Jump to content

/r/atheism And New Atheism (Or, Why Atheists Can Be Jerks)


Recommended Posts

This is going to be a bit of a rant, so just bare with me...

The likes of Richard Dawkins, the Amazing Atheist, and the whole 'New Atheism' movement have poisoned the "Atheist" label.

 

When I became an atheist, I hated all religion, I was ardently anti-Theist, going so far as burning all of my religious books and accessories.

 

/r/Atheism was both the catalyst for my de-conversion and the catalyst behind my anti-theism.

 

So far as being representatitves of Atheism, /r/atheism has done a crappy-ass job, and has only poisoned and polarized the overall "Atheist" movement.

 

If I were to do it all over again, I would NOT choose to go to r/atheism as my go-to resource.

 

What do you guys think?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry you feel that way.  I don't get why people think atheists are under some kind of obligation to be pure saints while fighting against the culture war from the major religions.  You do know that when Christians were in power they would have you burned at the stake.  And today Muslims have so much power that they do execute atheists.  But atheists who speak out are jerks and militants.  Sorry but the way I see it the major religions are the bad guys here.

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

This is going to be a bit of a rant, so just bare with me...

 

The likes of Richard Dawkins, the Amazing Atheist, and the whole 'New Atheism' movement have poisoned the "Atheist" label.

 

When I became an atheist, I hated all religion, I was ardently anti-Theist, going so far as burning all of my religious books and accessories.

 

/r/Atheism was both the catalyst for my de-conversion and the catalyst behind my anti-theism.

 

So far as being representatitves of Atheism, /r/atheism has done a crappy-ass job, and has only poisoned and polarized the overall "Atheist" movement.

 

If I were to do it all over again, I would NOT choose to go to r/atheism as my go-to resource.

 

What do you guys think?

Listen man, I did the exact same thing. My first instinct was to go full blown anti-theist when I realized that Christianity is a fairy tale. I wanted to tear down all of the fairy tales out of scorn for their various deceptions. I think that's a natural reaction and in a lot of ways a necessary part of deconversion. There has to be some sense of strong separation from the mythological world view. And likewise, I too eventually came to the conclusion that the New Atheism is a problem. I thought that the tone of voice tends to sound like some sort of reverse fundamentalism and absolutist attitude, just as errant as the religious attitude. And in a lot of ways that's a correct conclusion. 

 

a lot of the atheist organizations have opted to stick to the soft definition of a lack of belief in Gods. It's a negative. Any positive goes off in another direction. I've gone into the pantheism's for a soft atheist / spiritual naturalist default which I see as more fitting. But I mentioned elsewhere that I'm not actually settled into just one thing. I'm agnostic, atheist, and pantheist all at the same time. I'm still a tad bit anti-theist in some ways too, that's not gone entirely. I don't very well care for organized religion and I don't mind people kicking it square in the nuts. That version of spirituality, in my view, is very misguided and doesn't deserve to be defended. But at the same time it has to naturally unfold. I'm not concerned with trying to tear it down. It's wrong, but I think that with enough time it will die out on it's own accord because it's simply not true. Just letting the debates unfold tends to reveal the weakness of theistic argument.

 

Zeldarocks, what exactly is the main problem you have against New Atheism and what exactly is the crappy job you're referring to? 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think The Atheist Experience nailed it when a christian called the show complaining about how they had to have this show, and 'bash' christianity and why did they have to 'promote' atheism..etc… and Matt threw back something like this… "We are volunteers, amateurs, with a one hour show on a local cable network who are here to show we exist and that it's okay to be an atheist… we also are here to support other non-believers… you guys have whole networks that run 24/7, hundreds of radio shows and billboards across the nation, and churches on nearly every damn corner and you call to complain about our one little show? - basically you just want us to shut up and go away, well, we won't and we aren't". (paraphrased heavily)

 

The problem with New Atheism (kind of like the civil rights movement) is it isn't quiet and polite… and they don't apologize for being atheists, and in some cases anti-theist. The status quo is being shaken up.. gosh darn. Do I agree with every personality in it? No.. every group has assholes (The amazing atheist is not one of my personal favourites) but they are standing up for what they believe in.. and the right to BE and express themselves in a free society.

 

That's my take on it… but I've always been a bit of a rebel. :)

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course atheists (or non-christians in general) can be assholes too, and some are, simply by "virtue" of being... human. It's not a nice thing but that's life.

