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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35534 times)

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Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #900 on: April 05, 2013, 11:29:56 PM »
For instance, Rebecca Watson, as far as I could tell, didn't say anything about getting harassed, there were no legions of internet trolls making threats at her, until she suddenly had a random stranger that didn't quite understand the notion of personal space.  Maybe he was a stalker, or maybe he was just someone with one of the many mental conditions that make it impossible to read body language and didn't know how creepy he was acting.  (As someone who has the same issue with being unable to read body language, let me say that it is really freaking easy for me to accidentally creep people out by getting in their personal space.)  Either way, she made a big deal out of it....
Did she? Did you see the original video?

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #901 on: April 05, 2013, 11:40:41 PM »
I have not actually; I was generally late to see things unfold and by the time I found out what the whole thing was about, it was so prevalent that I suppose I assumed she did make a big deal of it; I haven't been able to find a good summary of events after the whole thing started, to be honest.  Would you be willing to summarize things for me?

Offline Bandita

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #902 on: April 05, 2013, 11:41:55 PM »


By this point, I'm going to have to drop the dicussion of A+, as obviously, I don't have enough information to add anything new to this discussion. But as for the attendence of women at atheist events, I can't say I do know the numbers; I've never attended one or looked into it. I'm curious as to how sexism is ingrained in atheism, as I'm not sure why it would be, so if you could direct me to some sources which show this, I'd be very interested in reading up on it, as it's not something I've encountered. I'm simply not a fan of 'silence all forms of communication from anyone, because we get abuse' as a tactic. This heavy handed approach means that the views of those who arn't bigoted racists, homophobes, transphobes, sexists, whatever, are being equally silenced, which I find wrong. Once you get into being able to completely moderate any form of communication, it becomes much easier to close off or censor people with legitimate complaints about your ideas as well as those who are out to attack your ideas in malice; it becomes much easier to cultivate a set of ideals which are unshifting, because you now have absolute control. But by this point I'm probably going to have to stop because I'm almost verging into conspiracy theorist territory. ^^'

If you really want to read up on the numbers, try this one on.
http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/

And perhaps you haven't met any of the sexists who inhabit the realm of atheism, but they do exist, and the threads I posted up earlier support that.  In the most extreme of manners.  And to remake my point from earlier, a woman needn't know a person like this in real life in order to be intimidated by them or feel unsafe in attending a conference.  Most atheists read blogs, and women do tend to read women's blogs.  (generalization, I know, but still) And when they see crap like this, they get scared and uncomfortable.  I've seen much the same on JT Eberhard's blog concerning the poly lifestyle he leads. I don't know about homosexuals/ others as much, but there is always bullying.  And women are, understandably, not happy about that.

Sorry if someone already addressed this, I had to work and couldn't keep up.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #903 on: April 05, 2013, 11:43:53 PM »
I have not actually; I was generally late to see things unfold and by the time I found out what the whole thing was about, it was so prevalent that I suppose I assumed she did make a big deal of it; I haven't been able to find a good summary of events after the whole thing started, to be honest.  Would you be willing to summarize things for me?
She described the incident and said four words about it: "Guys, don't do that." And the internet exploded.

As for caring about the social justice on a wider scale: Why should people who actually care about social justice draw a line and say "Okay, we only care about justice inside this circle."? Why not take it outside our limited audience? Someone mentioned before how horrible A+ is because it makes us look bad to the religious. I say it makes us look good to outsiders, because it shows that we give a damn and are willing to speak up against injustice even when it doesn't affect us personally.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #904 on: April 05, 2013, 11:55:44 PM »
I hadn't heard of "Atheism +" before this nor about the controversy surrounding it, but I have to say it looks like a pretty good illustration of why, despite being an atheist, I identify with social justice first and atheism second. "Atheism" is a pretty minimal criterion around which to base one's identity, and used as a sole criterion it doesn't at all guarantee that you won't find yourself in otherwise horrible, irrational and ignorant company whose only point of agreement with you is atheism. Social justice, on the other hand, can be (in various ways) a point of agreement between people of many different faiths and unfaiths.

It's precisely why I can't subscribe to the Dawkins school of atheism that by now seems to consist in the main of picking-a-fight-with-all-the-religious. If one actually wants to advance rational, humane and progressive goals, that way of thinking cuts one off from potential allies. There are lots of religious people with whom I have more in common, ethically speaking, than lots of atheists. There are lots of atheists who despise and openly denigrate values that I hold as well-founded and basic to being a decent person. On the whole, the number of gods a person does or doesn't worship tells you relatively little about them.

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #905 on: April 06, 2013, 12:06:14 AM »
She described the incident and said four words about it: "Guys, don't do that." And the internet exploded.

As for caring about the social justice on a wider scale: Why should people who actually care about social justice draw a line and say "Okay, we only care about justice inside this circle."? Why not take it outside our limited audience? Someone mentioned before how horrible A+ is because it makes us look bad to the religious. I say it makes us look good to outsiders, because it shows that we give a damn and are willing to speak up against injustice even when it doesn't affect us personally.

The problem is that A+ is asking people who have no interest at all in social justice to actively take a stand for it.  It's saying "You accept what we say about atheism, now accept what we say about issues x, y, and z".  Ironically, that's exactly how religion acts - it tells people "look, we're doing all these great things for humanity, we teach the good word that you're being saved", and don't mention the whole bit about "oh by the way, all your friends are going to burn in hell forever if you don't convert them as well, and anything that has to do with abortion and gay marriage has to go".

