Three Warning Signs That Village Atheism Is Your New Religion

I recently came across an open attempt to “diss” secular social justice activism. In the interest of not igniting some kind of flame war, I’ll just say that the author’s intent was clear but the reasoning vacillated between simplistic and specious.

We get it: endeavoring to address, oppose, and provide solutions for various social inequalities—also known simply as seeking social justice—isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. After all, reconsidering and adjusting our views and behavior can be difficult. Habits are tough to break. Being more inclusive and charitable on issues we’ve grown accustomed to neglecting or not caring about is no simple task.

But just because it’s challenging or sometimes even daunting to evolve in our way of thinking, doesn’t mean we should disparage or forsake the undertaking.

The aforementioned critique, while a forgettable blip on the radar, is symptomatic of an overarching problem that’s festered within secular (both atheist and humanist) spaces since the New Atheism came into vogue. I call it “village atheism.”

I coined the term to classify a self-contained community of socially unaware atheists who reside within and reinforce a feedback loop of ignorance. This subset of nonbelievers is overly wowed by the low bar it requires to recognize the inadequacy of the God hypothesis. Meanwhile, in many ways, they preserve or encourage a bounty of beliefs that are just as oppressive and pernicious.

Common features of village atheism include:

  • A tendency to revel in the idea of “logic and reason” except when it comes to applying these principles to matters that don’t directly relate to a preoccupation with the shortcomings of supernatural claims. If a harmful social hierarchy or social system isn’t connected to the influence of religiosity, sacrosanct tools of critical thinking are left by the wayside to gather dust.
  • Referring to feminism as a cult while religiously assembling at the altar of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.
  • Esteeming everything that comes out of Bill Maher’s mouth and endorsing the disconnected, conservative-laden ramblings of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
  • Believing atheists are this nation’s most oppressed and despised group.
  • Embracing the theory that extinguishing religion would be a magical panacea, somehow curing every social ill from racism to trans-antagonism.

With all this in mind, here are a few warning signs that village atheism has become your non-religious-yet-very-religious belief system.

 

1. You mindlessly parrot certain terms or concepts without critically thinking about the implications of those ideas.

In addition to bandying about words like “logic” and “reason,” village atheists reflexively and freely apply the term “social justice warrior” to any topic that makes them think too hard about normative beliefs they’ve grown accustomed to following. Village atheists literally belittle attempts to make the world fairer and less harmful. Compassion and empathy isn’t considered an asset to this belief system—a point of view championed under the guise of “objectivity”—because detachment is apparently a good thing.

It’s true, those engaged in social justice activism display passion as well as many other emotions humans commonly experience. The only people not passionate about fighting for freedom from misrepresentation and oppression are the oblivious, the deceased, or those who benefit from these social imbalances.

For village atheists, complacency or a lack of curiosity about the complex reality that exists beyond their sheltered or privileged life circumstances are virtues. Meanwhile, some of us are able to confront religious hegemony as well as seek an in-depth understanding of the world in order to discern, assess, and tackle social, economic, and political deprivations. Village atheists fault those who don’t share their one-trick pony worldview while doing absolutely nothing to address everyday discrimination and bigotry that aren’t exclusively caused by religion.

The ubiquitous influence of privilege and social inequalities simply have no place in the preferred reality of village atheists, so they diminish the impact of social marginalization or deny these things exist altogether. They shrug off these issues by labeling them “identity politics,” as if recognizing this fact devalues the significance of what’s being discussed.

Cis-hetero white men have been construed as the “gold standard” since this nation’s inception—a phantom, illusory value system that continues to inform our culture and views against any way of being that deviates from this norm. Because of this, “mainstream” narratives reflect the beliefs and interest of this restricted lens and tend to neglect the ways people from divergent and diverse backgrounds may be excluded from consideration.

 

2. Single-variable politics come first for you no matter what.

If all you have is a hammer, every problem or discrepancy looks like a nail.

Inspired by iconoclast idol Christopher Hitchens, village atheists apply their “religion poisons everything” approach inappropriately or indiscriminately, not realizing how and why this extreme hyperbole is an ill-conceived and excessively reductionist claim.

“Racism and religion are virtually joined at the hip!” a self-proclaimed humanist (village atheist) said to me recently, offended that I didn’t co-sign his assertion that atheists are, by default, “genuinely trying to get to the root of racism” simply by opposing religion. Those who believe this lack an elementary understanding of the historical and established aspects of white supremacy and racism.

But village atheists are undeterred in their dedication to a deeply held “exorcise religion, save the world” faith.

The general tenor of atheist-centered platforms—whether they be groups, organizations, blogs, or podcasts—tend to promote scientific literacy, highlight religious buffoonery, or oppose instances where government entities blur the line between church and state. And that’s cool. However, given the nexus of disenfranchising conditions that plague various marginalized groups (read: non-men, non-cis, non-hetero, non-white communities), there’s a decent chunk of atheists who don’t have the luxury to solely focus on repudiating religious or other supernatural claims.

“Traditional atheist” issues like church and state separation and fighting creationism simply don’t address the breadth of oppression that exists in society. Erasing every oppressive religious ideology today wouldn’t abolish wealth gaps, educational segregation, homophobia, ableism, mass incarceration, redlining, and numerous other social ills.

If you’re an atheist who has a hard time grasping this, you’re likely a village atheist.

 

3. Your understanding of evidence tends to begin and end with scientism.

The systemic and systematic prevalence of social inequalities are continuously exposed in studies, explained by accessible, educational presentations conveyed in the simplest of ways, or revealed through direct, firsthand experience in everyday events.

But rather than sprain brain cells investigating issues that carry no personal, cultural, or social relevance, village atheists often dismiss matters they haven’t directly experienced. This is ironic, as these same people denounce the virtue of lived experiences.

Village atheists also have a habit of trying to explain physical, social, cultural, or psychological phenomena through a single scope that exalts the methods of natural sciences above all other forms of human inquiry.

A consequence of this fetishizing of the often ill-defined might of “logic and reason,” together with a narrow comprehension of science, is what’s often called scientism.

I’m an atheist who appreciates empiricism and naturalistic explanations of phenomena and who uses the word “scientism” to refer to mindsets that either underappreciate, discount, or even denigrate the contributions of philosophy, the context provided by lived experiences, and the significance of social sciences. Hence, scientism in this context describes attitudes that view natural science as the only meaningful interpretation of life.

It’s this ideological dimension Friedrich Hayek (social theorist, political philosopher) assessed in The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuse of Reason (1952) where he noted the overzealous application of simplistic, reductionist methodology and how it transforms a rational philosophy of science into an irrational dogma. Additionally, professor Susan Haack—atheist, logician, philosopher of science and epistemology—has presented and written at length about the pitfalls of scientism.

An over-commitment to a limited realm of science that disregards philosophy is how we get epistemological distortions like the idea that someone “has no beliefs.” This is also how we get those who overlook the import of fields like cognitive science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology and come to conclude the only way people could be religious is because they suffer from a mental defect.

 

Village atheism runs on inertia, generally upholding nonreligious, cultural biases. Atheists involved in social justice work wish to diminish harm in the world that is expressed within and beyond the confines of religious hegemony. But to the complacent village atheist, asking hard questions of reality hardly ever extend outside the threshold of alleged holy texts, fantastical claims, and religious ideologues.

I grow tired of hearing the mantra “Good without a god” espoused by those who revere the routine of traditional thoughts and established cultural attitudes. Village atheists still worship gods. Sure, they’ve discarded the old deities, yet they uncritically bend the knee to status quoism, a reality they allow to reign supreme at the expense of others.

  • Arjen Bootsma

    I do agree with Mr. Kirabo on many of the arguments he makes here. But I think he makes one invalid, implicit argument: that an atheist should be a progressive, enlightened person. Unfortunately, atheists too are only human.

    • Sally Strange

      Unless you think it’s a bad idea for people generally to be progressive, enlightened people, it’s not an invalid argument to say (implicitly or otherwise) that atheists should be progressive, enlightened people.

      • Arjen Bootsma

        Reading comprehension, my dear Sally….

        • Sally Strange

          I agree, your reading comprehension is lacking.

          • Arjen Bootsma

            Where did I ever state that it is a bad idea that for people to be progressive or enlightened? That’s right, only in your incorrect interpretation of my words.

          • Sally Strange

            Precisely. Your reading comprehension is lacking. I said that the only way to call the argument that atheists ought to be progressive enlightened people invalid is if you find the argument that people generally ought to be progressive and enlightened invalid.

            If you think people shouldn’t be progressive and enlightened then yes, it would be invalid to argue that atheists should. Since both you and Kirabo accept that people generally should be P & E, you are wrong to say his argument is invalid.

          • Arjen Bootsma

            You’re grasping at straws here, while continuing with an interpretation of my words that I already made clear is entirely incorrect.

            I am sure you will have some kind of pseudo-smart retort to this, but I’m getting bored with this discussion with you.

          • Sally Strange

            But I think he makes one invalid, implicit argument: that an atheist
            should be a progressive, enlightened person. Unfortunately, atheists too
            are only human.

            Kirabo does implicitly argue that atheists OUGHT TO BE progressive/enlightened.

            He does not argue, implicitly or other otherwise, that atheists ARE progressive/enlightened.

            Therefore his argument is not invalid. I leave it to you to decide retroactively what you really meant. Either way you’re wrong.

          • Sally Strange

            I think the apparent disagreement here stems from your use of “should.” To me, that reads as a normative, not a descriptive statement.

            I think you meant to say that it’s invalid to say that atheists ARE (descriptive, not normative) P & E people. In which case, yes, that’s invalid. However if you’re imputing that to Kirabo, then you’re in error, since the article is about and in part addressed to people [edit for clarification: people who are atheists] who are not P & E.

            Reading comprehension only goes so far. You used imprecise language.

          • Arjen Bootsma

            Maybe my language was imprecise by an inch, but your conclusion about what I think or don’t think was off the mark by a mile.

            Now you’re concentrating on my use of the word “should”, while you are completely ignoring the structure of the sentence in which that “should” was used. If you read the entire sentence, you would understand that the part of the sentence after the colon does not reflect my opinions, but my interpretation of the article. You also skipped over the word “Unfortunately” that I used in the next sentence.

        • Athywren

          To be fair, there’s nothing invalid in arguing that an atheist (or any person for that matter) *should* be a progressive, enlightened person. It would be invalid to argue that it follows from their being an atheist that they will be, but that’s a different thing.

          • Arjen Bootsma

            An underlying thought in this article is the expectation that when a person is an atheist, he or she must necessarily be progressive and/or enlightened. I’d rather argue the reverse: that a progressive and enlightened person inevitably will become an atheist.

          • Athywren

            Considering that that underlying thought is explicitly contradicted by the overlying words in the article, I have to disagree that it exists within it. And I’d argue that it would be invalid to argue that being progressive and enlightened inevitably leads to becoming an atheist; I will agree that I think a progressive and enlightened person *should* be an atheist, but it doesn’t follow that they *will* be.

    • Or perhaps “that an atheist should be expected to be a progressive, …”

      • Sally Strange

        Exactly. Arjen is making this more complicated than it really is.

  • Linda Rosa

    Atheists have nothing in common beyond the atheism. It is ridiculous to assume we should all think alike and have the same goals.

    (For my part, I do think there is a destructive, cult-like form of feminism. And I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali is heroic and reasonable; while Sam Harris is a 2nd rate thinker.)

    There is only one area where atheists might have a common interest, and that is keeping religions from infringing on individual rights. Plenty to do there.

    Curiously, where the “secular social justice” movement proponents appear mainly engaged is in chiding atheists into *right thought* and making demands on their priorities, often political. The comparisons made with fascism are not far off the mark.

    A bit of advice: You would do better to pursue your pet projects yourself, ask nicely for help, make good use of volunteers, and thank them. Set a good *humanist* example.

    • Zennistrad

      “Chiding atheists into ‘right thought’ and making demands on all priorities, often political. The comparisons made with fascism are not far off the mark.”

      This only demonstrates an extreme lack of perspective on your part. What social justice activists are ACTUALLY doing is advocating for a normative ethical standard for how people ought to behave, in order to achieve a more equitable society.

      Wanting to establish a standard of social ethics that you do not personally agree with is not fascism.

      • Of course that’s the thing. I think a lot of atheists, particularly those who lean towards the libertarian side of things, tend to have a knee jerk reaction towards the idea of normative ethics. I’ve actually seen some attempt to equate normative ethics with slavery, it’s absurd, but there it is.

      • I’m against a more equitable society. Now what?

        • Zennistrad

          Well that would, ironically enough, make you much more likely to actually be a fascist.

      • KoreanKat

        It’s laughable seeing you claim you represents a “normative ethical standard” when beneath ‘social justice’ lies neo-tribalism and cultural relativism.

        Whatever self-image you uphold, most ‘village atheists’ and other humanists who have critiqued gender equality (a normative standard) within Islam know how the ‘social justice’ contingent react.

        p.s. I like how your avatar exemplifies the Smug Style that you deploy.

    • Sally Strange

      I had a reply to this which I posted yesterday but was not published. I’m not sure why. I’m pretty sure I didn’t use any offensive language. Anyway. I’ll attempt to recreate it.

      Atheists have nothing in common beyond the atheism. It is ridiculous to assume we should all think alike and have the same goals.

      Atheists have the following in common apart from atheism: we are all human beings. We all live on a rapidly warming planet.

      [snip]

      There is only one area where atheists might have a common interest, and that is keeping religions from infringing on individual rights. Plenty to do there.

      Some atheists are entirely FOR the infringement of individual rights by religions, so long as they are not the individual. That’s the issue that this article is trying to address.

      Curiously, where the “secular social justice” movement proponents appear mainly engaged is in chiding atheists into *right thought* and making demands
      on their priorities, often political. The comparisons made with fascism are not far off the mark.

      Without the emotive language: “I believe, without evidence, that secular social justice activists spend most of their time talking to me and people like me about why we are wrong and how we could do better. This is like fascism.”

      (Now I remember why the comment may not have been published, because I included a link to an article with a rundown of the actual activist projects of a number of different secular social justice activists. In lieu of a link, if you’re interested in what secular SJWs are actually up to when they’re not in your face because you said something insensitive, google “Alex Gabriel, Let’s talk about the other atheist movement”.)

      A bit of advice: You would do better to pursue your pet projects yourself, ask nicely for help, make good use of volunteers, and thank them. Set a good *humanist* example.

      Mercy me, here you are chiding Kirabo into what you consider to be right thought and making demands on his priorities. You fascist, you.

    • Joshua White

      What makes you think that Sincere Kirabo is redefining atheist? You
      noticed that the word “village” is connected to “village atheist” right?

      As it happens many people with similar experiences inside of
      movement atheism independent of the definition of atheism is the point.

  • Neil Carter

    Excellent post. Completely agree. The narrower out focus, the smaller our world. This subculture is in desperate need of expansion and interaction with a broader world.

    • Asylum Party

      You know, I actually like your comment more than I like the blog post it’s responding to.

  • bobco85

    I must say I disagree with most of what you have written here. You have created a straw-man argument about people that do not agree with your views by saying that they are essentially being small-minded and less caring about others, even going so far as to say that they are essentially part of their own religion.

    You seem very unwilling and closed-minded about understanding people who do not always agree with the social justice movement especially those who voice their opinion about said disagreement (even when not 100% in opposition). Yes, I agree that there are people out there who do not want to see equal representation nor opportunity for people in the minority when it comes to gender, sexuality, religion, ability, etc., but you’d be surprised to know that there are a lot of humanists who think that those characteristics should not be a limiting factor.

    I agree with wanting to better the world around us by encouraging/promoting equal treatment/opportunity of/for minorities of any group and overturning laws/policies/etc. that may be designed to oppress them (some are factual, and some are perceived). However, I disagree with forming a new out-group for people who do not fully agree with your opinions about how to achieve this.

    • Joshua White

      >”I must say I disagree with most of what you have written here. You have
      created a straw-man argument about people that do not agree with your
      views by saying that they are essentially being small-minded and less
      caring about others, even going so far as to say that they are
      essentially part of their own religion.”
      So why is it a straw-man? You missed the part where you showed why they were wrong and stopped at your paraphrase of what they said, which I also would like you to match with a quote because it’s really vague about what parts represent your characterization.

      >”Yes, I agree that there are people out there who do not want to see
      equal representation nor opportunity for people in the minority when it
      comes to gender, sexuality, religion, ability, etc., but you’d be
      surprised to know that there are a lot of humanists who think that those
      characteristics should not be a limiting factor.”
      You know that the point of the article is about a particular group of people who don’t like social justice right? A group of people that Sincere Kirabo, and me for that matter, encounter often enough to want a short-hand term for them.

      If you are not in that group and can’t articulate why the article is a straw-man beyond your non-specific impressions I’m afraid that I will not be able to respect you dislike for a term for an out-group that exists despite your feelings that it should not be named.

