What Atheism Means to Me… March 7, 2016

Atheism has always meant a non-belief in deities to me. Activism for an atheist has only meant gaining acceptance of atheists in society… to me. There’s nothing difficult in those two statements, is there? These two sentences do not imply involvement in any other goal.

However, I have found to my dismay, that if you seek to join groups of atheists they always have additional baggage with which they attempt to saddle its members. Things like the battle against Christians.  To a point that’s okay, at least it gives you the opportunity to explain why you yourself do not believe. So many atheists carry it further. Indeed, they carry it to a point where they damage the image of atheists. So stop that.

Another item is the rights issues of various groups. You are asked to support gay rights, women’s rights, transgender rights, and the rights of every human to pretend to be whatever they want to pretend to be. I would rather just support atheist rights… all the rest is a distraction to me and my cause.

I am an atheist, I do not believe in any deities, in fact I go so far as to declare that there aren’t any… and the inductive evidence for that is very good… but just like the existence of a leprechaun cannot be proven, it cannot be disproven as well. I prefer to close the door on that rather than leave it open a crack. Do what you will, but don’t try to change my mind on this fact… you don’t have the evidence any way.

My aim is to make atheists more acceptable to society… and to persuade them to leave us alone, respect our rights and lives. NOTHING MORE. So keep your pet projects to yourself fellow atheists.

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15 Responses to What Atheism Means to Me… March 7, 2016

  1. jasonjshaw says:

    I’ve never liked the title “atheist”. As someone who is not religious, I have had no interest in associating with a term that directly relates to religious belief. I don’t understand why so many of the irreligious are so eager to be seen in connection with religious people. It seems a bit self-defeating to position oneself in relation to a position that defies logic.

  2. Alex Black says:

    I agree with you that the anti-Christian and/or anti-religion sentiment can get to be too much, sometimes. I do understand it, as I myself was rather staunchly opposed to religion and Christianity for a period following my deconversion, in part because I read the writings of anti-religion atheists. But nowadays my position is that I don’t care what other people believe as long as they aren’t hurting anyone with it. I’d rather do a joint service project between an atheist group and a Christian group than waste my time trying to deconvert said Christians.

    But as a transgender atheist, I’m not going to stick around in an atheist group that isn’t welcoming to trans people. This is part of why I think it is important to address (not focus on, but address) minority rights of all sorts, so that minority atheists don’t feel like they’re unwelcome in the atheist community.

    Because when people talk about how my rights aren’t worth talking about, and talk about transgender people as if they are “pretending”? I sure as fuck don’t feel welcome. You all can have your uninclusive group if you want. I’ll go start my own group that actually works for atheists who aren’t straight, cis, white, or male.

  3. Ron Murphy says:

    The expectations of ‘atheist community’ has been made confusing and frictional because there are so many different people that can be atheists: Humanists, Feminists, LBGxxxx, Fascists, Communists, psycopaths, astrologists, …

    So, when atheists turn up on social media, particularly twitter, some popular and decent atheist that’s also interested in some other issues is bound to a) get pushback from those that don’t see things his/her way, b) be followed by a bunch of aserbic atheist trolls. Group (b) pile hate on group (a), and group (a) blame the original poster for the action of his/her ‘fanboys’ (a). Bit of a mess really, all because of the expectations of the ‘atheist community’.

    As a liberal secular Humanist atheist that vaues reason, evidence, science, philosophy…
    – my atheism and reason lead me to be anti-theist for intellectual reasons
    – my liberal secular Humanism opposes religion for the harm it does
    – but the the continingent view of reality and the inherent uncertainty assures me we can’t know everything and that freedom of belief is an important part of liberal secular Humanism

    So, atheism is only one part of who I am, but it turns out that it becomes an important part. I end up opposing religions whenever they turn their religiously inspired judegementalism on others, particularly when that leads to oppression, or death. There’s plenty of reason to be an irate antitheist, anti-religionist: much of Islam, where even ‘moderate’ Muslims condone punishment if not death for apostasy and Christianity too, when crazy baptist groups condemn anything to do with sex that isn’t heterosexual married procreation. And the Roman Catholic church can occupy an atheist for a lifetime.

