August 23, 2012

GnuAtheism rebrands with same old triumphalism as Atheism +

In what is the latest wink, wink, nudge, nudge kicking of non-atheists by inference since Dan Dennett invented the word "brights" then lied about what he was implying, the Freethought bloggers "bullies" are at it again, with "atheism plus," unveiled by Jen McCreight, then promoted further by Greta Christina, whom I've never cared for.

Now, it's rebranding GnuAtheism as "Atheism +." (Will Google + sue over trademark infringement?)

Two of the FtB folks most promoting this? Greta Christina, who is on ninth-wave feminism like Rebecca Watson, Stephanie Zvan and others of her ilk, and Ashley F. Miller.

And, Miller spills the beans right away, and why this is nothing other than good old, bad old Gnu Atheism: 
The desire to hold on to “atheism” rather than use the term “humanism” isn’t from a fundamental difference of goals and beliefs, but from a difference of self-definition. I personally like “atheism+” because it’s more confrontational, embraces a minority position that is loathed by many, and it is more transparent about the belief that religion is one of the root causes of many social injustices.  My humanism is more than just secular, it is anti-religion.
(Emphasis added above.) And, this is exactly why people like me and online (would-be that it were in person) friends like Leo Lincourt don't use the word "atheism."

Beyond that, this is a misuse of the word. There's hundreds of millions of atheist Buddhists; they don't believe in a deity, but they're definitely religious.

Beyond that, as for Miller tying this into gay rights, etc.? While she's not talking about violence, the confrontationalism, to some degree, goes back to the 1960s and violent vs. nonviolent approaches to black civil rights. Well, to the degree that black (and other) civil rights were advanced, it was the nonviolent approach that won.

But, Gnus like her seem fixated on confrontation as part of the message.
Greta Christina implies the rebranding is all needed due to things that are the fault of plain old vanilla atheists:
If you’ve been getting worn down and discouraged by the seemingly-endless barrage of misogyny and trolling and hateful stupid in atheism and skepticism lately.
Actually, yes, I noticed the tidal wave of all of that. Actually, because I don't read that much of "ninth wave atheism," and never go to FtB blogs unless a friend points out inanity like this, I had no idea. (Of course, what I've posted at her blog's and Miller's is certainly already being labeled trollery.)

(Update, Aug. 23: Greta now doubles down on "confrontational," with this statement:
Atheism is a slap in the face that wakes people up.
Again, if not 100 percent wrong, at least, "not necessarily so.")

Jen McCreight, whose "freethinking" T-shirt this summer about wanting to "destroy religion" showed more of what this game is about, has this list of secular humanist ideals with which, under the guise of sterner, stronger atheism, all others must be confronted:
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.
First, there's other atheists who do the same, without being confrontational. Second, you don't do the last point on your checklist, no matter your claim.

Besides, an earlier "wave" of feminism, rather than turning to atheism, turned to putative pre-patriarchy mother goddesses. They saw atheism as being patriarchal also. (It's not today, but looked more that way "back then," tis true.)

Then, in another blog post, she makes this WAYYYYY over the top claim:
I don't feel safe as a woman in this community — and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.
Ignoring the rhetoric,  since she of course doesn't hold truck with the existence of hell, it's still generally laughable. Let's track this empirically — what are the rates of sexual harassment claims at conferences of atheism (skepticism isn't the same thing, and you ladies aren't claiming to be skeptics +) versus all conferences of nonprofit informational groups?

Otherwise, Gnu Atheism/Plusism mirrors the fundamentalist version of Christianity that most Gnus/Plusers substitute for all religion in their world views.  That's the way most "tar babies" work.

Another way of putting this, beyond "confrontationalism" or "triumphalism" is tribalism, as Shane Brady notes in a good take on this. There's also a maturity-level issue, as other skeptical friends and acquaintances of mine have noted online.

Meanwhile, in the older generation pool of Gnus, friendly fire continues! Per comments, here's the post where Sam Harris calls P.Z. Myers a troll. Who's the pot and who's the kettle? They're tied for insufferability, but in different ways. And, there's probably attention-seeking jealousy there, too. 

Anyway, I've had enough fun with this one. It's just the latest salvo in the skepatheistchick nonsense and I'll stop feeding the flames. 

