Atheists – Stop Shaming Atheism!

Its been awhile since I have written about what is arguably one of my favorite topics. The fact that I can say such a thing is somewhat strange. First, considering my attitude of many in the community (they are almost as dogmatic as the theists they entangle with. A hangover of being cut from the very same mold?). Then there is my opinion of the whole forum/debate scene of late (enough with the debating the unknowable, when are we going to start REALLY standing up for secular causes?!).
And then there are the many atheists that raise awareness about various forms of atheist discrimination, though that sort of thing seems to be overlooked within the secular community itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not fail to grasp seriousness of being singled out for a having a lack of belief. No one should suffer second class (or otherwise) treatment for something as uncontrollable as skin tone, or as  irrelevant to everyday life as beliefs (or lack therein). But on the same token, a person of one stance in the secular community  should not have to waste time arguing with others of another stance WITHIN THE SAME COMMUNITY, just because they do not fundamentally agree on the unknown details.
“Nones” are the 2ed largest “religious” group within the United States (behind only evangelicals). Enough of the endless “debates” with theists, and the infighting with other secularists!
Madalyn Murray O’Hair didn’t have half of the nation on her side when she pushed for (and achieved!) the removal of mandated prayer from public schools.
We fear and write about the icebergs not far off in the distance, whilst playing musical chairs on the decks of the ship. GRAB THE WHEEL!

Now, with that obligatory rant out of the way, I can move on to the real reason for writing this entry. A video put out by none other then Dusty Smith. Yeah, this makes 3 (One and Two).

Dammit Dusty . . .

First, a minor clarification.

This does not make Dusty racist. Now, OTHER fairly recent to past actions and/or words may tell a different story, but they are not the focus here. For all intents and purposes, one is not racist for calling Muslims “retarded”.

Though there are many other ways to illustrate the illegitimacy of the belief then to resort to ad hom.

I also understand that this video was likely recorded and published as a giant “FUCK YOU!” to those out there whom say that it is NEVER okay to criticize Islam or the prophet Mohammad.  I also understand the sentiment, and have also blasted that kind of hogwash upon coming across it in the media sphere.

But again, there are far better (more more creative!) ways to accomplish the task of tearing down the ideology then effectively generalizing a few billion people as being mentally inferior.

That is not even considering the reflection that this has on the atheist community as a whole.

I understand that everyone within or otherwise around the atheist community knows that there are many faces, people and ideas that permeate the whole of its many component groups (and individuals). But that is the inside view.

As we are reminded of nearly on a daily basis, the word “Atheist” often has an entirely different context outside its ranks. All sorts of hilarious yet harmful variations of the words context are abound. Not to mention the amusing (but again, harmful) cultural understanding of what an  atheist looks and behaves like (as per such films as “God is Dead”).

This video does not help to repair that flawed and highly incorrect image of what the atheist community looks like from the outside, nor how people perceive the word. It only makes it worse.

I acknowledge that your video library has a GREAT many videos that serve the purpose of education, and otherwise fulfill what complaints I lodge here.  I have seen a great many of them (along with many others from other fellow Youtubers).
But those videos are not going to be the ones that people are going to link to, take notice of, or remember. Angry people with an Axe to grind with you (or atheism in general!) are not going to link to any of your more educational videos (this one is one of my favorites). They are going to link to the one with those all important words coming from your mouth, “Muslims are retarded!”.

I am not a man of censorship. People can, if they so desire,  say almost anything they want short of anything harmful (such as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater) so long as they are ready to answer for their words. And I also know that the Atheist community is unaffiliated, and as such no one person or opinion is (or should be) taken as the word of the entire group.

That said however, considering the sad state of the image of Atheism in the minds of the mainstream US (and global?) public, it would be wise that the biggest and most influential ambassadors of the concept be a bit more careful in how they conduct themselves and spread their message.

I to, am in agreement that Islam should not get a free pass from the harmless mockery, criticism and satirist treatment given to most every religious, political and other ideological phenomenon known to the free world. But there are plenty of ways of making this happen without regressing the image of the atheist community even further.

 

Dusty Smith : “Atheism is NOT a Religion!”

Its the 2ed time within a week that I am making an entry based on a facebook post of prominent atheist youtuber Dusty Smith.

