not mathematics either, it’s blogging. I talk about social issues – but those aren’t atheism, and they don’t derive from it — it’s talking about social issues. I did that before I was atheist. I have friendships – but those are friendships, not atheism (few of my friends are atheist; it’s not even a criterion I consider).  I am a skeptic, but that’s not atheism — if anything my atheism is partly skepticism, but certainly not the other way around.


  • Paul_Robertson

    How disingenuous. Yes, atheism is simply a lack of belief in a god, but sometimes people try to interfere with the right not to believe, and that’s where secularism comes in. And sometimes, in a world dominated by religious folks, it’s nice to hear someone say, “It’s ok to be an atheist.” True, these things are not “atheism”, but they’re deeply interwoven with atheism. Social justice issues, on the other hand share no such connection and by putting these topics in the same bucket, this cartoon is drawing a false equivalence.

  • M J Shepherd

    Pretty sure that’s what the new label hopes to address. It’s not dictionary atheism, now is it?

  • M J Shepherd

    Yep, dictionary atheism alone is pretty sucky.

  • M J Shepherd

    Bald+, I’m sure, isn’t plain dictionary baldness.

  • I think the dictionary definition of atheism is beautiful and elegant. Unfortunately, too many people don’t really grasp that definition at all!

  • M J Shepherd

    Quite possibly, but it’s a definition first and only.

  • Paul_Robertson

    You’re missing my point. Jen wants to bolt a whole raft of social issues onto atheism, which is fine; and she wants to call the resulting product atheism (or atheism+), which is not. The cartoon implies that adding social justice issues to atheism, as Jen desires, is no different to adding blogging about atheism, and atheist conventions to a bare lack of belief. The cartoon takes some activities that are very closely tied to dictionary atheism and suggests that if you can’t have atheism with social issues then you can’t have atheist blogging either. The problem is that this relies on an equivalence between these activities that does not exist.

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