Jen McCreight, aka Blag Hag, has suggested an interesting addition to the atheist/skeptical movement: A+. There has been some disagreement with the idea, as there ought to be in any intellectually robust community filled with intellectuals, but I, for one, want my Atheism Plus, please — and not just because my final University of California GPA reflected so few of those particular letter-and-symbol combinations.

With no further ado, I present: Top 5 Reasons to Be Graded

 

5. “Humanism” just isn’t enough, either as a concept or as a term.

 

 

Ashley Miller broke down why humanism isn’t enough in the way of a concept for self-identified atheists: there are concerns that are peculiarly atheistic ones and thus do not apply to those who identify as humanists and not atheists. As for the semantics, the term “humanist” applies to so many things and people. I majored in “the humanities” (blasphemy, I know). Furthermore, plenty of Christians identify as “humanist.” Even adding the tag “secular” to “humanist” doesn’t quite work. As I’ve found in my recent interfaith work, progressive Christians and Jews can say that they work to promote secular humanism in the public sphere while maintaining their own beliefs privately. Though atheists might share some common goals with them, there is a point at which the two groups would, naturally, diverge.

 

4. So many have rallied behind the term “atheist” for a reason.

There are a lot of words in (alleged) competition with “atheist” besides the already-addressed “secular humanist”: “Bright,” which never seemed to quite take off; “naturalist,” which makes people think that you’re either John Muir or a nudist; “rationalist,” which is almost more combative than “atheist” to some since it implies that those with faith cannot be rational; “secular,” which is somewhat broad and doesn’t quite encapsulate as much as “atheist” does; “skeptic,” which doesn’t necessarily mean without a religion or belief in a deity; “apatheist,” which implies a lack of caring that can’t be true for people who form a movement; and, of course, agnostic, though it isn’t mutually exclusive from “atheist.”

 

 

Unless I’m grossly mistaken, the terms most favored, or at least bandied about, seem to be “skeptic” and “atheist.” In the war of the words, they’ve won. Adding to one of them, especially the one that is viewed as the clearest (and, arguably, the most confrontational) via the “+” symbol is far more convenient than to introduce a whole new term and then have to increase awareness for it. On that note….

 

3. It puts the focus on intra-, rather than inter-, community issues.

New names or terms, or even redefining old ones, mean having to market the new word and/or definition. A+ takes a symbol and word that is a known quantity and neither changes its meaning nor creates a new term, instead merely adding to it in a very literal sense. Clever, in my opinion.

 

2. It clearly connects to the atheism movement as a whole.

Fixing atheism, not creating a whole new movement, is the idea here. Indeed, I think A+ reflect a kind of optimism: it’s saying that there can be more from within the movement rather than that we need to create something separate to deal with the issues that have been cropping up as of late.

 

1. It weeds out the uninterested from social justice issues while keeping a cohesive movement.

Whether you agree with them or not, there are some people in the movement who are far more interested in issues that are not social justice related than that are. I’m not talking about those who are actively opposed to combating oppressiveness in the community, but those for whom such issues simply do not mean very much. A+ means that those of us who are interested in social justice can continue to work with those folks on issues of mutual concern while still going forward on issues that do concern us — we can unite for the “A”-related matters under the same term. A separate term, or lack of term at all, would not simultaneously join and delineate things.

 

As I said at the beginning, there can and should be disagreement. I am not saying that anyone who isn’t A+ must then automatically be part of the problem — far from it. However, A+ is something with which I can feel comfortable in that it addresses my social justice concerns (at least in theory, since it’s not even a week old) in addition to my atheism, rather than separately from it.

Nomenclature aside, even if you don’t like the A+ idea, the conversation is exciting. To echo the sentiments of many others, I’m glad for so-called “divisiveness”: I, for one, am not interested in uniting with people who do not respect the full scope of my humanity, i.e. those things that make me not the standard-issue White Male™. Prior to certain incidents, there was a palpable yet quiet undercurrent of sexism, hetero-centrism, cissexism, ableism, classism, and so on that lay dormant and unquestioned among skeptics and atheists. Not so, anymore.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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47 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
    August 22, 2012 at 11:21 am —

    I agree with all your points except for #5. Secular humanism by definition and by practice specifically means believing in the morality and advancement of humans while rejecting all supernatural explanations. The fact that some religious people call themselves humanists only means that they’re willing to join us on the endeavors that really matter, in exactly the same way that, for instance, Lucretia Mott joined Stanton and Anthony in campaigning for women’s rights.

