Monday, June 18, 2007

The atheist schism

According to Lisa Miller at Newsweek
what's happening in the "atheist, humanist, freethinkers" community is more like what happens to any ideological or political group as it matures: the hard-liners knock heads with the folks who want to just get along, and the cracks are beginning to show.
Miller, however, makes a fundamental error: The "atheist" community is not an ideological or political group. It is an ad hoc community of those who do not believe—at least—any God exists.

There is no schism because there's nothing to "schis". There is no such thing as atheist politics or atheist ideology. There are political and ideological positions—such as First Amendment secularism or Humanist ethics—held by many atheists, but these are accidental, not essential, characteristics of atheists.

Atheist "secular rabbi" Greg Epstein seems to think he can tell his fellow atheists what to believe and what to say: He calls Harris and Dawkins "atheist fundamentalists." (According to Harris, "An empty play on words.")
"My problem with the atheists," he told NEWSWEEK, "is not that they're saying God doesn't exist. What I'm saying is we've got to build something."
Well, Epstein is full of shit.

No one is stopping Epstein from saying or building anything; if he accepts the responsibility "to speak out for the positive aspects of disbelief," then he's free to speak. No matter what he says, regardless of whether I or any other atheist agrees or disagrees, he is an atheist in good standing if he does not believe any God exists.

Epstein has missed the whole point of "freethought". Freethought entails no dogma, no party line, nothing but a sincere, dedicated commitment to the rational truth, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient. Epstein is free to build whatever organizations, institutions or social movements he pleases. If I like what he builds, I'll support it. But I'm not going to support anything by keeping silent about the rational truth, and if that's what Epstein requires, he can kiss my hairy atheist ass.

(h/t to Freethunk)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please pick a handle or moniker for your comment. It's much easier to address someone by a name or pseudonym than simply "hey you". I have the option of requiring a "hard" identity, but I don't want to turn that on... yet.

With few exceptions, I will not respond or reply to anonymous comments, and I may delete them. I keep a copy of all comments; if you want the text of your comment to repost with something vaguely resembling an identity, email me.

No spam, pr0n, commercial advertising, insanity, lies, repetition or off-topic comments. Creationists, Global Warming deniers, anti-vaxers, Randians, and Libertarians are automatically presumed to be idiots; Christians and Muslims might get the benefit of the doubt, if I'm in a good mood.

See the Debate Flowchart for some basic rules.

Sourced factual corrections are always published and acknowledged.

I will respond or not respond to comments as the mood takes me. See my latest comment policy for details. I am not a pseudonomous-American: my real name is Larry.

Comments may be moderated from time to time. When I do moderate comments, anonymous comments are far more likely to be rejected.

I've already answered some typical comments.

I have jqMath enabled for the blog. If you have a dollar sign (\$) in your comment, put a \\ in front of it: \\\$, unless you want to include a formula in your comment.