My thoughts exactly, as posted by Trave Mamone on his By Any Means FreeThought blog . . . . The Pros and Cons of Antitheism
When I first became an atheist . . . . . After seeing so many angry atheist trolls online, I didn’t want to join their camp. Plus, shortly before deconverting, I was (loosely) involved with the liberal Christian scene, so I knew not all Christians were fundamentalists.
. . . There is literally no need for religion in the 21st century. That doesn’t mean religious people are fools; most of them just don’t know you can have a fulfilling life without a god.
. . . even though I’m happy to work with progressive believers for secular social justice work, progressive religion still has a lot of fucked up theology. . . I’ve seen way too many progressive Christians turn it into another form of shame.
. . . So does that make me an antitheist? I don’t know, and I really don’t care. I find labels like “antitheist, “faitheist,” “firebrand,” and “diplomat” to be superficial. I just do whatever I can to make the world a less shitty place. Sometimes it includes calling out religion’s bullshit, and sometimes it’s working with a religious person for a common goal. Sometimes it’s having conversations with people who disagree with me, and sometimes it’s telling them they’re full of shit. Make of it what you will.
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24 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Antitheism”
Your ellipsis cut out the reason for the shame (parable of sheep and goats).
Looking at the original post, the thing about that is how it upholds morality from the reference frame of God. It still doesn’t matter to liberal Christians that anyone suffers, suffering is only circumstantial.
If you can take the first step of not caring what people with no morals call you, you can move up to not caring what anything calls you and recognize offendedness as the most popular weapon of amoral people.
Not all “liberal Christians” feel that way, despite the logic of their belief-system as perceived by outsiders – that’s how I see them anyway. The best Christians are those who don’t take their church’s teaching too seriously or who clever/free-wheeling enough to rationalize their natural feelings with some sort of theological perspective.
When we say that a Christian is “liberal” or “conservative” we’re talking about the socioeconomic political division in the general population, but this isn’t the root of the division and it may not be apparent if you don’t seem to have a problem with liberal Christians or people of other religions.
Jesus taught some liberal things and it’s liberal Christians and non-Christians politically supporting those, while conservative Christians ignore this major aspect of Jesus. The Bible by and large teaches an awful lot of tribal/barbaric (“conservative”) things, considering how small the NT is, liberal Christians ignore much more than conservatives do with a disclaimer that they take the “primitive” stuff with a grain of salt (this is actually the needle in a haystack problem interpreted backwards, to be brutal, they’re the sort of people who praise shit for having nuts in it), yet conservatives use the exact same claim for their selective bigotry using the nonsensical disclaimer “new covenant”.
But there’s a third aspect, that the Bible teaches a lot of unscientific and anti-scientific magical nonsense as well as obviously unhistorical falsehoods and while liberal Christians tend to side with science they can’t ever be committed to it on any level, they’re just in it for socioeconomic reasons. The bottom line is there is no religion at all without magic. Not even Buddhism which was a popular hideout for people who didn’t want to say they were atheists.
But furthermore if you look seriously at real liberal churches and other religious groups which are attended by minorities, you actually see a lot of the same bigotry and anti-science. These churches exist for people who are not white (or straight for those few LGBTQ churches) to air the bigotry and antiscience views they share with straight white=conservative churches that don’t welcome them just because they aren’t white. A mosque or black church is politically liberal because conservatives hate them, but their population is mostly socially conservative and antiscience.
Where I’m from, conservatism is very weird because the general population is very liberal but there is a large immigrant population and the immigrants make up most of the conservatives. What this means is that conservative churches are actually made up mostly of immigrants alongside white people and minority religions such as Hindus are heavily conservative and politically influential, so they end up being political allies even though they hate each other because otherwise they would not have any political influence at all.
Liberal Christians on the other hand are actually worse, and socially annoying: they are selectively unhelpful and unsympathetic to people persecuted by the church and don’t want to listen either for the ridiculous reason that they aren’t religious. They impair/sabotage their own ability to influence their church away from such behavior. And they just play these mind games for the selfish having-cake-and-eating-it-too reason: I get all the benefits of being Christian without actually doing any of the Christian things.
