Author Topic: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective  (Read 1372 times)

Asmodean

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Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« on: September 04, 2018, 10:04:40 AM »
It's no big secret that these days, the Atheist ""movement"" is split along several fronts in the ongoing culture war. It's a volatile topic, but the purpose of this thread is not to call for controversy, or dive deep into political and ideological disagreements, but to provide my perspective and encourage others to provide their. Agree? Disagree? Meh? If you can be so arsed, let us discuss.

I joined this forum back when it was still relatively young (As was I... It was, if I'm not mistaken, my 21st birthday), at a time when atehists of every stripe banded together against religion. We had the power of the Internet and the growing social media, allowing those of us surrounded by religion, to find like-minded people and discover that they were not alone. I think that was important for a lot of people, especially in countries where "atheist" was, and perhaps still is, seen as a derogatory term. Important enough to set aside our ideological differences, even. We've won that war where it was possible to win it. At the very least, I think it's fair to say that we've won the Internet. Sure, the likes of Ken Ham are still here, raking in tens of millions of dollars a year, while peddling demonstrable bullshit, but in the year of our Lord 2018, he has little choice, but to live with our presence. This is important not just because we achieved something, but also because of the tools we've had at our disposal.

Having said "everything" worth saying on the topic of religion, the ""movement"" began to split. I wonder if it was an inevitable result of searching for a new purpose, or something else. It's a discussion worth having.

First, I think there was Atheism+, with the likes of P.Z. Myers and Steve Shives jumping on the wagon of "atheism ought to be something more," thus giving birth to an ideology and a new movement, which is part of the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) of today. They are not a unified front (nor are they limited to the original Atheism+ crowd, or even necessarily atheists) - pretty much no group I'll reference in this thread is, but they do have some common objectives. To oversimplify for the purpose of tl;dr, those among them who are not in it for the lulz, aim to engineer a better society. Keeping to the purpose of this thread, I'm not going to go on a tirade about their goals and methods beyond stating that in general, they hold collectivist, rather than individualist principles.

Some of the people who opposed the idea that Atheism ought to be something more than a lack of belief in gods banded together against them. Among the first on my personal timeline, were people like Thunderf00t and The Amazing Atheist of YouTube. This is the core movement I'm loosely affiliated with today. Loosely, because the movement is deeply individualistic in its nature, and we may often agree on "nothing" beyond our common liberal (think enlightenment, not US/UK politics) goals.

The third group of people (though not the third front in this custure war; that one is defined at the bottom), were those who didn't think much of Atehism+, but didn't want to associate with the "Anti-SJW" side either. Many of them still managed to find their way into one of the camps or form camps of their own, largely thanks to politics in these past few years (President Trump was a major factor for many)

History lesson done, let's get into the meat of this conversation.

I can see how, in light of the events I described in the second paragraph, atheism now largely takes a back seat to more pressing concerns in the lives of fellow atheists - that's how it is, and that's how it should be. Still, I find it lamentable that so many in my camp are willing to go along with the religious bullshit of people like Milo (Not attempting to spell that last name - no disrespect intended) and Jordan Peterson simply because they are seen as Anti-SJW wrecking balls, leaving a trail of triggered Tumblrinas everywhere they go and every time they open their mouth. I find it equally lamentable that the likes of Steve Shives (And the SJW-movement in general - not even going into the likes of Antifa) would happily silence dissenting opinions, with reasons anchored in some spectacular mental gymnastics. Have you frogotten the time, when various religious apologists were trying to silence you?

I have a much longer list of grievances with the situation, but I think I can summarise them all in one question; does not believing in god being acceptable enough make it "right" for me as an atheist to forsake or set aside the principles I still hold, and that I once fought a different culture war to protect? To me and what seems to be a handful of others, the answer is "no." I think that in reality, we are many, but the loudest voices trend more towards the fringes.

This is where I think we atheists are today. The question is, where are we headed? Each to his own ideological/political/cultural camp? I did try not to ramble too much, so if you are still reading, I'd like some thoughts/different perspectives.
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No one

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2018, 11:24:01 AM »
In all honesty, I don't really care. I mean, it's nice that there are like minds that do not buy into the delusion that a wish granting, magic sky daddy favorites the "intelligent" inhabitants of Earth above all other creations. However, I do not associate with any movement.

Asmodean

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2018, 11:29:08 AM »
In all honesty, I don't really care. I mean, it's nice that there are like minds that do not buy into the delusion that a wish granting, magic sky daddy favorites the "intelligent" inhabitants of Earth above all other creations. However, I do not associate with any movement.
That's perfectly fair. Just one observation; the reason behind my double quotation marks around the word "movement" was precisely that so many people say that they are not a part of one. Still, if you are on the same street, going along the same route, towards the same building, with the intention of entering it, in that instance, you are a part of the same crowd. I don't mean to collectivise you or divide people into groups, but individuals working towards broadly the same goals, a movement make.
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Dave

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2018, 12:13:06 PM »
Hmm, opinions I have - but it might take me a while, including some reafing, to compose them adequately.