    The only real mark against humanism as a movement is that it hasn’t actually coalesced into one, yet. Thanks to the New Atheists, atheist is the word people want to rally around, and humanist organizations haven’t been successful at communicating their definition and purpose to a larger audience.

    Well, there are two (related) real marks, actually, because I do agree with those who have noticed many humanist organizations are sometimes loathe to broadcast the fact that they reject the supernatural in the hopes of remaining “positive” at all costs. However, even the Harvard Humanists led the “Good Without God” charge two years ago, and of course the Council for Secular Humanism had a successful campaign last year that said you can be good without god, and African Americans for Humanism this year had a highly visible billboard campaign advertising godless members of the black community.

    So even that argument doesn’t really hold up, recently. Secular humanist groups are working to inform the larger population that they reject the supernatural and are good, ethical people working on progressive causes. In other words, exactly what A+ hopes to accomplish.

    • Profile photo of Heina Dadabhoy
      August 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm —

      I think the problem with that is the marketing. Humanist orgs, for the most part, have a reputation for being, well, soft in comparison to atheist ones. “Secular humanist,” rightly or wrongly, is like “agnostic” in that it, as a term, is perceived as a cop-out or a euphemism. I don’t know if we can rescue the term from that perception.

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        August 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm —

        I agree that it is largely a marketing and educational problem on behalf of humanist orgs. It’s bad enough if people outside our circle don’t know anything about humanism, but when even atheists and skeptics have no idea, that’s pretty bad.

        The idea that they’re “soft” is particularly hilarious when you take into consideration Council for Secular Humanism, which is run by Tom Flynn. Dude hates Christmas. No one would mistake him for anything other than an angry atheist.

        • Profile photo of DebGod
          August 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm —

          Ha, that made me laugh out loud because it’s sooo true. Christmas, solstice parties, singing together in groups, ceremonies…

        • Profile photo of Melody
          August 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm —

          Agreed, CSH an CFI are hardly soft on religion. We have the same goals as the A+ crowd. You can put your support in an organization that already shares your goals and is working on being more inclusive or rebrand and start over. I have no problem with those who want to rebrand, but know that what you are talking about is indeed secular humanism.

          • Profile photo of Heina Dadabhoy
            August 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm

            The issue I have here is the term as it theoretically means vs. what it means to many. To many, “humanism” is the soft brand of secularism. That might be incorrect, but the task of changing that many minds on a term is not one that I would like to undertake.

          • Profile photo of Melody
            August 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

            I don’t call myself a humanist, I call myself a secular humanist (I also call myself an atheist). Secular humanism was popularized to differentiate itself from humanism, which could be religious. I think it’s important for people to know the history of the secular movement. I also think it’s important that people that share the same values as organizations like CFI and CSH support those organizations that are so terribly underfunded. We could make great strides if they did.

          • Profile photo of Melody
            August 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

            There seems to be a misconception that one can be a theist and a secular humanist. This is absolutely not true.

          • Profile photo of blizzard7006
            August 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

            “There seems to be a misconception that one can be a theist and a secular humanist. This is absolutely not true.”

            You’re just wrong Melody. theists can be secular and theists can be humanists. So why can’t theists be secular humanists? there is nothing anti theticcal about being a secular humanist and a theist.

            See here. http://atheism.about.com/od/abouthumanism/a/notforatheists.htm
            http://atheism.about.com/od/abouthumanism/a/notforatheists_2.htm
            and here

        • Profile photo of Heina Dadabhoy
          August 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm —

          Another problem I have with “humanist”: it’s offered to me as counterpoint to “feminist” a little too much for my comfort. I understand that to use it that way is not to actually know what it means, but it has happened with too many people for me to ignore.