    But I can’t be my type of atheist without some ‘atheist community’ nut demanding I be their kind of atheist. I’ve had enough of characters like PZ Myers, Rebeca Watson, C J Werleman, Glenn Greenwald finding fault and misrepresenting and demonising other atheists. The madness of the social science based social justice warrior spafe space jazz hand seeking spoilt brats on campuses championed by idiots like Melissa Click is damaged freedom of expression – not because they simply control who gets invited to campuses, but because the minds of these people become so infected with their own BS rhetoric they can’t even listen to an opposing view.

    That’s why people like Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Gad Saad and others are becoming ever more popular, dispite SJW anger. They not only manage to engage in challenging ideas without flipping out and foaming at the mouth, they also listen to and engage with people they disagree with.

    In many ways the SJW left end up eating themselves. We saw this recently when Ophelia Benson said something or other that I think was just another point of view and found a ton of hate piling down on her, left Freethought Blogs, and the whole thing left PZ Myers going through a moment of despair doubting his whole ‘movement atheist’ project.

    Atehism is atheism. If some people do their atheism in a different way than you do, well, what can you expect.

  4. drenn1077 says:

    Connection with religious people? The word “atheist” is directly opposed to religiousness. Nevertheless, I understand your rejection of the word… on more than one level…
    1. You like to be separate from the crowd, much like I do and to accept a label, even if it applies, is to be placed in a category.
    2. The label is offensive to many people… even the label agnostic is more acceptable to some religious people because they feel you are an opportunity to be proselytized.

    Eager to be seen in connection with? No more than I have a need to be seen in connection with the various groups of atheists which I find are engaging in activities that I have no desire to engage in.

  5. drenn1077 says:

    I support human rights… yes I said I support atheist rights… but only in so much as I support human rights. I do not support the rights of disparate groups of people that are seeking special recognition for the purposes of seeking special privileges or considerations. I support human rights… I do not support Gay, lesbian, transgender, otherkin, or even any other minority rights… I support human rights, generally, and not specifically. As such anything that discriminates against any group, I oppose. This means I oppose “affirmative action” as it was never anything more than discrimination against caucasians. I oppose quotas in work place settings, as it discriminates against the most deserving and capable. Because I stand for human rights instead of special interest minority rights I do not feel welcome in any group… because they all develop their own foundationless ideologies as to who is more deserving of receiving special privileges and considerations, and if you don’t agree with them you are not welcome and will be shamed and shunned. So I am not a member of nor do I support any group, including the one locally which I helped form.

  6. drenn1077 says:

    Perhaps in the end, this point, this leading by the nose to everyone’s special interests, has led to the departure of atheists like myself from different groups. It may explain the old saw about Atheists being like cats, as in difficult to herd. I didn’t become an atheist because I wanted to engage in activities other than what would lead to public acceptance of atheists. I strongly resist being “guided” into supporting groups of differing minorities and their special interest causes. I support human rights generally, not specifically… with the exception perhaps of my desire to make atheists more welcome in the world.

  7. jasonjshaw says:

    I think it kind of helps to normalize theism as a legitimate stance. It is the yang to the yin of theism.

    I tend to default to my stance on the great beyond as agnosticism. I don’t know, but I am open to explore all potential possibilities – all the way from creator-driven ideas to natural occurrences and beyond.

    Of course, the varying definitions of “atheist” that are in use in different circles don’t help matters either. If I’m going to accept a label, it’s going to be one that is closer to having a universal definition.

    But I do think many atheists do want to be connected as a contrast to the theism they once held dear. There is resentment in their position, which can be quite understandable. I was never a theist, so that leaves me little reason to wave the flag of a contrary-sounding position.

  8. drenn1077 says:

    Pinning one down on absolute positions is difficult. Perhaps you are agnostic about some unknown entity… but I really can’t see myself as anything but atheist concerning any of the “known” invented gods of mankind. I can say I am a total 7 atheist about the Abrahamic gods, the Norse Gods, the Greek gods etc…. all of the myriad gods invented by humans… but, what about some entity, most likely produced by the Universe, rather than creating the Universe, that has “god-like” qualities… well, you know it has been said that a sufficiently developed technology may seem supernatural to a less sophisticated culture.
    Disregarding the existence of some unknown, I retain my atheist status for that realm we are aware.

  9. jasonjshaw says:

    If we’re talking about fully defined versions of God, I am an atheist in relation to them. I just wouldn’t define myself in relation to that nonsense.

    What could be a better term … Evidence-minded Agnostic maybe? That would take systems that rely on belief out of the picture while not running into definition issues where atheist is seen as belief against the existence of gods.

