Monday, 8 July 2013

(Not) In the name of atheism...

So, time to break out the jumper cable and shock the shit out of this dead horse, it seems that no one can let it lie, so let's charge the beast up and get a few things sorted out. Prompting this post is a recent post by John Loftus at Skeptic Ink, however there has been a whole lot about it over the past year and so I'll voice my objections to several elements.

In regard to Loftus's claim that atheism entails anti-discrimination, I will start with this: No. The only thing atheism entails is the lack of belief in a god or gods (or the belief that there are no gods). Period. When you ascribe other things to Atheism you not only run into a huge problem, but you give fuel to every idiot theist out there who argues that because there were evil atheists, atheism itself is the cause of evil.

See when Loftus says that the removal of religion removes the cause for discrimination, I believe that were Josef Stalin and the NKVD/KGB still around, they might disagree with him on that point, not to mention all the other evil atheist leaders the fundies love to rant about. See what you in your grand ignorant buffoonery fail to realize, is that when you ascribe these other positive things to atheism, you also tack onto them all the negative things, especially the ones which directly contradict you. There are atheist bigots, there are atheist homophobes, there are atheist misogynists, and there are atheists who partake in every other form of discrimination. You can be an atheist and anti-discriminationist (It's a word now, fuckers), but the two are not related. I think this is a case of yet another former fundie failing to understand that there are people out there who never believed in religion, some of whom are just as discriminatory as their religious counterparts.

Atheism may remove one of the reason for discrimination, that being religious based hatred and separatism, but it doesn't remove the discrimination itself, and pretty much anyone who's either read a history book ought to know this, it's not rocket science.

Now moving on to what seems to be a more weaselly approach. A while ago there was a discussion between Dan Finke of Camels with Hammers and Justin Vacula about feminism in the secularist movement, specifically in regards to atheism, and Justin, who is normally a decent public speaker, made a little bit of an idiot of himself, however part of it was because a weaselly choice of words.

A big part of the discussion surrounds Finke grilling Vacula on whether or not atheism is "consistent" with feminism, and Vacula honestly makes himself look like an asshole here with his disagreements, because Finke is using the term "consistent" in the logical and academic sense (which makes sense, given his background), which means to say that the two are not mutually exclusive. This is actually 100% correct and Vacula, being a philosophy major, should have clarified this instead of simply disagreeing. The problem here is that consistent to most people, generally means more towards "X entails Y"  or even "X matches Y" as opposed to "X and Y are not mutually exclusive." I'm pretty sure Justin was arguing against the latter case and not the former.

A manager will often tell an employee that a good sales record, punctuality and the like are consistent with a promotion or a pay raise. This is a weaselly way of saying you should do these things without promising anything, and I don't know if he's doing it intentionally here, but Finke is implying that atheism leads to or entails feminism (of which kind? There seem to be several brands). He's wrong about this, as Atheism as a label entails nothing of the sort.

If feminism is consistent with atheism, then wife-beating is consistent with atheism. Mass deportation and slaughter are consistent with atheism, execution of all dissenters is consistent with atheism, UFOs and alien abduction are consistent with atheism, bigfoot is consistent with atheism. Do you get the point? You may think you've weaseled in a definition that isn't there, but you've actually said nothing at all, and anyone with half a brain will notice what a vapid argument that is. The only things inconsistent with Atheism are things which involve a belief in a god or gods, and once again, when you peddle this sort of bullshit, you simply open the door for all the theists to (correctly, by your logic) ascribe all sorts of negative shit to atheism.

As for Atheists as a movement, if you want to crusade for whatever, go for it. If I agree with you I'll join in as best I can, if not, I'll disagree vehemently and bitch about it on the internet. But don't claim to do what you do in the name of atheism, not only do you imply that the goals of atheism are X when they are not, but a single dissenter proves you wrong.

*Raises his hand* Right here, you dumb shits, I'm that one dissenter!

I don't care what you're doing, unless it's not believing in god. If it's not that, it's not atheism, and even if I agree with your cause, I will lend my support to a similar one which does not imply that atheism is the cause. Yes, by all means, be an atheist and a humanist, be an atheist and feed the hungry, be an atheist and campaign to end slavery. Just don't suggest that these are done in the name of atheism, it's no better or worse than the fundie who says Mao starved millions in the name of Atheism.

Stand up and Fight!

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