Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The New Atheist civil war

The battle of the logos is joined.

Ever fissiparous, the newest iteration of atheism appears to be cracking up. It began with some frat-boy (or worse) behavior on the part of male atheist attendees directed at female atheist attendees at recent atheist soirees. No doubt some of the male attendees took the "Religion Spoils Everything" breakout session too seriously and decided to break a commandment or two. Alas Freedom from Religion doesn't bring moral utopia with the celerity that many had hoped.

While the traditional atheist spats have been a bit hematic, New Atheist kerfuffles have thus far been less acrimonious-- whether to call themselves "Brights", whether accomodationism is a Betrayal of the Revolution, or who gets to wear the Spock ears at the plenary session.

Now atheists are at fisticuffs over this:

Should atheism align itself with explicitly leftist causes, or remain politically neutral?

The New Leftie Atheists split from the New Undecided Atheists and as first order of business drew up a new logo-- "A+"(above). Atheists are very serious about logos. Many of us thought Leftie Atheists already had a logo, but there seems to be a move to rebrand. One suspects that the original New Leftie Atheist logo was going to be "A+ 95 years", but they shortened it to make the tattoos less of an ordeal.

Anyway, PZ Myers and Nelson Jones weigh in on the revolution. Expect soon that we will have competing conclaves-- The Amazing Meeting vrs. The Meeting That Is Amazing, and "Brights" vrs. "Brighters", and all of the rumpus that goes along with fracturing cults. 


  1. Michael,

    Golly, this is one of your most stupid threads ever. And that's saying something, considering the stupidity of many of your previous ones.

    For about the n-th time, atheism is a worldview not an ideology. It states that there is no god, and no god is necessary to explain how the world (and the universe) came to be as it is.

    It's not an ideology. It doesn't look to the future with plans as to how the world should be. There are liberal atheists, conservative atheists, libertarian atheists, even communist atheists (although communists are a disappearing breed).

    It's also not a cult. In particular, there's no leader whose commands are obeyed without question. If, on the other hand, the pope issued an order would you obey?

    Because it isn't a cult, there's no possibility of it fracturing. Perhaps you're thinking of Christianity, with its 30,000 plus flavors?

    I don't give a stuff about atheist symbols.

    1. Of course atheism is an ideology, it's just not a well-articulated political ideology. Atheism makes profound assertions about the nature of reality, on a par with other great religions (in fact, it is the negation of theist religions).

      There are 'liberal Catholics, conservative Catholics, libertarian Catholics, communist Catholics, etc" .

      That does not mean that Catholicism is not an ideology. It merely means that Catholicism and atheism are not well-defined political ideologies.

      They are both very clear metaphysical ideologies, which are more influential than political ideologies.

    2. Michael,

      No. Atheism isn't an ideology, unlike Christianity. It's a worldview. Christianity is an ideology, because it has the delusion of a future utopia, often associated with the Second Coming, promised for almost 2,000 years, and supposed to have occurred within the lifetime of some of Paul's contemporaries.

      A future utopia means that its believers are motivated to behave in a certain way to bring about the utopia. Atheists can not be motivated to bring about any common goal. Organizing atheists is like trying to herd cats.

    3. Michael,

      Actually, I should also have noted that Christianity is also a worldview, albeit one in which its adherents are unable to agree how God (not that he exists) created the world.

      Are you creating neologisms? Where did you get 'metaphysical ideology' from?

    4. @bach:

      The only reason you push this "worldview vrs ideology" crap is that you are utterly unable to defend the real-world impact of atheism.


    5. Michael,

      The only reason why you push this 'atheism as ideology' crap is because you can't come up with any good evidence that the Christian God, let alone god(s), exists. If Christian apologists were able to do that, then the entire world would be Christian, and there wouldn't be so much disagreement as to which flavour of Christianity (30,000+ at last count) was most true.

      Agreed. When people get taken in by ideology they allow evil things to happen, including communism (and also some people with Christianity and Islam). But then again, most people who do believe in ideologies (whether communism, Christianity or Islam) are actually decent human beings.

      There is the phenomenon of 'the madness of the crowd'. Atheists, being so difficult to organize, like trying to herd cats, are less likely to succumb to mass hysteria.