          “Why are you a feminist? Do you believe in women over men? Why not just be a humanist?” = ugh

    • Profile photo of Luarien
      August 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm —

      Beyond the branding issue that Heina brought up, I think there’s another problem with Secular Humanism in comparison to Atheism (and carving out a specifically atheistic niche here). Humanism, as an organization not as individuals, is a response to religion but not to belief. It’s a set of philosophies and practices with communities that emulate churches and it strives for the inclusive Church thing without being, well, a Church of any particular god. It’s the non-theistic version of Unitarian Universalism. When I first started digging into religious movements as a Neo-Pagan teen, Humanism was regarded as a New Religious Movement (it was an old NRM by that time, but the name stuck) because it’s expressly religious in structure and style.

      Atheism+, in this regard, is not a form of Humanism. It’s a form of Atheism. It’s a completely different beast than Humanism’s purpose and point. Humanists are godless, certainly, but they’re not necessarily atheists. One can be a Secular Humanist (as that is the praxis one practices) and still be a theist, deep down inside, because of belief. Secular Humanism as a philosophy does not absolutely require Atheism, just a life practiced as if there is no Divine Agent. Atheism+, on the other hand, doesn’t even meddle in that. We’re Atheists, period.

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        August 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

        Interesting. In no way do I recognize secular humanism as emulating churches. I’ve seen some organizations try that, like the Harvard Humanists, and I find it extremely distasteful but hey, to each their own.

        Also, being a secular humanist does require an atheistic stance, and the fact that you’re picking nits like that (“deep down” they might believe in something, really?) makes me worry that A+ is just going to discourage people from educating themselves about this existing community with a long tradition, where prior to reading your comment I hadn’t considered that.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          August 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm —

          That distastefulness is exactly what’s kept me from identifying as a Humanist for as long as I’ve known about the philosophy. I thought it seemed kind of silly even when I was still a Solstice-honoring Neo-Pagan.

          As far as nit-picking goes, I’ve met Secular Humanist Christians. They support Secular Humanism, they think the ideals are the best ideals for the world at large, but they themselves still believe in God and the divinity of Jesus. Since Humanism can be accepted as a set of philosophical and political beliefs and the Atheism requirement can be explained away by some people, somewhere, I think Atheism+ is a better identity for the Atheist movement. It’s combative still, it’s definitive, and it’s inclusive.

  2. Profile photo of oragette
    August 22, 2012 at 11:27 am —

    I’ve been excited about this since Jen posted about the idea, and I think it is great. It doesn’t change how I currently interact with the world but it gives a great tagline and focus to the concept of what it means to me to be an Atheist. /signmeup

  3. Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
    August 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm —

    Heina, I want to throw this out for food for thought.

    I think for people who are clearly engaged in these communities, it’s absolutely clear that this is agreat label.

    However, what about people who never get involved in atheism as a community or movement and/or those who don’t ever think much about their atheism?

    I and the majority of the other non-religious people I know (which is most people I know) never do anything with atheism beyond holding it as a belief. How does A+ apply to those people?

    • Profile photo of Luarien
      August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm —

      Atheism+ isn’t for people outside the movement nearly as much as it is for us. It’s how we identify the social justice minded Atheists, the progressive-minded Atheists, from the rest of the Atheists in the community.

      So, for an outsider, if I was asked why Atheists hate women I’d probably tell them that the A+ movement within the Atheist community doesn’t. Same thing with any system of oppression – Why do Atheists support this? Well, not all do. The Atheist+ movement is expressly Social Justice minded as well as Atheistic.

      • Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
        August 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm —

        That was kinda my thinking on it too, that it could be used as a concept for people outside which represents the concept of anti-discrimination and all-inclusiveness within atheism.

        I think that it’ll be useful with guys and gals who consider themselves liberals and open minded but are still sexist/racist/homophobic. Lot of those fellers out there.

      • Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
        August 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm —

        Also the majority of atheists or non-religious folks are NOT in the community, so it would be good if this hit the AP newswire or something and became a mainstream idea.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          August 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm —

          Yeah, I see this as more of a leading by example thing. And since New Atheism is kind of a hot topic on the newswire, having a bunch of Atheists going around and saying they’re even newer and they’ve got some radical ideas will probably get some media attention.

          At the very least, Jen can go make faces at Bill O’Riley and become a meme.

  4. Profile photo of BrieCS
    August 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm —

    This is slightly a tangent, but relevant in part to the graph presented:

    I identify as agnostic in the fashion that I do not believe either way that a god exists or does not exist (ambivalent? apathetic? indifferent? one of these things), nor do I know or claim to know whether a god exists. Basically, I don’t feel that we can currently prove either way.

