Author Topic: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?  (Read 2690 times)

cspanther

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Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« on: April 19, 2008, 01:27:45 AM »
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, so I guess, in the name of social etiquette, a brief introduction is called for before I jump into the topic at hand.  

I'm an ex-Bible-thumper who de-converted and became an agnostic (with strong atheistic leanings) shortly after graduating from seminary.  Since then, I went on to earn degrees in psychology and philosophy (by the way, the smartest way to be poor is to accumulate loads of debt while getting an education that has no practical value).  

Over the past few months, I've been spending the majority of my free time co-organizing a freethought meetup in North Eastern P.A., a relatively conservative area typical of small town clusters.  In my efforts to recruit participants, I've encountered what is, in my opinion, an annoying characteristic among some atheists; namley, the notion that building a community of athiests or organizing atheists around a common cause is somehow a contradiction.  From what I've gathered thus far, this rationale is rooted in three primary points: (1) atheism, by definition, doesn't advocate or promote a particular set of positive principles or tenents on which a community or organization would be based, (2) atheism inherently entails a strong streak of individualism, and this individualism is incompatible with forming an organization or community of atheists, (3) atheists are obviously nonreligious (some anti-religious), and becoming organized or cultivating community in any fashion is to be religious about atheism, which is oxymoronic.  

All that said, I'm wondering if any of you who are either organizers or participating members of an atheist group of some sort have encountered this mentality?  And what are your thoughts on the issue?

Also, for those of you who take the anti-organization position, I'm wondering if you would be willing to share you rationale?

MommaSquid

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2008, 02:32:26 AM »
Quote from: "cspanther"
...by the way, the smartest way to be poor is to accumulate loads of debt while getting an education that has no practical value.  



Welcome to the forum, cspanther.  BTW, I am originally from Whitehall, PA (which is near the ABE Airport).  Happily living elsewhere for almost 15 years.


As to your questions:  I've never been to a face-to-face atheist meet-up, but I consider my time spent in atheist forums to be just as worthwhile.  I need the sense of community that atheist forums bring, and I guess if there were a meet-up nearby I might check it out.  I agree that we are all strong individualists, but that doesn't have to be incompatible with community gatherings.

cspanther

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2008, 04:52:53 AM »
MommaSquid,

My mother used to live in Arizona, near Mesa, and she absolutely loved the landscape.  She would always rave about the open, flat expanses as compared to the hilly, tree-saturated terrain of PA.  She also loved the various types of rock formations, particularly the areas that featured large red rock mounds or mountains (although I'm sure they are large enough to be considered official mountains).  When I visited her in the summer of 2000, she took me to what is reputably the "New Age" center of the U.S.  I remember being struck by the redness of the rock formations and mountains; it exhibited a seemingly unnatural quality that, for a moment, made me think that I was transported to some sort of fantasy land (ok, so I'm not well traveled).  The characteristic color scheme of PA's landscape is just so different than that of Arizona (you could say that I experienced "color shock", to be distinguished from culture shock).  

My sentiments exactly!  In some respects, I think that such atheists proclaim their individualism as a way to explain their anti-organization/community stance due to a disposition of anti-social elitism; that is to say, because they equate intelligence with being a "non-joiner".  The assumption here is that to join any sort of organization or community is to cease thinking for one's self or to sacrifice intellectual autonomy.  So in order to maintain intellectual integrity and superiority, one must shun the mind-numbing collective at all costs (sorry if all that was too psycho-babble-ish).  What do you think?

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2008, 07:22:35 PM »
I could understand some atheists not wanting to join an atheist group that has a specific goal in mind if they do not agree with that goal.  But the average atheist get together is simply a way to be around open minded people who are less likely to judge you for thinking differently.  Most atheists can't speak their  minds around most people without being outcast....since humans are social beings it would only make sense to want to be able to socialize in a friendly setting...the best way to do that, imo, is have a free-thought meeting group.  

If people want to be anti-social, that's their choice...but being anti-social certainly has nothing to do with being an atheist.

myleviathan

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2008, 09:50:27 PM »
I can tell you I feel pretty isolated in conservative SW Florida. We do have a Unitarian Church that has a secular humanism class. I did visit the church once, and I liked it. But the average age is probably around 60 or so. I didn't feel like I fit in. Also, 8:00am on a Sunday morning is simply way too early. I think it would be great to have a younger crowd of atheists to hang out with. I'm still getting together with my old believer friends from time to time. I  love them, but there's a big part of my life I can't share with them anymore. I should probably just start one at the college I'm going to. I would totally go to an informal dinner group, or book reading group or whatever. Like minds should stick together.
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MommaSquid

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2008, 10:52:50 PM »
Quote from: "cspanther"
MommaSquid,
,,,The characteristic color scheme of PA's landscape is just so different than that of Arizona (you could say that I experienced "color shock", to be distinguished from culture shock)....  

