Author Topic: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?  (Read 2653 times)

Phillysoul11

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #45 on: May 12, 2009, 06:48:29 AM »
Quote
But Dawkins is retarded too.  I only see two logical beliefs (Dawkins is a shabby philosopher); there was no uncaused cause is my atheist conclusion; time is infinite. Or a Deist supernatural thing; that started this catastrophe we call "life".  = me? my belief? plain and simple agnostic.

While I'm not going to try and cypher the grammatical horror that is your post I find it interesting that someone else sees Dawkins as the poor philosopher that he is. Don't get me wrong, he's a sharp, intelligent biologist but he needs to stay as far away from philosophy as he possibly can. What happened to the real philosophers? Nietzsche, Russell, Hume? I'm so sick of the crap thats been coming out of Hitchens and Dawkins lately. You guys have your own areas and fields of specialty, stick with them.

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pauldavis

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2009, 11:36:53 PM »
First, let me give you the short answer: Yes, but ...

This touches on a rather fundamental question relative to the term "atheist" itself.  If one defines oneself in terms of others' beliefs, (I am an atheist, I am also an aSantaClausist and an aleprechaunist and so on) one is limited in the range of where a group such as that could go.  OK, we all don't believe there is an invisible man up in the sky, so now what?

I think that's the point of such groups as CFI (Center for Inquiry) and the Council for Secular Humanism -- to turn the matter around in a direction where there are no predefined limits.

I've felt for some time that there was a crying need for a group or groups to organize for the purpose of supplanting the functions that religions have historically co-opted, providing those functions without the embedded bullshit factor.  Such a group would, I think, ideally not be organized around any particular ism but rather specifically for the purpose of providing things like social meeting opportunities (dances and parties come to mind), supplemental education (bullshitless Sunday School promoting critical thinking to young people), acting as a focal point for helping the needy, providing low-cost day care, eldercare, and so on.

To keep it from being overtaken by religious opportunists, the organization should probably have a requirement in its charter for all activities to be free from the promotion of things not tangible (or words to that effect), but I think a successful group would be one that didn't identify itself with any particular ideology but rather worked and existed for strictly down-to-earth goals.

A secondary benefit of that would be to draw in the don't-give-a-shitists.  My sense is that these are perhaps the majority of the non-godly population.  They don't believe in gods, and they so firmly don't believe in them that discussing the matter endlessly is extremely boring to them.

But going to a dance?  Now that would be a different matter entirely!

Whitney

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #47 on: October 15, 2009, 12:55:54 AM »
Paul,

We have something called the Church of Freethought (COF) here in Texas.  It is self described as a superstition-free church and was mainly organized to offer a sense of community to those who have a secular worldview.  They have a Sunday School and do community outreach (volunteer work).  It's been growing a lot recently and it wouldn't surprise me if day-care or maybe even school is eventually something they can offer.

We also have the DFWCoR; which is basically a coalition of all the Dallas/Fort Worth secular groups.  Each group also offers a means to meet other secular people socially; some are just meetup groups while others are organizations. The above mentioned church is also part of this group.

In Houston there is a volunteer organization called SECULAR Center USA...which it does have a specific goal in mind however still broad enough to incorporate many types of secular individuals...basically to make visible that secular people do a lot of good for society through volunteerism and other humanitarian efforts.  Their intention is to have the group to continue to branch out to other areas until it has international presence; they seem to be on the right track for it to work.

For those that don't care to be part of an obviously freethought/secular organization.  There are tons of other meetup groups that can fill the social need of community is a secular manner.  I'm not really sure how it could replace the role of a church without doing basically what the COF has done.  Part of why a church creates community is that everyone who attends has some common view that brings them together.  Are you thinking of something that is a community center which just happens to have a secular set of goals?  How would something like that attract members who have anything in common?

jeffakil

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #48 on: November 14, 2009, 01:34:45 AM »
I think it would make sense for atheists to organize for political reasons but other than that I don't think atheists have enough in common to organize. In m experience, most atheists have little in common other than our disbelief in God. I just can't see how this would work. I am as concerned about every one else about fundamentalism, discrimination, and bigotry of all types but I also think that we would be kidding ourselves if we think that a bunch of people with little in common can sustain any sort of reliable social structure. Some of the atheists that I have encountered happened to be homophobic, some are just apathetic beings who seem not to care about anything, and some more are just closed minded bigots. I am sure there are many of us that are fun, loving, open-minded, caring people, but none of these traits or any other characteristics that are important to me are typical to the atheist condition.

I starting losing my faith when I was 15, and for several years I used the word "atheist" as my main label. I tried for years to find a community where I could find people that shared my views. Much has changed since then, I never found such community, I have traveled a little, and met people with different backgrounds. One of the main things that an organization needs is a purpose, and it seems to me that for the most atheists lack one.

Don't get me wrong, it makes sense to form small groups to discussed philosophy, atheism, and different topics with others, but that's more like a book-reading club, not a real community.

i_am_i

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #49 on: November 14, 2009, 02:43:17 AM »
Atheists organizing to do what? To accomplish what? I always thought that being an atheist means that I'm on my own, with my own thoughts and my own way of living my life.