    Is this an acceptable way to identify as agnostic? Am I wrong?

    In continuance with that, do Atheists generally have an opposition to agnostics?

    On Topic:
    I personally feel that the A+ movement is a great idea. I will probably follow it (but not be actively a part of it). It’s a good thing to start and has a lot of opportunity to improve things.

    • Profile photo of Luarien
      August 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm —

      Well, you are Agnostic because you can’t prove a Divine Agent exists or does not exist.

      And, technically, you’re an Atheist as you lack belief. Gnosis means Knowledge, Theos means Belief – so if you spend your days doing things as if there is no God, then you’re an atheist by practice if nothing else.

      I generally have a problem with Agnostic since Agnostic as a term is really just Atheist without the capability of committing to the term and it implies that Atheists like me are irrationally devoted to a belief in no god, rather than simply not having a belief.

      • Profile photo of BrieCS
        August 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm —

        I responded below to Loree, kind of encompassing both of your comments.

    • Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
      August 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm —

      Meh, it’s a matter of semantics and personal preference. The way the graphic in the post defines it is the way many people like to think about it, but that’s definitely not the end all.

      I’m sure it’s one of those things where you could make a statement that that graph is true, or that it’s possible to be unknowing and lie outside of that graph and still have it stack up logically.

    • Profile photo of Loree
      August 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

      The place where the misunderstanding occurs is over the word “belief”.

      Belief is two valued, not a continuum. There is no “middle ground”. When asked if you believe a god exists, if you can not say “yes”, then you don’t believe… and that makes you an atheist.

      If you answer “I don’t know”, you are answering the wrong question (unless you really do not know if you believe or not… but how would that even be possible?) because you were not asked if you know, you were asked if you believe.

      Myself… when I see someone insisting they are agnostic, I assume they haven’t run into the explanation given above. But once they’ve been given that explanation, if they still insist they are not atheist but strictly and only agnostic, I know they are not being rational but making an emotional claim. They are exhibiting an aversion to the word “atheist” based on feelings, not on it’s meaning.

      So do you believe in god?

      • Profile photo of BrieCS
        August 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm —

        (replying to both Loree & Luarian)

        Why is there no middle ground with belief? Why is indifference not an option? I don’t believe there isn’t one, because it’s not proven, and I don’t believe there is one, because it’s not proven – basically, I believe what is real, and that is, we don’t know. How is it irrational to say, what I can see proven, I believe, but since existence or nonexistence cannot be proven, I don’t believe either?

        If I live my life as if it doesn’t matter if there is a god, does that make me an atheist? Why is it important to “commit” to atheism? Why can’t I just say, I don’t care if there’s a god?

        I would say that the only way to believe in something that hasn’t been proven is to have faith, and I don’t have faith. I would say you could call me an atheist if you were meaning I don’t have faith, or that I believe there is no god and no possibility of god, but I don’t get how I’m irrational for saying it is not proven either way, so I don’t believe or disbelieve.

        I’d also like to note, the implication that emotions = irrational is not the best way to encourage people to your side, and I’m not at all implying that other people are irrational by not believing in god, I just don’t come to that conclusion because I lack evidence either way.

        This probably isn’t the right place for this discussion, sorry. I honestly hadn’t expected to be called out as irrational or noncommittal.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          August 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm —

          There’s no middle ground to belief because there is no middle ground to belief. You either believe or you don’t. You live your life around one of these presumptions – that it is or is not real. You can’t half-believe, and half-worship, and half-kowtow, and half-hope to get into half-heaven. Belief doesn’t work that way.

          If you live your life as if there is no god then you’re already committed – you’re *practicing* an atheistic lifestyle. You can describe yourself however you wish, but you’re not any denomination of Theist, you have no Theos (belief), so you are A-Theistic, without theism.

          You either believe OR disbelieve. There’s nothing in between, as I outlined above, because however you believe will be reflected in your behaviour. If you live your entire life under the presumption that god is nonexistent then you ARE an atheist, whether you’d call yourself that or not. Just like when you operate a motor vehicle, you’re a driver. You may not believe you’re a driver but the term still applies to you, descriptively.

