Stop Telling Me What My Non-Belief Means

Here we go again. Just when you thought atheism plus was near death, someone has to revive it with new meaning and again try hijacking the label atheism.

Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist blog  has decided that atheism is supposed to be about more than just non-belief. Personally I don’t give a damn what humanists want to do, what humanist activities groups of atheists want to do, what feminists want to do and on till I’m sick of reading it.

Lets break it down a bit before I get all pithy

That means atheists should be speaking out on issues that go beyond mere theology, like education issues (where critical thinking is often thrown out in favor of regurgitation and fill-in-the-bubble tests), LGBT and women’s issues (since both groups are harmed by religious beliefs not based in fact), universal health care (since God isn’t going to take care of anybody), politics (do you need a reason for this one?), etc. Sure, we’ll have disagreements on the substance of each, but I don’t have a problem with the general idea.

Here we have Hemant adding dogma to non-belief. He is telling us what we should be concerned about and speaking about as if we aren’t already doing so. What we really really need in our lives is someone explaining what dogma non-belief brings with it. Holy fuck batman. I didn’t spend 30+ years shaking off the shackles of religion just to follow some atheist around with a ring in my nose waiting to find out what causes I’m supposed to support if I want to be a good atheist.

It’s fine if you think your answer to the God Question is the be-all and end-all of your atheism. I just think that’s too short-sighted. We know there are atheists who still believe in prayer and pseudoscience and other nonsense. To me, not believing in God means nothing if you still buy into other forms of bullshit.

Yes, that’s right. If your non-belief is only about not believing in gods, you are not a good non-believer. You’re not part of the elite, good, moral non-believers. Of course he’s right, if you don’t believe in gods and don’t fight for his causes, you must naturally believe in some kind of other bullshit. Yes, he has equated not supporting his causes as believing in bullshit in this phrasing. You are being told that you are not good enough if you are not like him. Fuck that.

This is why I don’t get bothered by the idea of Humanism or Atheism Plus or atheists who want to work on social justice issues. While they’re going outside the narrow scope of religion that we tend to care about, they’re still fighting the same broader war, and they’re still on our side. Religion and faulty thinking permeate so many other areas of our lives that it would be crazy to pretend our community shouldn’t care about those areas as much as we do the most basic question of whether God exists.

You see, here he is conflating doing good as an atheist as being a good atheist, thus wrongfully implying that if you don’t do these other things you are not a good atheist. Yes, you should throw off the shackles of religion so you can follow his direction and be a good atheist. Fuck that. Getting out of religious tyranny does not require that I become a humanist or support every cause that this self appointed director of goodness tells me that I need to.

My charity is mine. I give it where I find it fit to do so. Anyone that tells me how to dole it out is nothing more than another tyrant who wants to control my self confidence and self worth. Fuck that.

I’m all for cutting off the head of the monster, but we can’t forget to destroy the rest of the body while we’re at it.

And finally a call to arms. What political movement might we liken this to? Am I over-reacting? Am I being too harsh?

I don’t think so. Tyranny does not care what suit of clothes that it wears. Sure, Hemant might simply be saying that he thinks atheists are probably the kind of people that are most likely to be concerned about such issues. The trouble is that he has little integrity in his delivery. By defining what atheists should do to be good non-believers he is saying that his dogma is what you need to follow. He is not simply saying “hey, I have a concern about this issue or that, and here is why. Can you help me out and support this cause?”  He is saying that if you want to be a good atheist you SHOULD support these causes. No matter how slight this might seem it is the dangerous slope that many groups have gone down… there is a point of no return. When you wait for a leader to tell you what to do or believe you have already given up your liberty and freedom. The very liberty and freedom you struggled to gain in escaping religion.

I don’t think that Hemant is a bad man, nor that he has bad intentions. I just don’t think he sees where this is going, and that is sad. I like integrity. Tell me what cause you want help supporting. If it suits me, I’ll help out. Don’t even try to tell me that I SHOULD be helping out. Once you do that, I’m out. Fuck your dogma…. no matter how nice it might seem to be.

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    • J_Agathokles
    • October 9th, 2012

    I also wonder at this. Atheism seems so much like religious systems in this way, with various schools of thought, some of which think they are what atheism in general should be. Just like any religion has different schools and sects and what not. I think it’s a manifestation of our inherent, hardwired tendency towards religion. Atheism seems to be just like religion, just without any deity or deities.

      • myatheistlife
      • October 9th, 2012

      Not my atheism. I think I’ve been vocal about this. I did not suffer what I did only to be told that I’m not doing it right by someone who thinks they know what my non-believe should mean. Atheism means nothing more than the fact that I do not believe in gods. Anyone who says atheism is more than that is someone to be very leery of, someone to avoid. My blog is My Atheist Life… yours is your own and I don’t really care what causes move you… I may even support all of them … just don’t tell me that I have to support them.

      It is difficult to profess a world view or understand of the life around us without sounding like you are telling people how to be. I know. I try not to tell people how to be and focus on what is wrong with what others tell me to be. I’m not always successful and don’t mind being told so. I don’t think that we need a label to be good…show us a cause and ask for help… that should be enough.

        • J_Agathokles
        • October 9th, 2012

        It’s a tricky matter, that’s for sure 🙂

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