The problem is, I want to focus on atheism.  I'll admit, I'll say I'm in favor of equality but usually I'm not interested enough to get down and research the matter.  Sometimes I do, but it's becoming clear from this discussion that I just don't know enough information yet.  Maybe I'll look it up, maybe I'll decide it's not a cause I want to be active in.  But what I don't want to do is go up to people and say that if they want to stay as part of the atheist movement, they also have to become social justice warriors, and I don't want people to say the same to me.

As for looking bad to outsiders, there's two reasons to think that.  One, is because I have a suspicion that part of this issue is nothing more than media sensationalism.  It makes things look like the atheist community is a hotbed of sexist attitudes and rape threats, and when talking to a theist, it gives credibility to their argument that once you leave religion, you start going around to murder and rape everyone.  It basically means we have the illusion of a problem that doesn't exist, and it lets others claim the moral high ground.  The other issue is that this group has a history of Orwellian leadership, actively censoring anyone that disagrees with them, and to someone from outside that doesn't understand the issues, it looks like a cult.


If you really want to read up on the numbers, try this one on.
http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/

And perhaps you haven't met any of the sexists who inhabit the realm of atheism, but they do exist, and the threads I posted up earlier support that.  In the most extreme of manners.  And to remake my point from earlier, a woman needn't know a person like this in real life in order to be intimidated by them or feel unsafe in attending a conference.  Most atheists read blogs, and women do tend to read women's blogs.  (generalization, I know, but still) And when they see crap like this, they get scared and uncomfortable.  I've seen much the same on JT Eberhard's blog concerning the poly lifestyle he leads. I don't know about homosexuals/ others as much, but there is always bullying.  And women are, understandably, not happy about that.

Sorry if someone already addressed this, I had to work and couldn't keep up.

Interesting article, thanks for pointing it out.  Still reading it and following up on links, but I think the sudden drop from women being 40% of attendees to less than 20% makes it sound like a lot of this is perceived threat instead of actual threat.  I'll have more to say when I finish reading it.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #906 on: April 06, 2013, 12:08:54 AM »
I hadn't heard of "Atheism +" before this nor about the controversy surrounding it, but I have to say it looks like a pretty good illustration of why, despite being an atheist, I identify with social justice first and atheism second. "Atheism" is a pretty minimal criterion around which to base one's identity, and used as a sole criterion it doesn't at all guarantee that you won't find yourself in otherwise horrible, irrational and ignorant company whose only point of agreement with you is atheism. Social justice, on the other hand, can be (in various ways) a point of agreement between people of many different faiths and unfaiths.

It's precisely why I can't subscribe to the Dawkins school of atheism that by now seems to consist in the main of picking-a-fight-with-all-the-religious. If one actually wants to advance rational, humane and progressive goals, that way of thinking cuts one off from potential allies. There are lots of religious people with whom I have more in common, ethically speaking, than lots of atheists. There are lots of atheists who despise and openly denigrate values that I hold as well-founded and basic to being a decent person. On the whole, the number of gods a person does or doesn't worship tells you relatively little about them.
Thank you. It's nice to see someone get it.

As an aside: Am I the only one who finds it a little disturbing that the benchmark for "reasonable discussion" of this subject, as presented in this thread, is a blatantly deceptive quote-miner who, among other things, violated privacy and security for shits and giggles, released confidential information obtained from this breach, and made a trans blogger fear for her safety to the point that she flat-out quit?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #907 on: April 06, 2013, 12:17:31 AM »
The problem is that A+ is asking people who have no interest at all in social justice to actively take a stand for it.  It's saying "You accept what we say about atheism, now accept what we say about issues x, y, and z".  Ironically, that's exactly how religion acts - it tells people "look, we're doing all these great things for humanity, we teach the good word that you're being saved", and don't mention the whole bit about "oh by the way, all your friends are going to burn in hell forever if you don't convert them as well, and anything that has to do with abortion and gay marriage has to go".
Asking. Exactly how would you suggest that social-justice causes recruit or, y'know, change anything if a simple request is out of line?

The problem is, I want to focus on atheism.  I'll admit, I'll say I'm in favor of equality but usually I'm not interested enough to get down and research the matter.  Sometimes I do, but it's becoming clear from this discussion that I just don't know enough information yet.  Maybe I'll look it up, maybe I'll decide it's not a cause I want to be active in.  But what I don't want to do is go up to people and say that if they want to stay as part of the atheist movement, they also have to become social justice warriors, and I don't want people to say the same to me.
So you want credit for being pro-equality without actually lifting a finger to help make it happen, and while actively speaking out against those who do. That's... kinda not how it works. And... exactly how is any A+ blogger gatekeeping atheism as a whole? Last I checked, the "harsh statement" everybody was aghast at basically amounted to "If you'd rather preserve the (irrational, sexist) status quo, then Team Social Justice is going to leave you behind as we try to build a better community." This isn't saying you can't be an atheist - it's saying "This is the way we're going; you're welcome to come."

As for looking bad to outsiders, there's two reasons to think that.  One, is because I have a suspicion that part of this issue is nothing more than media sensationalism.  It makes things look like the atheist community is a hotbed of sexist attitudes and rape threats, and when talking to a theist, it gives credibility to their argument that once you leave religion, you start going around to murder and rape everyone.  It basically means we have the illusion of a problem that doesn't exist, and it lets others claim the moral high ground.  The other issue is that this group has a history of Orwellian leadership, actively censoring anyone that disagrees with them, and to someone from outside that doesn't understand the issues, it looks like a cult.
It... is a hotbed of sexist attitudes, just like any other male-dominated space. Like, say, the Catholic Church. The difference between A+ and the Catholics is that, instead of sweeping the problem under the rug and trying to look better, we want to actually be better. As for rape threats... well, those only really got to the point of "hotbed" when people started decrying this movement.