 

So, I'm sure some complaints are actually justified... others are simply whining, see Raven's post above. All summed up though I think morontheists have many more things to say sorry for than nonbelievers do.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 But at the same time it has to naturally unfold. I'm not concerned with trying to tear it down. It's wrong, but I think that with enough time it will die out on it's own accord because it's simply not true. Just letting the debates unfold tends to reveal the weakness of theistic argument.

 

 

 

I make no apologies for trying to tear down a system that kills and maims people wherever it strikes.  I'm talking about xians who bomb abortion clinics, or who drive their kids into a lake so they will go to heaven, or who deny life-saving medical treatment to children, or who indoctrinate little kids about a concept called hell, or whose rejection and bigotry towards LBGT teenagers leads to countless suicides, or whose abusive behaviour towards children plant the seeds of severe OCD or PTSD or both for years and years.  And these are just the first few examples that come to mind.

 

This is no time to sit by and wait for religion to die out on its own.  The body count is too high.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think The Atheist Experience nailed it when a christian called the show complaining about how they had to have this show, and 'bash' christianity and why did they have to 'promote' atheism..etc… and Matt threw back something like this… "We are volunteers, amateurs, with a one hour show on a local cable network who are here to show we exist and that it's okay to be an atheist… we also are here to support other non-believers… you guys have whole networks that run 24/7, hundreds of radio shows and billboards across the nation, and churches on nearly every damn corner and you call to complain about our one little show? - basically you just want us to shut up and go away, well, we won't and we aren't". (paraphrased heavily)

 

The problem with New Atheism (kind of like the civil rights movement) is it isn't quiet and polite… and they don't apologize for being atheists, and in some cases anti-theist. The status quo is being shaken up.. gosh darn. 

 

 

Yep.  Old atheism's strategy was to keep your thoughts to yourself and remain quiet when Christianity spreads all kinds of lies about atheism.  Speaking up is the only way to show people that we are not as evil as the church would paint us.  Rude maybe but we don't actually eat babies.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator

The pervasive religious affront to our lives and our laws is escalating. Maybe we're just tired of their shit.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Furball

 

/r/Atheism was both the catalyst for my de-conversion and the catalyst behind my anti-theism.

 

 

forgive me for my ignorance, but what /r/atheism? i know what an atheist is, but what do does the /r/ part mean?

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

/r/Atheism was both the catalyst for my de-conversion and the catalyst behind my anti-theism.

 

 

forgive me for my ignorance, but what /r/atheism? i know what an atheist is, but what do does the /r/ part mean?

 

 

 

The r stands for reddit - the greatest collection of pornography ever assembled.

 

 

Here is the atheism section:

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

 

Some of the contributors can be rude but oh well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the '2edgy4me' and 'tips fedora' crowd just hate seeing somebody offer an atheist perspective. To them, simply offering an atheist perspective on something is disrespectful.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

 

 

 

 But at the same time it has to naturally unfold. I'm not concerned with trying to tear it down. It's wrong, but I think that with enough time it will die out on it's own accord because it's simply not true. Just letting the debates unfold tends to reveal the weakness of theistic argument.

 

 

 

I make no apologies for trying to tear down a system that kills and maims people wherever it strikes.  I'm talking about xians who bomb abortion clinics, or who drive their kids into a lake so they will go to heaven, or who deny life-saving medical treatment to children, or who indoctrinate little kids about a concept called hell, or whose rejection and bigotry towards LBGT teenagers leads to countless suicides, or whose abusive behaviour towards children plant the seeds of severe OCD or PTSD or both for years and years.  And these are just the first few examples that come to mind.

 

This is no time to sit by and wait for religion to die out on its own.  The body count is too high.

 

Nor should you apologize. 

 

I'm defending your right to be anti-theistic. The point is that the debates need to be left alone and allowed to continue because Christianity is wrong and no one will know that if the debates are silenced. My point to Zeldarocks is to look at the bigger picture and see that while he may not want to be a strong atheist, strong atheism does in fact have it's place and people who feel compelled to join it ought naught be the subject of attack or ridicule. I take action against Christians in debate forums, I'm at least partially anti-theist myself. I don't very well feel like letting them trample over atheism or freethought in general.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

 But at the same time it has to naturally unfold. I'm not concerned with trying to tear it down. It's wrong, but I think that with enough time it will die out on it's own accord because it's simply not true. Just letting the debates unfold tends to reveal the weakness of theistic argument.

