Oh, wait. They already are.
In the passionate world of American atheism, the venom usually directed at believers has now been turned against the wrong kind of atheists.
The cause of this freethinking furore? A new movement called Atheism+. According to its website, “Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime.”
A+ was born when Freethought blogger Jen McCreight (the mind behind Boobquake) made a passionate call for a “third wave” of atheism, one that extends atheist activism into progressive politics and calls for a part of the movement to be one where women can exist free from the harassment that has plagued women publicly involved in the atheist movement.
The founders of Atheism+ say clearly that “divisiveness” is not their aim, but looking through the blogs and voluminous comments in the two weeks since A+ was mooted, trenches have been dug, beliefs stated, positions staked out and abuse thrown. A dissenting tweeter is “full of shit”, while, according to one supporter, daring to disagree with Atheism+’s definition of progressive issues and not picking their side makes you an “asshole and a douchebag”.
It took 700 years from Constantine renaming Byzantium in his own honour to papal legates circulating letters of anathema that split the Roman and Orthodox churches. Atheism, in its public, online life, has started exchanging internet anathemas — perhaps we should call them inathemas — in little more than a decade.
Well, they do fashion themselves progressive—and so, they’re progressing apace.
It can’t be easy deciding what not to believe in. So many things to reject, so little time. And who is to decide what’s not true and what’s merely a matter of negative conjecture? How skeptical is one allowed to be about skepticism before one has transgressed the boundaries of orthodox nonbelief?
For example, if I say I do not believe in God, does that mean I do not believe in the God other people who believe in God believe in? Or does it mean I do not believe in God the way some people believe in Barack Obama or the infield fly rule? Or does it mean I believe there is no God, which makes me a believer in something, namely, that there is no God. But doesn’t that require proof of a negative?
And the crapulous tone of some of their tonier crap!
Fellow Freethought blogger Richard Carrier goes further. When one commentator suggests “atheism does not have the luxury of kicking people out of its movement”, Carrier gives him a rare old quilting in most splendid prose:
“Yes, it does. Atheism+ is our movement. We will not consider you a part of it, we will not work with you, we will not befriend you. We will heretofore denounce you as the irrational or immoral scum you are (if such you are). If you reject these values, then you are no longer one of us. And we will now say so, publicly and repeatedly. You are hereby disowned.”
Disowned? Oh the humanity…to be displaced when one is already lost in the cosmos. Where does that leave one? Trapped in humanism’s cecum awaiting expulsion like yesterday’s fajita.
Before these amateur Übermenschen start engaging in some Great Purge, I suggest they hold a council of some kind and choose a “universal atheist” to have final say on contentious issues, like whether to treat women badly at conventions, or whether to use only unionized labor when building labor camps for the heterodox.
You know, stuff like that.
I would spare my atheist friends the tumult of a full-blown civil war. Because, as the saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes. Only foxes. But that’s sexist.