As for "censorship": Yet again, for the third time in two pages, I'll point out that refusing to provide a platform is not the same as denying a voice. Is it censorship if the Catholic Church won't let atheists into the pulpit? And exactly how bad should we let the signal:noise ratio get in the name of "freedom!" before we point out that it's actively impeding discourse rather than allowing it?

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #908 on: April 06, 2013, 12:29:05 AM »

If you really want to read up on the numbers, try this one on.
http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/

And perhaps you haven't met any of the sexists who inhabit the realm of atheism, but they do exist, and the threads I posted up earlier support that.  In the most extreme of manners.  And to remake my point from earlier, a woman needn't know a person like this in real life in order to be intimidated by them or feel unsafe in attending a conference.  Most atheists read blogs, and women do tend to read women's blogs.  (generalization, I know, but still) And when they see crap like this, they get scared and uncomfortable.  I've seen much the same on JT Eberhard's blog concerning the poly lifestyle he leads. I don't know about homosexuals/ others as much, but there is always bullying.  And women are, understandably, not happy about that.

Sorry if someone already addressed this, I had to work and couldn't keep up.

Ok, I want to comment on just this article alone, mostly about what DJ Grothe said.

Reading his first quote, my first thought is "Really, no reports at all?  That sounds a little odd."  But the intent of the message is pretty clear, even if there's some hyperbole, that harassment hasn't been a major problem in the past.  However, something caused attendance to shift from 40% women to 18%, which is very odd.  Several of the women not going to TAM messaged claiming fear of harassment.  I can think of only two likely scenarios: either there were a lot of unreported cases of harassment in the previous year (or DJ is intentionally misrepresenting how many harassment cases there were), or there's the perception that there will be more harassment than the previous year.

The first case I can probably confirm or deny easily.  There's a very high likelyhood that after everything boiled over, people that were harassed will likely come forward with their stories.  Now I admit, I haven't been searching, but I haven't seen a whole lot of evidence of that and the article didn't mention it at all, so I'm going to assume that no, there wasn't a significantly high amount of harassment at the previous year.  That means that the reason for so many people leaving is because of the perception of harassment.

Now we go back to DJ's quote, where he tries to find the reason for the harassment fear.  This is a perfectly reasonable step to take, as it seems he's very vested in ensuring that there's a lot of female presence at TAM, so anything that causes women to not want to attend is a problem that he should want to tackle.  And, his solution is that those who were speaking out for harassment policy were giving the mistaken impression that women were being harassed.  The offhand comment in his second quote seems to continue that; he's not interested in blaming Watson, instead he's interested in finding out the cause so he can find a solution.

Did he handle things poorly?  Yeah, probably; I don't know his full quotes though so I can't give a lot of insight into context.  But it seems like Watson was taking his comments as a personal insult, instead of merely suggestions of problems that could be fixed.

Anyway, this is likely to be my last post on A+.  It's not something I'm interested in following up on, and the only reason I even care about the movement to begin with is because it seems that it's trying to paint any atheist that doesn't join them as a horrible rape-threatening troll.

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #909 on: April 06, 2013, 12:34:07 AM »
I have not actually; I was generally late to see things unfold and by the time I found out what the whole thing was about, it was so prevalent that I suppose I assumed she did make a big deal of it; I haven't been able to find a good summary of events after the whole thing started, to be honest.  Would you be willing to summarize things for me?
As Ephiral said, there really wasn't much to it. She made a video, like 10 minutes long, about some convention she went to in a foreign country (I vaguely recall that it might have been Denmark). About 8 minutes of that video was talking about the convention, all the panels she went to or did, and so on - nothing special.

But just a minute or two before the end, she mentions... the incident. She had done her own panel earlier about feminism and atheism, and - this is relevant - at some point in that panel had made a comment saying that she didn't like to hook up at conventions. Then at around 4 AM she got into... the elevator. A guy got on with her. The guy mentioned he'd seen her panel (the one where she said she wasn't in to hooking up) and complimented her... then asked her to hook up. So there she was, in an enclosed space, in a foreign country, at 4 AM, with someone she didn't know, who had earlier heard her say she didn't want to get picked up... trying to pick her up. Naturally, she felt a little awkward. She told the story, said how awkward it made her feel, then capped it off by saying: "Guys... don't do that." Then she moved on to another topic.

All in all, it was somewhere between a minute and a half to two minutes, most of which was spent on recapping the story. Her entire commentary on it was really just those 4 words.

Note: she wasn't rude. She didn't even say nasty things about the guy. She made no judgement about the guy at all. She just asked the people listening - presumably her fans, she thought - to stop and think about the situation before hitting on someone.

The response she got should make any empathetic person wince, regardless of their political ideologies. She was piled on with death and rape threats, called a "feminazi" who hated men and wanted to make it impossible for any man to proposition any woman ever, and had people try to end her career by phoning anyone and everyone who hired her to get her fired.

There are certainly very strident and very whiny women waving the feminist banner within the atheist movement, but I really don't think Rebecca Watson is one of them. She has never been as strident or as whiny as her enemies have caricatured her as. Sure, she's not perfect - I've seen her snap at and say horrible things to people who pissed her off, and not apologize - but generally speaking, everything she's said about feminism and atheism has been calm, measured and with none of that "with us or against us" bullshit some of the others carry on with. And every time - including this time - I've ever asked someone why she's so bad, I hear about this raging, misandrous, foaming-at-the-mouth rant she did about Elevator Guy. Which... never happened. It was four words - said with a shrug and a laugh - asking guys to just... consider the situation and the feelings of the woman before propositioning.