However, I would like to mention humanism, a label whose mesning has changed over time from concerning a humanity centered philosophy (sometimes with the odd god bit thrown in) to currently, in the vernaclar, a sort of subset of atheism where the god bits have evolved into a "creed" or "belief" regardingvthe nature of life and tge universe and about supporting others positively, even proactively. As well as, in a political sense, attempting to reduce the influence of religion in education and policy making.

There are large differences between "hard" atheism and humanism but, from evidence on this forum, there is a fuzzy line between "us" and the less belicose atheists. Just good folks!

The Internet was a boon for humanism as well, though, listening to a series of programmes on morals this week (see below) and other programmes  it seems that (anti)social media is becoming more of a divisive force and a cause of negative self-inage, as well as the cause of depression, negstive introspection and actual social breakdown in terms of going out to meet friends in person.

With that going on the chances of "recruiting" active members, those who have made a considered decision, to atheism reduces I think. There will, of course, always be the core of up and coming adults who will question things (I doubt that all of them are social media addicts who need to check their phone every ten minutes) but, so far, in my experience, the old fights get refought every generation. Reform, in this respect, appears to have an historical (if not quite geological) time scale rather than a generational one. Assuming humanity survives its own stupidity.

I am not inclined to listen to the polemicists any longer, having heard the same things argued so many times with such lack of effect. Though, I admit, I do get caught up with it here at times - if only to sharpen the edge of my own ideas (and the hope that I have helped a theist find enlightenment!) I think the gradual movement from the influence of churches in everyday life may have had a few nudges from atgeism/humsnism but, in sone places, it is as much due to the growing ineffectiveness of religion as an example due the many crimes it and its members have committed.

However, I would like to see more debate here, I like the "social" side of the forum, would even say it in important in my life (I don't get out much . . .) and wish it would attract more members - of "the right type", not the "shouters" that other forums have.

In everyday terms we can only only do a little as individuals, unless we are inclined towards influencing others via blogging in some form or joining an active organisation.

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Asmodean

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2018, 12:32:13 PM »
Hmm...

Yes, it's an interesting thought; the same battles being re-fought once a generation or so... Disturbing as it may be to contemplate, I agree. It may be different people fighting under different banners, but when you think about it, it does seem like at the bottom of it all, there is a handful of "unchanging" core values that have at each other each time. I mean, is there a culture war, which can not be boiled down to individual vs group, or, to put it in political terms, increased freedom vs. increased control?
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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2018, 01:05:11 PM »
Oops, forgot the radio link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bgpswg

Do not be put off by the fact that the presenter is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks - his is a fairly object view . . . So far.

There is no doubt that society, and its cultures, are going through yet another mangle, maybe a shredder, but the future divisions are not yet terribly clear on some fronts.
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Asmodean

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2018, 01:18:15 PM »
Thanks for the link.

From the get-go, I disagree with his description of morality, but it does sound like a fascinating thing to listen to. I'll do so on my way home today... Possibly even make a rebuttal post here.
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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2018, 03:02:13 PM »
Asmodean:
That's perfectly fair. Just one observation; the reason behind my double quotation marks around the word "movement" was precisely that so many people say that they are not a part of one. Still, if you are on the same street, going along the same route, towards the same building, with the intention of entering it, in that instance, you are a part of the same crowd. I don't mean to collectivise you or divide people into groups, but individuals working towards broadly the same goals, a movement make.

Point taken. We, as atheists, are in the same building. Not necessarily though, on the same floor.


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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2018, 04:03:26 PM »
Asmodean:
That's perfectly fair. Just one observation; the reason behind my double quotation marks around the word "movement" was precisely that so many people say that they are not a part of one. Still, if you are on the same street, going along the same route, towards the same building, with the intention of entering it, in that instance, you are a part of the same crowd. I don't mean to collectivise you or divide people into groups, but individuals working towards broadly the same goals, a movement make.

Point taken. We, as atheists, are in the same building. Not necessarily though, on the same floor.

And is it an open-plan style or do we peer over dividers at each other?
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Dave

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2018, 04:45:13 PM »
Thanks for the link.

From the get-go, I disagree with his description of morality, but it does sound like a fascinating thing to listen to. I'll do so on my way home today... Possibly even make a rebuttal post here.

Have re-listened I understand that some might query Sacks' definition, somehow it is too specific and concentrates on our doing good not mentioning our not doing 'evil'. I prefer the relatively simple definition:

"principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour."

Yet, one culture's morality is another's crime.  And there we have one part of the twist in the tail, how many "cultures", and moral models, are there now and how many will there be in a decade, even within the same original ethnic group in the same nation? Aother part is the chsngingvrelationship between the law and morality. Gays and atheists are legal and moral persons (legally - but I am sure there are personally immoral person in both groups) in many countries yet immoral criminals in others.
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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2018, 09:34:26 PM »
I guess I'm in The Asmo's third group --I don't think there needs to be anything "+" about atheism (in fact I think it's just another form of unnecessary exclusion), but on the other hand I think the majority of anti-SJW types are complete assholes (at least those I've encountered).  As someone who's benefited from the acts of SJWs thru out history, I'm not inclined to sneer even when they do go overboard.  So I guess that ultimately puts me in their group.

