So, I got asked yesterday, what I think of the new Atheism+ thing that seems to be making the rounds. For those not in the know, PZ is playing traffic cop, shuttling us in the right…. or should I say left?… direction. Heheh, ok, shoot me, I couldn’t resist.
I don’t know, I guess I don’t have any problem with it, same old story really. Atheism post-911 has surged and has had an evangelical period… but now that we have reached a critical mass, and some believe we must separate the wheat from the chaff. Thankfully, unlike our more religious analogs, there doesn’t seem to be any calls to burn the heretics. In the atheist blogosphere, heresy simply results in… the more civilized and rational: namecalling and flamewars.
I’m not much for labels, I think if you start embracing a label too much it’s a sign you have stopped thinking critically. I picked atheist, because it was descriptive and a well known word. It’s not like religious people generally use it the same way I do, but it certainly sparks conversation. I remember when I first got involved in the community, secular people were telling me that atheism was a negative word, and so many gravitated towards the ‘more positive’ (secular) Humanism.
Since many of those people were politically much more left wing than me, I was happy to stick with atheism.
I also found the term ‘skeptic’ useful, but it has just as many problems. Within the community, when I call myself a skeptic, I often get strange looks when I start talking about Descartes and Hume. I’m a philosophical skeptic (classical), whereas many of the people I met in the secular community were scientific skeptics, who had very little time for ‘mere philosophy’.
So, I’m a politically moderate, skeptical atheist. I think that is enough for me. What I find ironic about this new Atheism+, the New New Atheism, is that it is essentially about tossing out the heretics, creating a Nicene creed, a new orthodoxy, which attacks the diversity of the community and barricades people behind ideological walls. But tribalism is very human, and the prophets have spoken. Go Atheism Go.