Last week it was THIS one, my detailed take on why I disagree with him that children can be trusted to forward their own education without institutionalized schooling using only the internet (among other critiques of the schooling system in general). And this week it is on the topic of religion. Or as it stands, the fact that atheism is NOT a religion.

Dusty

This argument is nothing new. I have heard it from many Atheists (probably every youtube atheist I have watched short of Galen Hallcyon, one of my favorite guests and friend of the Drunken Peasants Podcast). I am not overly bothered by the argument (which is half true). I am more concerned when its delivered in such a condescending manor. Or as in this case, not entirely truthfully due to an omission of data.

Religion 1

Religion 2

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/religion

Its entirely possible that Dusty’s source is missing the last association, so I will check.

Web Rel

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

Nope. It is complete, with the 3ed one as well. Seems mighty intellectually DIShonest for someone that spends so much of their time fighting intellectual dishonesty on the theistic side of the fence.

It is true that Atheism is not inherently an ideology or a religion. Whether using the old definition of “a rejection of belief in a god or gods”  or the more recent “a lack of a belief in a god or gods” (no pesky positive claim), its but a philosophy.

However, the like minded atheist community loves to congregate amongst themselves in groups all over the internet (either playing the debate game or just Re-discussing the same stuff over and over). Which is why it surprised me to see many take offense (and at times not even understand) when made mention of something as seemingly apparent as “Mainstream Atheism”.

It seems it is a completely baffling concept to observe trends within many members of a group, just because the shared characteristic is that of disbelief. Which is idiotic considering how many other groups have many individual interpretations, the majority of which one often labels as “mainstream”. Not every atheist will agree on everything, but most every one DOES agree that agnostic is not a stance. Hence, an example of a mainstream atheist stance.

I have been on both sides of the fence.

In my teen years into early adulthood I was pretty much an atheist in philosophy only. After discovering the online Atheist community (for me, on facebook) I gradually became more aligned with the values of (and conclusions of) the group. But eventually both boredom and an interest in philosophy made me start evaluating (and ultimately drop) my title of “Atheist” (mostly do to the resistance at asking questions). But I have since re-accepted the label after experimenting with a number of alternatives. I am more or less where I was as a teen, a philosophical atheist.
Ide prefer to share my thoughts from a prospective that is NOT tied to any one group or prospective, but its hard to converse with people from a point of ambiguousness (if you do not put yourself into a box, they will often do it for you). So hence I still keep to the philosophy and keep the label, but just to keep the conversation flowing.

I think a lesson that the atheist community needs to learn, is that the simple act of just mentally dumping your religious baggage DOES NOT automatically render your position immune to criticism. I understand that not all criticisms of Atheism are legitimate (like when some idiot pastor somewhere makes the association that Atheism = religion because they can’t see outside their own context). However, just because many (a majority?) of the criticisms leveled at Atheism /Atheists may be lumped into a pile labeled “stupid” or “ignorant”, that does not mean that ALL criticisms are automatically invalid or illegitimate.

 I am not going to flat out say that ideological Atheism is indeed, a religion. Though the definition indeed could fit, ill give the benefit of the doubt. Just be weary of the sometimes very similar nature of the behavior of many within “Mainstream Atheism” to their religious counterparts.

First there is the hanging around in groups of like minded individuals, often discussing little more then low level intellectual talking points (repetitively).  Then there is tendency of many to just default to the definition (and how whatever your proposing is contrary to it, and therefore  false) on question of an aspect of their atheism. And of course, the tendency to just shut out  all criticisms.

When  theists shut out the other party, they usually just continue regurgitating the same religious talking point over and over. With atheists, since they seem to think that embracing “logic” means that their arguments are forever immune to further criticism, they often turn to condescending ad hominem attacks like Dusty’s post above (or THIS ).

No similarity, you say?

Some may read this post as an angry note to the atheist community from an agnostic.

No. I do consider myself a philosophical atheist.

However, I am an atheist that likes to learn and confirm my stances by way of discussion and interaction. You know, in the same way the atheist community likes to interact with the religious community. Only I am not a slave to either sides box, so I can see (and inquire about!) the faults I see on both sides. But I can not do that (nor can I really even consider many mainstream atheists as intellectual equals) if they, for all intents and purposes, behave in the same way as the theists they debate when questioned.

I do not come to the discussion with 100% assurance that I am correct. But it be nice to see some arguments that are not, ideological talking points.