What you say “rationalize” it’s clear that they restrict themselves to reasoning which only appeals to people who already agree with it, making conversation with them frustrating at best. And worse they make cheesy “humility” jokes, supposedly at their expense but which actually only expose their privilege, which they are simultaneously completely ignorant of and don’t want you to tell them about because they’re not that kind of Christian (whatever that means).
These are the sort of people who will suggest that religious and political topics are not dinner conversation while ignoring Christians at the same table making openly religious and political statements, and behind your back posit to other Christians that you still believe in God on some level to try to redeem you to them which is just confirming/spreading their bias and hence stabbing you in the back.
So, does it matter if a person is LGBTQ or black when they make contradictory theological or antiscientific claims? Does it matter if a black person uses his Christian privilege to get something an atheist can’t get, such as an elected political office?
Nothing that anyone ever does in the name of their religion is intended for the people it helps. A share of every donation intended to alleviate suffering inevitably goes to the worst things that particular church does, even if it’s just fostering ignorance or recruiting.
I understand your viewpoint. At the same time I have no problem working with the devil if it serves an immediate common interest.
I’ve interacted with Trav online, and he’s always struck me as a decent fellow. I am bemused, however, when he writes:
Trav unabashedly places himself among the “Atheism Plus” camp, which insists that any & all atheist/secular activism also embrace its socio-political agenda, and seeks to purge A/S of any who disagree. So, while Trav is willing to set aside ideological differences with believers to work on social justice, he is apparently unwilling to do the same with non-leftist atheists to work on atheist causes.
I’m curious what a non-leftist atheist cause would look like. And long time no see- all the merry holidays + new year tidings.
Right wing atheists have no problem allying with Christians for libertarianism (Penn Gillette), against Muslim extremists (Sam Harris), black presidents (Richard M. Price), abortion (SE Cupp), and LGBTQ people (Dave Muscato turned Danielle Muscato, which just goes to show you shouldn’t protest too much).
How does Sam Harris’ denouncement of Muslim extremism make him a right wing atheist?
Sam Harris has a reputation of supporting racial profiling (brown people=Muslim therefore terrorist), torture (of said brown people for being brown), and use of nuclear weapons. He has a personality cult, but it’s hard to say this is his fault.
I find it fashinating why exactly Sam Harris can make people abandon reason and fairness in their attempt to paint him as an evil person and as a cult leader. Just going over the various claims you make in your post:
“Sam Harris has a reputation of supporting racial profiling (brown people=Muslim therefore terrorist),”
False: When Sam Harris has spoken out in favor of profiling it has been general characteristics such as a man of a certain age. He has brought out himself as a person he believe should be profiled.
“torture (of said brown people for being brown),”
False: Obviously Sam Harris has never written or said anyone should be tortured for their color.
“and use of nuclear weapons.”
Meaningless: Most people would support the use of nuclear weapons in some circumstances, for instance, to limit friendly casualties during a nuclear war.
“He has a personality cult”
False: This is a misuse of the phrase “cult”. Nobody is shunned by their family for disagreeing with Sam Harris. Sam Harris does not attempt to control peoples information. Sam Harris does not want your money or demand that people proselytize for his views.
Sam Harris called for ethnic profiling of Muslims and then secretly edited his content to suggest he just advocate profiling. He’s remarkably dishonest.
I don’t really want to open a debate on profiling but I object to the idea that Sam Harris has expressed views that can fairly be summarized as “brown people=Muslim therefore terrorist”. If he can be quoted as saying something like that I will happily retract my claim.
A few years a go a Christian I know forced me to read Vox Day’s “book” The Irrational Atheist which among other failings pounded very heavily on Sam Harris.
Since then I’ve become aware that he does have a personality cult of followers which exceeds what you find for other popular atheists, even Dawkins.