          Finally, “lack evidence either way” is a silly thing to frame an argument as. The Null Hypothesis is that there is no divine agent, we have no proof of one. There is no Null Hypothesis that posits there might be a god, we don’t know. You’re holding an emotional position in Mights and Might Nots, rather than looking at the specific and logical position of Belief, Behaviour, and Divine Agency.

          Again, if you’re operating under the assumption that there is no Divine Agent then you’re already a non-believer. You just aggresively hold onto the option that you might be wrong. That’s fine. But you’re still an atheist.

        • Profile photo of Buzz Saw
          August 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm —

          If you don’t really care, then you could consider yourself an “apatheist.” Realize, though, that is essentially a subset of atheist.

          I would also point out that there is no “committing” to atheism, which may stem from a misunderstanding of atheism, thinking that atheism is necessarily a belief that a god does not exist. I reach this conclusion because you said, “I don’t believe there isn’t one.” While such a person is an atheist, atheism is more broad than that. In short, atheism includes all people who do not believe a god exists, which you admit you do not believe. So, you are an atheist. Use the label or don’t; it’s up to you.

  5. Profile photo of Chimako
    August 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm —

    “as there ought to be in any intellectually robust community filled with intellectuals,”

    Is there no room for people in the atheism movement who don’t identify as intellectuals? Or is atheism just for smarticles?

    • Profile photo of Luarien
      August 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm —

      I really don’t see what the problem with intellectuals is. Anyone can be an intellectual, and anyone can learn to “speak smart” as well as find a way to interact with an intellectual community. Not everyone can participate in the same fashion, or at the same speed necessarily (whether from disability, neuroatypicallity, or time) but “intellectual” is a weird thing to have a problem with in general.

      The last thing we should be doing is enshrining anti-intellectualism in any fashion.

      • Profile photo of Chimako
        August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm —

        It may seem weird to you because “intellectual” comes easy in your world.

        There are a lot of very smart people out there who don’t bother or don’t have time to “speak smart” every time they comment or speak about something related to atheism. That is why I don’t like the “intellectual” tag. It removes any ability for people who just want to get on with their lives as non-intellectuals to identify as atheist. They can call themselves atheist but if they want to speak they have to find the time to “learn to speak smart”. It reeks of classism.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          August 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

          I don’t think it’s classist at all to encourage people to be intellectuals. Being an intellectual, that is considering things and being mindful of things, is a natural state of self-education. All of the narratives of lower class people that are revered are intellectuals – whether they’re revolutionaries, grandfathers, farmers, or “the wise homeless person”, they’re being mindful and thoughtful about something. You don’t need to be educated to be intellectual.

          Anyone, anyone at all, can be mindful and self-educate. Anyone, anyone at all, can meaningfully participate in philosophical and social discussions. That’s what being “intellectual” in this sense is. It doesn’t require a typical neurological system. It doesn’t require education (I’m a living embodiment of that – I got the “benefits” of a Western education that largely forgot I existed while I taught myself). It doesn’t require money or participation in any particular social caste or class. All it requires is inquiry and an opennesss to consideration.

          There’s nothing wrong with not having the time to be an intellectual, but complaining about intellectualism is at the very least problematic. What’s wrong with being intellectual? Why is it, in any context and any situation, a good idea to be anti-intellectual?

          And keep in mind that this very act, this very conversation, is an intellectual one.

          • Profile photo of Chimako
            August 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm

            ” It doesn’t require money or participation in any particular social caste or class. All it requires is inquiry and an opennesss to consideration.”

            You’re wrong. It requires the time and energy to pursue which is usually based on economic class. You can’t see it because you seem to have had all the time and energy you needed to make yourself into the intellectual you wanted to be. A lot of people simply don’t have that luxury, and it is a luxury.

            “All of the narratives of lower class people that are revered are intellectuals – ”

            This might be true in the historical sense but you’ll not find anyone now saying someone that is alive now is a “wise person” or “intellectual” if they are of the classes you listed. You listed what are basically “gentleman” classes. Classes that often do have time to be thoughtful and “learn to speak smart”. The classes I have in mind aren’t in or even near that list. Somebody who picks tomatoes 12 hours a day? Someone who works in a cotton mill for 12 hours a day? Someone who works 2 part time jobs 14 hours a day and takes care of 4 kids? Where do they fit into the “intellectual” label that atheism uses? They don’t have time or energy to bother to “learn to speak smart”. Why should they bother identifying with a group that basically excludes them for that?