      • bobco85

        The straw man is here:
        “I coined the term to classify a self-contained community of socially unaware atheists who reside within and reinforce a feedback loop of ignorance. This subset of nonbelievers is overly wowed by the low bar it requires to recognize the inadequacy of the God hypothesis. Meanwhile, in many ways, they preserve or encourage a bounty of beliefs that are just as oppressive and pernicious.” along with the accompanying list that “Common features of village atheism include:” which completely discounts the experiences and reasons that people hold such opinions.

        In regards to social justice, I think there is a spectrum of interest/support that people fall into. Some want to support social justice but disagree with the methods used or claims being promoted as facts. I think this article describes a caricature of some nonbelievers who resemble many aspects of which the writer disapproves (hence my claim of straw man). It basically becomes a list of qualities that are either more or less pious/sinful.

        Speaking personally, I wouldn’t fall into the “village atheist” category. I understand and support much of the reasoning for wanting to create equity in our society, but I see the identification of an “other” as a way to divide nonbelievers rather than unite them. I understand this is a slippery slope argument, but I think it is very easy to label people as “village atheists” and generalize them before dismissing anything they have to say without consideration of any opinions they may have. Why not call someone with whom you disagree a “fellow nonbeliever who does not fully share my views or goals?”

        In short, I disagree with creating a new label to divide people instead of acknowledging different/opposing opinions.

        I hope this fleshes out my argument and concerns a little more.

        • Sally Strange

          All divisiveness is not bad. All unity is not desirable. If you desire to be unified with racists, then I must divide myself from you.

          That is it.

          You cannot not choose. And until there are no longer bigots who are atheists who operate within organized atheist spaces, this is a choice that all atheists who are in those spaces must continue to make.

          It’s uncomfortable but it’s the right thing to do.

          The truly divisive thing here is bigotry, and the people who are either committed to it or too apathetic, ignorant, or distracted to bother opposing it. Technically it is divisive to call for the bigots and their enablers to no longer have a place in our communities or movement, but there we go: moral nuance. Not all divisiveness is bad.

          • bobco85

            I agree with many of your points, but I think you missed the focus of my argument. To fit it into the reasoning you have listed, I disagree with separating out those that we might disagree with based on certain issues (even if we find them morally/logically repugnant) by labeling them because it could easily lead to bigotry against them.

            I can take the side of people who hold racist views if they are talking about atheism, but I would oppose their racist views.

            I would advocate for division due to abusive behavior/language but not for disagreement on some issues.

          • Sally Strange

            Bobco85: I think your points are well-intentioned but lacking context and understanding.

            I agree with many of your points, but I think you missed the focus of my argument. To fit it into the reasoning you have listed, I disagree with separating out those that we might disagree with based on certain issues (even if we find them morally/logically repugnant) by labeling them because it could easily lead to bigotry against them.

            It’s literally impossible to be “bigoted” against bigots if you’re actually thinking about what “bigotry” entails. It means disliking an entire class of people for BAD reasons. Disliking bigots, as a class, is a GOOD thing, because being a bigot is a bad thing–it leads to people getting hurt.

            Also, if we can’t label and shame bigots for being bigots then there will continue to be the same amount of bigots as there are today. Social change can’t happen without individual people changing their attitudes, and social shame is one of the ways that happens. Just because social shame is often employed to sustain bigotry does not mean that it can only be employed to sustain bigotry.
            You can’t solve a problem that you can’t talk about. And you’re basically objecting to just talking about the problem.

            I can take the side of people who hold racist views if they are talking about atheism, but I would oppose their racist views.

            That’s a luxury that only us white people can afford, and whatever benefits we get from entertaining racist atheists’ views in our gatherings, at our conventions, online, and elsewhere are more than cancelled out by the lack of participation by people of color in those same venues and spaces. I feel our organizations and gatherings will be much more enriched by the presence of reasonable people of color than they would be the presence of racist white atheists.
            Honestly, I’m not sure what it would even mean to be “on the side” of a racist atheist, as if you can separate a person’s racism from their other politics and everyday activities. This reads as ignorance, mostly.

            I would advocate for division due to abusive behavior/language but not for disagreement on some issues.

            The dichotomy between “abusive behavior/language” and “disagreement on some issues” is a false one. If the issue is “should Black people be allowed to vote” then disagreement on the issue cannot be read as anything but abusive, no matter how politely the disagreement is couched.
            Some issues are deal-breakers.
            This is not only just not bad, it is a GOOD thing which you should embrace, instead of trying to sit on a fence forever and ever when it comes to disagreements between bigots and the people who are targeted by bigotry.

          • Shane Raymond Armstrong

            You’ve fallen in to your own fallacy. You suggest that there are people who are bigotted and divisive, and your reaction is to then further divide yourselves from them, and resort to using an insulting and derogatory term to describe them as being lesser or inferior to your own way of thinking.

            That is PRECISELY the attitude you’re criticizing, and yet you’re too blind to see you’re doing exactly the same thing. The only way around this is EDUCATING the racist and bigoted members of society and bringing them into the fold when they’ve reached understanding, or else otherwise opposing the harm their viewpoints have. There is absolutely no reason to be hateful or divisive towards fellow human beings, no matter what ideas they espouse. To do so is to embrace their selfsame ideology and become what they are.

          • KoreanKat

            Also, having seen Sally Strange opine for years, she’s perfectly willing to associate with misogynists if it will allow her to show how ‘not racist’ she is vis-à-vis Islam or non-Western cultures.

          • Sally Strange

            Also, having seen Sally Strange opine for years, she’s perfectly willing
            to associate with misogynists if it will allow her to show how ‘not
            racist’ she is vis-à-vis Islam or non-Western cultures.

            I wonder who you’re talking about. No, really.

          • Jeff Elberfeld

            Is an ad hominem the best you could do?

          • KoreanKat

            Is a shallow rejoinder to a relatively insignificant comment relative to my other remarks the best you can do?

          • Sally Strange

            Shane Raymond Armstrong:

            You’ve fallen in to your own fallacy.

            I have named zero fallacies. Village atheists tend to be obsessed with seeing how many fallacies they can name, regardless of whether a fallacy is actually being employed, I’ve noticed.

            You suggest that there are people who are bigotted and divisive

            I do not suggest. I claim. I assert. I insist.

            If you suggest otherwise, then you need to explain why we should pay any attention to you, since your views are so divorced from reality. Bigoted people exist and are much more of a cause of divisiveness than the act of naming and describing bigots ever could be. This is a fact.

            and your reaction is to then further divide yourselves from them, and resort to using an insulting and derogatory term to describe them as being lesser or inferior to your own way of thinking.

            Yes. Bigots exist and are divisive. I prefer to divide myself from them since I value unity with the targets of bigotry over unity with bigots, and unity with bigots AND the people they are bigoted against is a logical impossibility. I also consider non-bigoted worldviews to be generally superior to bigoted worldviews, and aspire to keep my worldview a non-bigoted as possible. Yup.

            I’m just missing the part where this is a problem.

            That is PRECISELY the attitude you’re criticizing,

            (Except for the teeny tiny matter of the actual content of what I’m saying vs. what bigots say)

            and yet you’re too blind to see you’re doing exactly the same thing. The only way around this is EDUCATING the racist and bigoted members of society and bringing them into the fold when they’ve reached understanding, or else otherwise opposing the harm their viewpoints have.

            1. It’s a mistake to think that bigotry is the result of a lack of education only. Mostly it is a result of education into bigoted ways of thinking. Mere education does not make it go away–a quick survey of the history of social change could tell you this.

            2. “Otherwise oppose them”? Such as, you know, talking about them in ways that make it clear that I hold contempt for their views, which I consider contemptible?

            3. How is anyone supposed to either educate OR “otherwise oppose” bigots if we can’t even name the problem of bigots existing?

            There is absolutely no reason to be hateful or divisive towards fellow human beings, no matter what ideas they espouse. To do so is to embrace their selfsame ideology and become what they are.

            I think this might be an actual fallacy, though I know of no cutesy label for it.

            Valuing tolerance does not obligate us to tolerate the intolerant. Valuing inclusiveness does not obligate us to include those who would exclude. It’s only a conundrum if you don’t think too deeply about what being “inclusive” or “tolerant” actually means in practice.

          • wagnerfilm

            Watching Sally mop the floor with these feeble attempts at rebuttals is like watching Bruce Lee clear a room of low-level henchmen. Respect.

            “There is absolutely no reason to be hateful or divisive towards fellow human beings, no matter what ideas they espouse.” This is so self-evidently wrong as to fall into self-parody. I can hate pedophiles. I can hate demagogues who call for genocide. As Sally pointed out, there can be GOOD reasons and BAD reasons for wanting to dissociate with certain people or groups of people. If your reasons are BAD — such as their skin being the wrong color to suit you — then you’re pretty much a bigot. If your reasons are good — such as they support ideas and behaviors that cause direct harm to others, or they like Nickleback* — then you’re a moral person who’s into a thing called accountability.

            And that’s what “village atheists” don’t get. Being against bigotry is not itself bigotry. It’s ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s the mother of all false equivalencies to argue that opposition to bigotry is just as bigoted as bigotry, and I can’t imagine how anyone with a brain in their head could think such an argument is the least bit intellectually sound.

            (*joke)

          • talover

            People just doesn’t want to be educated on things they don’t understand or have a biased opinion. They are stuck with their views and they ain’t budging for no one.

        • Michael White

          We’ll have no reasonableness on the internet today, thank you very much! 😉

        • Dat Eni

          With the current state of campus feminism.. its really no wonder that SJW has become a term of ridicule among rational circles… feminism has touted false statistics for years….As secularist you guys should be irritated with bad data…. I’m a feminist myself but I am first and foremost an empiricist.. and therefore I am not afraid to admit when an idea I identify with has had its subsequent movement hijacked and its statistics falsified… the presentation of the gender wage gap by feminism is at its core deceptive… it doesnt account for job title hours worked or even field entered…. the problem runs deeper than employer sexism… its a deeply ingrained sexism our society may well never grow out of…(lets hope this is not the case) women are less likely to negotiate for raises and promotions because society as a whole expects women to be submissive. aggressive moves are not lady like and even in companies with progressive leadership women are shown to be less persistent with negotiations… women are also more likely to stay at home and take care of the kids and subsequently take less hours… this is neither right nor wrong… but because of the inherent gender roles that society tends to stick to the average pay wage is stunted…. until gender roles are abolished there will always be some percentage of difference in the average pay… that goes for the expectation of women to be submissive and the expectation for them to stay at home…. we cant solve this with legislation because women have the autonomy to conform to the social constructs of gender roles…

        • Joshua White

          I appreciate the expansion bobco85. I’m going to answer some
          of your points out of order in order to highlight the strategic progression
          that is taking place here.

          1) Define a group of people by problematic belief, pattern of thought, action and/or communication.
          2) Identify the purpose and reasons for the preceding characteristics.
          3) Rationally and logically respond to the people based on 1 and 2.

          So when you say,
          >”…which completely discounts the experiences and reasons that people hold such opinions.”
          That is in step 2 and is unnecessary when initially defining the problem. While it is valuable to know why a person does bad things (strategy, empathetic interaction when appropriate…), those things remain bad regardless of intent because the effects don’t go away.

          >”The straw man is here…”
          I can appreciate that you see that as a strawman, but Sincere Kirabo is not describing all atheists who have problems with social justice activism. They are describing a subset of atheists. “A” community of atheists among many.

          >”In regards to social justice, I think there is a spectrum of interest/support that people fall into. Some want to support social justice but disagree with the methods used or claims being promoted as facts. I think this article describes a caricature of some nonbelievers who resemble many aspects of which the writer disapproves (hence my claim of straw man). It basically becomes a list of qualities that are either more or less pious/sinful.”

          So far it looks like you don’t like the method of defining a group of atheists with bad personal characteristics. How is this any different than when “creationists” was defined? As for claims, like I mentioned above this article is describing a subset of atheists. If the characteristics individually exists it’s not unreasonable to see that they can come together.

          How is it a caricature? There are several features in that definition and all can be seen in different people and as a set. Which ones do you believe are unrealistic?
          *Self-contained community
          *Socially unaware
          *A feedback loop that maintains beliefs and patterns of thought
          *Intellectually satisfied to merely disbelieve in Gods
          *Possess terrible personal characteristics (beliefs, patterns of thought/observation and behavior/communication habits).

          And the list of common features.
          *Mindlessly parroting certain terms or concepts without critically thinking about the implications of those ideas.
          *Single-variable politics come first no matter what.
          *An understanding of evidence tends to begin and end with scientism (as
          defined by Sincere Kirabo).

          >”Speaking personally, I wouldn’t fall into the “village
          atheist” category. I understand and support much of the reasoning for wanting to create equity in our society, but I see the identification of an “other” as a way to divide nonbelievers rather than unite them. I understand this is a slippery slope argument, but I think it is very easy to label people as “village atheists” and generalize them before dismissing anything they have to say without consideration of any opinions they may have. Why not call someone with whom you disagree a “fellow nonbeliever who does not fully share my views or goals?”

          I would not call them that because they represent a specific group of people that does more than merely not share my views or goals. More than simple views and goals was written about up there. The whole point is that the term is useful to people like me and my political allies and you just don’t have a need for such a term which does not render it useless for people like me.

          It’s fine to be concerned about how we define people. That is a social justice concern all by itself. But again, how would this be different than how “creationists” are defined? Is that a way of defining people that leads to “othering” in a harmful way? You have to be able to go beyond mere concern and define how the grouping is harmful because we do group one another as a matter of course.

          For example when I use characterizations that others would find insulting I take care to be able to describe them in sufficient detail to justify it. I can accept for the purposes of argument that the details of what should constitute a “village atheist” could be refined, changed or otherwise improved, but the core patterns are things I also encounter. What would you suggest? Because I’m pretty sure this is happening because it’s useful to people like me and we are not going to be inclined to set aside a useful tool of categorization without an effective alternative.

          • bobco85

            I disagree with this:
            “1) Define a group of people by problematic belief, pattern of thought, action and/or communication.
            2) Identify the purpose and reasons for the preceding characteristics.
            3) Rationally and logically respond to the people based on 1 and 2.”
            On 1, why use “problematic?” Using it here seems like you are making a judgement based on your own values. The disparaging term “wrong-think” could be used here.
            On 2, I agree. Identifying the purpose and reasons is key to understanding the other group.
            On 3, I disagree unless the response is coming in the form of an open letter like this article, but even then it is not necessary unless you wish to start a dialogue.

            I think this line of reasoning is better:
            1) Identify a group of people who share views different from you and are expressing those views.
            2) Identify the purpose and reasons for their views taking into account their thoughts and experiences. Understand them.
            3) Taking 1 and 2 into consideration, respond by attempting to start a dialogue. Understand that their opinions might not change immediately based on the content and/or tone of your words.

            “How is it a caricature? There are several features in that definition and all can be seen in different people and as a set. Which ones do you believe are unrealistic?”
            I find it a straw man because the characteristics and list of common features represent a figurative group of people. How many of these characteristics/features does one need to have in order to be considered a “village atheist”? it is too vague and becomes another value judgement based on the projections of the person judging them. It’s easy to define a creationist, and this is a term that creationists are content in being used to describe them; a creationist is a person who believes in creationism. It is not easy to define a “village atheist,” and the moment you call someone a “village atheist” is the moment you assign each and every one of those characteristics/features to them unless you follow it up with the specific characteristics/features that may apply to them.

            “I would not call them that because they represent a specific group of people that does more than merely not share my views or goals. More than simple views and goals was written about up there. The whole point is that the term is useful to people like me and my political allies and you just don’t have a need for such a term which does not render it useless for people like me.”
            I’ll be direct: if this is about your politics, just come out and say it. You don’t seem to see any common views or goals with them nor do you seem to be seeking them, and defining them as “village atheists” allows you to ignore or avoid them. Going beyond the recognition that they will not support your views to label and disregard them (which is what I think will happen with the use of such a term) is unnecessary.

            Again, I think that you should just refer to people that disagree with you as something like “nonbelievers who do not share my views,” “nonbelievers who are disinterested/opposed to my forms of social justice,” or simply “non-SJ atheists.” I disagree with trying to label them as bad atheists due to differing values and opinions.

            (Tangent) A brief insight into my reasoning and thought-process considering this issue: my deconversion from Roman Catholic to atheist, a process that took about 6 years from high school into college, was started by my questioning of the idea that non-Catholics were destined for hell regardless of the good deeds they may have done in their lives. I thought it was unfair to exclude any group from heaven just because of a simple characteristic like religion especially if they were following what they believed to be right. Obviously, I no longer believe in a heaven, but ever since then I have tried to avoid excluding anyone in any way without first attempting to understand them.

            (Another tangent) To be honest, I am a lover, not a fighter. I will never be a social justice warrior, but I will speak up and engage in debate when confronted with views to which I strongly disagree. I’ll be a social justice lover, if that’s a thing.

            I appreciate the dialogue and hope that we can better understand each other’s reasoning.

          • Joshua White

            First a note about your later question involving politics.