That incident - those four simple words that were really just a gentle, plaintive request for a little empathy (not even equality!) - started an avalanche of hate that still continues to this day. There is no way, under any circumstances, that the torrent of abuse and threats she has been subjected to, along with the thousands of faux-skeptical accusations of fraud, is justified by what she said. So the next person who asks for evidence of misogyny in the atheist/skeptical movement... there you go.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #910 on: April 06, 2013, 12:37:46 AM »
The problem is that A+ is asking people who have no interest at all in social justice to actively take a stand for it.

If a "movement" is uninterested in justice, of what use is it, exactly? Why exactly should anyone want to be part of an "atheist movement" that wants to legitimize "atheism" but doesn't give a shit about any of the injustices so often advanced in the name of theism?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #911 on: April 06, 2013, 12:38:53 AM »
The first case I can probably confirm or deny easily.  There's a very high likelyhood that after everything boiled over, people that were harassed will likely come forward with their stories.  Now I admit, I haven't been searching, but I haven't seen a whole lot of evidence of that and the article didn't mention it at all, so I'm going to assume that no, there wasn't a significantly high amount of harassment at the previous year.  That means that the reason for so many people leaving is because of the perception of harassment.
That's odd, because when that happened, there were a half-dozen or so women I remember reporting a number of incidents, including a guy with an upskirt-cam who was specifically reported to Grothe personally. But nope, didn't happen, according to him.

Now we go back to DJ's quote, where he tries to find the reason for the harassment fear.  This is a perfectly reasonable step to take, as it seems he's very vested in ensuring that there's a lot of female presence at TAM, so anything that causes women to not want to attend is a problem that he should want to tackle.  And, his solution is that those who were speaking out for harassment policy were giving the mistaken impression that women were being harassed.  The offhand comment in his second quote seems to continue that; he's not interested in blaming Watson, instead he's interested in finding out the cause so he can find a solution.
Perhaps he should have looked first at TAM's obviously piss-poor anti-harassment efforts - as documented clearly in his own "Nope, no incidents at all! Look how awesome we are!" statement.

Did he handle things poorly?  Yeah, probably; I don't know his full quotes though so I can't give a lot of insight into context.  But it seems like Watson was taking his comments as a personal insult, instead of merely suggestions of problems that could be fixed.
He directly and plainly told her that she - the one who runs a fundraiser to send women to TAM - was making it an unwelcoming space for women. Yes, that is personally insulting.

Anyway, this is likely to be my last post on A+.  It's not something I'm interested in following up on, and the only reason I even care about the movement to begin with is because it seems that it's trying to paint any atheist that doesn't join them as a horrible rape-threatening troll.
Just the rape-threatening trolls - which is a depressing lot of people. The remainder are either taking a different approach to social justice, or apparently so content with sexism and other discrimination that they don't want to raise their voices about it even in what is basically an activist space.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 12:41:30 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Sethala

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #912 on: April 06, 2013, 12:52:35 AM »
The remainder are either taking a different approach to social justice, or apparently so content with sexism and other discrimination that they don't want to raise their voices about it even in what is basically an activist space.

So, I'll admit.  My views are misinformed, and I was wrong on a lot of things.  There's a lot of things to learn about feminism and sexism, and I quite frankly don't have the time or inclination to research all of that.  I'm not against social justice or women's rights, and if you think that my passive stance means I'm not for them either, I guess I'm not.

But you say this quote, and then wonder why I dislike the idea of conflating atheism with other activist movements?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #913 on: April 06, 2013, 12:58:16 AM »
So, I'll admit.  My views are misinformed, and I was wrong on a lot of things.  There's a lot of things to learn about feminism and sexism, and I quite frankly don't have the time or inclination to research all of that.  I'm not against social justice or women's rights, and if you think that my passive stance means I'm not for them either, I guess I'm not.

But you say this quote, and then wonder why I dislike the idea of conflating atheism with other activist movements?
Sexism exists in atheist spaces. The numbers alone are highly indicative of that. Atheist spaces are activist spaces - at bare minimum, they want to legitimize atheism. If you don't even care enough to say "Dude, not cool" when someone else is pointing out sexism in an activist space that you're part of, then yeah, you seem to be pretty content with letting it stand.

I wonder to a certain degree why you're espousing the position that sexism is bad but we shouldn't try to do anything about it because this is an atheist space, not a social justice space. I wonder even more where the hell you get off telling other people whose social justice flows directly from their atheism what they are and are not allowed to call themselves.

Offline Bandita

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #914 on: April 06, 2013, 12:59:58 AM »
I apologize in advance.  I love to hear myself type.

I've been to a handful of conventions (mostly anime or game conventions), and I think almost all of them are close to the same, no matter what the topic is.  If it's not something that's specifically geared towards women, there tends to be noticeably more men present than women.  I haven't looked at actual demographics, mind, but just a few glances around the larger rooms is enough to say that yes, there's a notable male dominance.  It makes me wonder, is this really something about "atheism is a male-dominated pursuit"?  Or is it merely that women are less likely to go to conventions in general?