 

 

 

I make no apologies for trying to tear down a system that kills and maims people wherever it strikes.  I'm talking about xians who bomb abortion clinics, or who drive their kids into a lake so they will go to heaven, or who deny life-saving medical treatment to children, or who indoctrinate little kids about a concept called hell, or whose rejection and bigotry towards LBGT teenagers leads to countless suicides, or whose abusive behaviour towards children plant the seeds of severe OCD or PTSD or both for years and years.  And these are just the first few examples that come to mind.

 

This is no time to sit by and wait for religion to die out on its own.  The body count is too high.

 

Nor should you apologize. 

 

I'm defending your right to be anti-theistic. The point is that the debates need to be left alone and allowed to continue because Christianity is wrong and no one will know that if the debates are silenced. My point to Zeldarocks is to look at the bigger picture and see that while he may not want to be a strong atheist, strong atheism does in fact have it's place and people who feel compelled to join it ought naught be the subject of attack or ridicule. I take action against Christians in debate forums, I'm at least partially anti-theist myself. I don't very well feel like letting them trample over atheism or freethought in general.

 

 

Thanks for clarifying, I misunderstood what you said.

 

Perhaps I should clarify my point to Zeldarocks... when I compare the crimes I cited above with the most aggressively worded statements by anti-theists, there is no comparison.  I would rather live in a free country where people can say what they like about important issues than censor people because what they say "offends" some people.  Those who enable religious harm should be offended.  It might make them stop and think about it.

 

1962806_813222122081335_2554860573198612

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I don't understand why people get upset over New Atheists.

 

I'll admit I don't know the whole movement, or how it is different from "Old" Atheists, but... There will always be asshats.

 

Dawkins, and Hitchens, for that matter, seem to be really okay guys. I don't get where they get a bad reputation from at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They are smart… intimidating, I guess.  :D

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I would tend to agree with Ravenstar's opinion on this.  Dawkins, Harris, etc. are perhaps intimidating figures because they're very intelligent and educated.  I respect this, and so even though I don't identify as an atheist I'd generally call myself a fan of these people.  Sometimes they take approaches that I wouldn't, but that doesn't invalidate them.

 

I tend to take more issue with their followers: namely non-scientists who speak as though they have a scientific background, and who attempt to derive academic credentials from their atheism.  Being an atheist does not impart scientific knowledge to a person, so I do wish that new atheists would recognize their lack of expertise, even as they extol the virtues of the New Atheism's leaders.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Christians were right to accuse me of being "double-minded", because I literally am of two minds on this issue. I think there's no reason to apologize for atheism, not at all. But I tend to lean towards the Dale McGowen style of interaction. Even that is not good enough for many Christians.

But we had another thread on these boards, under Rants and Replies, recently that also had those of the dogmatic persuasion really upset at challenge and just like the Christians, without real answers. I'm afraid I'm once bitten thrice shy when it comes to dogma, any sort of dogma. I can't even support the dogma against all alternative medicine, like many skeptics I otherwise agree with. In their view, it's either all wootastic or all big pharmaceuticals, with studies paid for by the pharmaceuticals, the same crowd who claimed for years that my cousin's fibromyalgia was all made up, and just in her head, and because placebo.

I wholeheartedly support the Freedom From Religion's efforts, and a lot of Christians and Muslims surely hate that. But they have very compelling arguments, Constitutional arguments, on their side. But I can't do anything that resembles dogma anymore. It's precisely because I took personal responsibility for buying into it once, that I won't be buying into "it" again, whatever dogma the "it" happens to be.

 

But, no atheist should apologize for being an atheist, and we're not collectively responsible for the actions of a few. I'm not sure I would class anything on Reddit or Youtube as "actions", that's just musings on the Internet.

 

Don't ever listen to the Amazing Atheist when you have a headache. That was a very bad way to get my introduction to a a Youtuber. I watch his stuff off and on, but he's pulling a Rush Limbaugh and playing to the audience, I'm guessing. Loud and proud, and apparently big, too, from what someone tole me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 I'm afraid I'm once bitten thrice shy when it comes to dogma, any sort of dogma.

 

 

No worries.  That is part of being a free thinker.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose it depends on what the ultimate goal is. Is the goal to educate & maybe even change minds, or is it to attack & demean religion? We don't much care for the tactics fundies typically use so why would we want to emulate them? Just asking a question.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good point Geezer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose it depends on what the ultimate goal is. Is the goal to educate & maybe even change minds, or is it to attack & demean religion? We don't much care for the tactics fundies typically use so why would we want to emulate them? Just asking a question.