            Politics is often a factor so at many points this will be about my politics
            and individual encounters with people who could meet the characteristics of a village atheist. While I do try to have a conversation with people who can have insulting characterizations applied to them, too often one has to functionally deal with individuals like Eric Atkinson down below (and others who are functionally merely name-calling when it comes to people and group). They came here taking a social dominance posture and are interested in name-calling only. Instead of outlining how their invective applies they are only interested in spreading it around. I have to deal with the functional reality of a social conflict and so I responded at that level. They already refused to outline how their insulting characterization for Clive johnson (I am being charitable by using characterization) so I have reason for responding to them the way that I did. That is the level of person that this new pejorative is meant for. The ones that can’t be dealt with and for which a more intense social display is necessary.

            Also there are others that can’t functionally interact with a
            characterization that often feels insulting. Below I use the example of racist.
            While some are able to deal with it when you point out where someone is being bigoted, too often others can’t deal with reasonably pointing out bad behavior. It’s sometimes appropriate to exclude based on behavior, and disparage the ways of thought and belief that go into it. While I will do what I can to respect your nudging of things towards best case examples, you have to deal with the fact that this article was inspired by the worst case examples. If you can’t do that you will be functionally ignoring what people like me and Sincere are concerned with.

            >”On 1, why use “problematic?” Using it here seems like
            you are making a judgement based on your own values. The disparaging term “wrong-think” could be used here.”

            In the specifics of situations informing my experiences that go into “village atheist” I am making a judgment call, but we are dealing in abstract persons in this article with specific behaviors. I won’t pretend that I don’t have opinions about the behaviors that Sincere is discussing but if you suspect that those opinions are biasing something wrongly feel free to ask a question. Also feel free to use the pejorative if you think it applies, but I will ask that you justify it. All terms, even insulting or disparaging ones like yours and the one Sincere is coining, unpack into characteristics. The worth of the application is in matching the characteristics otherwise it remains mere name-calling and one is doing no better than Eric Atkinson who is doing the human equivalent of pissing on fire hydrants and flinging poo.

            Some would say that “irrational” is “wrong-think”, if I’m getting the meaning right. And that I was otherizing people wrongly for unacceptable patterns of thought. The value comes out in the specifics.

            >”On 2, I agree. Identifying the purpose and reasons is key to
            understanding the other group.”

            That is a part of the other group that is not necessary for what Sincere is doing here. That will become necessary when coming up with ways and means of interacting with village atheists depending on other characteristics. For now the objective behaviors are fine. When applying the term later some will be open to communication and others will not.

            >”On 3, I disagree unless the response is coming in the form of an open
            letter like this article, but even then it is not necessary unless you wish to
            start a dialogue.

            You did not say why I should limit my responses. That is required information if at any point you want me to change anything about what I’m doing now or what I want to do.

            >”I think this line of reasoning is better:
            1) Identify a group of people who share views different from you and are
            expressing those views.
            2) Identify the purpose and reasons for their views taking into account their
            thoughts and experiences. Understand them.
            3) Taking 1 and 2 into consideration, respond by attempting to start a
            dialogue. Understand that their opinions might not change immediately based on the content and/or tone of your words.”

            This way:
            1) Ignores the fact that this is an exercise in defining a group of people that does not yet have to do with interacting with them. As an example I can objectively see the discrimination and prejudice present in racism without knowing the reason and purpose of it.
            2) Ignores the fact that I have opinions about the beliefs, patterns of
            thought, and behaviors in question. I can both understand the reasons and
            purposes and have opinions about them. It does not matter why a person is doing something racist, I will still want it to stop in the social spaces I frequent.
            3) Assumes that I don’t try to understand the reasons and purposes for the
            beliefs and that this is about people for whom that is useful. Like I said,
            it’s not necessary, yet. Strategy comes after modeling the problem, and I’m capable of being obvious about having an opinion and dissecting out the objective components. After all both good and bad reasoning involve biases towards things.

            >” I find it a straw man because the characteristics and list of
            common features represent a figurative group of people. How many of these
            characteristics/features does one need to have in order to be considered a
            “village atheist”? it is too vague and becomes another value
            judgement based on the projections of the person judging them. It’s easy to
            define a creationist, and this is a term that creationists are content in being
            used to describe them; a creationist is a person who believes in creationism.
            It is not easy to define a “village atheist,” and the moment you call
            someone a “village atheist” is the moment you assign each and every
            one of those characteristics/features to them unless you follow it up with the
            specific characteristics/features that may apply to them.”

            1) You can’t straw-man an abstract. You can only straw-man a specific
            person’s arguments. Sincere Kirabo is creating an abstract out of a data set. It’s the difference between an equation’s graph, and an individual dependent and independent variable one encounters
            when using it.
            2) If even one of the characteristics matches up that’s good enough. What
            matters is if the person slinging the term can explain the application. While I
            have yet to encounter a good use of the term, I don’t begrudge my political
            opponents terms like “SJW” in an abstract sense. It’s up to the person using an insulting characterization to justify it otherwise it’s mere name-calling.
            3) If “creationist” does not work for you how about racist? Also one can use creationist disparagingly and some will object by saying “old earth creationist”, not to mention that many proponents of ID don’t like being called creationists when many of their arguments and beliefs are functionally identical.

            >”I’ll be direct: if this is about your politics, just come out and say
            it. You don’t seem to see any common views or goals with them nor do you seem to be seeking them, and defining them as “village atheists” allows
            you to ignore or avoid them. Going beyond the recognition that they will not
            support your views to label and disregard them (which is what I think will
            happen with the use of such a term) is unnecessary.”

            This blog post is about politics no matter what any of us want because it’s
            about setting up an abstract to be used in specific situations later and that
            abstract just happens to be an insulting characterization. Social conflict is
            implicitly involved. I’m not one to shy from political connections or uses and frankly politics is nearly always involved in disagreements because even that has form and function at a conflict level.

            >”Again, I think that you should just refer to people that disagree with you as something like “nonbelievers who do not share my views,” “nonbelievers who are disinterested/opposed to my forms of social justice,” or simply “non-SJ atheists.” I disagree with trying to label them as bad atheists due to differing values and opinions.”

            1) What you think does not solve my problem in every circumstance. Some
            people are receptive to reason, logic and sterile words. Others are not and are interested in social dominance and don’t care about being able to demonstrate if they are right or not. This is about that second group more than the first.

            2) You are not describing things precisely enough. My previous reply to you
            mentioned more than just values and opinions. The results of acting on values and opinions are consequences. They are bad atheists for reasons.

            >”(Tangent) A brief insight into my reasoning
            and thought-process considering this issue: my deconversion from Roman Catholic to atheist, a process that took about 6 years from high school into college, was started by my questioning of the idea that non-Catholics were destined for hell regardless of the good deeds they may have done in their lives. I thought it was unfair to exclude any group from heaven just because of a simple characteristic like religion especially if they were following what they believed to be right. Obviously, I no longer believe in a heaven, but ever
            since then I have tried to avoid excluding anyone in any way without first
            attempting to understand them.”

            I can see why that might make you particularly sensitive to people being excluded and I can respect that sensitivity in general. I have a history when it comes to exclusion myself as a person with Tourette’s Syndrome, a thing that actually gives me insights into social conflict since it involves social dominance instincts. But what is being done here is that specific beliefs, patterns of thought, and behaviors are being collected as data as things that are not acceptable to people. It can result in exclusion depending on how events unfold, but it’s not guaranteed. If it does occur there are some behaviors worth excluding others for and the beliefs and patterns of thought that drive them have to be kept in check if a person wants to use the social space of another (assuming this is not about laws) or avoid being criticized.

            >”(Another tangent) To be honest, I am a lover, not a fighter. I will never be a social justice warrior, but I will speak up and engage in debate when confronted with views to which I strongly disagree. I’ll be a social justice lover, if that’s a thing.”

            I believe in communities having people with a diversity of social skills. I would not expect someone to fight socially who was not comfortable with it and I would not pretend that every situation requires a fight or that every person is able to learn from one.

            >”I appreciate the dialogue and hope
            that we can better understand each other’s reasoning.”

            I hope this helps. But you have to understand that when I feel it is necessary I will use insulting characterizations and other social conflict postures. They are still a natural part of what we are and knowing how it works and control is still a useful skill.

        • wagnerfilm

          The kind of individual described in the passage you cite as a straw man is the kind of individual I encounter frequently on social media and in atheist forums. They pat themselves on the back for their staunch “dictionary atheism,” disdaining social justice movements on the grounds they “have nothing to do with atheism” while ignorant of the fact that social injustices are very real and are largely a by-product of Abrahamic religions assigning gender roles and creating in-group/out-group thinking in society. It’s quite an ironic thing, actually, to encounter forcefully angry young atheists with prejudices and attitudes largely indistinguishable from those of Jerry Falwell & Pat Robertson. But I encounter it quite a lot.

          • Zachary Bower

            I second this. I’m not sure to what degree I agree with the author’s individual points–the “common features,” for instance, really load the question–but the broad strokes is pretty much dead on. I’ve seen so many reasonable-sounding words bandied about with no elaboration to explain, with no sense of irony, why that person doesn’t even have to look at the evidence I’m citing as they complain that they’re not getting any & I’m just being closed-minded.

            Like “that research is biased” because it contains conclusions or data that could be considered to support feminism. Or “the methodology is bad” because of some trivial issue like a sample size that’s “too small” (the “right” number is never specified, I’ve seen studies with hundreds of participants dismissed in this way), or that it involved a survey at some point. And of course, the ever-favorite “you’re just a social justice warrior” & some vague reference to “the state of modern feminism.”

            An argument is not necessarily a “strawman” just because the group in question would not like what it says about them.

          • KennKong

            You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s either what the OP said, ” I didn’t co-sign his assertion that atheists are, by default, “genuinely trying to get to the root of racism” simply by opposing religion. Those who believe this lack an elementary understanding of the historical and established aspects of white supremacy and racism.”
            Or what you said, “social injustices are very real and are largely a by-product of Abrahamic religions assigning gender roles and creating in-group/out-group thinking in society.”
            Notice you created this false dichotomy, not I. The truth that neither you nor the OP will admit is that while religion is not the sole source of injustice, it is the prime one.
            Rather than bash potential allies for resisting being dragged into a fight different from the one they’re already in, let the “village atheists” tilt at their religious windmills while “social justice warriors” tilt at the non-religious ones. Just because we have some enemies in common doesn’t mean we have all enemies in common.
            Speaking as an “old” atheist, I don’t appreciate being told what I should think about any other issue just because I am an atheist. Stop affirming the consequent that because someone is an atheist, they are a humanist.

        • Hypocrite

          “Some want to support social justice but disagree with the methods used or claims being promoted as facts.”

          If you want to promote social justice, there are probably many ways through which you can do it. But, the way NOT to do it is to promote right wing views, like what the cult leader Sam Harris does. These views are the antithesis of social justice, and many so-called atheists subscribe to it. If your only concern is to fight bigotry, misogyny, and promote human rights when it is related to religion (and in particular Islam), and when you use all sort of rhetoric to demonize the other and justify all sorts of heinous actions against those who you oppose (torture, profiling, installing dictatorships, military actions), you are not fighting for social justice. You are just a authoritarian who wants to promote his views through sugar-coating it with cute words like reason and logic, while ignoring some of the most essential components in critical thinking like intellectual fairness, and honesty. So it is not just a simple difference in viewpoints, it is about fundamental differences in values.

          As for unity, I found it ridiculous that someone who claim to be critical thinker and critical of dogmatic views, likes to unite all of his “clan” under an umbrella and to silence the criticism in the name of unity.

    • George Mandom

      You’re right about the author’s strawmen. The author lives in denial about the conservative ideologies of Islam. He hasn’t not lived outside of his bubble in this country.

      Somehow he takes criticism of Islam as being in cahoots with christian conservatism, while ignoring that conservatives in Islam hate conservatives in Christianity and vice versa. The rest of us are caught in the crossfire, and if you happen to live in a country dominated by one of these religions, good luck on coming out as an atheist.

      As for his complaint about atheists who are against feminism and social justice, yes there are conservative atheists just as there are liberal atheists. I think the author is barking up the wrong tree.

      Its just a nonsensical rant because he is uncomfortable with the rigorous examination of religion we can have today without the persecution of yesteryear.

  • aesp

    This is so refreshing to read. I was just discussing the importance of respect for others coping mechanisms and spirituality along with the importance of a safe environment to voice opposing views. I currently have one child that is like me, very open to different opinions and life styles and one child that is very reserved and has a traditional point of view. The interesting thing is I raised my children intentionally without religion while teaching them to embrace the human experience with acceptance, yet they are still vastly different in their worldview opinions. It will be interesting to see how their opinions will shape in an environment of free expression, Your article rings true, in that, Athiest pedal proof like religion pedals miraculous events as proof. Acceptance of just being seems to still be quite elusive to the majority, who still bicker back and forth in the “is true” “is not” debacle of religion vs athiesm. Primitive village thinking puts it quite nicely!

  • The only prerequisite for atheism is not believing in god – what you do with that belief is dependent on how one was raised and what kind of culture the person was exposed to. As we can see, religious beliefs don’t make one a good or crappy person. That comes from experience.

    There is an obvious nexus between conservative religious beliefs and the spate of anti-abortion TRAP laws and “bathroom” bills the past few years so supporting separation of church and state is important for those social justice issues.

    I have read more than a few of these kind of essays and what seems to be missing is how atheism should be leading someone to helping on all the social justice issues out there. If religious belief is irrelevant to trying to encourage work on those issues then most of essays like this are a waste of time.

    • Joshua White

      What’s the point of the dictionary definition? There is no redefining of the word here, only an addition of “village” to signify a subset of atheists. Also what is the connection between your assertion that religion is irrelevant to working on social justice issues and your assertion that this essay is not explaining how atheism should be leading people to help on social justice issues? That whole bit is hard to follow.

      • I’m not offering a dictionary definition only a requirement for the label – that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it but if you believe in a god then you aren’t an atheist. Back in the old days, people who dissented from the majority religious view of the time were called “atheists” much like the word “infidels” is thrown around at people dissenting from Islam.

        The author wrote:

        “Traditional atheist” issues like church and state separation and
        fighting creationism simply don’t address the breadth of oppression that
        exists in society. Erasing every oppressive religious ideology today
        wouldn’t abolish wealth gaps, educational segregation, homophobia,
        ableism, mass incarceration, redlining, and numerous other social ills.

        If you’re an atheist who has a hard time grasping this, you’re likely a village atheist.”

        I took it to mean that religious beliefs aren’t relevant to social justice issues and trying to keep church and state separate wasn’t going to solve any of the issues mentioned. I disagree.

        • Sally Strange

          What it really means is that although “it’s cool,” as the author says, “to promote scientific literacy, highlight religious buffoonery, or
          oppose instances where government entities blur the line between church
          and state,” those activities are not sufficient to address the full range of oppression that is keeping people down.

          The author is saying that those people who think that if we could wave a magic wand and make all religions disappear, there would be no racism, sexism, or other types of structural inequalities left to hamper humankind’s advancement are wrong.

          Not that combating religiously based oppression wouldn’t help. That is isn’t enough.

          I truly and sincerely wonder where you got the idea that the author thinks that religious beliefs are completely irrelevant to social justice issues.

        • Joshua White

          >”I’m not offering a dictionary definition only a requirement for
          the label – that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it but if you believe in a
          god then you aren’t an atheist. Back in the old days, people who dissented from the majority religious view of the time were called “atheists” much
          like the word “infidels” is thrown around at people dissenting from
          Islam.”
          So why did you offer the dictionary definition then? It seemed to have no
          apparent relevance to what Sincere Kirabo wrote since they did not redefine
          atheists, and what they did do was define a subset of atheists.

          >”I took it to mean that religious beliefs aren’t relevant to social
          justice issues and trying to keep church and state separate wasn’t going to
          solve any of the issues mentioned. I disagree.”

          I don’t see how that follows. Sincere Kirabo’s whole point here is in
          identifying a subset of atheists that have been a problem for many people
          involved in social justice activism and giving them a label so that we can use
          it for convince in conceptualizing the collection of behaviors and
          communicating about their presence in individual atheists. It’s about issues
          beyond separation of church and state and religious belief within the atheist
          community, not about claiming they are irrelevant to social justice issues and
          activism.

  • Brive1987

    CIS-het white men eh? And the identity politics red flag cracks open.

    • Joshua White

      So what is the problem with identity politics? Frankly I can’t imagine how politics can be independent of identity, but I’m interested in what you’ve got.

      • Duncan MacLeod

        Because identities have no place in a discussion of what’s right or wrong. It should not make a lick of difference who or what I am as to whether what I’m saying is true or relevant.

        • Joshua White

          When identity is implicitly involved in questions of right and wrong this is not the case. In the example you brought up identity is implicitly involved.

          Additionally each person does politics based on who they are. Parts of identity are how we socially organize. The whole fact that there is an atheist community is because of how that works.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            > In the example you brought up identity is implicitly involved.

            How?

