I have written extensively in the past year or so about my intellectual journey away from what I call “Mainstream Atheism”. Though many within that population still have a hard time accepting that term (seeing themselves as only individuals whom lack faith in the unknown, whilst overlooking many shared tenants of the whole of the group), I can assure you that it is applicable.
David Silverman (head of American Atheists) presented the “all secularists are atheists” argument as fact on CNN’s short documentary on atheism. And even Bill Maher has made reference to this intellectual intolerance at one point in a Real Time episode back in March (along with other examples of Liberal infighting).
But either way, whether “Mainstream Atheism” wants to admit that they have an intolerance problem or not, I am not the only one that perceives it. And no, this is not just an “appeal to authority” fallacy argument.
I can see the problem for myself, having experienced it first hand. But having a vocal Atheist like Bill Maher also make light of this idiocy is helpful. It is not proof that I am correct, per-say. But it provides a second opinion, should you be willing enough to put aside your biases long enough to listen to the message he conveys.
So long story short, I don’t have a whole lot of respect for many within the Atheist community anymore. For a great many years I was proud to display the Dawkin’s inspired “A” and otherwise participate in the community. While I did fairly regularly come across overzealous intolerance when it comes to even the SLIGHTEST of spelling or grammatical error (im online in a forum, not writing an essay! If you can comprehend the words I have written, fuck off!), it was otherwise a good place to be. I have always disliked the overemphasis on Atheism above all else, but still, all was well.
That is, until you turn the same skepticism that you use on arguments of religion and other phenomenon onto a fairly popular atheistic stance, which is that there is “no middle ground” when it comes to these beliefs. Your either an Atheist or a Theist.
You can’t be only “Agnostic”, because Agnostic is a reference to knowledge while Atheist is a reference to belief.
I have had many a fruitless argument with various atheists arguing that people whom claim to be agnostics are “changing the goalposts”, or redefining the word Agnostic from what Thomas Henry Huxley Originally intended .
Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle …Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
I further say that Agnosticism is not properly described as a “negative” creed, nor indeed as a creed of any kind, except in so far as it expresses absolute faith in the validity of a principle, which is as much ethical as intellectual. This principle may be stated in various ways, but they all amount to this: that it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. That is what agnosticism asserts and, in my opinion, is all that is essential to agnosticism.
In that respect, they are correct. It was indeed not coined as a personal adjective. But at the same time, the well used definition for Atheism once was “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings“.
When confronted with that, many atheists fall back on the fact that definitions can evolve with time (usually delivered in a condescending manor, in typical Atheist fashion). Seemingly overlooking the fact that they nullify that stance by pestering self admitted Agnostics.
But thats enough on the topic of atheistic idiocy. I have already written enough about it to justify giving the subject its own category (atheism criticisms). Though I will point you to this piece explaining why I think many Atheists are in fact part of a “religion” (as well as to this one outlining why Dusty Smith is dishonest in his representation of the argument), I will now move on.
After I grew disenfranchised (and to a degree, angry) with many within the mainstream online Atheist community, I started experimenting with different “viewpoints” (labels, in all truthfulness) to see what fit. At first I went with Agnostic, because that was the most obvious.
Then I went though a period where I tried to go with “none of the above”, which turned out to be difficult in conversation. If you do not give a set position or viewpoint, people often just tell you that you are an Atheist. Thus you waste much time trying to get people to fuck off with their labels, whilst no other constructive conversation can occur.
After that I learned the word Apatheist, which seemed fitting (an Apatheist is a person who regards the question of the existence or non-existence of a god or gods to be essentially meaningless and irrelevant).
But I have since found a word that is not just better at describing my views on the “God” subject, but is also good at describing my views on many subjects. That word, is ambiguous.
I like the word, because it outlines nicely my views on a number of issues. I am undecided and unsure on the “God” question, and this word describes this in a way that is nice and short. I don’t need the whole Agnostic Atheist spiel, because I simply do not know, am not sure. End of story.
One may be using “Agnostic” improperly by using the term as an adjective, but I don’t believe so with ambiguous.
And aside from religion and beliefs, this word nicely describes how I view myself in many aspects of life. I do not see myself as being Liberal, Progressive, Feminist, or really any other political, racial, or ideological label. I see myself as standing outside of all of that, and making decisions and conclusions based on the best of EVERY category.
I do not deny that my views on various issues and subjects make me lean towards existing generalized categories within a given subject or topic.
For example, my political views lean towards the left, possibly in with the progressives. My “religious” views lean towards the secular side. When it comes to gender equality, I lean towards the middle, a position known as “Gender Egalitarianism”.
Here, some in the feminist community would argue that my views would make me a “feminist” (not to surprising, being the overlap of the atheist community into the feminist community). But for one, feminist is a word with many different definitions in the eyes of many different people. And of these people, the most irrational get most of the spotlight. I do not feel like dispelling that image (or having it unknowingly thrust onto me) every time that word comes up.
And secondly, I do not need to call myself a “feminist” in order to stand for the same principals.
There are people out there (some of whom I respect highly, like Aron Ra) who say things like “If you are not a feminist, then you are a bigot”. Though such people (many being Social Justice Warrior’s) surly mean well, I wish they would pull their collective heads out of their asses and realize that such statements are only alienating their cause further.
I know many people like identifying with labels, because people like social groups. Which is fine. That is, until the point where the group dynamic begins to crowd out all else. For example, when legitimate arguments or criticisms are discarded for simply conflicting with a main tenant of a given group. Or (in terms of politics) when a candidate is disregarded for simply being in the wrong party, or leaning in the wrong direction politically.
I see all of the different ways in which we self segregate as being barriers to progress. It be a different story if compromises between factions could be reached, but that is often not the case. If secularists can not even agree to unite on the basis that ALL OF THEM REJECT THEISTIC FAITH, how are they supposed to take on religion in the real world?
I have been told (rightfully I suppose) that these views come across to people as arrogant. That I make myself out to be “better” than most people.
Well, time to be honest. I AM BETTER THAN YOU.
Its not something that one is really supposed to say, but what can I tell you. I can’t help that I have risen above the high school like clichés and ideological boxes of modernity.
But that said, I still do not see myself as “above” the masses intellectually (im not that arrogant). For one thing, I am not formally post secondary educated (something that may or may not happen). Some may even want to use the term pseudo intellectual to describe me. I know that a good chunk of my posts on this very blog may have earned this designation.
Though I used to look down on the world from a high pedestal in past years (there, I admitted it!), its not something I do a whole lot anymore. For one thing, the antics of the “stupid” will eventually drive you nuts. And for another, your not helping things by coming across to others as a pompas ass.
As such, though I acknowledge that I see the world differently then most people, I try not to see myself as “above” them. Some people are willfully ignorant idiots and need to get bitch slapped (be it intellectually or literally). But most people are just average folk going though life in a the only way they know how.
Though I may dislike the intellectually boring and lazy culture that most of these (typically) North Americans love, its but a part of life. Just another first world problem.
My ambiguous stance allows me to fairly accurately describe where I see myself in society. Wandering around the perimeter and looking in, making decisions and voicing criticisms and concerns as deemed necessary.
Its preferable to simply not be associated to a label at all. But if I were to pick one, ambiguity says it best.