 

 

I don't see it that way.  Dawkins, Hitchens, DarkMatter and NonStampCollector freed me from a lifetime of indoctrination.  None of them knocked on my door.  None of them threatened me with hell.  I suffered from depression and made horrible choices my whole life until I was helped.  FFRF has a mission to help those who do not believe yet are trapped in a life where they feel obligated to pretend they believe anyway.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is going to be a bit of a rant, so just bare with me...

 

The likes of Richard Dawkins, the Amazing Atheist, and the whole 'New Atheism' movement have poisoned the "Atheist" label.

 

When I became an atheist, I hated all religion, I was ardently anti-Theist, going so far as burning all of my religious books and accessories.

 

/r/Atheism was both the catalyst for my de-conversion and the catalyst behind my anti-theism.

 

So far as being representatitves of Atheism, /r/atheism has done a crappy-ass job, and has only poisoned and polarized the overall "Atheist" movement.

 

If I were to do it all over again, I would NOT choose to go to r/atheism as my go-to resource.

 

What do you guys think?

 

I don't get it. What's the problem?

 

I am grateful that atheists have gained visibility and more respect as a result of the work of people who are no longer willing to hide in a closet.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

The way I understand the atheist designation is that it it is "not-a-theist", in other words "not-a-believer-in-god."  In order to be not-something, there must be -something to be not-; in this case, believers.  This suggests to me that an atheist exists because there are believers in gods.  If Christianity and other irritating theisms were wiped out, there would be nothing to be not-, or at least nothing there to push against and the term would be meaningless.  Until I wrote this paragraph, I thought that an atheist should be self sustaining and not require interaction (okay, altercation) with believers.  I wondered why atheists didn't just go along and enjoy the freedom to be themselves independent of god stuff, but now I have written myself out of the point I intended to make. 

God, I hate being a free thinker. My own opinions so frequently self destruct when I contemplate them.  Did I say god?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry you feel that way. I don't get why people think atheists are under some kind of obligation to be pure saints while fighting against the culture war from the major religions. You do know that when Christians were in power they would have you burned at the stake. And today Muslims have so much power that they do execute atheists. But atheists who speak out are jerks and militants. Sorry but the way I see it the major religions are the bad guys here.

This is exactly it. If this was 1400 and you stood on a corner and proclaimed your atheism, you would be executed. Religion has long enjoyed a position of privelege. That position is slipping and slipping fast. Like a child being dragged to bed, they will kick and scream to the bitter end. Enjoy these moments. Atheism is winning. Christians know this. Religion in general knows this. They will kick and scream as every shred of their authority is removed. Hence why these redicukous laws are being launched as a hail mary to enshrine their privelege into law.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I see something to both sides here.

 

I am not familiar with the Amazing Atheist or /r/Atheism so I cannot comment there, but I think that Dawkins may sometimes come across too strongly as only "against" things. Depending on what you watch/read, Dawkins and Hitchens seem to be entirely negative, only hating religion 24/7. Neil DeGrasse Tyson at one time pointed this out to Dawkins, that he was firmly against things without offering positives as well.

However, I know that this is not the case. I have heard them both speak positively about life, the universe and our experience in it. You can find times when Dawkins takes a softer approach, such as a certain instance of answering questions in a religious school in the UK regarding evolution.

 

My friend who is still a Christian has expressed his dislike of Dawkins because of his usual attitude, but I directed him to others such as Tyson who, instead of focusing on what's wrong, concentrate on what *is* true and good and interesting.

In my experience, both approaces are necessary. The hard approach is valuable to show that religion should not be on some sort of pedestal, free from any criticism or mockery. Criticism and mockery are a vital part of free speech and the ability to determine truth. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean they don't get to say (you've certainly done it to them many times in the past). Watching Dawkins early on shocked me into thinking about what I did and did not know and for what reasons I could say I knew it.

On the other hand, the soft approach of asking questions and showing what we can know as true and why is useful for replacing what has been torn down by the hard approach.

 

Both were necessary in my process of deconversion. One moment I would look at evidence and think "everything I know is false," or "it's all meaningless without god/eternity." But then soon I would learn about something else and say "no, I can know things. *We* can know things because we have a pretty reliable mechanism for doing so." "There may not be an objective meaning to life, but I've never much agreed with the supposed objective meaning anyway. The ideas of humanism seem very much in line with how I was living already. Maybe it's not all so bad, and importantly, I can make it better."

 

So I appreciate both. I still learn from Dawkins and co. but I don't direct my christian friend to him. At the same time, I learn about what is true and enjoy it. But I wouldn't for a second tell the New Atheists to stop; they deserve to be heard and to criticize as much as anyone else.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.