          • Joshua White

            CIS-het white? It’s kind of obvious. Race and gender are factors that determine what can motivate people politically in both objective and strategy. If a group of people who are of a particular race or gender configuration have similar political needs because of race or gender they will organize.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            >”Race and gender are factors that determine what can motivate people politically in both objective and strategy”

            If they do, you’re doing it wrong. Political objectives and motivations should be based on objectivity (ie. what’s best for everyone), not who you personally are. If some strategies are more effective at appealing to certain demographics then that might be useful information to consider in your approach to talking to people, but the only problems specific to a race should be racial discrimination, and that’s a priority regardless of who you personally may be. With that kind of mindset, you’re looking at problems facing a group you belong to as being your own instead of that of your whole community or government and you can’t get as much done that way.

          • Joshua White

            When other people are objectively acting like race and gender are significant in how they treat people it’s a rational reason to organize politically. It’s the whole reason LGBT is even an acronym. They are doing it right.

            Otherwise in a perfect world race would not be a good reason to organize politically (I certainly find it irrational as a white person, and due to racism rational for others and for me to try to be a decent ally).

            Sex would still be rational as it relates to health specific issues, and when we finish figuring out what gender and separating it from sex is it would also probably have elements that can provide rational reasons for some politics as things like aggression for example (which is a gendered behavior not exclusive to either sex) can come with lots of specific health and social issues and concerns.

            I happen to think that issues having to do with race, sex and gender politics do effect me because the existence of bigotry effects me. Bet even then a group having problems specific to it can get outside help. I’m a white, male with a fairly aggressive nature that I manage and I try to be a good ally to all of the above so i rather think they can get things done that way because politics being organized by identity does not preclude participation by people outside of that identity.

      • Brive1987

        What do you understand the term to specifically mean? The accepted definition entails broad characterisations based on group markers.

  • Eric Atkinson

    P z Myers is full of marxist dog shit.

    • Clive Johnson

      “Marxist”? A term often bandied about by its critics, but much less often understood.

      • Eric Atkinson

        Ask the dog fucker and get your answer.

    • Joshua White

      As profound as primates puerilly pelting people with poo.

      • Eric Atkinson

        As true as Trotskyites talking trash.

        • Joshua White

          “Petulant” positively polishes my portrayal. Your insults are irredeemably
          inconclusive due to insubstantiality. A common characteristic concerning cockamamie cretins.

    • John D

      You mean “The” P. Z. Myers… past Humanist of the Year?

  • Hank Probert

    Not a lot to disagree with here. Establishment Atheism (analogous to “village atheist” – great term btw) is ironically a promoter of great ignorance – for instance, the popular meme (exhibited in this very comments thread) that secular SJ activists are “out-grouping” people who don’t agree with them or trying to corral fellow atheists into “right thought”. This idea that nonreligious SJWs are trying to redefine atheism or blackball any atheist/atheist group that doesn’t immediately broaden their focus to LGBTQI/POC/ableist issues is as persistent as it is pernicious and flat wrong.

    TLDR: noone’s trying to force you to stop broadsiding creationists and instead carry placards for every oppressed group ever, and noone’s putting you in some out-group. What secular SJ activists want is for their *own* lack of belief and their *own* activism to mean more than just opposing religious perfidy. They also want certain corners of the atheosphere to stop fricking well demonising them with ridiculous terms like “misandrist”. Since at least 2009 it’s been virtually impossible for an atheist even to simply mention women’s inequality without being labelled some kind of man-hater; it’s as bad if not worse when talking about LGBT/POC/ableism in the context of nonreligious activism.

    And let’s not forget that a few atheists, building on their fame as scourges of creationism and fundamentalist foolishness, have literally monetised their sexism, translating their Youtube subscriber bases into Patreon patrons and obsessively ranting against anyone who highlights sexual inequality (and some more than others). If anyone’s outgrouping anyone, it’s clowns like that who’ve been living in hetero white silos for so long that the mere mention of an experience counter to their own is like kryptonite, and who subsequently do their level best to drown them out.

  • Jone Johnson Lewis

    This will be one of those posts where many comments actually demonstrate the points in the article.

    • KoreanKat

      You mean like your smug demeanor demonstrates the inherent intolerance of ‘social justice’ atheism?

      • Duncan MacLeod

        Yeah, something like that. You gotta love “these people and opinions are ignorant and you are too if you agree with them” articles. They’re so mature and productive.

        • Joshua White

          Says the person that thinks overly simplistic cartoon paraphrasing is mature and productive. I think that Jone is correct in their assessment.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            Cartoon it may be, but not inaccurate. The article itself was simplistic in the way it completely failed to back anything up and pretty much spent the whole time insulting and generalizing about people with differing opinions.

          • Joshua White

            Then by all means, show me the reality, the actual reason in the text and not the cartoon paraphrase so I can see if the logic holds up. Otherwise merely saying the text is bad in the same way as what it seeks to criticize is unimpressive.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            Done.
            >”Common features of village atheism include:”

            …Esteeming everything that comes out of Bill Maher’s mouth and endorsing the disconnected, conservative-laden ramblings of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”

            So first of all I have never met a person that endorses literally everything a person says, let alone someone as divisive and controversial as Maher. Second, here he is directly insulting, without any support or reasoning, the character and opinions of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali is not conservative, she’s just not sticking her head in the sand about Islam because she knows it better than the PC police who say you’re not allowed to be critical of religions. Then they call her conservative or bigoted, but based on what? Islam is an ideology, not a race or a group. There is absolutely no reason you can’t point out where it is causing serious problems.

            >”Believing atheists are this nation’s most oppressed and despised group.”

            Statistically, atheists are the nation’s most disliked/distrusted group after actual criminals at around 40% last I checked. This is not some crazy mindset, it’s objectively true. In an 80% Christian country that’s more fundamentalist than any other 1st world nation by far, how is this such a strange concept that non-believers would be strongly disliked? Gay people passed us a while ago in being socially acceptable.

          • Joshua White

            I’ve met a few that support everything that one personality or another says. Not for Maher and Ali specifically (Trump in my case), but I can imagine that Sincere has met a few for them.

            As for Ali the main point of this article is how some of her fans act. The point in coining a term for people, insulting or otherwise, is that set of people. At no point does “village atheist” seek to characterize all of Ali’s fans or all of Maher’s fans. The fans that do act that way are the point.
            Otherwise I would need to see the specific things that Sincere has in mind when they characterize Ali, and it’s beside the point of fan behavior and would be a tangent if you wanted to look at that.

            disliked/distrusted=/-oppressed
            Most people walk around making assumptions about who they have around them on matters of religious belief. I have no problem believing that atheists face less oppression than other more visible minorities.

      • Joshua White

        If I were like you I would reason from a specific and assume that people who don’t like social justice are unwilling to actually look for patterns that match characteristics that happen to feel insulting because I confuse emotion with content. But fortunately I’m not.

  • Peri Sword

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m not adding much to the discussion but you have calmly and rationally expressed my thoughts (in my case, it reads ’emotions’) when I see otherwise thoughtful people fall into what I feel is grievous error of blindly worshipping at the alter of Maher and Ali, or the great Triumvirate of Hitchens-Dawkins-Harris.

    • Duncan MacLeod

      Consider for a moment that maybe we’re not “blindly worshiping” anyone, we just fucking disagree with you. Get off your damn high horse, your opinions are not superior just because you insult people who disagree with them.

      • Joshua White

        Since you don’t point out what parts of Sincere’s piece you think apply to you it’s not possible to see what you just said as more than empty characterization. If you can show me which part of Sincre’s piece you think applies to you perhaps we can do more. Otherwise you are merely slinging empty insults of your own at someone who has similar experiences to Sincere.

        • Duncan MacLeod

          Considering that I was replying directly to a specific thing Peri said by quoting it, no, I actually did point out what I disagreed with. I disagree with the characterization and dismissal of the opinions of people like Ali or Dawkins without the slightest bit of analysis or evidence.

          • Joshua White

            It still works because they were agreeing with Sincere. It changes nothing of my meaning. But I can walk you through the logic since you suddenly seem incapable of it.

            Specifically why do think that Peri was talking about you? I don’t see Peri getting specific about a particular thing that a particular follower of those people was saying and I did not see Peri saying “Duncan is blindly worshiping X”. But I do see Peri agreeing with Sincere in general about what was written.

            So since the context here is the piece that Sincere wrote which did not characterize all fans of Dawkins et al I want to know what part you thought applies to you.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            >”Specifically why do think that Peri was talking about you? ”

            Because he/she was referring to people “worshipping” Maher/Ali/Dawkins/etc… and I’ve never seen someone actually worshipping them, but I do tend to agree with them a lot more than many. I’m as close to that as anyone, so it has to be about people like me since the people who actually fit the description don’t really exist. No one would SAY they fit a description like that, so it has to be assumed that it’s meant to describe behavior of people the person who said it disagrees with about the character of belief in the ideas or people in question.

            TL;DR: No one actually worships those people or ideas, but I’m the kind of person often inaccurately accused of doing so.

          • Joshua White

            In the context of the piece above the word “worshiping” is used as a way to connect negative characteristics to atheists in a way that would be particularly insulting. In general I do not have a problem with this. And I agree that few (I would not say no, but I it’s probably extremely rare) atheists would use the term worship even though it has secular meaning.

            So we must go outside of the word itself to understand what is being described as religious-like behavior. Since Sincere did not say that you specifically were acting religious, and they did not characterize all of the fans of these people is there anything else? Because so far that is not a reason to think it was connected to you and absent a specific belief, pattern of thought, action or communication I do see knee-jerk defensiveness of a trusted authority as a common behavior in religion that gets conflated with religion by many atheists. I’m assuming that you have something more specific in mind in Sincere’s text though.

            I personally see religion as a manifestation of human social organization and social action instincts and believe that the thing with deities has to do with the part of the brain that pretends it’s other people and/or groups of people (self or other identified). When I study religion in different areas of brain science I see the study of social psychology in a great many ways and I tend to be disgusted at general problems that get conflated with religion inside of the atheist community.

  • Clive Johnson

    Thank you Sincere for this well articulated article. I’ve observed the problems you discuss many times within movement secularism.

  • I like the term “village atheism.” Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Pastor Meh

    Unfortunately, too many social justice advocates put forth single-variable politics as solutions to endemic structural oppression. This pseudo-religious behavior happens extensively even where scientific methods are available. Social engineering is a scientific endeavor in it’s best applied form. It’s truly a shame that the metrics are so often used for ideological ends (like, say, 3rd wave, trans-exclusive feminism) rather than for discovery of our full human, or even transhuman, potential.

  • Sally Strange

    The mantra “good without god” is meaningless as long as people continue to accept our religiously influenced society’s definition of “good” without critically examining it. “Morally good” means what exactly? Monogamous and heterosexual? If you’re a woman, does it mean acting as if you’re subordinate to men? Does it mean you don’t challenge the gender binary? If you’re white, does being morally good require confronting racism and white privilege? (The fact that justifying racism with Christianity is less popular now than it was 50 years ago does not, in my mind, excuse avoiding the degree to which racism was invented and maintained by white supremacist Christians.) I have my answers, and I accept that other people’s answers to these questions may differ. What I have no patience for is people who just don’t even bother to ask or think about these questions, and people who think it’s OK to avoid these questions.

    The status quo is profoundly unjust and immoral, and removing religion from the equation won’t balance the scales all by itself.

  • GotScience

    A description of atheism as a religion. It’s in the blood I guess.

    • bard

      If you look past the supernatural silliness to the psychological function that religion performs, it isn’t that hard to see how atheism becomes a religion for some people, sans the supernatural part.

      • GotScience

        Exactly. It’s an emotional spasm that’s at the root of this kind of stuff. I think it is a cousin of fanaticism. You?

        • bard

          I think people want so desperately to believe that they are willing to forgo critical thought regarding their specific beliefs. It isn’t a de facto gateway to fanaticism but it opens the door and plows the road, for certain. In my work with emergency preparedness and disaster recovery and such, one theme I see over and over again (and have witnessed first hand a, thankfully, few times) is that, when the levels of predictability in folk’s lives drops below a certain point, the veneer of an enlightened, civilized community of intelligent humans drops off at an alarming rate. That is why the crazies and fanatics tend to spring up in war torn and economically depressed areas like a few Middle Eastern and African countries (and other places). It is also why making war in places like that to try and eliminate the extremists is so ridiculously counter-productive. You want to stop the spread of ISIS? Set up a reliable power grid and give out free PS4s and air conditioners.

          • GotScience

            Indeed, indeed. My question is still and always why. Why do they, that is us, want to believe? Laziness, timidity, follow a leader- someone who can transform the ever-present fear of death into a sense of grander purpose, belonging. Mark Twain said something along the lines of religion having begun when the first swindler met the first imbecile. It’s cute, but mean and too simple.

          • bard

            In a way, I suspect it is even simpler. Dawkins talks about it in a few of his writings. We have an evolutionary tendency to believe what our parents and parental figures tell us. It works out great when they are right but can be a bit off when they tell us that blindness is cured by dog shit rubbed in your eyes. The positives, from an evolutionary standpoint, so outweigh the negatives that it has stuck around. Lets face it. The deep existential answers to life can be passed on quite screwy as long as the “you will want to avoid the predatory animals with stereoscopic vision and large teeth” message gets across. Trouble is, both get encoded with the same weight.
            Adding to that, most people just don’t give a damn! They don’t think about or ponder religion as much as you and I obviously do. They live their lives according to the genetically imprinted code of ethics that all humans have evolved and attribute it to their faith with no more thought whatsoever. Trouble is they conflate the two, thus, when we attack and discredit their religious opines, it feels like we are attacking the core ethical and moral concepts they ascribe to it. …and we find ourselves accused of having no baseline of morality…

          • GotScience

            Having read most of Dawkins, whom I appreciate much, I am quite cognizant of his extreme reductionism. The latter approach, while useful, I trust little for matters of mind; extremism is blindness be it one way or another. That is not to say he is not on to something, but I think we need pay attention to Freud, Jung, Joseph Campbell, and such.

          • bard

            Don’t you think they could both be right, just at different levels? I don’t think reductionism is wrong, even extreme versions of it. I think it just often gets in a hurry and misses subtleties. To me the rather reductionist explanations Dawkins offers here do not conflict with the higher order analysis of Campbell and Jung, though I find Freud a bit off, in my admittedly uninformed opinion…
            That said I will say that Dawkins seems to be a bit obtuse to some of the more nuanced aspects of the human experience…

          • GotScience

            Absolutely, a mix of all that and more makes good dough.

      • Asylum Party

        I think we need an agreed upon idea of what a religion is in order to humor such an idea, and simply talking about the psychological function of religion as a way to, in this context, denigrate religion, may be missing the idea of atheism, altogether.
        Religions do a lot of damage that simply can’t be done by a shared lack of belief, even given this kind of psychology (horde mentality,maybe).
        And it is the scaffolding on which many build their lives. It makes many simply impenetrable to information of a certain kind. It is a bad epistemology.
        You can’t simply talk about the supernatural part as though it’s insignificant.

        • bard

          We can agree on a unified definition of religion all we want, but th fact is, it takes as many forms as it has participants. The supernatural part of is completely made up, thus is undefinable. What choice do you have but to disregard it? It is all psychological. When god is speaking to people, it is their own internal dialog. You cannot look at this phenom seriously without disregarding supernatural and looking to the root in the mind.

          • Asylum Party

            I completely disagree with this:
            The specific beliefs of religion–insofar as they are believed to be true–very much have consequences. We’re not merely talking about divisive psychology. We live in a world where plenty of people authentically believe the universe was created in a 6 days (and consequently, that evolution is lies from the pit of hell), that God is watching over them (and gets furious at birth control), and that the fastest way to paradise is by death against enemies of Islam.
            These beliefs are harmful not merely because they’re divisive — They’re harmful because the actions people take as a result of them are inherently harmful.

            Do so many people really just fall into beliefs like that on their own?
            For someone to come to such a belief individually such as that which a religious group believes collectively would have them forcefully committed.

            The only reason I asked about how you define religion is because there’s a huge difference between what a Christian believes and what a Taoist or Therevada Buddhist believes.

            Simply to say it’s all the human mind’s doing is just wrong.

          • bard

            I don’t think we are communicating. I am not implying that the mind is some kind of closed system in which these ideas spring up out of the ether, quite the opposite. They are collective notions and ideas that are honed and fashioned and “perfected” over many generations. Nonetheless, the perfecting is done in human minds. The predilection towards accepting such memes (memes in the Dawkins sense, not the Facebook sense) is coded into the dna that directed the formation of those minds and was passed on and itself adapted over millions of years.
            There is no supernatural element to it at all, and that is why, if we are to look at it objectively and try to understand it, we have to look to those very minds where it seems to be propagating.
            The particulars of the belief(young earth creationism, 40 virgins, etc) ,while having immediate ramifications due to being acted on, do not move us further in understanding how to get past the tendency of humans to foster such beliefs in the first place. How many young earth creationists have actually had their minds changed by attacking the specific belief. Not too many. All such that I know of (myself included) came to abandon the silliness through a deeper introspection that was catalyzed by simple, rational, critical thinking. To attack specific beliefs of any faith, while something that is often critically important to do, does not help much in the long game that I suspect we should be going for, which is not to make faith go away, rather to make it irrelevant.