  10. Alex Black says:

    Advocating minority rights isn’t about asking for “special privileges”. It’s about looking at the ways in which particular minority groups are disadvantaged, and trying to find ways for them to have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. In some cases, this involves looking at how laws disproportionately target a specific group or groups of people. For example, before sodomy laws were abolished in the US, they were used almost exclusively against gay men in practice, even though straight people also performed the sex acts prohibited by these laws.

    But if you only look at “human rights” and don’t bother to look at how specific groups are disadvantaged, you’re not going to catch stuff like that.

    Minority groups aren’t looking for “special rights”. We are looking for equal rights. As an example, I would like to see equality in access to and quality of healthcare for trans people (even leaving out entirely the question of transgender specific health care, e.g. hormones). For example, a trans woman who has been injured in a car crash should not be left to bleed to death because the paramedics were too busy laughing at the shape of her genitals to save her life. A trans man should not have the question of whether to be admitted to a mental hospital for suicidal ideation be skipped over because the staff wouldn’t know where to put him. Nobody should have their access to healthcare limited because their body does not conform to society’s expectations. But you’re not going to be able to make sure that healthcare is not denied to specific classes of humans if you don’t look at how those specific groups of humans have their access denied or reduced.

  11. drenn1077 says:

    Human rights are guaranteed already… for all that are human… to seek more is to seek special privileges and considerations.

    Sodomy laws were unenforceable. What would you have… a camera in every bedroom? Nevertheless, sodomy is an unnatural act in respect to procreation and therefore, in my humble opinion, immoral.

    I disagree… I think minority groups have gone beyond seeking the equal rights they already have and are pressing for special advantages. Partly, I think, this is why there are so many new “minority” groups developing of late… transgender, otherkin, and whatever you might imagine. They see these various groups gain unprecedented power and want similar treatment from society, so… invent new minority groups daily.

    Except for those born with deformed genitals, both genitals, or no genitals, I believe steadfastly that if you are born male you are masculine, if you are born female you are feminine. Beyond those two genders there are no more. Note the period at the end of the last sentence. There are no trans men, there are no trans women, there are some very sick people, however. I do not deny them the health care they need and also the psychiatric care they need.

  12. Alex Black says:

    Sodomy laws were rarely enforced, but they were not unenforceable. For instance, people do occasionally walk in on others having sex, or get caught having sex in the car, or report their neighbors for having loud sex. Not a common thing, but it does happen. And literally enforcing the law after literally catching people having sex is not the only, or even the worst, consequence sodomy laws in the US have had for gay people. Just the existence of the laws, combined with the assumption that gay people have broken these laws, was enough for some people to use as an excuse to treat gay people like criminals. For example, this was used to deny gay parents custody or visitation rights with their (genetic!) children. See: http://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1286&context=lawreview

    Also, you say you may not deny health or psychiatric care to trans people, but other people certainly do. The examples in my previous reply describe actual events, not hypotheticals. Lowered access to and quality of healthcare is a daily reality for many trans people in the US today. But let me cite some sources for my claims.

    Trans woman denied care after paramedics discover the shape of her genitals: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyra_Hunter

    Trans man dies of ovarian cancer after multiple doctors refuse to treat him: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Eads

    This study shows that, while the high profile cases above are on the extreme end of things, they are not simply isolated incidents. The problem is widespread, with 19% of over 6000 survey respondents having experienced refusal of care in medical settings. http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

  13. drenn1077 says:

    I wonder sometimes if people think a gun should be held to the head of a reluctant doctor whose personal beliefs or personal feelings about certain people do not permit them to provide treatment. Like the cake maker that didn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding… sued out of business. Or the issuer of marriage licenses fired, because she didn’t feel her beliefs could coexist with providing marriage licenses to gay couples. If I were gay I wouldn’t want a doctor that didn’t want to provide services to gay to be forced to do so. The services would be scant at best, dangerous at worse.
    Meanwhile, I stand back and watch humanity crash and burn with all these moral dilemmas that are invented daily.

  14. Alex Black says:

    How equal rights should be obtained in a practical manner is an entirely different question to whether or not we currently have equal rights in the USA.

  15. drenn1077 says:

    If one abides by the old saying “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one” then we have equal rights in this country. There will always be someone imagining in some way how they are being treated poorly, whether they are being treated any less poorly than anyone else is another matter.

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