Okay, now let me just say, religion is pretty much geared towards men.  The whole thing is a celebration of misogyny and hate, of 'many wives' and 'rule of thumb', and how many sheep can you sell your daughter for. And church is pretty much a convention that you attend once a week. And yet, female attendance is far more prevalent today than male. Here's the numbers:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-07-23-males-church_N.htm?csp=34

So how is it that women are more eager to attend a testosterone fest like church than an atheist convention?  The answer as I see it is this.  Atheism has long been the realm of the highly educated.  Philosophers and secular leaders were more likely by far than peasants, historically, to be humanists, deists, or outright atheists. If that logic follows, it makes sense that females are late to join the atheist movement due to their historical lack of access to higher education.  In our world, at least in the US, women are now graduating with college degrees at far higher numbers than ever before. I propose that would mean higher numbers of recruits to the atheist ranks, and the article I previously posted  implies this, with a 40% attendance rate last year.  So why are the numbers dropping?
Why are women less likely to go to conventions? It's a mystery! If only there were some way to find out what they're thinking... maybe if there's something about convention environments that makes them feel uncomfortable.
 
By Jove!  Perhaps you're on to something!

I'm going to assume that no, there wasn't a significantly high amount of harassment at the previous year.  That means that the reason for so many people leaving is because of the perception of harassment.

"Perception of harassment" is exactly why I get scared when I get lost in certain neighborhoods in Baltimore. Fear is real. And it is driving women away from atheism.

Now, let me say one thing: I am all for equality, I am all for both women's rights and men's rights, and the rights of anyone that doesn't fall directly into either category.  I'm all for the rights of black people, of white people, of... whatever color everyone else is.

However, I am not for mixing the two.  There are atheists that don't agree on some of these issues (and before you try and say that they must be horrible people, let me point to the conversation we've had in the Adria Richards thread and point out that not everyone is going to agree on issues, and that doesn't mean they're horrible misogynists), but I want to be able to stand with them on issues related to atheism, and not throw them out of the group because they don't subscribe to a certain philosophy on a completely unrelated topic.
I don't like this part of your argument at all.  It smacks to me of the same thing that happened throughout the early 20th century.  If women had not recruited African Americans to help them gain the vote, then women might not have gotten it.  As it was, neither party was particularly powerful.  And in the 60's, when the civil rights movement wanted help, women gave it, in some pretty amazing numbers.  If you can't 'mix the two,' then don't.  But a lot of us think it's a downright good idea, and we have historic precedence for it. So while you may not want to mix it up, I do.  I want a little feminism in my atheism, and I think that I shouldn't have to be afraid to speak my mind on either subject, or both together.
So when there's clear issues with sexism in the atheist community, we should...?
...ah. We should sit down and shut up, and pretend there's no problem, or risk tainting our atheism with social justice. Right.
(sarcasm imported straight from Ephiral)

Here's something to ponder, for anyone.  Just a theory of mine. Atheism is a huge huge circle lately.  And it is disorganized, uncontrolled, and full of people who come from diverse backgrounds.  I'm not arguing with either of you, just trying to present a different angle.  Since atheism is such a hodge-podge of people, it makes sense that groups of people would want to recruit, to form factions.  It helps to create a society with like needs.  You can't just have one need, and to have a support system and group who agree not just with your lack of religious beliefs but also can condone and accept you as a person is useful. 

Churches have done this for centuries, but instead of recruiting, they murdered, raped, and took slaves.  You were forced by law to join, in a majority of cases all over Europe.  But the fact is that they have done so, and it works. Does it then follow that it is a bad idea for others to take this model, to form factions according to their shared beliefs, ideals, morals? 

Most atheists, for the last couple of centuries in areas where atheism wasn't punishable by death, have had a huge problem.  The problem of "where do I go?  Who can I talk to?"  Why does it harm you or anyone else if atheists with a social agenda recruit?  If they decide on a path, one that is as inclusive of different lifestyles and genders and etc.., why is that actually a bad idea?  In fact, isn't it a good idea to provide a safe place, like a church ought to, to create a haven, for the people who want to talk about their common interests?

And to take this thought one step further, if the hypothetical you tells people they shouldn't do this, that it is wrong to do this, aren't you basically forcing your own will on them? Forcing them to accept only one aspect of their ideals and telling them that the rest of their fights can wait until you are done using them to fight the atheism fight? 

"Atheism" is a pretty minimal criterion around which to base one's identity, and used as a sole criterion it doesn't at all guarantee that you won't find yourself in otherwise horrible, irrational and ignorant company whose only point of agreement with you is atheism. Social justice, on the other hand, can be (in various ways) a point of agreement between people of many different faiths and unfaiths.

This pretty much cuts directly to the point I was trying to make.  You can't have an entire faction of people who believe that there is a God.  They will argue about whether or not he likes alcohol, gays, shrimp, women, cheeseburgers, blacks, coffee, Jews, bacon...  You get my drift. That's why churches form.  Jewish, Muslim, etc.  They all have a different set of dogma.  The people at A+ seem to be following that model, but instead of Kashrut law or whatever, they are modeling their group on social acceptance.

Why is this bad?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 01:06:50 AM by Bandita »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #915 on: April 06, 2013, 01:04:41 AM »
I'm not against social justice or women's rights, and if you think that my passive stance means I'm not for them either, I guess I'm not.

If you're completely passive about and indifferent to social justice, then you're not in fact for it. That's correct. At least you're not actively against it, but you know, don't expect a cookie or anything.

