We Don’t Need Moderation in the Atheist Community

Don’t keep quiet, be vocal about reality.

Lots of people keep pushing for a moderate position in the midst of the asinine atheism wars, they want to herd people into a neutral middle ground where nobody makes fun of anyone else.  Like it or not, we are in a war and you don’t fight wars by pretending they don’t exist, you fight wars to win them.  It’s especially difficult when you consider that the majority of atheists aren’t even on one of the warring sides, we’re totally separate.

In reality, I don’t understand why there are so many people who are willing to excuse irrationality and ridiculous positions just because they come from atheists.  We wouldn’t excuse it in theists, why are we excusing it in atheists?  There’s a war going on because you have two relatively small sides that are utter idiots and the rest of us are just staring at it, like a traffic accident, shaking our heads.  This article has some ideas that really don’t solve the problem and that, in and of itself, is a problem.  It says that we ought to reject personal insults and defamation of character.  I agree with that.  However, it’s not an insult to call a spade a spade.  It’s not defamation of character to tell the truth.  In fact, the article acknowledges that it’s a fight that cannot be won and it voluntarily throws in the towel, which I think is a massive problem.  Certainly, we’re never going to convince anyone on either side that they’re wrong, just like we’re extremely unlikely to convince most theists that their beliefs are stupid, but we can, and we must, act to stop the damage that both warring faction is doing to the atheist “community”.  We should never just make room for stupidity within our ranks, any more than we should just let Christians run over us roughshod because it’s easier than fighting back.  It’s a war that far too few people are willing to fight.  How can we cooperate with people that we vehemently disagree with on major topics?  Why should we?  This is the same question I ask regarding accomodationism, which is essentially what this is.  The idea that since we can’t reason with these people, we should just let them have their way is like debating with Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber.

The only thing I agree with so far is the idea that conferences ought to decide for themselves if all the drama is worth it, and if they decide it isn’t, to simply stop inviting people on both sides of the fight.  Don’t invite any Atheism+ speakers and likewise, don’t invite anyone from the Slymepit.  Tell both sides to fuck off.  If Atheism+ wants to have their own version of TAM, go for it, it’s just one more place I wouldn’t be caught dead.  The very idea that they ought to be able to take over an existing conference or that they ought to be able to make demands of conference organizers as to who they can invite and who they cannot, is absurd.

Then it gets on to saying that every person ought to be heard.  I can go for that.  That doesn’t mean that every person’s ideas are valid or worth implementing though.  However, that doesn’t mean that every person deserves a place at the podium at an atheist conference.  That’s something that needs to be earned.  Speakers are invited because they draw crowds.  They are invited because they bring in money for the organizers.  They are not and should not be invited because they want to say something absurd.  Of course, this requires that the attendees of these conferences are rational to begin with and we all know that’s far too often not true.  I think we need an altogether better breed of atheists, it seems like the bar has been set far too low of late.

And finally, they say they want to see atheism having genuine diversity.  I’m really not sure what that means, to be honest.  What is diversity within a single-view community?  Do we let in people who believe in gods?  Do we let in people who are anti-vaccers?  Do we let in people who believe in Bigfoot?  Isn’t that the means to diversity, to take all comers?  How far is too far to go when you’re talking about atheism?  Keep in mind that these are atheist-specific conferences, by and large they are not humanist conventions, they exist to cater to an atheist audience.  Oh sure, there are skeptical conferences like TAM, and the rules might be different there, but if you’re talking about the “atheist community” shouldn’t it only be for atheists to talk about atheism and a rational response to religion?  What the hell is feminism doing being talked about in the first place?

The last thing we ought to do is just stick our heads in the sand and pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or that if we ignore it, it’ll go away.  It won’t, history has shown this clearly.  We, as rational, intellectual, critical atheists need to stand up and say in a clear voice that this is not acceptable and that anyone who can’t be rational, intellectual and critical, needs to go find themselves another movement to be a part of.  It’s the only thing that will make the atheist “community” actually worth being a part of.


10 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Moderation in the Atheist Community

    1. I agree. People are so worried about making peace with people who are incapable of compromise and we shouldn't be. I'd be more than happy to lose 50% of vocal atheists if we could just get rid of the nonsense.

  1. This is the problem with 'group mindset'. It sets up 'wars' between factions to see who can claim leadership of the group. That's why, though I don't believe in god(s), I eschew all 'groups'. Atheists simply don't believe in the supernatural. On that basis, I am an atheist, with absolutely no need for group confirmation.

    1. That's exactly how I feel, I don't need to be a part of any "atheist community" to be an atheist, I don't need validation or permission, I just don't believe in gods. I acknowledge people on my side that agree with me on a particular topic. When they stop agreeing, they leave my "in-group". I really see no point to belonging to a group, except where it fulfills a common goal and to be honest, the "atheist community" very rarely ever does that.

  2. I need to come back and write more when I'm not late for work, but I was curious about the war metaphor. It hadn't really occurred to me to view this as a war, and I think that is mostly because I'm not sure what such a war would seek to accomplish. If we fight this as a war with the goal of winning, what does winning look like and what tactics would you suggest?
    My recent post My Initial Reaction to the Latest Doxxing Allegations

    1. There is a war going on, the two sides are extremist, but their fighting affects us all and I'd argue that it's time for the silent majority to rise up and excise both sides, but we return to the ever-present problem that getting atheists to agree on anything is nigh impossible. The fact that we have so many different viewpoints really means we're never going to be very effective in accomplishing anything as a group, but at least people ought to try instead of just being lazy accomodationists. We need to start looking at what's best for the long-term success of the atheist "community" and I think most of us agree that Atheism+ and their detractors isn't it.

        1. That's only because Atheism+ is casting a much wider net. The Slymepit crew is focusing only on Atheism+ which is why most of us get no blowback from their childish behavior. That said though, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, both are obliterating mature, intelligent, rational discourse with their immature antics. Since my goal, insofar as I have a goal for atheism, is the development of a mature, rational, evidence-based, critical-thinking group of people, I really don't want either Atheism+ or the Slymepit around. Both suck.

          1. Yeah, what little I know about the Slymepit is that their views seem to be far more diverse than what I've seen of Atheism+. Some appear to engage in quite a bit of vile trolling, while others seem perfectly reasonable.

            Interestingly, Gurdur is beginning to get some crap from this side, although I'm not sure if those responsible have any affiliation with the Pit itself. In any case, I think that if he's getting attacked from both sides, he's probably doing something right.
            My recent post The Arrogance of Evangelism

          2. Not everyone on the Slymepit is bad, any more than everyone on FtB is bad or everyone who identifies as a feminist is bad. However, you're also not getting anyone on Slymepit calling for an end to those bad members who are using the forum as a launching site for these attacks. It's because there is no control that you really can't count on the site in general to be worthwhile.

            I mean hell, not everyone on 4chan is bad, but the bad apples ruin it for everyone.

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