So what would we do? Sit around and talk about how there's no such thing as god?

It seems that it would be better for atheists to join community groups, to be involved in making people's lives better, to work to get food for hungry people for example.

But I don't see any point in atheists getting together just for the purpose of getting together as atheists. Just because someone is an atheist doesn't mean that we'd have anything else in common. I mean, surely there are some Republican atheists out there.
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jeffakil

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #50 on: November 14, 2009, 03:35:18 AM »
Quote from: "i_am_i"
Atheists organizing to do what? To accomplish what? I always thought that being an atheist means that I'm on my own, with my own thoughts and my own way of living my life.

So what would we do? Sit around and talk about how there's no such thing as god?

It seems that it would be better for atheists to join community groups, to be involved in making people's lives better, to work to get food for hungry people for example.

But I don't see any point in atheists getting together just for the purpose of getting together as atheists. Just because someone is an atheist doesn't mean that we'd have anything else in common. I mean, surely there are some Republican atheists out there.


Exactly my thoughts. I feel that if I am going to join a community group, I want to do it to get something done, to work for the greater good, and I don't see the point in having an atheist only group for that.

Whitney

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #51 on: November 14, 2009, 07:43:20 AM »
One thing most atheists tend to have in common other than disbelief in a god is a tendency to be open minded and more able to approach those with differing views in a civil manner.  We are all human and, being so, have a natural tendency to want social connections.  In my experience organizing freethought meetups and talking with fellow atheists in person is that we do have a lot in common while having our differences....just as you would find in any other social group.  

In my town there is a community of freethinkers called the North Texas Church of Freethought and they manage to get around 150 people (mostly atheist) to willingly attend monthly services.  I'm currently in San Antonio for a Freethinker Conference and it is expected to have almost 200 people in attendance (maybe more, but then we might run into space issues).  We had libertarians, democrats, and maybe even republicans all in the same room tonight (my hotel room...Squid was here too!!!) and the commonality of not being religious or theistic brought us together.

We may not agree on everything  and some atheists may be assholes; but we can find enough common ground to make a community that most can appreciate.  After all, it tends to take a certain type of personality to be openly (or at least admitting it to yourself) atheist in the society most of us live in.

McQ

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #52 on: November 14, 2009, 04:46:53 PM »
Quote from: "Whitney"
One thing most atheists tend to have in common other than disbelief in a god is a tendency to be open minded and more able to approach those with differing views in a civil manner.  We are all human and, being so, have a natural tendency to want social connections.  In my experience organizing freethought meetups and talking with fellow atheists in person is that we do have a lot in common while having our differences....just as you would find in any other social group.  

In my town there is a community of freethinkers called the North Texas Church of Freethought and they manage to get around 150 people (mostly atheist) to willingly attend monthly services.  I'm currently in San Antonio for a Freethinker Conference and it is expected to have almost 200 people in attendance (maybe more, but then we might run into space issues).  We had libertarians, democrats, and maybe even republicans all in the same room tonight (my hotel room...Squid was here too!!!) and the commonality of not being religious or theistic brought us together.

We may not agree on everything  and some atheists may be assholes; but we can find enough common ground to make a community that most can appreciate.  After all, it tends to take a certain type of personality to be openly (or at least admitting it to yourself) atheist in the society most of us live in.

Wish I could have attended. Sounds great.
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CaptainRitalin

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #53 on: November 16, 2009, 11:59:05 PM »
Hey guys!  I actually just found this forum today and read this entire post.   So since I am a virgin poster, I will say that I am a college neuroscience student and I plan to get my MdPhD.  I am very into the skeptical movement.  
The biggest thing I think atheists lack is political sway.   I think that we need to throw our political weight around some.  The health care bill that just passed congress will pay for christian science prayer.  I think we need to be outraged at this and fight it.  I love the independence of the atheist movement, but there are times in my opinion where we need to band together.  I also think having a social community is very important.
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1minion

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #54 on: December 14, 2009, 12:03:17 AM »
I recently joined my local Freethinkers club (more like a beer drinker's club so far). The club is quite new to the city (1 year anniversary/festivus party on the 20th) and it already has more than a hundred members, but only a small group of those do everything and organize everything.

I think building a community of like-minded thinkers is useful in the long run, but I also think effort has to be put into maintaining good relationships with all kinds of people, no matter what differences there might be between philosophies and ideologies. We don't have to agree on everything, but we should be able to mix and mingle without everything turning into a god/godless war every time.

Or maybe I'm just an idealist.
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leonswan2000

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #55 on: December 31, 2009, 02:18:01 PM »
The reasons for Religious groups to organize and meet seem infinite and required. Without an agendnda the only reason I can think to meet is to say hello. I dont want to promote atheism. Attraction rather than promotion. I believe educated people will find atheism naturaly if grudgingly. I have a hard time seeing a booth at the fair extoling the virtues of atheism. It doesnt promise you life after death and cant make your puppy well or team win if you pray hard enough. If I knew of an Atheism event going on near me I would make every effort to be there. Just for the purpose of being around of people who accept me. Im tired of everyone wanting me to burn in Hell. Its such a wasted effort.
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mzuniga

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #56 on: February 22, 2010, 03:03:08 AM »
The problem, as I see it, is that people are not motivated by what they don't believe. They are motivated by what they do believe.