      And where did you get this term 'metaphysical ideology' from? You're not making up things again?

    6. @bach:

      Atheists are remarkably easy to organize. The Soviet Red Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army are huge superbly organized conclaves of atheists.

      Your pitiful denial of atheist ideology-- your denial that atheism asserts that there is no God, there is no ultimate accountability, there is no afterlife, there is no natural law, there is no objective moral law-- allows you to make astonishingly clueless assertions like 'atheists are difficult to organize'.

      Atheists organize quite well, thank you. You are unable to explain away the organizations they have formed, so you deny that the millions of totalitarian atheists of the 20th century were really atheists at all.

      Really pitiful.

    7. Michael,

      You really are pathetic. The Soviet Red Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army were organized by communists. Communism is an ideology, remember? The Crusades were also organized by an ideology, Christianity, don't forget. It's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine atheists organizing Crusades. After all, what's in it for them, with no promise of an afterlife?

      There is no god. There is no afterlife. Accountability for personal actions occurs now, in this world, not in a mythical afterlife (a position that you seem to implicitly adopt, because otherwise you wouldn't be so concerned about injustices in the world today). Natural law is just shorthand terminology for 'there is a God'. Moral law is objective, it's just not god given; it comes from society, not the individual.

      All worldview, not ideology.

      I don't deny that there were many atheists in the Red Army. But you seem to deny that there were many Christians in the German Wehrmacht, which was responsible for many atrocious crimes.

      You're the one who is pitiful.

      You still haven't explained where you got your neologism of 'metaphysical ideology' from.

    8. Now we have played 'alternate reality time' with Bach, let's get back to our own reality. Let's do the bloody math!

      Cost in human life:
      Crusades (1099-1520): A Christian Movement: Est (norm) 10,000 (high) 25,000 in Europe and Middle East. IF we include the Conquest of 'The New World' into account we can add between 100,000 and 250,000. Let's take both the high numbers and lets DOUBLE the original Crusades - just in case! and we get a total of 300,000 over 400 years.
      That's a lot of people, many innocent.

      Communism (1917-Present):An Atheist movement
      Not including the deaths caused by wars of aggression (as in the above numbers) the conservative estimates of those killed by democide (their own government) during the Soviet Regime's rule in Russia (The USSR) range from 55,000,000 to 85,000,000.
      Conservative Estimates for those killed in a similar fashion (as above re:USSR) in Red China stand currently at about 100,000,000. Official numbers have not been available since 1987 when the Communists stopped BRAGGING about them. It is known that almost 45,000,000 souls were killed in FOUR years during Mao's 'Great Leap', although the Chinese government only admits to 35,000,000. Please NOTE that I have not included late term abortions (or abortion of any sort) in these stats. If you consider infanticide and late term abortion murder then we are talking tens of millions more.
      So let's be far more charitable to the modern atheists than we have been to the medieval Christians. Let's work with their lower numbers when we 'do the math' for them.
      This slimmed down and charitable total would be 90,000,000 people killed in just lover 100 years.


      Crusades: 300,000 over 400 (rnd down) years = 750 per year for the medieval Christian movement of 'Crusading'.

      Communists: USSR and China alone confirmed to have 90,000,000 killed over 100 years = 900,000 per year.

      So with these numbers in mind we can see that the Crusading Medieval Christian (ie not the modern variety) is just not as effective or motivated at mass killings as their MODERN atheist counterparts.

      In fact, the modern atheistic Communist kills with 1200% more efficiency than their medieval European counterparts. That's real passion!

      Cue John Lennon's 'Imagine'.

    9. @bach:

      Human history is violent. No one disagrees.

      Atheist violence is an order of magnitude worse than any other. There is nothing in Christian or Jewish or Muslim history that compares to the Holodomor, or to Stalin's other atrocities, or to Mao (the most prolific killer in history) or to Pol Pot or to the Korean Kims. And it is noteworthy that atheists are most prolific at killing their own people. These atheist democides are within a country, not between countries at war. These are mass murders in peacetime, which is an atheist hallmark.