          • Asylum Party

            I see.
            I disagree with your explanation about people talking to god, but now I see what you’re saying, and I agree that beliefs are not changed by attacking the specific belief.

            That said, you should look into Anthony Magnabosco’s youtube channel.

  • James Online

    Please, we don’t need to wage war against Dawkins, Harris, Alli, and Bill Maher. Some good analysis here that is overshadowed by counterproductive finger-pointing.

  • Andrew Miesem

    It’s my feeling that this article conflates atheism with a whole host of other personality attributes that may or may not commonly occur in those who are atheists. To say that asserting the importance of science puts one in the same camp as anti-feminists, or to insist that we take an honest look at where all movements can sometimes go to far, is to be as closed-minded as this article accuses so-called “village atheists” of being.

  • Josh Blade

    Thanks dawg for the article, but atheism is only a non-belief in a deity. It doesn’t go further than that. There are annoying atheists and amazing atheists.

  • Frank Ameduri

    I am an atheist. I also advocate for social justice. Those things are not necessarily connected. I get that you’re talking about secular social justice here, but it strikes me that this piece is based upon a catchy label you’ve coined and the stereotypes that inevitably come with labeling. I’m willing to partner with anybody in pursuit of social justice, but I don’t expect people to agree with me based on the arbitrary groups they happen to belong to. I’d also argue that “atheist” is not a thing. In fact, it’s a not thing. That term doesn’t say anything about what you believe in. It only says something about ONE thing you don’t believe in. It seems strange to assume people would behave in certain ways simply because they don’t believe in one thing. What are the expected principles and behaviors of aleprechaunists? What can we purport to know about aunicornists? Instead of labeling people who think differently from us and attempting to shame them into line perhaps an inclusive approach would produce better results. You can’t have real justice by separating people.

  • bard

    The trouble with atheism as a label is that, in reality, it tells you virtually nothing about a person. It has no positive information in it at all! When people try to use it as the core of their identity it will inevitably be filled out with any number of political and social identifiers. You end up with people who are exactly these “Village Atheists” that try to create their entire identity from their experience in life and on youtube, often becoming the “angry atheist” type. They watch Hitchens fire off a spirited but, lets be honest, stupendously narrow focused and simplistic, diatribe against some Christian that doesn’t even identify with the things he is raving at them about, and get all evangelically fired up about what they aren’t. These folks, in turn, have generated the popular vernacular definition of “atheist” that includes a whole host of (often left leaning) social issues that have nothing at all to do with and no bearing whatsoever on, one’s particular belief in a deity. This is a big reason I refuse to add labels such as this to my self. I am me. Stone age superstition is so irrelevant that I see no reason to include it in a part of my identity.
    The fact is, atheism as a movement needs to just go away. It needs to become irrelevant as the outdated beliefs it opposes already are. It is like raving against the Bolsheviks. It’s time has past, lest move on to making the world a better place.
    Excellent article, by the way…

  • Matt Barsotti

    Interesting post, and good food for thought.

    I probably suffer from some of the symptoms cited. Though I must point out an interesting irony… The one thing I haven’t found since becoming an atheist is any sense of village: “a self-contained community of socially unaware atheists who reside within and reinforce a feedback loop of ignorance.” There are online opportunities for this, and I blog as many of us do. But a lot of us honestly have no community to speak of in the aftermath of deconversion.

    This piece seems somewhat directed toward long time — perhaps lifetime — atheists from more liberal areas, rather than the many many deconverts who live in deeply religious areas. “Good without a god” may be tiresome drivel in more liberal climes, but where many folks live, it’s still a revelation. It would be nice to have enough ‘village’ to actually suffer some of the maladies being discussed.

  • Michael White

    Village Atheist…..as useful a term as Social Justice Warrior. I’ll see your pigeonholing term of derision and raise you twenty! SMH!

  • Justin Hobbs

    I can see 1 and 2, kind of, but 3 is where you lose me. I don’t pretend to assert that science knows all, and only natural science is real science. I do, however, recognize science and the scientific method as a tool to understanding and rationalizing the world. It’s true, that sometimes, this can come off as cold, particularly when you view something growing in a mother’s womb as nothing more than a possible scientific experiment to harvest and use for medical research and advancement. That doesn’t mean that when it exits the womb that we continue to think this though. We respect bodily autonomy after all. However, despite how cold you might feel this is, it doesn’t mean that we are demented individuals who can’t rationalize that the world isn’t split into black and white. What you’ve painted here is Atheism as a false dichotomy, between humanists and “village atheists” but what you don’t recognize is that your charitable attitude, the way that you try to roll over and show your belly as if you’re a passive, holier than thou, kind person, is also no less a faulty stance. As people push back against Atheism as it encroaches further into the realms that the religious has held firmly for centuries, you will need the stubborn attitude of the village atheists.

    Further, the one person you paint so idiotically as the “iconoclast idol”, Christopher Hitchens, is far from being the broken record you so vehemently claim him to be. It is true, that he did make quite a living off of his publications that logically cut away at religion. However, he was also a humanitarian, bringing the pain of people in disadvantaged countries to the attention of the otherwise ignorant. His political activism was also influential in getting many of the “village atheists” to strive more towards humanism. He was anything but just an iconoclast idol for the unempathetic.

  • George

    this article is hilarious

  • TommyNIK

    First it’s “new atheists” now we have “village” atheists.

    I’m old…been an agnostic then atheist most of my life…before I ever heard of Dawkins, Hitchens, et al.

    Mr. Kirabo, let me be clear and succinct…. BITE ME.

  • Hanrod

    One comment here below uses the term “normative ethics”, and some “new normative” does seem to be something you are proposing here, apparently in an attempt to define an appropriate and necessary adjunct to humanism. There can be no such thing as “normative ethics” (old or “new age”), and thus your advocacy of such can only fall on many deaf ears. I wish you no luck in it.

    • Hanrod

      Oh, and so now we have “scientism”? “Speciesim” was certainly questionable, but this tops it!

  • John D

    The article brought to you by the man who wrote “Muggles’ Magical Thinking: Why J.K. Rowling’s Cultural Appropriation is a Problem” Okayyyyyyyyy.

    • Joshua White

      And how is that relevant to anything here? If there is a reasoning or logic problem, point it out.

  • John D

    and congratulations Sincere – you finally found the click-bait you were looking for! You will go far within AHA…. this is the most hits for a “The Humanist” post evar!!!!

    • Joshua White

      That is the most lazy of the random bits of criticism that I see on the web. If something is not worth a click it is for reasons.

  • Alencon

    You could have simply said that anyone who doesn’t want to fight the same battles you want to fight using the same tools you want to use is a deeply flawed individual and saved us all a lot of reading time because that’s basically how this comes across.

    People tend to choose the battles they’ll fight and the causes they’ll support based upon a fairly complex set of criteria. Not everyone sees issues with everything in the status quo nor does everyone apply the same criticality to all the issues they do see.

    And yes, some of that is due to the blind spots that we all have.

    Personally I reserve the right to decide upon supporting or not supporting individual causes on a case by case basis.

  • Law Wad

    Irony?
    You write about those who “conclude the only way people could be religious is because they suffer from a mental defect”.
    Yet in your introduction you conclude the only way atheists could disagree with your social ideas as simplistic,stuck in their ways, ignorant and incapable of critical thought about it

    Maybe stop being a condescending prick and I’ll read more than just your introductory insults to dissidents

    • Joshua White

      You forgot to show how comparing religion to a mental defect and arguing that someone is being simplistic, stubborn, ignorant and irrational/illogical are the same. I don’t believe you have the condescension correctly placed.

      • Law Wad

        Both presume “I’m right, you’re wrong and you have nothing to contribute”, and both are used to dismiss opposing arguments without addressing them

        (both are intentionally used to group irrational opposition together with rational opposition, then dismiss everything)

        • Joshua White

          I can agree when it comes to religion being compared to a mental defect, personally I think that religion is a manifestation of how our instincts work when it comes to social organization, control and conflict and the deities are a way of interpreting that part of the brain and cognition that pretends it’s other people.

          But there are people who are simplistic, stubborn, ignorant and/or irrational/illogical. I do not see where Sincere Kirabo is saying “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            > I do not see where Sincere Kirabo is saying “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

            You really don’t? It’s all over the damn article, from insulting all the atheists individually that they don’t like to associating positions they don’t agree with with what the person calls this “self-contained community of socially unaware atheists who reside within and reinforce a feedback loop of ignorance”. The article is one giant hit piece against people and ideas the author disagrees with.

          • Joshua White

            What insults, and why did they not like them? That is critical in your objection.

            As for “self-contained community of socially unaware atheists who reside within and reinforce a feedback loop of ignorance”, that is a summary. It’s just not very impressive to go yelling about that when it’s what goes into it that matters.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            That is not a summary, that is an insult. Those terms like “ignorant” and “socially unaware” are being used to describe a group of people who disagree with the author. This is not an objective description of a specific group, it’s a subjective insult towards a generalized group that believes differently on some issues.

            The author does nothing to refute or disprove opinions like those of Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, they just insult everyone who agrees with them using this blanket generalization. Believe it or not, calling everyone who disagrees with you “ignorant” or “socially unaware” is not an actual argument and in fact only serves to prove that you can’t sufficiently justify your own position.

          • Joshua White

            You mean it’s an insulting characterization, not unlike “condescending prick”. I don’t have a problem with them in general, the issue is in being able to back up the characterization.

            For example you are currently appear to be ignorant about the content of Sincere’s piece with regards to Dawkins, Harris and Ali. If you go back and check again you will discover that they were making a characterization of how the people that follow them argue, and not Dawkins et. al themselves. The point was about atheists that act religiously about Dawkins et al while referring to feminism as a cult. It makes no sense to refute people that the author is not writing about.

            Ignorant and socially unaware are objective statements, they mean that a person does not know something and is unaware of something socially respectively. Those things can be shown. I don’t even have a problem with subjectivity as that is a bridge to objective things, hence my questions about the things you have feelings about. An objective characterization like ignorant can have a negative feeling and that changes nothing about the lack of knowledge that it describes.

            This also not about mere disagreement. Sincere describes personal characteristics like beliefs, patterns of thought, behavior and communication as things to be tied to village atheist, another bit of ignorance on your part.

          • Duncan MacLeod

            >”You mean it’s an insulting characterization”
            Yes, one that’s not backed up by anything and just asserted, ie. an insult.

            >”The point was about atheists that act religiously about Dawkins et al while referring to feminism as a cult.”

            I have met no atheists that act “religiously” towards any of these people, just atheists that agree with them on many things or think they make good points. At the same time I have seen what could be described as cultish behavior in some self-described feminist circles, where groupthink has evolved to the point where some insane ideas about sexism and free speech that have gotten twisted to the point of being sexist themselves become the enforced norm by sheer force of peer pressure and repetition. I have not seen similar behavior from fans of the likes of Dawkins or Ali. I see the allegation all the time, but despite interacting with atheists in exactly the circles where people who like to debate about this stuff hang out on a regular basis, I’ve never seen a person “religiously” following any of these people or opinions (even if I’ve disagreed with many and met many with poorly supported opinions, I’ve never seen someone cling to a particular belief or person in a religious way).

            On that note I’d like to point out that Sincere *didn’t* just refer to some people who agree with Ali acting a certain way, he insulted her directly. I would say he criticized her directly, but he didn’t, he just insulted her. There was no actual substance to it.

          • Joshua White

            Not just an insult. You missed the word “characterization” which implicitly involves characteristics. Sincere included quite a few of them up there and like things like racist or sexist that others find insulting the mere fact that someone is insulted I really don’t care about in this context as many people treat insulting characterizations like all they are is insults.

            As for fans acting religiously, the example I encounter a lot involves Harris fans insisting that something was taken out of context, yet they don’t appear to be able to provide the necessary context.

            With respect to feminists and acting cult-like, one person’s hivemind is another’s strategic social cohesion. In an abstract sense if one wants social change one has to get a critical mass of people acting a certain way. That often can require some rhetorical harshness such as what many religious people are experiencing when it comes to how they talk about LGBT people. It can also include personal decisions on what one allows on one’s social spaces. The people getting criticized very often complain about freedom of speech and make mental health related non-literalisms as you just did.

            Finally in the case of Ali you will have to ask Sincere what the specifics in that example are. I’m familiar with some of her positions and while I sympathize with her experiences I’m not really going to spend as much energy supporting a person that downplays and distorts what other minority communities are going through while working on her goals (the comment about the worst thing that can happen to gay people in the US is not being served cake, I can cite upon request).

  • Ron Hopsing

    I am a Buddhist and an atheist. Buddhist also don’t believe in gods. So New atheists? Buddhists have been atheists for 2500 plus years. When the discussion of atheists come up Buddhism is not factored in so atheists can have a religion.

  • KoreanKat

    Speaking of “new religion,” most proponents of ‘social justice’ go around acting like a Puritan Elect in my experience.

    This article is a case in point. It seeks to “otherize” atheists who won’t fall in line with Critical Race Theory dogma that defines what is generally meant by ‘social justice.’ It is particularly laughable to see single-variable politics criticized when race so thoroughly dominates ‘social justice’ discourse that attempts to discuss class are routinely met with hostility. The inability to discuss Islamic misogyny in ‘social justice’ circles again shows race as the overwhelmingly determinate factor.

    The evidence-based approach of ‘village atheism’ is threatening to narrative-driven politics and thus its proponents must be thoroughly and repeatedly denounced. Rather than reflecting a ‘village’ mentality, the atheists Mr. Kirabo attacks are proponents of universal rights and rationalism, which conflict with neo-tribalism, cultural relativism and identity politics.

    • Joshua White

      So what parts are “puritan like”?

      You are correct that it is seeking to identify and stigmatize, but it outlines behaviors, beliefs and ways of thinking. You will have to do more work than that to make a connection to “critical race”, whatever you mean by that. Ditto for how this connects to any problems you see with discussing class.

      • KoreanKat

        I am amused that underneath the smug and condescending posture you have exhibited here with commenter after commenter, you are ultimately ignorant of Critical Race Theory, a widely-taught and influential paradigm in identity politics and academic. At least you adhere to its core ethos: rather than look up the term like a rational person confronted with the unknown, you just conveniently wave it away and continue babbling.

        • Joshua White

          I’m not going to do your homework for you when you are the one who came here and deposited your words on the screen.

          You have conveniently left out that I asked about more than you name-dropping a theory, I asked how it connected to your other thoughts and simply looking it up something I am unfamiliar with will not do that. if you can’t justify your claims about others just say so. But hiding behind how you feel about the words of others is rather craven.

          • KoreanKat

            Your ignorance is a matter of your homework, not mine. The fact you don’t understand this explains why I don’t spend more time engaging you.

          • Joshua White

            Whatever makes you feel better.

            You made a specific claim about Sincere’s writing involving a “Puritan Effect” and claimed that it was otherizing other people that did not “fall into line” with respect to a theory having to do with race that you described as “dogma”.

            What I asked for was reasonable. No one has to accept that at fact value and if you really had anything worth talking shit about the author you would be happy to show me what you meant because it would make your case. Instead like any person only in it to make noise in a social conflict sense when asked for you to outline your reason, logic and the meaning of specific things you tried to make it about me.

            When I argued with creationists I very often offered links to concepts and subjects and explained how they related to my characterizations of things they said. Since you are willing to abandon your reason for your logic you are matching some of the patterns that Sincere described. I am happy with this.

          • KoreanKat

            The reason I’m not wasting time elaborating my positions is because a person so wilfully ignorant that they lack the intellectual curiosity to inform themselves about an unfamiliar term is simply not worth it. Grow up, and drop this Smug Style posturing that underlies virtually every post I’ve seen from you in this thread.

          • Joshua White

            Keep on making those excuses. I’m plenty curious when the other party shows a willingness to be able actually cite what they base their claims on so that I can actually assess their reason and logic. At this point I’m just amused by how empty you ended up being.

    • Cassie

      Yep

  • Ryan Eaton

    Looks like we’re really getting into a discussion about who is more open minded. This pissing contest has been brought to you by the letter A.

    Seriously though, I do agree with some of the author’s statements, but much of it sounds like self-righteous tripe laden with apologist rhetoric. I’m not even sure of the position he is taking in some places and sounds more like something from a YEC.

    The problem is that this is an attack article, not a challenge. A challenge would pose a particular ethical stance for those who have failed in personal challenge of standing concepts. This is just belittling a segment of the populace, like any of the many Boomers Vs Millenials garbage.

  • Colorado Native

    While I would agree with a fellow atheist on a certain spectrum of issues, were he/she to also hold racist views, I would be very circumspect about their ability to separate fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. It’s been my experience, especially with some Southerners, that they pretend to be objective and say that they are, but if you touch the nerve of race in any way, they lapse into their apologist pose for their so-called “objective” feelings about race. And these people I would tend to put an unkind label on, just because, as a human being, I am neither totally objective nor totally subjective, but like everyone else, I am a combination of both along a continuum of experience. Labels aren’t necessarily bad. In my view, they are simply shorthand for the prevailing attitude of a group. If some labels are pejorative, then so be it.