            “There’s nothing wrong with not having the time to be an intellectual, but complaining about intellectualism is at the very least problematic.”

            Why? Not everyone aspires to be intellectual or thoughtful or knowledgeable. An awful lot of people just aspire to pay their rent and feed their kids in any way they can. Does that somehow make them less that they put their priorities in other places?

          • Profile photo of Luarien
            August 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm

            “You’re wrong. It requires the time and energy to pursue which is usually based on economic class. You can’t see it because you seem to have had all the time and energy you needed to make yourself into the intellectual you wanted to be. A lot of people simply don’t have that luxury, and it is a luxury.”

            Wrong, I can see it because I am in the lowest class right now. My time and energy is primarily devoted to feeding myself and trying to find a place to sleep for the night. However, intellectual pursuits are not necessarily antithetical to survival pursuits. There’s plenty of time to think and reason while doing other things, and that’s all that’s required to be an intellectual. Thinking and reasoning.

            “This might be true in the historical sense but you’ll not find anyone now saying someone that is alive now is a “wise person” or “intellectual” if they are of the classes you listed.”
            That’s classism, and I’ve known plenty of people in the lower classes that were intellectuals.
            “You listed what are basically “gentleman” classes. Classes that often do have time to be thoughtful and “learn to speak smart”. The classes I have in mind aren’t in or even near that list. Somebody who picks tomatoes 12 hours a day? Someone who works in a cotton mill for 12 hours a day? Someone who works 2 part time jobs 14 hours a day and takes care of 4 kids? Where do they fit into the “intellectual” label that atheism uses? They don’t have time or energy to bother to “learn to speak smart”. Why should they bother identifying with a group that basically excludes them for that?””
            Yes, they do. The “classes” you listed (which is the wrong term – they’re contexts, but it’s all one class – wage slaves) have lots of time to occupy their mind. Just like anyone does that’s a day laborer of any kind. Many of the intellectuals I knew growing up were migrant workers, wage slaves, and laborers. They were working all day in physical jobs that left them time to consider the things around them, come to opinions, and discuss them with the people around them. That’s what makes them intellectuals, not some fancy book learning.

            When positioning oneself as anti-intellectual in any context, you’re inherently demonizing inquiry and thought. You’re saying that transmitted information is inherently more valuable than explored information because not everyone has the time to consider things, that they’re all too busy doing things. If anyone is in that mode of thought, it’s the middle class. Not the lower classes. Those of us down here on the actual bottom have time to consider everything.

            “Why? Not everyone aspires to be intellectual or thoughtful or knowledgeable. An awful lot of people just aspire to pay their rent and feed their kids in any way they can. Does that somehow make them less that they put their priorities in other places?”

            Those people are still thoughtful and knowledgable, and many of the people who aspire to pay their rent and spend time with their kids are like that because they are actually intellectuals. They consider things, weigh options, and investigate their context and situation.

            You still haven’t answered the question at the end of my last post – When is it appropriate, and in what context is it helpful, to be anti-intellectual? What, exactly, is wrong with encouraging people to be thoughtful and curious? The only people who don’t have time for it are the people who don’t want to consider their place in the world and, take it from someone who is literally in poverty, we have a lot of time to actually consider things, even if we’re working.

          • Profile photo of Chimako
            August 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

            “You still haven’t answered the question at the end of my last post – When is it appropriate, and in what context is it helpful, to be anti-intellectual? What, exactly, is wrong with encouraging people to be thoughtful and curious?”

            You still haven’t said why you think that I’m saying “encourage anti-intellectualism”. You also are arguing on the platform of I’m more poor than you which is weird.

            I know more people than you who don’t have time or energy to think while they work… So who wins the “I know more Poors than you” olympics?

            My argument is against using the label “intellectual”. A lot of people will feel excluded by that due to their circumstances. And maybe, just maybe, there are people who do not want to learn to speak smart but, you know, they are still atheists. I know, horrifying thought. Does the atheist community welcome them or exclude them because they are not intellectual?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            August 23, 2012 at 1:33 am

            Chimako, you seem to have a really narrow view of “intellectual.” It’s not just about “speaking smart.” It’s about being curious and about gaining knowledge. It’s about not being afraid to learn. It’s about actively learning.

