On pharyngula’s link to the Dawkins’ new Atheism logo and T-shirt special offer, I was mildly taken aback by his characterisation of the commenters who spoke against the idea on Dawkins site.
One weird thing about this development, though, is that it sure brings out the whiners and concern trolls.
Oh, “so it will have entertaining mad fundy comment rants”, I thought, instantly going there to read them, of course (with the topic of commenting being a recent theme on this blog.)
Hmm. Not so. The comments were generally from sycophants, people with typeface design concerns and people who recognised the similarity to the traditional” Anarchy” logo. Most “anti-“comments seemed pretty rational statements of a slightly different point of view. IMHO,
- T-shirts, atheist web-site identifiers? Nothing wrong with them. No big deal. Good way to generate revenue for RDF. Good way to find fellow atheists’ blogs.
- People who don’t feel that it’s desirable to identify yourself to strangers by your (non)belief in a deity, as if you are showing what football team you support – also a valid point of view.
I do have problems with tendencies of the “New Atheism” to start forming an orthodoxy and dismissing any opposition without thought. Being able to herd cats would be a “Good Thing” then? Don’t sheep usually end up getting slaughtered?
I’ve been struggling with how to say this without causing offence (like arguing about religion with the couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Catholics in my overwhelmingly non-believing workplace) but:
- Atheism is REALLY not a religion. (Just as we all know not collecting stamps is not a hobby.)
- Religion is not just belief in a superpower. That is one small silly lie at the centre of a massive social construction. Organised religion is a social construction.
- Religions start from beliefs and ethics. It’s when we start organising around implementing those beliefs and ethics that human power relations come into play.
The tooth fairy is a pretty innocuous belief only because it doesn’t have a social organisation based round it. Otherwise, we’d be righteously smiting our enemies for their teeth.
- Atheism doesn’t have a Pope. Or bishops or arch-bishops or mullahs or people with a closer relationship to unbelief than the rest of us.
- Atheism does need people to expound ideas. To challenge nonsense and to spur other people to thinking. It is very important that there are central forums where people can connect. The “New Atheism” is doing a pretty good job of this.
- But there is always a danger of ascribing too much power to a few central figures. Our tendency to search out venerable white male authority figures to be sycophantic and obedient to them is one of the problems of religion, not the solution.
- Being prepared to argue the toss about what we don’t believe in is surely not just the defining characteristic but also the great strength of atheists.