And again, you should ask yourself: why should anyone care about an "atheist movement" that only cares about the relatively abstract -- and minimal, in terms of telling you where a person stands on anything meaningful -- issue of not-believing-in-a-deity? If your atheism doesn't lead you to care about anything worthwhile in real life, why should anyone give a shit about defending it or standing in solidarity with you? Ideologies and religions gain or lose credibility based in no small part on having useful things to say about actual life as it is lived. If you don't give a shit about any of that, what credibility do you have? Or should you have?

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #916 on: April 06, 2013, 01:16:43 AM »
I apologize in advance.  I love to hear myself type.

Okay, now let me just say, religion is pretty much geared towards men.  The whole thing is a celebration of misogyny and hate, of 'many wives' and 'rule of thumb', and how many sheep can you sell your daughter for.

The whole thing? Seriously? You can't think of any counterexamples?

I mean, I can. Early feminism was in fact a largely religious movement. Do the early suffragettes not get to count?

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Churches have done this for centuries, but instead of recruiting, they murdered, raped, and took slaves.  You were forced by law to join, in a majority of cases all over Europe.

And you really can't think of any other ways that religions might have recruited people?

Because I can. Quite a number of them. Not that religions are innocent of the above crimes, obviously, but there's just a wee bit more to the story than that.

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This pretty much cuts directly to the point I was trying to make.  You can't have an entire faction of people who believe that there is a God.  They will argue about whether or not he likes alcohol, gays, shrimp, women, cheeseburgers, blacks, coffee, Jews, bacon...  You get my drift. That's why churches form.  Jewish, Muslim, etc.  They all have a different set of dogma.  The people at A+ seem to be following that model, but instead of Kashrut law or whatever, they are modeling their group on social acceptance.

Why is this bad?

Firstly, modeling "social acceptance" on views underpinned by modern biological and social science and modern critical theory is in fact a genuine difference from demanding that everyone kowtow to your God because-you-say-so. Sciences and critical theories are contestable things, non-polemically, in a way that competing claims about divine inspiration are not. So equating them is rather an ignorant thing to do.

Moreover, though, "believing in a God" and "being able to engage in criticism" are not mutually exclusive. The idea that is is so is one of the most basically ignorant and foolish memes common in modern atheism.

Offline Bandita

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #917 on: April 06, 2013, 01:33:37 AM »
The whole thing? Seriously? You can't think of any counterexamples?

I mean, I can. Early feminism was in fact a largely religious movement. Do the early suffragettes not get to count?

And you really can't think of any other ways that religions might have recruited people?

Because I can. Quite a number of them. Not that religions are innocent of the above crimes, obviously, but there's just a wee bit more to the story than that.

Firstly, modeling "social acceptance" on views underpinned by modern biological and social science and modern critical theory is in fact a genuine difference from demanding that everyone kowtow to your God because-you-say-so. Sciences and critical theories are contestable things, non-polemically, in a way that competing claims about divine inspiration are not. So equating them is rather an ignorant thing to do.

Moreover, though, "believing in a God" and "being able to engage in criticism" are not mutually exclusive. The idea that is is so is one of the most basically ignorant and foolish memes common in modern atheism.

Suffragettes were using churches to organize, not trying to recruit for religion. And they were using religion tactically in many instances. But they weren't trying to recruit, they were playing upon Christian values.  The vast majority of the nation was Christian back then.  It is actually less so now.  And while some religions are as misogynistic as others, if they use the old testament, which the three most prevalent in my country do, then they are using anti-woman doctrine.

Edit: And on a further note, as many churches came out against women's suffrage as came out for it.  Same thing with the Civil rights movement.  Just saying.
Second edit:  If I am not mistaken, the "religiosity" of the suffragette movement that you refer to, was, in fact, fairly anti-feminist by today's standards... They actually used the "women are weak but morally wonderful" argument, and "women should stay in the home"  and they argued that women ought to vote in order to protect their families, as god wanted them to do, and that as the "Fairer sex" they were better suited to vote in favor of family values (read temperance) than men.  So pointing out that religion was used in the suffragette movement is not pointing out that the way in which it was used is still, well, useful....

And yes, there are other ways that people have recruited.  In Africa, they threaten them with damnation, and hellfire.  They also threaten not to provide their AIDS medication at the clinic, because they sure as hell aren't presenting them with science-based contraception.  So yes, I can absolutely think of ways, but almost none of them are flattering.

And I think you misunderstood me when I was proposing that people have a safe place to congregate.  I was in no way suggesting that people discard biological and social science, in favor of kow-towing to a doctrine. I'm not even sure where you came up with that.  I was just suggesting a safe place.  You're taking that waaaaaay out of context.  The only model I was suggesting to take from religion was that of a safe place in which to gather, with acceptance that is built on a previously decided-on group of ideals.

And I don't know how you got the idea that I thought that the religious were unable to take criticism.  Or give it?  I'm not sure what you really meant by what you said really.  I've had some great discussions with religious people that gave me things to think about, and I really hope I gave as good as I got in that. I'm really confused as to how you got to this conclusion...

Edit:  Ohhhh I get it.  You think that because I stated that atheists were more likely to be highly educated..... Well so were Jesuits.  I didn't state that all educated or intelligent people were atheists, just that atheists tended to be from the more educated classes.... If I made that unclear I apologize. 

Edit.  And I don't particularly like being called ignorant. I hadn't noticed that, or perhaps I had tried to ignore it, but I'm not sure I can. Particularly since I think you might have misunderstood what my point was.

Edit.  I'm tired of editing.  From now on they will all be PostMarked.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 01:59:13 AM by Bandita »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #918 on: April 06, 2013, 01:51:42 AM »
Suffragettes were using churches to organize, not trying to recruit for religion. And they were using religion tactically in many instances.

