Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Atheist Schism?


When I read about the A plus movement and how it might cause a “schism” in the US atheist movement I was flabbergasted. But then I thought about it for while and became unsurprised. Of course this was going to happen, US atheism is the happy hunting ground of some very strong personalities. You have to be quite the bold and brash personality type to put your lack of faith out on the line in this God Soaked Nation that is the US.

Modern Atheism in the USA reminds me of a crack that Garrison Keiller once made about how Lutheran Minnesota is. Even the Atheists are Lutheran Keiller says; it is a Lutheran God that Atheists  don’t believe in. As goes Minnesota, so goes the nation. For many US Atheists, the God they thoroughly reject is the God of Reactionary Evangelicals. This authoritarian God of Authoritarian, Patriarchal, and Misogynist men is the bet noir of many US Atheists.

A plus, with its drive to get Atheist involved in progressive causes makes political sense as the next step in an anti-fundamentalist world view. Pushing back against the gains that the Religious Reactionaries have made, getting involved in the political sphere, makes sense.

But Atheists are an ornery lot, and more than a bit dogmatic. You have to be ornery, and very sure of your beliefs to run against the 85% of the population that believe in some sort of greater power. Thus Atheists are a very small, if very rambunctious, minority. If it were not for the Internet, many Atheists would be the odd man or woman out in rural or suburban America. 

So when these hard-edged people with their hard earned beliefs clash, sparks will fly. With the calumnious nature of their normal discourse against the “God Delusion” it is no surprise that Atheists are going after each other with scurrilous invective on the subject of A plus.

Adding fuel to the fire is the very nature of the Internet. I have no idea why, but even in my own writings, the Internet seems to cause one to turn up the heat of discourse. In pitching ideas into the digital void that is the wild, woolly, wacky web the default seems to be to put that stuff out there with the volume set at 11.

As I belong to neither the traditional nor the A plus faction. I can look upon the whole thing with a sense of bemusement. I find the truculence of some Atheists unappealing, and can rightly believe that many of these people suffer from Mild Autism Spectrum or what used to be called Aspergers Syndrome. The Social Graces do seem to be lacking here. With some of these guys, and it always seems to be the guys, I’m amazed that they managed to get potty trained.

I find it ironic that just as the Atheist movement is finally finding traction; that just as skepticism is finding an outlet, that these people are finding a way to self destruct and slip again into irrelevance. It is a shame. In a God Soaked Nation we really do need stalwart non-believers to keep the rest of us honest.
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