Quote
I have a much longer list of grievances with the situation, but I think I can summarise them all in one question; does not believing in god being acceptable enough make it "right" for me as an atheist to forsake or set aside the principles I still hold, and that I once fought a different culture war to protect? To me and what seems to be a handful of others, the answer is "no." I think that in reality, we are many, but the loudest voices trend more towards the fringes.

I'm not even sure I understand this question, but I think my answer is "no".  I also think it's an extremely grey area, but I'm guessing at that.

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2018, 10:33:10 PM »
Hmmm, I think of myself as a humanist because, from what I have read and heard over the decades, that appears to describe my image of myself most accurately. But I am aware that I am only one of a cloud of dots somewhere in a Venn bubble of atheism, agreeingvwith done, very much disagreeing with others.

The label is perhaps more useful to others perhaps, it allows them to, roughly, categotise me. Whatever they call themselves I try to ''judge' others on their actions. However I think the 'Brights' label so pretentious as to be close to contemptuous.

Perhaps 'strong' and 'weak' atheism have validity, and 'antitheism' as the extreme of that spectrum. But, do such mutually introspective discussions have any real purpose? Or, perhaps, that are they an excuse to explore the less visited recesses of our own minds to adjust, or re-affirm, a few things gives them value.
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Icarus

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2018, 06:16:27 AM »
Scan the forum to see many threads. Only one or two of them have atheism as a subject.  One of the things that ,makes this forum a pleasing place to go is that most of us are not hung up on religion bashing.

I am sometimes annoyed by the public pronouncements of the committed religionist.  My newspaper has a reader write in section that appears on the editorial page. That feature very often has someone, who can actually write, tell me that I must give my heart to Jesus before it is too late, that atheists cannot  have a moral compass, and all that sort of thing.

OK when I used the words; "who can actually write"  it was a snarky remark.  I will follow that up with an explanation, perhaps an apology,  later.

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2018, 06:32:35 AM »
Scan the forum to see many threads. Only one or two of them have atheism as a subject.  One of the things that ,makes this forum a pleasing place to go is that most of us are not hung up on religion bashing.

I am sometimes annoyed by the public pronouncements of the committed religionist.  My newspaper has a reader write in section that appears on the editorial page. That feature very often has someone, who can actually write, tell me that I must give my heart to Jesus before it is too late, that atheists cannot  have a moral compass, and all that sort of thing.

OK when I used the words; "who can actually write"  it was a snarky remark.  I will follow that up with an explanation, perhaps an apology,  later.

I agree, Icarus, this is one of the "gentler" forums in my experience. But that raises the question about the nature of forummers and humanity. The more aggressive forums often have many times our active membership and post-rate. There is something in human nature that seeks the contentious, the argumentative, the verbal fight. Often even where there is not one!

I try to leave pro-active religion bashing, mostly, to others but am willing to join in in response to pushy religionistas who venture to "put us right".
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Asmodean

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Re: Atheism and The Culture War: a perspective
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2018, 08:18:04 AM »
I guess I'm in The Asmo's third group --I don't think there needs to be anything "+" about atheism (in fact I think it's just another form of unnecessary exclusion), but on the other hand I think the majority of anti-SJW types are complete assholes (at least those I've encountered).  As someone who's benefited from the acts of SJWs thru out history, I'm not inclined to sneer even when they do go overboard.  So I guess that ultimately puts me in their group.
Yes, Atheism+ was an exclusionary group. Its... Followers, I suppose, were generally quick to disavow and call names those of us, who voiced our disagreement, no matter how benign that disagreement was. They built fences around their ideology, and... Well, you know how it goes. I promised myself not to go on tirades in this thread ;)

When it comes to anti-SJWs generally being assholes, I'd like to point you to one Tim Pool. He's a journalist, who I think works full-time on his YouTube channel these days. He's a liberal (Again, and this is rapidly becoming a mandatory disclaimer, think Enlightenment, not US/UK politics) and while he's somewhat left-leaning, he can certainly be described as an anti-SJW. (At the very least, anti-identitarian, which... Same coin, different face) From what I've seen of his stuff, an asshole, he most certainly is not. Worth checking out.

As for benefitting from SJW activities, I'm sure some people do. I'd like to ask you to expand upon that thought a little, if you care to. Me, I'm what they call a cis-white-male, and being perfectly OK with that makes me an SJWs natural enemy, what with all my white privilege and oppressing of women and minorities and what have you. *Sigh* To laugh, or cry, or roll one's eyes...

Quote
I'm not even sure I understand this question, but I think my answer is "no".  I also think it's an extremely grey area, but I'm guessing at that.
It's... Not easy to word well. I think you understood it correctly, as you have identified it as grayer than a bucket of Asmos. It has to do with the responsibility a person has to themselves in regard to the values they hold and those they oppose. I mean, if we just finished fighting a war with each other over some value, and our values haven't really changed, how important does a goal have to be for us to jump in bed with each other, ignoring said values? Again, I do apologize for the appallingly vague wording - I'm trying to put into writing something... Almost instinctual.
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.