I'll just want for R. Joseph Hoffmann to write 3K words about it in Elizabethan English, followed by blog groupie Steff praising it 12 times and being attacked by Ophelia Benson each time. Did I just shoot a three-bank cushion there? :)

Speaking of, R.J. does have a recent blog post about Michael Ruse's thoughts about Gnus. 

And, while this is my first post about Atheism+, it's far and away from being my first thoughts about Gnus. Click the "New Atheists" tag below for more, for much more. 

Now, have I taken potshots at fundamentalists from time to time? You bet; I blogged about Bob Jones University educational material just a month ago.

But, I didn't go "confronting" individual fundamentalists. Nor did I, say, take potshots at educational material used at, say ... Southern Methodist University, or used there for teaching ideas in K-12 private or parochial schools. I know the difference between United Methodists and fundamentalists. Gnu Atheists ignore that. P.Z. Myers has done so in the past even with Unitarians.

Update, Aug. 23: Richard Carrier is now an atheism + carpetbagger, apparently. Probably because he's a man, among other things.

Speaking of, the skeptatheistchick folks are right that secular humanism has had an old white male baggage problem. And? As Richard Dawkins has shown, so does Gnu Atheism. 


dave said...

It's not really fair to link A+ to new atheism. None of the founding new atheists would meet the criteria of A+. Dawkins is out (Dear Muslima), Hitch is most definitely out (Iraq war support, other general Hitch-iness), and Sam Harris is out (racial profiling). Good post, though, thanks.

Gadfly said...

Well, given selective critical thinking of Gnus, I think it is fair. P.Z. Myers, after all, tries to pretend Hitch and Harris are both liberals.

dave said...

So it is, Gadfly. I was being a little tongue-in-cheek to make a point, no offense intended.

Gadfly said...

Oh, no offense intended, and I wasn't sure if you were at least partially joking, or how much ... that said, since it's been started by the skepatheistchick types, Dawkins would be out of their club. (I know PZ has tried to straddle that one.)

dave said...

All's cool. It's kind of funny to watch P.Z. squirm when it comes to criticizing Dawkins for the same things he'll tear lesser celebrities in the communities apart. Has P.Z. said anything about a+?

Nathan said...

Here is something I find interesting. In response to a comment on her FB page that reads "I don't want to move beyond the conclusion that there's no such thing as a god. I want to move other people *toward* that conclusion," Rebecca Watson replies: "Then personally I'd consider that evangelical atheism, and not much to do with progressive/humanistic issues."

Yet, when Paul Kurtz inveighed similarly against "evangelical atheism" on the CFI Website and in FREE INQUIRY magazine, he was scorned, mocked, and ridiculed by many of the very same people now passionately supporting Rebecca.

badrescher said...

Given the recent post by Harris, which basically called PZ a troll (I don't disagree, btw), I'd say that 'new atheism' is rejecting the FreethoughtB Gang's demands as much Skeptics have.

The liberal values BS is an excuse. Missions apply to organizations, not individuals, so "mission drift" is an organizational (and definitional) issue. Everyone who's talked about it has made that clear.

This isn't about scope. It's a tanrum. None of the established orgs will take them as seriously as they want to be taken, so they're starting their own. Fine and dandy, go ahead, but calling it a movement don't make it one.

Gadfly said...

Maybe, per the old Oldsmobile commercial, we could say, "This is not your father's Gnu Atheism."

While it's a tantrum, tis true, it still has enough hallmarks of the old Gnus that, we could say it's rebranded for the younger set, or something.

And Harris calling PZ a troll? Which is the pot and which is the kettle?

dustbubble said...

Gadfly".. as for Miller tying this into gay rights, etc.? While she's not talking about violence, the confrontationalism, to some degree, goes back to the 1960s and violent vs. nonviolent approaches to black civil rights. Well, to the degree that black (and other) civil rights were advanced, it was the nonviolent approach that won.
But, Gnus like her seem fixated on confrontation as part of the message."

I don't think you have to sweat about inferred consequences too much.
If any of this social justice warrior guff ever leaked out into non-SWPL-space, it'd instantly atrophy and vanish in the inimical atmosphere out there in Grown-Up-Land.
They'll never go there voluntarily.
On some level they appear to appreciate the real-life limits to their narcissistic poncing and lack of capacity. Too scary and "unsafe" a space for them.

Rich kids playing at politics. They'll get bored with it soon.
Apart from those older manipulators coining it from catering to the seemingly endless demand for trite, enabling certainties among the North American college-kid crowd. It's the new rock'n'roll, after all.