Color shock is a great way to describe it!  Every time I visit my parents, I'm dumbstruck by all the shades of green.  AZ and PA are beautiful in completely different ways.  

Quote from: "cspanther"
...  So in order to maintain intellectual integrity and superiority, one must shun the mind-numbing collective at all costs (sorry if all that was too psycho-babble-ish).  What do you think?

I agree; many gatherings feel mind-numbing.  Not that I'm brilliant, but I do like a certain level of intelligent, rational conversation.  Too many people are willing to settle for less.  (You comments were'nt too psycho-babble-ish at all.)

BTW, myleviathan, I agree that 8 a.m. is heinously early for a meeting of any kind, let alone church!

rlrose328

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2008, 05:00:39 AM »
I think atheists have the potential to share MANY thoughts and beliefs in common, despite not having a unifying belief system to cling to.  We believe in life, living good lives, eating food, breathing.   ;) )
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dodgecity

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2008, 12:07:29 AM »
Quote
the notion that building a community of atheists or organizing atheists around a common cause is somehow a contradiction.

Annoying, indeed! Not to mention absolute rubbish.

Quote
such atheists proclaim their individualism as a way to explain their anti-organization/community stance due to a disposition of anti-social elitism; that is to say, because they equate intelligence with being a "non-joiner".

I couldn't have said it better. How dare they attribute their cockiness and apathy to atheism? The truth is, they are just cocky and apathetic people, who just happen be atheist. Don't let them discourage you.

afreethinker30

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 08:36:06 AM »
I wish there were more meetups around here.But have seen none close to home.Only other atheists I know that are close one is a 17 yr old who is hell bent on taking the man down,and my hubby and I know his stance on everything and a couple but they turned out to be redneck hicks who are card carrying NRA members,racist,swingers who are stuck in the 80's.  :hmm:

Will

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2008, 06:41:53 PM »
We should organize when needed. In ancient Greece, the city-states were basically autonomous until organization was needed, for things like policy or defense. Atheists, like the ancient city-states, like our individualism, our autonomy. We also, though, are stronger in numbers.

It seems like a case-by-case question.
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Jolly Sapper

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2008, 06:56:02 PM »
At first I was a bit confused by what was meant by "organize atheists."  

Getting together as a group of like minded people, no problem.

Getting together as a group to support some common cause, a cause other than directly related to personal belief, no problem.

Getting together as a group of atheists to go knocking on doors at eight in the morning on a Saturday to hand out blank pamphlets to convert people to a lack of belief in invisible super friends, I'm not a huge fan of.

rlrose328

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2008, 09:21:37 PM »
Quote from: "Jolly Sapper"
Getting together as a group of atheists to go knocking on doors at eight in the morning on a Saturday to hand out blank pamphlets to convert people to a lack of belief in invisible super friends, I'm not a huge fan of.

Oooohhhh... the pamphlets are supposed to be BLANK!  No wonder I was having so many doors slammed in my face... MINE says THERE IS NO GOD in big letters.  Okay... I'll fix that.  :beer:
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PittsburghBrandon

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2008, 01:13:00 AM »
Free-Thinkers and Atheists should absolutely organize.  Here in Pittsburgh we have several groups that fit the needs of any skepticly minded person.  We have a CFI chapter, a Freethinkers disscussion group, several book clubs and a drinking skeptically chapter.

You can learn about them all at http://www.steelcityskeptics.net

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2008, 06:38:28 PM »
Quote from: "rlrose328"
Quote from: "Jolly Sapper"
Getting together as a group of atheists to go knocking on doors at eight in the morning on a Saturday to hand out blank pamphlets to convert people to a lack of belief in invisible super friends, I'm not a huge fan of.

Oooohhhh... the pamphlets are supposed to be BLANK!  No wonder I was having so many doors slammed in my face... MINE says THERE IS NO GOD in big letters.  Okay... I'll fix that.  :hail:  RAOTFL I love you rlrose! you are awesomeness
[size=85]So why does there only have to be one correct philosophy?
I don't wanna go and follow you just to end up like one of them
And why are you always telling me what you want me to believe?
I'd like to think that I can go my own way and meet you in the end
Go my own way and meet you in the end
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rlrose328

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2008, 07:24:07 PM »
Quote from: "Stoicheion"
:blush:   :cool:
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