"Atheism Plus" has been making rounds for a while now.

The basic premise seems to be Atheism, plus a lot of social justice movement elements. And, completely, I support that. And I'm glad for the wide support from others I see from that. We should support women in the Atheist community, and gays and bisexuals and the transgendered among us. And those outside of us, who are still marginalized even by religions they're a part of. We should support people of color, and the poor, and immigrants and single mothers more. Intersectionality is the word.

I came across this idea first from Greta Christina's post. http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/21/why-atheism-plus-is-good-for-atheism/

But, I don't think we need a label for this. That doesn't mean there isn't a reason for it, and maybe I should phrase it "I don't think we should need it.", so let me explain.

"Atheism" is the lack of a belief in gods and the super natural. It is not a religion, but the lack of one. So, many people will stand against claiming that atheism does or should stand for anything beyond that. Even if they think gay rights are a positive thing, they will say Atheism shouldn't, itself, stand for it. Even if they think atheists, as people, should individually support this. They just don't think the two should go hand in hand. The same goes for all the other important social issues or our time.

To this my complaint is, then what?

If you are an atheist, and you speak out about being an atheist. What is the end result of those actions? What is the point? We can reconignize and catalog the negative impact of religion on the world in all these areas. Atheism, but standing against the presumption that religion is a given, is a strong force that can stand against all of these ills. If you don't combine the two, the lack of religion calling you to support homophobia or racism and your vocal support of fighting these bad things, then what exactly is the point of standing up as an atheist in the first place?

"I'm an atheist, but this changes absolutely nothing about me or the world in which I live?"

Frankly, if who you are an atheist and think something as fundamental about us as the presence or lack of religion in our lives doesn't matter, then it isn't even relevent.

So, OK. You're an atheist, but you don't care about anything that means. Then you aren't part of the atheist movement, in my eyes. You are simply an atheist, just coincidentally. And we need those, but it just isn't the same thing.

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Published 2013/07/24