There are a number of people who make it a hobby to tease Sam Harris’ followers, so if you’re looking for a defense of Sam Harris, maybe you want to go over here, or not:
But me I’m going to continue to ignore Sam Harris because I find the personality cult and the topics they feel they need to defend to be unhelpful in general.
Maybe nobody is shunned by their family for disagreeing with Sam Harris, maybe because his followers are all too young to have children to control, but if you criticize him, people come out of the wall to defend him. Those people are creepy and definitely fit the description of cult members.
I recognize you from somewhere, Tige. Weren’t you a regular on Gene Veith’s rightwing Christian blog, Cranach, The Blog of Veith?
I’m sure you’ve seen my name around, but not there. The only Veith I know is Erich.
Sorry for thinking you were someone else.
I like Sam Harris. I think he pissed off a lot of liberals because he attacked Islam in general, which they felt obliged to defend as it was being attacked by the hate-spewing, redneck Right. If he had simply stuck to attacking Christianity in general, the radical Left would have continued to adore him. Both extremes are idiots.
I agree with Sam Harris that ALL supernatural-based superstitions are unhealthy and both extremes on this issue should be called out and condemned.
I never needed Sam Harris to tell me how it is. As I said above, my knowledge of Sam Harris originated with Vox Day’s “Irrational Atheist” which is definitely far from flattering. At the time I had already been an anti-theist for many years.
History is interesting, evolution is interesting, cosmology is interesting, philosophy is interesting, but the warfare is all psychological. If you’re every arguing with a Christian or Muslim or what-have-you, psychological tools are the only weapons you need and you should not let yourself get baited into going down a rabbit hole by a Christian who thinks he knows history or evolution or whatever.
It might be difficult to work with people who hate you personally. There is a regressive attitude on the left which does things like purges. You know that atheism itself is not the motive, we are honestly reacting to bigotry and antiscience emerging from Christianity and other religions. Christianity just provided the justification and now with Trump leading them it’s more obvious that bigotry and antiscience attitudes are not dependent upon Christianity at all, so the response to them isn’t dependent on atheism either.
I don’t have a big issue with liberal Christians (my definition of a liberal Christian is someone who is a universalist) but if you believe in any form of the supernatural you are in a way helping to prop up all forms of belief in the supernatural, even the forms that justify killing other humans in the name of their (invisible) supernatural “master-in-the-sky”.
It is my goal to “gently” help my liberal Christian family and friends see that.
I think we can agree that non-leftist atheists exist, and leave it at that.
I’d say that atheist causes are neutral, or at best ‘liberal’ in the broadest sense. But certainly not “leftist”. Church-state separation springs to mind. And I know christians who support much of Trav’s sociopolitical agenda, but who also support school prayer. Now, why is he willing to work with them on, say, gender issues, but not with me (or Penn Gillette, or Sam Harris) on something as critical as church-state separation?
” Now, why is he willing to work with them on, say, gender issues, but not with me (or Penn Gillette, or Sam Harris) on something as critical as church-state separation?”
One would be foolish not to, no? Hell, I’d work with a republican who supported church/state separation. Actually, I do. My selection for representatives is not great, and I vote for the person likeliest to get elected with the closest values to mine. This often turns out to mean a republican.
That’s only pragmatic. But my question was: why put aside differences to find common cause with christians, but not do the same with fellow atheists?
Well, I think we should, in some cases. Online is where we push the edge of the envelope, no? People can be more extreme, and what we are doing is trying to facilitate social progress. Part of that social progress is making some things that used to be socially acceptable unacceptable. And some of those attempts will be outrageous, but the center will move forward, albeit slowly. It was interesting listening to this week’s TTA podcast, re: trigger warnings and safe spaces. Dr. Caleb Lack, who I’ve read (and who, online at least) seems solidly on one side of the ‘deep rifts’, and yet in practice what he was describing would satisfy most any SJW. Dr. Tarico, who (online at least) seems solidly on the other side of ‘deep rifts’ said some things that might upset said SJW. In Trump’s America, it is all too pressing to keep pushing for social progress while mending bridges. We won’t like the future if we do not.