            I can see how in some contexts it can come across as very privileged. But I don’t think that is what is intended.

    • Profile photo of Heina Dadabhoy
      August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm —

      The repetition was intended to be a little silly. As for the associations with the word, I guess I didn’t see it that way. Thanks for the food for thought.

      • Profile photo of Chimako
        August 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm —

        It’s been food for thought for me for the past few weeks too since another discussion about how educated commenters needed to be before they should comment on a blog. It infuriated me at first then I started thinking about all the people I know who are non-religious and won’t identify as intellectual. Virtually all of them never had a chance to go to “big” school. meh — anyway, just thinking out loud – er, well, you know what I mean.

  6. Profile photo of James Fox
    August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm —

    I’m more than happy to give myself an A+. However I often talk out of turn and fail to properly raise my hand, but hopefully my ability to play with others will provide adequate compensation.

  7. Profile photo of anbheal
    August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm —

    I still like rationalist. If I don’t define myself in relation to belief or gods, but they simply mean nothing in my life, I see no reason to label myself by way of invoking them. And sure, I understnad the semantics and the marketing, but it seems to give theism too much credit to categorize myself as its opposite.

    It’s like calling my self an acauliflowerist or an agazguzzlerist, simply because cauliflower and SUVs aren’t my bag. The gods mean no more than cauliflower to me, and I’m hesitant to credit them with more meaning.

    At the same time, those who DO invoke the gods at every opportunity are the most corrosive elements of society, by and large — so I guess I’m atheist when itcomes to their bellicose intrusion into every aspect of social and political and economic behavior.

    Color me on the fence — or at least in search of a term you haven’t nominated yet.

  8. Profile photo of SkyeLight
    August 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm —

    One concern I have with the use of “A+” is that it may come across as condescending, just as with “Bright”. It gives the impression that “I’m better than you”… “I’m brighter”… or “I scored a higher grade”.

    • Profile photo of Ziggy66
      August 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm —

      I was about to post nearly the same thing. Made me think of the Brights as well.

    • Profile photo of jinxybunny
      August 23, 2012 at 3:24 am —

      Maybe, but I think atheists who are committed to ending sexism/racism/classism/etc. can reasonably be considered “better” than atheists who are actually sexist/racist/classist/etc., anyway.

      So fuck it.

  9. Profile photo of Matthew Lohden
    August 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm —

    Amy,

    I couldn’t resist sketching up a few ideas for a logo (or logos, the more the merrier?)

    They’re just a dozen quick pen doodles but please feel free to use, adapt or riff on them as you wish. I’d be happy to tidy up and tweak one or more if you like any of them.

    I’m not sure how or if I can insert a link here so I’ll just paste the URL:

    http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/5236/apluslogos1.png

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      August 23, 2012 at 11:52 am —

      Ha ha, it used to be that everyone thought that I wrote every article on Skepchick. It appears as though Amy has now taken that dubious honor.

  10. Profile photo of ihatemusic
    August 23, 2012 at 8:32 am —

    There’s a lot of religious people who love to call themselves rational though…

  11. Profile photo of ufischer
    September 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm —

    Hmmm.. ok, Even though humanism by definition includes feminism, I have to drop my previous objection to the A+ idea in light of Heina’s article.

    I suspect most of us would still rather hang with a theist humanist who supports women’s rights than with an A- troll who insists on the right to “be a man” by harassing at will.

  12. Profile photo of Timothy Clark
    February 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm —

    My problem with the “new atheist” movement of dawkins and the four horsemen was that it tried to make itself the “gold standard” of atheism and on the national and international stage, people like hitchens and dawkins and harris were viewed as being the spokespeople of atheists. Given that, I have a question. Will A+ seek to speak on behalf of atheists like new atheism or will it be a group “of atheists” who want to also focus on important social issues within and outside of the atheist community? If my question is confusing, please let me know. I am fully supportive of the goals of atheism+, but my only concern is that it might end up like new atheism which shut down criticism of the movement and did little to become inclusive of new ideas.

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