  • notmike64

    What the hell are you talking about? Someone please tell me…

  • Sane_Person

    How many straw men can you erect? How many false dichotomies? Please specify what percentage of what Bill Maher or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Christopher Hitchens have/had to say I can approve of before I’m a village atheist. Is it OK to think that atheists are just kinda despised, but maybe not the MOST despised and oppressed group?

    What a smug, tiresome essay this is.

    • Joshua White

      What straw-men and false dichotomies are you referring to?

  • Ray Stinger

    Hmmm… Its becoming popular for atheists to ridicule SJW’s & Feminists when they do shamefully embarrassing crap… how can I defend this?!?! I could abandon being an SJW… Naw, screw logic, that’s what I’m committed to! Wait… OR!~~~ I COULD JUST STRAWMAN ATHEISTS: find a punchy pejorative participle, complain they like Dawkins, gripe that people get tired of explaining intelligent ideas to stupid people, mix in a bit of sweeping assumption, cry about “science”, be the very first person in the world to call Atheism “Faith”… there! All fixed! TAKE THAT ATHEISTS! PWNED!~~~~

    • Joshua White

      Similarly you could offer actual objections to real things that Sincere actually wrote instead of your utterly useless insulting paraphrasing that amounts to empty name-calling. Things like pointing out the straw-man, or the assumptions, or why the references to Dawkins were inappropriate. But that would take effort.

      • Duncan MacLeod

        There were actual objections. Just because it’s sarcastic doesn’t mean it’s not specific. The references to Dawkins were inappropriate because they were derogatory but completely unfounded. Sincere didn’t attempt to prove any of the people or opinions being associated with “village atheism” actually wrong, he/she just called everyone who agreed with them ignorant and socially unaware, among other things.

        • Joshua White

          A paraphrase is not specific. It is a person’s emotionally laden characterization of something else. An object filtered through a subject. I have no problems with the emotional content as long as the objective content is there as well so i can assess if the emotions are justified. So far this is matching up with what Sincere said about logic and reason getting abandoned when the subject was not religion. I want the reason and the logic for the characterizations and that is a reasonable thing to want.

          Also this post is about creating a characterization that is supposed to be insulting so I really don’t care about the derogatory part. I’ve encountered the same sorts of people that do act religiously about Dawkins and then talk about feminism as if it were a cult so I’m fine with it. It’s not about all people following Dawkins et al, it’s not about all people with criticisms of feminism, or all people who have problems with how social justice is advocated for, it’s about people with the characteristics listed.

          It’s an abstract until applied to a specific person as an insult now that it has been coined so when such ignorant, social unaware people appear to argue against social justice the term gets used. I see no problems so far.

          • Spatula

            So wait… “Sincere” is upset that his “village atheists” are mean and insulting and paint with too broad a brunch, so his solution is to invent a term for them, paint them with a broad brush and insult them. Yeah, I think we’re done here.

          • Joshua White

            Not really since there is a whole lot more than “mean and insulting and paint with too broad a brush”. But if you want to keep looking like the people that Sincere wrote about that drop reason and logic go right ahead.

            Go look at my conversation with bobco85 and you can see a list as specific as you can find for something like “SJW” and there are still a couple left out. There is nothing wrong with collecting a set of characteristics and applying a name to them in general terms.

  • Phil

    So the village religious bigot tries to claim that secularism is the real cult. If you want to pose as someone who doesn’t hate science again in future, say “materialism” instead of “scientism”. Even now “scientism” isn’t recognised by spell check, it’s a made up word used by people who want to pretend that science is a kind of faith rather than being the exact opposite of faith. Nobody identifies with scientism; it’s derogatory. His entire piece is polite but un-evidenced and inflammatory hate speech. This guy apparently doesn’t know how to argue, only slander and smear. The entire article has been endless accusations.
    Why anyone thought this should be published on a Humanist website is puzzling, but how an anti-secularist bully like this guy got any position at the American Humanist Association is beyond me.

    • Joshua White

      Spellcheck? That’s pathetic.

      They provided a definition of what they meant by scientism and it’s meant to be a word that feels negative and so people would not identify with it by choice. Other words that feel negative and have use are irrational, bigot and others. The fact that you think that it is derogatory is meaningless. They presented information up there and you may find it unconvincing, but that that is not the same as “unevidenced”.

      Since you offered no reasons for why any specific parts of this amount to hate speech, slander and smearing I find you far more of a slanderer and smearer.

      • Atriokke

        isnt hate speech based on hurt feelings, not on what the one spewing hate thinks of it? From my current understanding of hate speech, both are just as valid hate speeches… But then again, being tolerant of intolerance is not tolerance. So i suppose the one crying foul first wins.

        • Joshua White

          Feel free to give me an example of the kind you don’t like.

          What is understood as hate speech has to do with incitement against minority or other protected groups. It implicitly recognizes the group dynamic that produces things like witch-hunts (real ones, not the popular hyperbole from people that can’t take criticism). So no, they are not the same even if both involve people that hate.

          • Atriokke

            EDIT: realized this is on a complete tangent. Soz. Will leave if u find it interesting to reply to.
            “…with incitement against minority or other protected groups”. Yes. The tricky part here is that hate speech proponents do a terrible job at limiting what can contribute to this incitement. Contribution in the way of propagating a narrative, even if it is to save someones life -as a reductio-, being one of the major problematic ones. That is, problems or ideologies specific WITHIN these minorities are sheltered from discussion (non-disclosure of race-ethnicity by police) or criticism (of Islam eg.) for the greater good presumably -to avoid the witch-hunt-. From my perspective this approach has 1 major pitfall and one other potential drawback. The major one being that actual problems are perpetuated as they can not be openly discussed. The drawback being that society generally hates being lied to/omitted specially by government, even if your intentions are justified (eg. the weasle in the Iran deal with Obama saying that they sold a lie to the public because they wouldnt have swallowed it otherwise. This is said to be for the greater good.).

          • Joshua White

            I don’t mind the tangent. Can you clarify a couple of things?
            I’m not assuming any of the below about your concerns in particular, but these are some of the things that complicate these issues that I encounter.

            1) I’ve heard mentions about problems involving race
            disclosure before, what is the context of the disclosure that you have in mind? Ongoing searches for a suspect? Statistics? Do you have an example?

            2) What sorts of criticism of Islam do you have in mind? I
            have no problems with criticism Islam in general. The sorts of criticism of
            Islam that I tend to oppose involve:

            * Bigoted criticism (general prejudice and/or discrimination
            in motivation, communication and action)

            * Efforts to change the subject to Islam from general
            addressing of a social justice issue in response to efforts to have the issue
            addressed locally (issues having to do with sexism and misogyny)

            *Efforts to deal with terrorism as a psychology and behavior
            independent of group so that more frequently encountered examples of terrorism are effectively dealt with in parallel with any terrorism committed by Muslims.

            I don’t actually experience that problems can’t be discussed. Rather in my experience the way the problems are discussed don’t solve anything (because they are not problems/address anything usefully or they don’t actually), cause new/worse problems, or involve other social problems
            that I oppose in a way that prevents me from being able to actively support an effort. What Iran deal are you referring to?

      • Atriokke

        They provided evidence?

        They used negative adjectives while mentioning Harris, Hirsin Ali, Dawkins, and Hitchens, preluding them with a general (a)’they use logic and reason exclusively when they target religion and they dont really consider/explore the underlying reasons of social inequality’. No substantiation of the negative adjectives were ever detailed and therefore it just comes across as smear and slander, although technically omitting the reason is just vacuous characterization rather than smear or slander.

        Now that no details were given as to what arguments make them subject to (a), lets call the omitted arguments (b), all of these ppl are characterized as village atheists and by extension everyone that agrees with them because they agree with (b).

        This being the setup then, when you proceed to #1, ppl are at a loss of what arguments it is that you are arguing against No, from what I’ve read/heard from the ppl aforementioned I did not surmise or understand that they live in this one-trick pony worldview that excludes complex realities. Or that they encourage ppl to completely dismiss compassion and empathy. I guess this is part of what is assumed to be known from the reader. I can imagine ppl less familiar with some or any of these individuals, and that have heard some things that they agree with, be flabbergasted as to why the contempt to these individuals and how they are implicitly agreeing with any of this.
        Similar for point 2, ‘religion ruins everything’ is the title of the book and not an argument hitchens made to make religion, to the exclusion of everything else, the reason for the ills of everything. Rather religion poisons everything does not mean that religion is the only thing that poisons anything.
        And as for point 3. This to me was a bit obscure. I mean it did seem like he was arguing against the use of reason or logic, while previously decrying the limited use of it because it did not extend to other areas other than religious. Bit of a contradiction there. And im not sure what the opposite of scientism would be that hes proposing. His definition ” who uses the word “scientism” to refer to mindsets that either underappreciate, discount, or even denigrate the contributions of philosophy, the context provided by lived experiences, and the significance of social sciences”… presents a dichotomy that i do not think exists with respect to social sciences and context of lived experiences(or maybe I was unaware that social sciences is in voodoo land -which begs the question, why is the author opposing dogma while validating voodoo-). Social sciences which I would think psychology is part of still can and do work with the scientific methodology to make any statistically significant claims. Philosophy gave us science, so I see its uses, and who knows maybe amazing thinkers will give us an even better tool. I think philosophy is constantly trying to push the boundaries and I respect them for that -and even moreso being exposed to it and knowing the knots and complexities that are dealt with here-. And again, none of the Hitchens, Hirsins, Harris or Dawkins I am under the impression disagree… yet they are still the embodiment of village atheists(?).

        I hope this makes more sense as to why other ppl find the ‘evidence’ presented here lacking and more like just attacking for the sake of it.

  • Bobby

    Guess I’m a village atheist, because I don’t give a shit about annnny of this.

    • Joshua White

      You are also dishonest. You would not be commenting if you did not care. so you had to “not give a shit” in a public way.

      • Bobby

        Meh. It’s fine for atheists to not care about issues. I’m selfish and okay with it.

        • Joshua White

          People can not care about issues, sure. Now that that’s out of the way how about the fact that you do care about this issue here or you would not have felt the need to role-model not caring about it?

          • Bobby

            Nah.

          • Bobby

            Naaaah.

  • Davy Goossens

    hahahaha i saw the writer’s face now it all makes sense
    bix nood atheism. oh boy.

    • Joshua White

      So because of the way a person looks what they write is wrong? I actually want to see this. ‘m guessing your reasoning skills are worth about as much as what my cat just vomited up.

      • Joshua White

        Since Davy Goossens did not feel able to reply I’ll point out that this was likely because the content of their comment was basically “the article is bad because the author is black”. Pure racism. “bix nood” is a replacement for the N-word on parts of the internet such as 4chan.

        At least the right sorts of people are getting upset at this new insulting characterization.

  • Johnny

    “1. You mindlessly parrot certain terms or concepts without critically thinking about the implications of those ideas.”

    You mean such terms like “Islamophobia”? The fact that you specifically singled out Dawkins/Harris/Maher/Ali in your criticism of “village atheists” suggests you take issue with some common attribute among these people. Is it pure coincidence that the four happen to be among the most vocal critics of Islam out there and seek to give voice to those trying to reform the faith from within?

    The majority of your article, in fact, reads as a covert defense of Islam, and I suspect you’re not defending it overtly only because you realized the hypocrisy would be obvious. If prodded on the subject, something tells me you’d side with the Reza Aslans and Glenn Greenwalds out there.

    “If you’re gonna try to draw any correlation between Islam and terrorism/misogyny/homophobia, you’re just missing the ‘nuance’, bro. Get some more ‘nuance’ and then we’ll talk, because ‘nuance’ clearly states that the reason for all these societal ills is something other than religious beliefs”.

    • Joshua White

      What parts look like a covert defense of Islam?

      Because I have seen people supporting Dawkins, Harris and Maher engage in such behavior and just because you think that others abuse Islamophobia does not make that go away. Do you have an example of such abuse of Islamophobia?

      • Johnny

        The parts that look like a covert defense of Islam are the parts that paint “village atheists” as one-trick ponies incapable of “nuance” who rigidly adhere to labels instead of seeing the magical bigger picture. So, most of the article. (p.s. The reason I keep using the word “nuance” is because this article reads a lot like something Reza Aslan would write, and “nuance” is his go-to word).

        Everything reads as a preamble to the claim that “village atheists” are nothing more than those who call a spade a spade when it comes to religion and the sort of behavior directly encouraged by it. The only religion where this is actually a point of debate is Islam, as motive is not an issue whenever some Christian lunatic bombs an abortion clinic.

        “If you blame Islam for the violence, homophobia, and misogyny directly mandated by the text in the Qur’an and hadith, you’re a village atheist”.

        • Joshua White

          Mind quoting the parts you are talking about? Part of reason is being willing and able to provide yours so others can assess your logic.

          Since it’s a insulting characterization it’s an abstract until a person appears that matches the characteristics. I’ve encountered quite a few atheists who stubbornly repeat the same things without being able to explain themselves or how what they were doing applied the the situation or matched with a larger context.

          Now since this piece actually seems to be about coining an insulting characterization please show me your reason (the part of the text) for thinking that Sincere is or is about to use this to defend Islam.

          • Johnny

            I was going to provide quotes, but there are too many of them. Once again, the whole article reads as a hit piece on “Islamophobes” minus the actual hit.

            But behold, here’s a quote from another one of Sincere’s articles, which I stumbled upon while looking at your own post history:

            “While I still respect some of Harris’ opinions about theistic religious traditions, I don’t support many of his stances concerning political and social issues. And though his views on Islam is often eerily similar to statements made by conservative ideologue Michelle Malkin[1][2][3], there’s a specific matter I want to focus on apart from his lofty anti-Muslim bigotry and specious appeals to regressive liberalism.” – From “Discussing Sam Harris and Transantagonism” by Sincere Kirabo, on Patheos.

            “Lofty anti-Muslim bigotry” is quite the accusation for having provided no evidence of it. Note also the specific use of the term “Islamophobia” elsewhere in the same article.

          • Joshua White

            Looks like you have a couple of things you can do then.

            On one issue, too many? Quit stalling and give me a couple from this piece. “Reads like” is your subjective emotional impression. If I can’t see the object of your reason I can’t assess your logic in order to see if the emotion is justified.

            On the other issue you can ask Sincere what they have in mind when it comes to Harris and anti-muslim bigotry. I have my own favorite examples and if you share your issues with this piece in specifics I’ll be happy to reciprocate in an even social exchange. That would put you above many posters here I’ve been arguing with.

          • Johnny

            “Stalling”, says the guy who keeps pretending to be interested in an “even social exchange” while asking rhetorical questions and masking (poorly) his condescension toward those with whom he disagrees. (Let’s note your failure to provide an argument so far while feigning interest in the other person’s position.)

            We’ve settled the issue of “subjective emotional impression” with the direct quote from the other article, where Sincere specifically accuses Harris of “anti-Muslim bigotry”. We are no longer talking about my reading of his articles so much as his stated opinions. In other words, my reading of this article is correct, objectively so.

            So, how about you provide your own reasons for believing Harris is an “anti-Muslim bigot”? I’ll respond in kind with Sam’s own words, as I guarantee we will not be treading any new waters. Harris has already responded to these accusations to the satisfaction of everyone who isn’t a regressive leftist like you or Sincere.

  • “Traditional atheist” issues like church and state separation and fighting creationism simply don’t address the breadth of oppression that exists in society. Erasing every oppressive religious ideology today wouldn’t abolish wealth gaps, educational segregation, homophobia, ableism, mass incarceration, redlining, and numerous other social ills.

    Very well said!

    I’m deeply thankful for this article, because I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the use of terms like regressive leftist and social justice warrior by people who are ostensibly concerned with the history of ideas and the concepts of freedom and progress. The New Atheist notion of history as some sort of meritocracy of ideas is one that not only acts as camouflage for a lot of intractable social inequities in modern society, but also resembles the kind of magical thinking that we’re supposed to deplore.
    It’s dismaying to see the freethought movement turn into a hate group.

    • Johnny

      But “regressive leftists” are indeed a thing, as evidenced by their willingness to dispense with liberal principles whenever the conversation turns to Islam.

      “I’m all for the empowerment of women and fighting against patriarchy and misogyny…except when it comes to Islam, because that’s, like, their culture, man. You gotta respect the culture or you’re a racist and Islamophobe.”

      “I’m all for protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community and fighting against discrimination…except when it comes to Islam, because that’s, like, their culture, man. You gotta respect the culture or you’re a racist and Islamophobe.”

      “I’m all for free speech…except when it comes to Islam, because that’s, like, their culture, man. You gotta respect the culture or you’re a racist and Islamophobe.”