I think that is making a huge, huge assumption that is not necessarily warranted. A great many of the early suffragettes were perfectly sincere in believing they were advancing a valid version of their faith and a valid faith-based argument. Many of those who argue for (as an example) the admission of female priests to the Catholic rites are also so arguing. It's actually pretty insulting to them to assume they were, or are, merely using religion "tactically" or are uninterested in recruiting for religion.

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Edit: And on a further note, as many churches came out against women's suffrage as came out for it.  Same thing with the Civil rights movement.  Just saying.

That's not the point. Cf. my earlier remark about picking-a-fight-with-all-the-religious. Adopting a categorical definition of "religion" which rules out early modern feminism and defines churches as mere vehicles of rape, conquest and enslavement is precisely this. What does this gain anyone? Is it truthful? Is it helpful?

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And yes, there are other ways that people have recruited.

For example, by providing spiritual narratives that helped make sense of their lives. Or furnishing social and charitable services. Or providing a sense of community and fellowship, and methods of community organization. All of those are also constants in religious history: you know that, right? It doesn't mean the bad stuff didn't happen, it just means you don't have to be deceptive about its being all that happened, or happens. You're being extremely unrealistic about what religion is and how it appeals to people if you do that.

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And I think you misunderstood me when I was proposing that people have a safe place to congregate.  I was in no way suggesting that people discard biological and social science, in favor of kow-towing to a doctrine.

It looked to me like you were trying to equate the former to the latter. I apologize if that was a misreading.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 01:54:27 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #919 on: April 06, 2013, 01:56:34 AM »
Well, at this point I guess its a bit pointless to try and backtrack to previous comments during my participation on this discussion.  So, sorry to anyone that I didn't respond to in time.  My stretch of work came up.  Leaving work in any mood to make a rationale post is rare so my apologies.  Also, hope you feel better Sabby.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 02:03:34 AM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #920 on: April 06, 2013, 02:15:25 AM »
(Lest there be any misunderstanding, I'm not saying that belief systems -- religious or otherwise -- haven't availed themselves of various forms of coercion. Quite obviously they have, and continue to do. I'm saying that trying to convince oneself that this is the whole story of how religions transmit themselves, or attain a following, is wrong.)

Offline Bandita

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #921 on: April 06, 2013, 02:24:00 AM »
I think that is making a huge, huge assumption that is not necessarily warranted. A great many of the early suffragettes were perfectly sincere in believing they were advancing a valid version of their faith and a valid faith-based argument. Many of those who argue for (as an example) the admission of female priests to the Catholic rites are also so arguing. It's actually pretty insulting to them to assume they were, or are, merely using religion "tactically" or are uninterested in recruiting for religion.
Perhaps many of them were.  How does that change the fact that it was a tactic, and one that would horrify modern feminists.  See, it's that 'horrify modern feminists' part that I was trying to get across.  Yes, they used religious tactics, probably believed every word of what they said too.  But that particular argument for religion doesn't do much for me.  Because, you see, I don't feel that it is my duty to be a good housewife and temper my husband and protect my (nonexistant) children.  I have needs too.

That's not the point. Cf. my earlier remark about picking-a-fight-with-all-the-religious. Adopting a categorical definition of "religion" which rules out early modern feminism and defines churches as mere vehicles of rape, conquest and enslavement is precisely this. What does this gain anyone? Is it truthful? Is it helpful?

Who cares if it's helpful.  But yes, it is truthful, at least partly.  Religion brought us the Crusades, the Holocaust, the inquisition.  No, it isn't the entire story.  It is never just as simple as "religion did it"... But how many in this world have been killed in the name of God?  I mean, the Twin Towers alone.... and that was pretty much "God wants it"...

For example, by providing spiritual narratives that helped make sense of their lives. Or furnishing social and charitable services. Or providing a sense of community and fellowship, and methods of community organization. All of those are also constants in religious history: you know that, right? It doesn't mean the bad stuff didn't happen, it just means you don't have to be deceptive about its being all that happened, or happens. You're being extremely unrealistic about what religion is and how it appeals to people if you do that.

Yes.  Frequently just after killing off all the men.  In fact, that was why the Catholic Church changed direction so vehemently on the whole "Mary Mother of God" thing... to recruit the widows.  Now granted, a lot of the time they were recruiting plague widows too, but still.  The Romans conquered much of the continent, Europe.  And we don't even want to get into what happened to the Native Americans in the name of God.  Sure.  Yes, there is compassion, but there is also eternal damnation to make sure you appreciate the compassion.  Forgive me if I cannot swallow that.

Postmark:  My extremely Catholic mother will NEVER give up her concept of heaven.  No matter what logic or argument is placed before her. So don't try to tell me about the concept of comfort and compassion.  I hear it every time she tells me my father is "in a better place" and that I should "pray to him".  But that doesn't mean that I can't think she's wrong.  And it also doesn't mean that it helps her overly much.  She will mourn for the rest of her life, probably, and no concept of heaven can make up for the fact that he's gone. 
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 02:30:13 AM by Bandita »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #922 on: April 06, 2013, 02:47:53 AM »
Perhaps many of them were.  How does that change the fact that it was a tactic, and one that would horrify modern feminists.  See, it's that 'horrify modern feminists' part that I was trying to get across.

Um, many modern feminists are religious. Those women who want to be admitted as priests to the Catholics and Anglican rites? They're not irreligious. The modern Muslim feminist movement is for the most part not irreligious. It's not okay to reduce "feminist" to meaning "anti-religious." That's false to both feminism and religion.

