Here We Go Again

How many times does it have to be said? Just because you do not believe in gods does not give you the right to tell everyone else how to not believe in gods, or how they should behave if they want to be a good non-believer.

PZ Myers got butt hurt over what TheAmazingAtheist said about the Amanda Todd story.



Now there is more talk of more trouble in the ‘Atheist Movement’, whatever the hell that label is supposed to mean. Calling the collective group of non-believers a movement is like calling a wave at the beach a statue. For a brief sliver of time it might look like one, but then time doesn’t stop so it moves on and the wave disperses.

Non-believers will group together for a cause here and there and will find each other in local groups, but there is no leader, no dogma, no doctrine for non-belief. There is no right way to do it. Of course there are bad ways to behave as a human, but that is not about non-belief. So do us all a favor:

  1. Stop calling it a movement. It is not, was not, never will be a movement. Movements have agendas, leaders, and slogans and stuff.
  2. Stop telling people how to be a non-believer. Go ahead and call them a bad humanist or even bad human but quit associating non-belief with behaviors. Just because you think your non-belief is an irremovable part of your humanist values does not mean that everyone feels that way.
  3. If a non-believer does something you don’t agree with, call them on that but don’t say or insinuate that they are not a good non-believer. This only confuses people. Many people already think that atheists are all mad at god, or militant and angry. When you conflate non-belief with a set of behaviors it only makes this worse.

For the record, I’m an atheist AND I’m an angry person. I am not speaking for other atheists and they do not speak for me.  The trick here is that I don’t have to be an atheist to be angry about the issues that make me angry. Being atheist does not make me an angry person. It means ONLY that I do not believe in gods or the supernatural. Being angry does not make me an atheist. No matter how well they might go together they are not inseparable.

If you are one of those worried that the atheist movement will split, stop it. There was no movement. Everything that has happened so far to raise awareness for non-belief will continue.  Even better things will still happen. Two or even 200 people disagreeing about how to be a good human will not cause disbelief to go away.

Yes, this sounds like I’m telling people what not to do. I am. Specifically I am saying quit conflating non-belief with a system of behaviors or beliefs. Other than that, do what you do. I’ll judge you on your behaviors not your non-belief, kind of like a grammar Nazi trying for the 10th time to explain to you when to use  the words: its and it’s. I also won’t judge you on how you don’t play golf, don’t collect stamps, etc.

Non-belief is not a set of beliefs, a creed, or even a club. Please stop treating it as if it is unless you are about to announce to the world that you are getting together with some friends to start the ‘people who do not wear green and pink shirts movement’.


That is all





  1. Generally I agree with you, but I would say there are a few causes that all atheists share which constitute an agenda. For instance, correcting misconceptions about atheists and improving the publics opinion of us, I’d say that’s part of the atheist agenda. But you’re right that too many people confuse their own opinions with the atheist agenda.

    • Well, the way I see it you can be a non-believer and a complete dick. You can be a closet non-believer by choice and not give a damn what the world thinks of atheists.

      I agree that the ‘agenda’ you mention are important things, but that is part of my world view stance, not part of my non-belief.

    • iridescentsheep
    • October 18th, 2012

    I do not see how it could be called a movement. We are (at least I am not) indoctrinating people and telling them they will be punished if they do not stop believing. And how does one spread non-belief anyway? Science is a common way to “convert” people but the agenda behind that is education, not creating more atheists. I don’t know, maybe I am missing the target.
    Anyway, The reason why Amanda is so important compared to all the other kids the end up killing themselves is because people have to jump on the bandwagon (i don’t know what else to call it). If you do not, then you are heartless bastard who will “burn in hell” and ironically they wish that you would “just kill yourself already”. It is similar to at the airport, either consent to being violated or you are a terrorist. There is no way to win really.

  2. You missed the point of his video. If this one is so important why weren’t the others? Sure, it’s cool if her story focuses people, but they should have been focused before this. These other kids deserve the same respect, reverence. She is not special in the world. In other words, why aren’t people already concerned… why does this have to be a wake up call? Fuck, look how many died without your attention!

      • iridescentsheep
      • October 19th, 2012

      No, I get that. My point was that For whatever reason, her story spread and because of that people had to jump on the bandwagon. They cannot say what The Amazing Atheist said because they will get called a sociopath, like he was.

      I agree that she is not so special and considering that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in adolescents, people should react like this to every single death.

      • Mea culpa. We are in agreement. It happens to be how I feel about starving people … nobody cares till the problem is put within reach of their ‘give a damns’ — I happen to have posted about those.

  3. I think the atheist ‘movement’ fulfils a need in some to join something and be a part of something. They may believe that they are correcting the misconceptions some people have of non-believers, but most of the time they seem to be inadvertantly promoting them.

    • I think I agree with you, but that is without knowing which misconceptions you are talking about in that last sentence.

      Joining and being a part of something – in my opinion – is just following. My atheism and anti-theism is not about following anything but my understanding of the world. My learning strategies don’t meld well with large groups of people.

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