      Vox Day has made a fascinating point that I discuss in a post in the queue. He observed that if you leave all issues of political ideology aside, and just consider the personal atheist belief of the leader of your nation, that in the 20th century 58% (he counted) of personally atheist leaders murdered a substantial portion of the people in their own country.

      There has never been an ideology as violent and repressive as atheism.

    10. Michael,

      You keep repeating the idiotic claim that atheism is an ideology. It isn't. It's a worldview. I'm not denying that Stalin and Mao were atheists, but they were also communists. Their crimes were aimed at making the world safe for communism, not safe for atheism.

      Once communism disappeared from Russia, religion returned in a big way, so the Soviets weren't able to replace one ideology, Christianity, with their ideology, communism. And actually, it wasn't possible, because parents were easily able to pass on Christian beliefs in the privacy of their homes. It's a point made many times; Christianity can survive regardless of the ruling political ideology, going back in history to the pagan Roman empire as your favorite historian, the sociologist Rodney a stark notes in 'the Triumph of Christianity'.

      Stalin's and Mao's death tolls were very largely inflated by the famines they caused as a result of their ill considered agrarian policies. Stalin when faced with defeat in 1941 was quite happy to play the religion card and to use the Russian orthodox church as part of his patriotic call to resistance against the German invaders.

      Stalin, Mao and the other communist despots you mention deserve condemnation, for the ideology they imposed; communism.

      You and CrusadeRex keep on missing the point I was making. Atheists are impossible to organize, as difficult as herding cats. To organize people you need an ideology; communism, Christianity, Islam, liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, environmentalism, whatever. Atheists just have too many different interest and beliefs to be able to be organized.

      If some atheists want to make liberalism the political goal of atheism, then a considerable proportion of atheists will just ignore them. Atheists don't have common property, such as churches, to fight over.

    11. Oops, curse the auto spell check; Rodney Stark...

    12. Michael,

      It's not worth continuing this conversation when you can't make the simple distinction between a 'worldview' and an 'ideology'. A worldview looks back, explaining how the world came to the way it is. An ideology looks forward, proposing how the world should be ordered.

      It's impossible to get from 'there is no God' to any course of future action. For that, you need an ideology.

      Do you really have trouble bringing up your children in a Christian way in America? Really? When was the last time you were stopped from attending church?

    13. There are all sorts of definitions.

      None of them are relevant to the issue at hand: the direct responsibility of atheists to come to grips with the horrors of their ideology in practice.

      State Atheism has produced totalitarian hells. Which part is responsible: "State" or "Atheism", or both?

    14. @bach:

      [It's impossible to get from 'there is no God' to any course of future action. For that, you need an ideology.]

      That's not the issue. The problem is that it is possible to get from 'there is no God' to ANY course of action, unconstrained by an alternate center of power and by objective morality. Without God, anything is permissible. Power alone rules.

      In the real world, every one of those atheist courses of action has been totalitarian.

      What is outrageous is that you and your fellow godless absolutely refuse to accept any accountability for your atheism.

      It leads a reasonable observer to conclude that you can never be trusted with power.

    15. @bach:

      [Do you really have trouble bringing up your children in a Christian way in America? Really? When was the last time you were stopped from attending church?]

      MTV is as big a threat-- maybe a greater threat-- to Christianity than was Communism. Popular culture is satanic, and lures innocents. It has an appeal that Communism never had. It's less overtly violent, but ultimately quite deadly. To the soul.

    16. Michael,

      You can't control your children from watching TV? Really?

  2. "Should atheism align itself with explicitly leftist causes, or remain politically neutral?"
    Maybe they should go with 'Ahole+'?
    Atheism - as a movement- has always been an ideological means to an end: A tool.
    It is a facilitating belief, not a generative one.
    So I don't think atheism has ever been 'neutral', nor could it ever could hope to be.
    The question should really read:
    'Should atheism publicly and overtly align itself with explicitly leftist causes/ideals, or should it remain a politically clandestine and intellectually opportunist means for control?'
    But, I suppose that would be too complex a frame for the 'reductionists are us' crowd and too painfully honest for a person whose central philosophy is based on self refuting logic.
    So 'lefty or neutral' will have to do, I suppose!

    Never mind.
    I have always enjoyed watching a good fight.
    No hair pulling, ladies!