      There are few things more illiberal than stifling free speech and ending the conversation before it even starts, and yet there they are, a bunch of otherwise liberal “progressives” suddenly making sure that the only opinions anyone can express are those they’ve deemed the “right” opinions per their arbitrary criteria.

      • Joshua White

        Do you have an example?

        Because your paraphrases do not at all match with any reality that I am familiar with. I do see leftists complaining about problems within Islam, and complaining about racism and other bigotry within the people who want us to hyper-focus on Islam.

        Also “free speech” does not always apply and certainly not here. That has to do with government suppression of speech and this has to do with where we criticize one another for bad behavior. So I would really like to see an example of what you are talking about.

        • Johnny

          Unfortunately, this website apparently does not allow me to post links without “approval” from the moderators, so you’ll have to do some Googling.

          1. The Bill Maher episode with Sam Harris and Ben Affleck.
          2. “Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus” – Glenn Greenwald
          3. “Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists” – Murtaza Hussain
          4. “Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists flirt with Islamophobia” – Nathan Lean
          5. “What Does Maajid Nawaz Really Believe?” – Nathan Lean
          6. “Sam Harris’ detestable crusade: How his latest anti-Islam tract reveals the bankruptcy of his ideas” – Omer Aziz
          7. Virtually anything written by Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan, Murtaza Hussain, Nathan Lean, Chris Hedges, et cetera.

          You might find it odd that the articles I’m posting all seem to revolve around the same people (Sam Harris more than anything) and were written by the same people. That’s because the author of this article specifically name-drops Harris along with the rest of the usual “Islamophobia” targets (Maher, Dawkins, Ali), which is what leads me to think this article really is another hit piece on “New Atheists” and “Islamophobes” disguised as a bigger argument to hide the hypocrisy implicit in the very accusations.

          p.s. I’m not talking about “free speech” in terms of the 1st Amendment. I’m talking about it in terms of the simple and free exchange of ideas that has been the cornerstone of the civilized world for millennia. Christianity is a fairly “benign” religion these days (compared to its actual text and history) thanks to our ability to ridicule it out of its barbarism, laws and government notwithstanding.

          • KoreanKat

            It’s easier to just turn such know-nothing posturing around on itself and ask that people who deny such behavior by the Regressive Left simply name some politicaly-acceptable critics of Islam.

            Other names you could add inclide Dean Obeidallah, Cenk Uygur, and Karen Armstrong, all pf whom engage in vicious smears of people who dare criticize Islam.

          • Joshua White

            I don’t find it odd that the article refers to those people because I’ve had problems with some fans of those people myself.

            Now I want to fairly assess your paraphrases so can you tell me which ones apply to which people when it comes to your claims about their arguments? Who is specifically defending Islam in a way that contradicts their views on women and empowerment for example? When I have a link I will let you know and you can tell me what paragraph if it’s not easily apparent.

          • Joshua White

            I’m just letting you know that until I know which of those paraphrases match with an article I’m not going to be looking at anything. The thing about paraphrases like those is that they are the conclusions of arguments absent the reason and logic. It’s reasonable for me to know which one has something in it that you see and others don’t.

          • Johnny

            That was a pretty roundabout way of conceding the argument.

    • KoreanKat

      Name three publicly-visible critics of Islam whom you do not consider Islamophobic and would leap to defend against such charges by your ‘social justice’ cohort.

      • Well, if you’re just looking for “critics” of Islam who will tell you what you want to hear, Harris and Hitchens will do the trick. However, as experts on the history of the Middle East and contemporary geopolitics, they’re the nonbelief equivalent of Ann Coulter. How about reading something by Bernard Lewis, like “What Went Wrong,” about how Middle Eastern societies dealt with modernity? He’s a fairly right-wing historian, but he takes you back centuries and gives you a broad overview of the ways the competition between the East and the West played out in terms of colonialism, technology, and capitalism. He talks about politics, economics, and culture, but there’s nothing there about the tenets of Islam. Because believe it or not, reducing “Islam” to a bunch of beliefs or cherry-picked Koran verses doesn’t help us understand what’s going on in the Middle East.

        • KoreanKat

          So in other words you can’t name a single critic who passes your political purity test. I have read several works or excerpts thereof by Lewis, who is hardly “right-wing,” although that label, particularly the need to apply one at all, underscores my concerns. You even admit “there’s nothing there about the tenants of Islam in his work generally.

          People criticize Christianity, capitalism, and various other ideologies without the obfuscation and goal-post shifting people like you engage in on behalf of Islam. the fact you can’t even name an ex-Muslim critic is particularly damning.

          • My apologies for not being willing to jump through hoops for you. I was just wondering whether you had ever read anything about the history of the Middle East that wasn’t by some cheap polemicist, and by the sounds of it, it’s unlikely.

            Since I never accused anyone of being “Islamophobic,” or engaged in any goal-post shifting or obfuscation “on behalf of Islam,” I’m going to leave you alone with whichever of your personalities you’re debating.

          • KoreanKat

            I see. You liken political centrists to Ann Coulter, call them “cheap polemicist[s]” and put “critics” in scare-quotes, but stomp your feet when I suggest you operate in bad faith. You then have a hissy fit when unable to name a single critic of Islam who meets your political agenda. You instead hurl juvenile insults at me.

  • Kenneth Wicker

    You realize that not all Atheists are Humanists or even believe in science, right? I’m just saying that you seem to have a skewed view of what an “atheist” is. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of this stuff bothers me too, but it’s like you’re getting mad at Canis familiaris because you don’t like the temperament of the Husky.

  • Satanic_Panic

    Typical, whiny SJW crap. Quit conflating atheism with humanism.

    • Joshua White

      Where did the author do such a conflation?

      • Spatula

        Throughout the entire article. Atheism is about exactly one thing: a lack of belief in a deity. That’s *it*. That’s ALL it is. It does not come along with any other set of beliefs or require any other belief. If you look, you’ll find atheists with all sorts of different personal belief systems, but “the author” (aka you) chose to focus solely on those which made him feel maximally butthurt and painted this silly sweeping generalization that any postadolescent should be able to see through.

        • Joshua White

          So what if atheist is a lack of belief in a deity. What’s the point? People tend to focus on things that interest or concern them and this on has to do with atheists.

          The author dislikes atheists with these characteristics and that seems fine to me as I like to criticize them when I encounter them as well.

          What part did you have a problem with?

      • Satanic_Panic

        The whole “essay” is a screed about what the author pejoratively describes as village atheism (which he sees as obviously wrong). Did you actually read the fucking article?

      • Satanic_Panic

        The whole fucking essay conflates atheism with humanism. Did you actually read it?

  • Jesus Bones

    Covert deist??

  • Spatula

    One could levy many of these same complaints about the more obnoxious fringes of the Social Justice movement just as readily. “Mindlessly parroting certain terms or concepts without critically thinking about the implications of those ideas?” Oh hell yes. “Single-variable politics coming first?” Absolutely.

    All of this comes across as a series of straw men and little more than a whine. A wild caricature has been created of the mean old atheists who aren’t behaving exactly according to the right and pure standard and set of rules that have been invented for them to obey. And then the caricature is called ‘distorted.’

    If that weren’t enough, the whole thing is peppered with incredible egotism. *I* have named these atheists. *I* judge that they’re BAD. They aren’t doing what *I* want them to do. They aren’t as idologically pure as *ME*. They aren’t following the rules invented by *MY* movement. *I* am tired of this. *I* don’t like that.

    Stop glorying in your own flatulence. It isn’t impressing anybody outside your immediate peer group. Add $3 to the purity points you get from them, and you can buy a coffee at Starbucks.

    • Joshua White

      What straw-men in the text?

      What mindless parroting of items?

      What single-variable politics?

      Why is it a problem if they are choosing a label for people with similar behavior? Why is that egoism? Someone had to coin the names of fallacies because of similar observations. Were those simply egotistical?

      This whole part is just as easily applied to yourself since you are doing the same thing and what matters is what is tied to the claim. (Except perhaps the movement rules part).
      >”*I* judge that they’re BAD. They aren’t doing what *I* want them to do.
      They aren’t as idologically pure as *ME*. They aren’t following the
      rules invented by *MY* movement. *I* am tired of this. *I* don’t like
      that.”

      Would you mind getting more specific than your characterizations? I find those impossible to tie to anything in the author’s text usefully.

      • Spatula

        Several people have already pointed out these things to you, several times. If you were anything other than a self-indulgent troll, it might be worth entertaining your questions, but you’re not.

      • Spatula

        Additionally, judging by the degree of your butthurt about any criticism of this “article” and your dogged persistence in prattling on about it, it’s plenty obvious that you are the author of this piece, so please stop insulting our intelligence and pretending otherwise.

        • Johnny

          I thought it was strange that he’s obsessively responding to any criticism of the article, but I didn’t think much else of it.

          Looking at his Disqus post history, though, the sock puppet theory has some merit. Out of all the articles he’s commented on (a surprising few of them), 3 are Sincere Kirabo pieces, and he’s similarly vociferous and obsessive in each of them.

          • Joshua White

            You can think me strange and a sock puppet all you want. I basically like doing what I am doing. I like asking reasonable questions. I like seeing if people can back up their emotionally intense opinions and characterizations.

        • Joshua White

          Now that’s just funny right there. Another one that is incapable of providing the reason for what they opine about.

  • Xylo

    If life were as over simplified as your essay makes it seem, but it is not and no one fits identical in actions, beliefs, or thinking. Judging all on the basis of a few is as bad as your accusations of atheist actions.

    • Joshua White

      How are they judging all based on a few?

      I see Sincere listing a set of characteristics and associating that with a label. That is about judging those with those characteristics.

      • Spatula

        This is just another way of saying you see “Sincere” engaged in juvenile, judgmental name-calling. At least that much we agree on.

        • Joshua White

          I think that you can have the maturity to leave their first name out of this. Keep it rational.

          The article listed some specific characterizations of people and I have met people that individually have such characteristics. I don’t see them as mere-name calling since I’ve met them. Do you identify with the people that are being characterized? Or do you just not believe that people like this exist?

  • Asylum Party

    So, I’ve absolutely seen evidence for the point I believe you’re trying to make–about how many young atheists have an unwillingness to confront social justice and have joined a reactionary right–but, I think you’re doing a slight in making your point.
    I don’t believe right-libertarian people who follow Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Sam Harris have ever read their work, and to associate them with callousness toward inequality is ignorance of their work. Sam Harris is primarily concerned with asking uncomfortable questions that few others will ask. Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells the story of her life, and she’s shunned because it might make Islam look bad.
    Richard Dawkins is primarily concerned with anti-scientific attitudes.

    Bill Maher has said things I really wish he hadn’t (he’s notorious for medical conspiracy theories on his show), though would you really assert that his attitude is that of an apathy toward social justice?

    When we’re talking about regards for the social justice movement, we’re talking about the same attitudes that dominated the election cycle. I would argue that you could generalize the catastrophe as the collective inability of our culture to have challenging conversations.

    And this is a problem, culturally, that different political affiliations are responsible for, but I would not say they’ve played the same role. The right is only interested in its own well-being and the left is only interested in its own guilt or reputation.

    The collective unease about hot button issues is something the far left sets as taboo and attempts often literal censorship but mostly condemnation and a sort of witch-hunt, and while the unease grows, the far right exploits the situation by breaching the taboo, far as possible, and with no nuance, loaned credulity by the far left’s relativist nonsense.

    So, I, myself, am neither relativist nor reactionary. I see these ignorant claims of “race-blindness” and equality, but I also see people who simultaneously have been educated to know that racism is a collective societal problem and not an individual one–yet still decide they can socially elevate themselves through this witch hunt behavior.

    I really can’t stand for any of it, and that’s why someone like Anthony Magnabosco (look up his Street Epistemology videos if you’re unfamiliar) demonstrates an appealing alternative. Because he incurs deeper thought where one can question beliefs and political alliances.

    • Zachary Bower

      I don’t know much about Ayann Hirsi Ali, but yes, I would absolutely say that the other 3 are indifferent to social justice.

      If it were true that Dawkins only concerned himself with anti-scientific attitudes, I would have much fewer problems with him. However, this ignores his Twitter, which is quickly becoming his primary means of communication with the world. If you check that on a semi-regular basis, or at least when the internet has blown up about something he said, it’s apparent that he cares very much about social justice movements…at least as far as whining about “pro-Islamist feminists” that supposedly exist, or being uninvited to a speech, or something else that’s evidently bothering him enough to passive-aggressively snipe about, but not actually engage in discussion with critics over. Since he talks about social justice so often, but only in terms of how this “extreme minority” is supposedly being so unfair to him, it’s hard to take his claims of being an ardent feminist & egalitarian very seriously. It does seem that he’s pretty much indifferent when he can’t pin the blame on religion, & much more likely to complain about how it inconveniences him. I’m tempted to say, “at least he’s not explicitly anti-feminist,” but I find it so ridiculous that’s something I have to give kudos for.

      Still, I have some respect for Dawkins’s non-social issue ideas, even if they’re increasingly becoming a thing of the past. I have no such sentiments towards Harris. He doesn’t “ask uncomfortable questions that few would ask” at all, his “Defense of Profiling” & his mantra that “action stems from ideology” are downright lowest common denominator. They’re arguments that any pretentious internet comment would make. It’s a true but trivial statement that terrorists act out of some kind of ideology, & mixed with false claims like that it’s somehow a “uniquely Muslim” phenomenon, it’s used to promote absurd conclusions. If you TRY to ask him a more difficult question, it becomes pretty clear that he understands very little about what he’s talking about. He thumbs his nose at social & political explanations for terrorism, but has yet to elaborate on HIS explanation for why some who read the Quran gravitate towards terrorism, but others don’t. He’s had a security expert tell him just how flawed his opinions on profiling are, yet he still maintains them.

      And with the way he writes off his critics as always “misrepresenting” him, where does he get off thinking he’s earned the right to ask anyone ELSE “uncomfortable questions” in the first place? On that subject, if you look carefully at his arguments, he always manages to say something that can be interpreted in 2 completely different ways. In his “defense of profiling,” he did in fact have Arabian appearance listed as 1 of his reasons someone may “look Muslim,” but has downplayed that every time he talks about that piece, opting instead to focus on how he ALSO said that white people weren’t immune to criticism. It’s literally the same logic of fortune telling: Give something vague or so full of qualifiers that it could cover anything, move on when you’re wrong, & trust the audience to remember when you were “right.”

      Bill Maher, I know less about, but enough to know that he unquestionably cracks “jokes” about things like how “the woman of the year used to be a man.” Again, it’s hard to consider that anything other than indifference. An d no, I’m not saying that Bill Maher never has good ideas or supports social equality, just that he’s indifferent when it doesn’t really concern him.

  • Ansil

    All the things you seem to see happening must be happening in places I don’t frequent. I’m not seeing all these generalized behaviors, and illogical disconnects, etc. Certainly I’ve seen misogyny, but not specifically related to atheism. I think you were looking for a rant to express, and decided you’d do a little molehill inflation. I’ll keep my eyes open, just the same.

  • Atriokke

    Such contrived pigeonholing in this article. I agree, as a person using reason and logic, which i hope u still find useful when trying to make a point- with most(not all) of what all the ‘priests’ of village atheism say. Am i free to disagree with certain points and at what point do i stop being a village atheist? not that labels bother me if they accurately describe the beliefs i hold. This article -i presume- is an attempt at tacking a term in response to the now ubiquitous term of regressive left, where hints at that in article were bountiful, and i sensed an overarching buthurtedness throughout. Nevertheless, this was sparse on details and mostly just talking with a huge brush and vague remarks(like my previous sentence). What exactly about any of these priests dogmas ( which i suppose is synonymous to opinion if many ppl agree with it despite how faithless the approach) are u against?

    I dont think any of the priests agree that all problems will be solved once it goes away. At most it is just that it is a good step forward.

    Not entirely certain what is meant by scientism here, or if that just means an application of the scientific method to derive knowledge, but the seeming departure of using it in the fields of sociology, psychology and anthropology is odd. I was under the impression these were.. well, sciences. We got science through philosophy imo, and harris is a philosopher and hitchens was one of sorts and thus i find philosophers useful. There is no contempt for exploring w.e. in philosophy eg. metaphysics from me or anyone i know who i would think could slap on the village tag described here ( pretty broad tag).

    “Village atheists also have a habit of trying to explain physical, social, cultural, or psychological phenomena through a single scope that exalts the methods of natural sciences above all other forms of human inquiry.” Such as?

    Calling critical thinking a ‘sacrosanct’ tool is also odd. What is meant here? As opposed to not using critical thinking to not be dogmatic?

    “If a harmful social hierarchy or social system isn’t connected to the influence of religiosity,..” which imo is a major downfall of regressive leftists -such as reza- that seemingly try to actively exclude religion as a sufficient(not necessary) component in motivating NEGATIVE action. When it’s good deeds or neutral action (like proselytizing), it is taken for granted it was because of religion. Somehow religion became peaceful by definition. Yes, circumstances do exacerbate and can create the conditions to adopt extremist religious or non-religious ideologies, but suggesting that these extremist ideologies can not exist in isolation, and therefore need not be treated(via satire criticism and ridicule) is naive and … well, regressive. And moreover, even IF you grant that it can not exist in isolation, it is still a terrible ideology with which to face adversity.

