Atheism+ … can this be the third wave?

A rather interesting line of thought appears to be emerging and also rapidly gaining a bit of traction in the community regarding what can be termed “Atheism+”

Jen McCreight writes on Freethought blogs … How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism …

It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

Yes, sign me up for that, I’m in.

Non-belief, atheism, is simply a conclusion, the rejection of god claims due to the lack of any evidence. Because that is all it is, atheists can indeed be a very diverse bunch, so diverse that you can end up with some inside the tent who might indeed reject the god claims, but still embrace a high degree of irrational thinking and so end up being people who behave in a manner towards their fellow humans that is on par with the way the religious do.

Now please do not misunderstand what I’m saying, it is my experience that most non-believers are decent honourable humans and strive to behave in a decent manner, but sadly not all are all the time. We are also human and will at one time or another screw up, so we need to be just as critical and just as skeptical about our own individual behaviour as we are towards the religious, and when we screw up, we need to own up and deploy five very profound English words, “I was wrong, I apologise”.

We openly criticise religious communities for being homophobic, and also criticise their misogyny, yet tend at times to have a bit of a blind spot towards our own behaviour and can potentially end up being truly obnoxious. To give you an example, here is link to a posting in which some anonymous gobshite blogs about “Little skeptic twat Rhys not so hot at science“. Now least you wonder, there at that link is a posting that is a direct personal attack that verbally knifes a 17 years old kid who has Crohn’s disease and had just gotten bad exam results. I’m not 100% familiar with the full context here, but I do know Rhys and have met him a couple of times, and so I know him to be both decent and honourable,very likable, and also very skeptical, so will have at one point blogged something that was critical and so upset the blogger. Ideas are on the agenda and open for criticism, but personal attacks like this cross the line. Such behaviour is something I wish to not be associated with in any way. Those who participate in that are no different from the religious who attack individuals for being gay or assert that those of a non-male gender are inferior, it is all equally irrational.

Could the writer of such a vicious personal attack do anything now? Perhaps, if for example he (or she) posted a public apology, then that would be a huge step. That sadly is truly challenging, we are human and tend to be blind to our own faults. Once we have taken a stance in public on some topic, most of us will not back down.

Where am I going with this? Well, in many ways I’m talking about what Atheism+ could become, I’m latching on to the words Jen used .. “We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism” … in other words, I’m suggesting that we should be critical not just of others outside our own community, but self-critical and prepared to change our minds regarding our own behaviour.

Nobody instantly becomes 100% rational, reasonable, decent and honourable, and none of us are immune to making a bit of a hash of things at times, we need each other for support, not mutual destruction.

Once upon a time, like many others, I was once religious … really religious … speaking in tongues batty religious. So much so that Richard Dawkins once asked me, “What on earth was going on inside your head?” Well, I changed my mind about it all and managed to think my way out.


It was not simply an exchange of one philosophy and another, but rather a change that was triggered by the rejection of what was going on. I well recall an instance when I observed some truly obnoxious behaviour towards an individual on the sole basis that they were gay by some supposed church leaders. I was quite frankly appalled, deeply enough to start questioning things and the belief system that motivated such behaviour, and so it enable me to escape.

Today within the community we have observed some truly obnoxious behaviour … sufficiently vicious enough to motivate many to seriously question if they wish to even be part of such a community because they do not wish to be associated with it. Ideas are up for criticism, and so if I write something that is simply wrong, I expect valid factually based criticism … that’s fine. But when such criticism becomes a personal attack, well that is crossing the line, and that is what needs to change by the turning of the critical skeptical eye upon ourselves … Atheism+.

So the time is now indeed ripe for a third wave, hence the term Atheism+, or whatever term that finally sticks.

I don’t believe because I applied skepticism to religious claims and so reached the “atheist” conclusion. But we must not stop there, and instead push on to apply that same skepticism to all other claims and behaviours, including our own as individuals.

That for me is what Atheism+ should be all about and that is where we need to go, because by doing so we create a better world populated with individuals who are prepared to question their own motivations and behaviour and prepared to change their minds and better themselves.



There is a new sub-reddit … /r/atheismplus

There the description is …

It’s atheism, plus a whole lot more:

Atheism plus we care about social justice.
Atheism plus we support women’s rights.
Atheism plus we protest racism.
Atheism plus we fight homophobia and transphobia.
Atheism plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

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