I get that you don't want your life and femininity defined by a bunch of male sexist "sola scriptura" pseudo-Evangelical pricks on the religious right. That's perfectly reasonable. But a basic part of understanding the history and currency of progressivism is understanding that there's more to it than the confrontation between religion and irreligion. And not all of the irreligious, as Ephiral has pointed out here at some considerable length, are necessarily your allies, any more than all of the religious are necessarily your enemies.

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Who cares if it's helpful.

I care. If a form of rhetoric alienates potential allies and functionally obstructs constructvie change, it is not worth supporting.

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It is never just as simple as "religion did it"...

No, it isn't. Not even remotely.

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And we don't even want to get into what happened to the Native Americans in the name of God.

Do we want to get into other things that happened in the name of God? Liberation theology, for instance? British socialism? The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of South Africa? (Believe me, the alternative wouldn't have been pretty.) Do we really want to avoid the fact that feminism and science themselves also came out of religion? That religion also produced trends toward tolerance as away from it? That Mahatma Gandhi's crusade against untouchability (the original Big Swinging Dick of large-scale social racism) was religiously grounded (as was prior Islamic objection to the same practice), and as was his or Martin Luther King's preference for nonviolence?

All of those things are also part of the history of religion. You don't get to just throw them under the bus.

I'm South African, so this perhaps biases my perspective a bit. I'm aware of the fact that Nelson Mandela's ultimately tolerant outlook owed a lot to his background in a missionary school. And when people come to me trying to tell me how the Quran is the equivalent of Mein Kampf, I'm just as aware of the fact that Muslim leaders stood in solidarity with him against apartheid as I am of the fact that religion has been used to justify all sorts of negative behaviours in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I am not remotely telling you what you or your mother should and shouldn't believe. If I believed that heaven was a superior means of dealing with death to a poetically materialist conception of the cosmos, I wouldn't be an atheist. That doesn't make it okay to practice this Four Legs Good, Religion Bad business. It's falsity*. Falsity is wrong.

[* EDITED. My original use of the word "falsification" here was confusing.]
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 02:51:27 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Bandita

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #923 on: April 06, 2013, 11:03:54 AM »
Response to Cyrano:

The thing about modern feminists:  Please don't put words in my mouth.  I was not reducing Feminist to Anti-religious, nor did I mention modern religious feminists.  I stated that the ideas of women being "morally superior" and the "softer sex" would horrify a lot of modern feminists.  And being told that they are "morally inferior" might irritate a ton of modern men too.

And also: the NEED for feminism came out of religion.  If the texts detailing how many sheep one's daughter was worth wasn't a tradition of the bible.... Women were property, and that was biblical tradition. 

I'm not going to respond to a lot of this.  Yes, you and I have different views.  You had one really awesome leader in recent memory over there.  We haven't had one since the 1960's.  I remember the fall of Apartheid, but not the civil rights movement.  I have, however, studied the civil rights movement.  For every church that helped it, there was another one or two that hindered it.  I actually have a really good understanding of American progressivism, even if I am lacking on info towards the rest of the world.  (American history major, not world history)

But that said, the people and events you describe, they are few and far between.  Religion has been a corrupt and hateful stain on the planet for a very long time.  It has committed genocide.  It has tortured.  It has raped, and spread disease. It doesn't get a pass for those thing, just because a few people took the better sides of their religion and also were amazing people, and helped the world out.

Over here, religion means hatred of women, hatred of gays, and things like child molestation.  I don't see a day go by where someone hasn't made the news by saying that women shouldn't have abortions because can't really get pregnant when they're raped, or that they're going to block gay marriage again.  It's getting very old, and it's all religious.

You are entitled to your opinions,  they are coming from a different place than mine, from a different legacy and heritage.  I can't agree with you, and you don't want to agree with me. It's okay, and I don't mind that you disagree.  But please stop putting words in my mouth.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #924 on: April 06, 2013, 01:52:59 PM »
Bandita, when you state that "modern feminists" as a category would be "horrified" by a religious rationale for feminism, you are implicitly defining modern feminism as anti-religious. It is not "putting words in your mouth" to state outright what you have implied. If you didn't mean to imply that, that's fine. Just say so. But do not try to pretend you didn't say what you said. It's right there in the thread.

Putting words in someone's mouth is more like your attempt to imply, later on, that I am saying religion "gets a pass" for the bad things it has done because of the good things it has done. That is something I have been very, very carefully explicit about not saying. What I've said is that trying to reduce religion to the bad things it has done, and define it solely by those things, is not honest or accurate. And I stand by that. That I've identified a few extraordinary good things it has accomplished doesn't mean religious do not do other good things on a daily basis, any more than wars and holocausts are the only examples of bad things that happen because of religion on a daily basis. To demand honesty in description of these things, good and bad, is not demanding that the bad things "get a pass."

(As to the whole question of what "religion" is or isn't at fault for in human history, by this point in modern history it is -- or at least should be -- perfectly clear that irreligious ideologies are capable of manifesting all the same flaws. That we can look back and blame "religion" for thousands of years of sexism, war and all others things bad is really just a function of the bulk of humanity's having been religious for the bulk of history, by the same token of which we can accredit "religion" for thousands of years of philosophy and progress. But if you take a look at, say, that debate around Atheism+, it's pretty clear that just ranting about how religion is the source of all evil is not actually going to get rid of these problems, or should I say these qualities good and bad in human beings. They're deeper-seated than just religion.*)

* This last paragraph edited for clarity.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 02:20:00 PM by Cyrano Johnson »