    I like SJW term, because it denotes a way to tackle the social justice problems that DO exist with a terrible approach. And as loose as this was on details, i will be in expressing what i find those to be.

  • Clay Farris Naff

    Mr. Kirabo, I applaud and embrace most of what you’ve written here, and in the harsh light of the many negative responses my quibbles aren’t worth airing. I’ll only add that as a humanist I feel both an obligation to work for social justice and a duty to critically parse all ideologies, including my own. I hope that other humanists do as well.

  • Rob

    I love it.

  • Birric_Forcella

    I myself would rather be a village atheist than a village nanny.

    This needs to be stated as often and as loudly as possible: Being an
    atheist commits you to nothing, zilch, nada. If you are a Nazi, KKK
    member, or uncaring billionaire – if you don’t believe in god you are
    an atheist. If certain atheists organize themselves for what they
    believe is social justice, then they are social justice groups. Their atheism is irrelevant..

  • Patrick Elliott

    “This is also how we get those who overlook the import of fields like cognitive science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology”

    Sigh. See, funny thing is – I do believe that a rational and reasoned approach is superior, only.. I **define** this as, “Shit that works.” All of the fields mentioned above have there dark side as well – people who insist that X is true, because its a) common, b) obvious within the context of our existing culture, c) they can’t imagine other solutions. The last one usually meaning that they, ironically, have opted to ignore outlying evidence, or even oddities within the very cultures they study, which would imply, in much the same manner that mixing two chemicals together and getting an unexpected result would, logically, call into question either whether they mixed the right chemicals, or their understanding of what those chemicals actually do when mixed. That is how logical, rational science progresses – by seeing anomalies and asking, “Why doesn’t this seem to fit the pattern?”

    Scientism seems to be an abandonment of this principle, and it doesn’t matter if the joker applying it is claiming that, “Everything, even if we don’t have the means or understanding to do so, can be quantifiable by taking apart a brain.”, or one of the more philosophical disciplines babbling about, “That isn’t quantifiable because it doesn’t follow rules we can specify, so therefor I am going to just make something up, like.. red berries and women doing the gathering, to explain it.”

    The latter is only sensible if you have actual facts. You don’t get to make them up, no matter how cleverly they hypothesis (or, too often, wild story), you came up with seems to fit your narrow definition of what is actually going on in the brain, between people, within the context of a culture, etc. The former… is completely useless for the opposite reason – it might, eventually, be true, and its almost certainly where the answers will eventually be found, but… if you don’t have enough data, you can’t even form a clear hypothesis. You might as well, in that case, be some alchemist who has worked out that exact measures are necessary to produce results, yet is still concerned that one needs to determine the alignment of Venus, or the time of day, to figure out what those measurements are.

    Scientism isn’t a failure to use the correct method to reach a result, its the extrapolation of a result, from insufficient information, long before all but the most basic principles are understood, from which to derive an answer. Its noting that cold freezes things, but not yet having a clue that cold is “absence of heat”, rather than, “the presence of something that makes things cold.” If you don’t even have the basics, you can’t get there from here. And.. ***all*** fields, including philosophy fall pray to it equally. But.. only those who seek to explain things using the “hard” sciences seem to be accused of it.

    • You’re basically validating the author’s point by making it sound like “facts” exist outside of contexts, or that the history of ideas in human civilization is some sort of science experiment. Science, too, is a human endeavor, prone to all the personal and cultural biases of any other. If you’re really interested in what “works,” you have to see how power works in the society.

  • I admit I get a great deal of pleasure in seeing the self-important getting taken down a notch. This article is a joy to read for the way it takes the neo-atheist brigade to task for its intellectual cowardice, presumption, philosophical shallowness, and indifference to real injustice. And the comments reveal the extent of people’s willingness to cloak themselves in a mantle of virtue while doing nothing more constructive for society than debating the existence of God and pretending that atheists are the minority which faces the most unwarranted oppression in American society today.

    • Johnny

      Speaking of self-importance, intellectual cowardice, presumption, and philosophical shallowness, good job talking a lot without saying anything.

      Also speaking of self-importance, intellectual cowardice, presumption, and philosophical shallowness, it’s also interesting to note that the vast majority of your comments on this article are not in the form of a conversation with anyone. You just post stuff and then disappear, I suspect because you think your opinions are too valuable for everyone else to ignore but you’re too lazy to actually debate them.

      Finally, “real injustice” is 50+% of the population being forced into cloth bags because they have a vagina, but I’m sure you and the regressive leftist brigade will drum up all kinds of excuses for that despicable behavior other than the beliefs directly responsible for them, right? Which Bernard Lewis book should I read to find the truth? Which non-cheap non-polemicist might elucidate on the matter?

      • Golly. The reason I ignored your flamebait the first time was that you seemed to be carrying on a perfectly delightful conversation with the SJWs in your head and I didn’t want to interrupt.

        The entire point of this article is that neo-atheists externalize an enemy in the form of religious people, fundamentalists, or Muslims, just so they can blame others for society’s problems. If the only reason they call themselves atheists is so they can relieve themselves of not only the burden of proof, but also the responsibility for changing the way our society marginalizes and oppresses people, then maybe they should stop inveighing against Muslims and take a closer look at the power dynamics and inequities in our chrome-plated Western meritocracy.

        Like I said, it didn’t seem like you were inviting dialogue with your original response to me, and the personal insults you made in the last give me the same feeling. Do you want to talk about the points Sincere brought up in this article, or are you satisfied with cheap sloganeering?

        • Johnny

          Are you talking about the Muslims who specifically state that Islam is the reason they’re blowing themselves up among crowds of defenseless people before doing so?

          It’s not so much that I’m “externalizing an enemy”, but rather that you’re pretending one doesn’t exist–despite all evidence to the contrary–for the sake of political correctness. Even when these guys outright state their intentions, you look for any excuses to lay the blame elsewhere. And let’s note that this phenomenon is invariably confined to Islam. You don’t question the motives of some Christian bozo who blows up an abortion clinic or murders the staff in them “because Jesus told me to”.

          I at least have the advantage of being logically consistent, in that I take people at their word when they state the reasons for their behavior. People like you and Sincere are the ones who have to invoke mental gymnastics to explain why we should take some people at their word and not others.

          p.s. What you call “flamebait” is the simple observation that your m.o. so far is to pontificate and exit the building while hypocritically accusing others of “self-importance” and “intellectual cowardice”.

          • Are you talking about the Muslims who etc. etc.

            No, I’m not talking about them, you’re the only one who’s talking about them. And that’s all you ever talk about: the Muslims, religious extremism, and the political-correctness conspiracy to whitewash the crimes of big bad religion. Like Sincere says in his article, atheists fixate on issues that they think reflect badly on religion, until they start defining religion as the world’s biggest problem.

            No one denies that terrorism is a serious issue, or that there’s a religious aspect to sectarianism and the way young males are radicalized in the Middle East. But it’s a very complex cultural problem that involves a lot more than just religion. Using the term “Islam” to encompass this huge phenomenon doesn’t do it justice, and ends up being used to stereotype and demonize Muslims instead of helping us understand the challenges their cultures are facing.

            Like Sincere says in his article, atheists don’t seem to realize that religion has nothing to do with the most pressing problems in our own nation today: the continued marginalization and mass incarceration of African-Americans, income inequality, climate change, women’s rights, corporate control of our legislative process, the threat to our herd immunity posed by anti-vaxx conspiracism, homophobia, and a host of other issues don’t seem to matter to atheists because they can’t be used for anti-religion rants. And anyone who points out the distance between atheists’ self-righteous rhetoric and their indifference to these issues gets shouted down as a Social Justice Warrior.

            Atheists have been playing a one-note symphony for years now, and it’s getting monotonous.

          • Johnny

            I’m curious to learn of all the Amish, Quaker, or Jain suicide bombers out there. Your refusal to acknowledge the correlation between the prevalence of terrorism in Islam and the fact that Islam tells its adherents that dying for your faith is the best thing you could possibly do is precisely why you’re a regressive leftist. Once again, these guys are telling us exactly why they’re blowing themselves up in school buses, and yet people like you immediately downplay their motives in favor of putting blame anywhere else.

            How about we discuss the hypocrisy inherent in this view to begin with? Here you are, castigating people for “demonizing Muslims” and “anti-Muslim bigotry” all the while reducing Muslim terrorists to morons who couldn’t possibly understand the real causes of their behavior. They can say all they want that religion is their primary motivation, but you, as an outsider completely removed from their life and culture, know better, right? “You’re wrong, dude. It’s a very complex cultural problem that involves a lot more than just religion, but you simply don’t get it”.

            And regarding the list of most pressing problems that you mentioned, women’s rights and homophobia absolutely are caused and fueled by religion. Otherwise, I’d like to hear some secular arguments for discriminating against LGBT people or treating women as second-class citizens. A few of the other problems you mentioned toe the line pretty well too, considering it’s easy to justify racism toward blacks once you’ve been told your whole life that you’re part of God’s chosen people and anyone who’s different from you must be less than you–let’s not forget that the Bible was explicitly used in defense of slavery. Religion may not be the direct cause, but it certainly is a powerful engine of tribalism, a feature common to most of society’s problems.

          • Well, this just validates what Sincere was saying: when you’re dealing with someone who’s as closed-minded as the average village atheist, someone who thinks religion is the only problem in the world, it’s useless to try and speak to them rationally.

            Adios, dude.

  • Harrytttttt

    Interesting article, Mr. Kirabo. I certainly don’t agree with all of it, but it has opened my eyes to a new perspective. There is more to humanism than atheism, but I don’t think we should be so critical of atheists who have done so much to fight religious hegemony, which is often a prominent, if not the most prominent, cause for social injustice. One leads to the other.

    These atheists’ work has been good for humanity and good for humanism. And it has been my experience that social injustice is one of the main reasons that atheists speak out. They usually don’t lead with it, though. The argument is usually in this order: 1) it’s irrational to believe in the supernatural; 2) reason and science should guide our epistemology and ethics; and 3) as a result, the world would be a better, more just place. Maybe they should switch the order?

    I think “Good without God” is a good slogan. But it’s only a start, designed to catch attention. I don’t know any atheists or humanists “…who revere the routine of traditional thoughts and established cultural attitudes.” Just the opposite… we’re always in the minority and advocating change.

    By the way, President Obama had an interesting message for social justice warriors last Sunday.

    Peace

    • How ironic that in responding to the way Sincere Kirabo took atheists to task for their snide indifference, you never rose above the level of snide indifference.

      I don’t think we should be so critical of atheists who have done so much to fight religious hegemony, which is often a prominent, if not the most prominent, cause for social injustice.

      The author states quite clearly that this kind of rhetoric is an oversimplification. Atheists are simply accustomed to taking for granted that “religious hegemony” is at the root of all social ills in order to escape responsibility for changing any of them:

      “Traditional atheist” issues like church and state separation and fighting creationism simply don’t address the breadth of oppression that exists in society. Erasing every oppressive religious ideology today wouldn’t abolish wealth gaps, educational segregation, homophobia, ableism, mass incarceration, redlining, and numerous other social ills.

      The author is being pretty charitable in saying that atheist causes like separation of church and state and fighting creationism are worthwhile ones; he simply wants to make it clear that in the grand scheme of things, the much more intractable and disturbing problems in our societies don’t derive from religion. If anything, the events of the 20th century should have made it clear that religion is hardly a necessary condition for the existence of vast, brutal oppression.

      The argument is usually in this order: 1) it’s irrational to believe in the supernatural; 2) reason and science should guide our epistemology and ethics; and 3) as a result, the world would be a better, more just place. Maybe they should switch the order?

      Maybe, rather, they should subject the argument to the same critical scrutiny they use in assessing the arguments of religious people, and see if it sounds like something that a person who really considers social justice one of his or her main motivations would consider valid. On the face of it, anyway, this ignores the complicated cultural context of things like racism, misogyny, and homophobia, and fails to acknowledge the reality of systemic injustices in society. I don’t know whether I’m missing something crucial in the argument, but it seems to make the claim that once everyone who believes in the supernatural simply chooses to abandon that belief and starts to believe instead in the things we believe in, systemic inequities and injustices will simply magically disappear and a better society will emerge. For people who criticize others for their magical thinking, atheists should see this idle fantasy for the same kind of delusion.

      I don’t know any atheists or humanists “…who revere the routine of traditional thoughts and established cultural attitudes.”

      For all their rhetoric about “progress,” and the way they excoriate the religious for their conservatism, I think it’s clear that the New Atheist nabobs have been very vocal in support for very conservative causes themselves. Hitchens cried crocodile tears for the victims of religion, but then quite publicly supported the invasion of Iraq that caused unspeakable suffering for millions and whose reverberations are still being felt in Syria and the refugee crisis. Sam Harris has been front and center in the demonizing of Muslims, even scaremongering that our liberal tolerance for Islam will lead to a moral choice between destroying millions with a nuclear first strike against Islamists and being destroyed ourselves. Dawkins has made it clear that he thinks Western feminists are complaining too loudly. Harris, Dawkins, and Lawrence Krauss all joined in the anti-Muslim hate speech after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, further blurring the lines between terrorists and Muslims even in the imaginations of people who supposedly pride themselves on being able to make fine distinctions and their critical thinking. In all these matters, prominent atheists and their online acolytes have supported oppression and wars of empire, while ignoring or de-emphasizing the problems faced by the truly oppressed in their midst.

      So it seems clear that atheism itself is no prophylactic against error, and that the banner of “freethought” has indeed been carried by people indifferent to real, culturally embedded injustice. The author is well within his rights to recommend that atheists ask themselves where their real priorities lie.

      • Harrytttttt

        We agree on almost all of these points. But I don’t think you’re effectively winning over many atheists and humanists, potential friends and allies, to your cause. If I were “snide and indifferent”, would I bother to respond to the article? And you’re over-simplifying; no one said “that religious hegemony is at the root of ALL social ills”, but by definition, religious hegemony is something atheists oppose, of course… regardless of whether some of them may not be aware of or care about social injustice. Many others have also made this point in response to the article. Why not make your point (I think it’s a good one) without insulting atheists? Broaden your base of support. That was Obama’s message as well.

  • Birric_Forcella

    The village nannies and busybodies are putting the village atheists in their place. Bravo!

  • Satanic_Panic

    Crap essay. Quit infesting my atheism with your humanism. Oh, and scientism is a fake, bullshit word coined by morons who think there are “other ways of knowing”.

  • Helter Skelter

    All credibility goes out the window when you say atheism can be a religion or when you use the term “scientism”.

    • Our own biases are the hardest for us to recognize.

      • Helter Skelter

        Irrelevant.

        • How so? You claimed that his credibility was called into question by his mere use of the term, “scientism.” I think the way we idealize and privilege the natural sciences over all other sources of knowledge is a genuine bias, a blind spot in our supposedly enlightened and sophisticated modern mindset.

          • Helter Skelter

            Because there is not bias here, or in science. Peer review eliminates bias from the equation.
            Despite what pseudo-intellectuals like Sincere (what an ironic name for someone so disingenuous) believe, “scientism” isn’t a thing. It’s a word invented and used exclusively by people who reject the scientific method and its findings (such as evolution, global warming, big bang, etc). So, naturally, his credibility goes straight out the window when he insists that such a thing actually exists.

          • The way he (and I) explained scientism is either a little over your head, or it’s more convenient for you to think that it’s just something that science-hating fundies thought up. People always have a hard time admitting their biases.
            Sincere wasn’t denigrating the scientific method, he was just pointing out that “scientism” is a faulty way of relating to scientific research that makes it sound like science is synonymous with “reality,” and that things like lived experience and philosophy are irrelevant to what we should believe is true about the world, our society, and ourselves.

          • Helter Skelter

            “Lived experience” and philosophy is irrelevant to what we should believe is true. Both are inherently subjective, truth is not. Science killed philosophy ages ago. I think these facts are over your head and you just can’t admit it.

            “Scientism” IS something that science hating funnies made up. And he IS denigrating science. Did you not even read the article?

            I recommend that you stop using words you don’t understand. Like “bias”, “science”, “scientism” and “truth”. Might save you further embarrassment.

          • Science killed philosophy ages ago.

            Each to his own delusion.

          • Helter Skelter

            I’ll add “delusion” to the list of words you don’t understand.

  • Jimbo

    American Humanists has become a host to the same ideological parasite that tore apart Atheism+, free thought blogs et al.

    The conflict caused by the sanctimonious outrage inspired by the race-to-the-bottom oppression olympics these people engage in will destroy this organisation like it has so many before it.

  • Ron Holley

    As a Black man I’ve personally experience the evolution of the Village Atheist over the years and their predilection for White critical thinking. My hope is this article will bring about much needed reflection within this White dominant community. This article speaks for me!

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Could you be any more smug? Sometimes how you say something is as important a part of the communication as what you say.