The problems then with athiest organizations is that athiests, as athiests, don't believe in anything. For example, I might be an athiest who also happens to be a Scientologist. Or I might be an athiest who worships nature. Or, I might be a Secular Humanist (which is what I actually am), who has nothing in common with the other two, except for the rather unimportant fact that none of us believe in God.

You'd have better luck, I think, if you try organizing Secular Humanists. However, this organization must also include non-athiests, such as agnostics and deists. And you really need a purpose - something better than hanging around a table with a few beers and saying "there is no God."

I suspect your best efforts would be around political action. Like writing your congressman about a particularly overly religious government legislation or action. Writing pamplets to your local Board of Education describing why evloution is a science and why Creationism is not. Stuff like that.
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orandj

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2010, 05:25:02 PM »
Atheists sometimes like to think of themselves as cats that cannot be herded. Is there an arrogance here? Can there be anything so different about atheists that make us intrinsically unable to unite? (regardless of whether that's a good idea or not?) By pushing such an argument are we suggesting that because we are 'free birds' we just can't work as team? We just can't be tamed; we would never lower ourselves to towing anyone's line? Surely this isn't a strength, it's a self limiting weakness? Perhaps we need to get over ourselves a little! Basking in our ‘irreverence’?

For me atheism is a deeply significant position, one of which humanity can be rightly proud; a kind of coming of age, a profound moment of independence.

I hope that one day not believing in Gods will be the norm, and so atheism will indeed represent a complete irrelevance, but right now it remains highly significant. Given this, why should atheists deny themselves the obvious benefits of community?

And, in the spirit of this general discussion, can I suggest you have a look at this link viewtopic.php?f=31&t=4529 to a thread that tries to create a new symbolic atheist event, a moment whenI hope atheists (in fact all folks) can comfortably feel part of something much bigger than themselves.

elliebean

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #58 on: February 28, 2010, 07:47:16 PM »
Arrogance?

I think you've missed the point a little.

Many atheists feel very stongly about their atheism and/or hold it to be important to their identity. But I can't see most atheists seeing this as something that can closely identify them or create some kind of tie with anyone else. It just isn't enough in itself.

Atheists comprise people of every disposition, intellect, education, political persuasion, worldview, belief system, sexuality, gender, race, nationality, age, economic status, language, lifestyle, interest, hobby, fanaticism, clothing style, music genre, and everything else apart from theism. Atheists are as diverse as the general population. Any two given atheists may have much, little, or nothing in common with each other, besides having no belief in gods. Given how likely or unlikely it is for anyone to have a lot in common with anyone else, it's no mystery why all atheists or even most atheists cannot be expected to unite solidly. Can theists of all persuasions unite as one? No, they cannot. Many of them are bitter enemies for any number of reasons, and atheists are no different in that regard.

Atheism in itself is just not enough to make me feel any strong sense of solidarity with, for example, a racist-homophobic-FoxNews-conspiracy-theory-following-fascist-antichoice-country-music-fan-who-tortures-puppies-for-fun and also happens not to believe in god; nor them with me. It's just not close enough to the core of either of our identities, nor should it be.

No offense to country music fans. :cool:


That said, I think it's possible and worthwhile to organize as many of us as can be reached between those kinds of extremes, it just severely limits our numbers when one considers everything that must overlap for that to happen. At the very least, a certain amount of understanding is necessary between people who espouse different types of atheism, eg. strong, weak, etc. This forum seems to have made a good start at that.  :bananacolor:
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orandj

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Re: Should Atheists organize. . . should they seek community?
« Reply #59 on: February 28, 2010, 08:19:04 PM »
Quote from: "elliebean"
Arrogance?

I think you've missed the point a little.

Many atheists feel very stongly about their atheism and/or hold it to be important to their identity. But I can't see most atheists seeing this as something that can closely identify them or create some kind of tie with anyone else. It just isn't enough in itself.

Great post. Thanks. I have come across the arrogence I speak of elsewhere, I am new to this site and should add that I have had no such experience here. I should have made this clear. Apologies.

However, I'm not done yet. So what would be enough in itself? I still say an atheist position is more than a good enough reason around which to make some form of collective. Yes I see your point that other aspects of people's views, esp ones which people may find repugnent, may outweigh the fact that we share with them their lack of belief in Gods. But, the same argument applies, does it not, for any position around which people might unite? I ask again, why must atheists deny themselves the benefits of community?


Quote from: "elliebean"
That said, I think it's possible and worthwhile to organize as many of us as can be reached between those kinds of extremes, it just severely limits our numbers when one considers everything that must overlap for that to happen. At the very least, a certain amount of understanding is necessary between people who espouse different types of atheism, eg. strong, weak, etc. This forum seems to have made a good start at that.
[/quote]

Sounds good to me. However,as soon as someone sets up any group, there will be people who want to join that you or others view as undesirable. This is not a reason for not starting a group, it's an inevitable dilemma that in some ways helps the group identify the extent of their commonly held position.