Sunday, June 28, 2009

Full Militant Atheist

Embrace the term! Why not? We are going to be accused of it anytime we even mention in public that we are atheists. Militant Atheist seems to be the designation. Remember the good ol' days when there were many fewer of us and, I assume, we were just seen as kind of pesky little fellers? We were "angry atheists" back then. As the ranks and voices of non-belief swelled earlier this decade, many were taken aback. And this goes for both theists and atheists.

Many long-time atheists and agnostics have sort of teamed up with the theists in their contempt for people being outspoken when it comes to non-belief. Apparently these people are either self-loathing or simply desire accommodation because they can't stand any type of conflict. I'm not sure which of those possibilities is worse. Things are seldom either/or and there are other possibilities here but these two stand out strongly in my mind.

In the defense of the "meek atheists", they don't usually call us militant. They call us the "new atheists". I suppose that's supposed to be a more intellectual put-down. They are the older and wiser atheist who know that making waves is a bad idea. The problem with this is that most of the "older and wiser" atheists haven't been around any longer than the ones they call new atheists.

I just ignore them altogether. If they want to silently be non-believers and allow belief to dictate the discourse of society, they have every right to do so. I do find it kind of amazing that the one thing they seem to have no trouble entering into a public debate about is whether or not atheism should be publicly debated! Yes, there is a little irony there.

The real issue is how to deal with my own atheism and the path is clear and obvious to me. The only way to make this society into a secular one is to talk about it and debate it. Some of us will be extremely loud and, yes, angry. Others will just relentlessly state the case and be willing to debate wherever it comes up. And some will have a lot of fun mocking and scorning supernatural religious beliefs.

There's definitely a place for those who choose the first route. They have my full support. While they are the primary reason that all of us are labeled "militant", it isn't "militant" at all. Cry me a river when bands of atheists start burning down churches and chasing god's people out of town. Until then, if you want to use the word "militant", it just gives us more mockery material.

And that's where I come in, you silly sons of bitches! There is no god(s). Yes, I am sure of it. Now, can we please just work on making a better society for everyone and quit pretending that your imaginary friends determine the direction of humankind?

No accommodation with the supernatural.

26 comments:

PhillyChief said...

When did the use of "militant" first become a way to disparage a group? I'm going to guess the 60s, but I'm not sure. I'll further guess that it was first applied to civil rights activists, possibly playing off the old fear of the black man rising up or an attempt to provoke a comparison to Castro's coup, Mao and/or even the Bolsheviks.

Today in the world of politically correct pluralism, "militant" now comes off as entrenched, close-minded, and intolerant with of course the carryover scary factor of radicalism.

Personally, I don't care for the label. I'm not even crazy about "atheist" since it doesn't even say anything about how I got there (ie - rational thought, tea leaves, etc), and tacking "militant" on doesn't make the issue any better. Imo, it just makes it worse.

John Evo said...

I should clarify. This is tongue-in-cheek. I'm not suggesting we call ourselves Militant Atheists. But more that we simply shrug and accept it when offered - or deride it as absurd.

I certainly remember the word "militant" being tossed about in the 60's. "militant" blacks, feminists, Native Americans, etc. Was it used before that? I wouldn't know.

I'm becoming very fond of being called a Secular Humanist. The "atheism" is suggested, but not clarified - but who cares? The rest of it *does* say a lot about me, and, if you choose to make the assumption that I'm atheist, it says something about how I likely got there.

Lifeguard said...

"Militant" gets bandied about whenever someone wants to frighten you into thinking the opposition is out to invade, occupy and change "normal society" into some monstrous dystopia.

John Evo said...

Lifey - I think that's *half* of the equation. The other half is that in our society, no one wants to be seen as the "militant".

They know we revere reason. Reason and militancy seldom mix. So the idea is to quiet you down. Why would they want to quiet you down, unless they think you are making headway?

Lorena said...

Many long-time atheists and agnostics have sort of teamed up with the theists in their contempt for people being outspoken when it comes to non-belief.

It depends, I guess. I've met a number of anything-but-smart atheists who spit out atheist cliches and are just annoying. One of them told me outright that he doesn't read books. (BTW, I am not referring to you or anyone whose blogs I read or post comments at.)

I suppose that being outspoken is alright, as long as a little bit of class and good manners is involved--as long as the "opposition" shows decency.

Once they show me the gloves, mine won't be far behind, so in that sense, I am highly militant.

cl said...

You said, "Many long-time atheists and agnostics have sort of teamed up with the theists in their contempt for people being outspoken when it comes to non-belief."

That's not really true in my experience. I've never heard any atheist vent about other atheists being outspoken - OTOH - I've heard many atheists who believe their rude and insulting counterparts do more damage than good, and while that's certainly a matter of opinion, I tend to agree. Like Lorena said, a little bit of class and manners can go a long way. Although I can appreciate a jester, many, if not most believers I've come across shut down the minute somebody like Philly starts their spiel. So it becomes a matter of prioritizing: what's more important? Insulting others and being the funny guy? Or true intellectual discourse?

Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

There are no gods and anyone who says there is, is pretty comical!

I honestly don't know what the framework for a rational discussion on the topic would look like.

I mean, yeah, I suppose you can treat it "politely", but if someone sat down next to you at the coffee shop every day and wanted to discuss whether Kobe was likely to hit 80 home runs next year, or more likely be traded to the Iranian Guardian Council - how do you just keep a straight face and continue being polite every morning?

Do you just acknowledge that either of these results can not be scientifically or logically dismissed, so the person will stop, or do you ridicule them?

I think I'd go with the first unless of course he came back again the next day and claimed that based on my agreement, he was emboldened to support the Texas secession movement. At that point, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make a "polite" admission that there is nothing I could say that rationally precludes his decision.

There are no gods, silly humans. You sound retarded. That doesn't mean you *are*. I'm just telling you how you sound to folks of reason.

PhillyChief said...

"Calling someone on their language is a chicken shit little power play which is really about imposing your rules on the other fella and about putting them on the defensive. No. I'd rather go out and find an adult to argue with, and the 'FUCK YOU' on the way out is optional. I try to be sensitive to the situation.". - Brother Sam

I've never been able to put that so eloquently before. I will add though the old adage of different strokes for different folks. If you think what you find as rude is counterproductive, well for you it might be true, but for someone else, perhaps not. I don't concern myself with appealing to the most people. Actually, I don't concern myself with appealing to anybody, yet I somehow do to some. Different strokes for different folks.

How's that for a spiel?

Gideon said...
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Spanish Inquisitor said...

“..we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn… If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions, how are they going to believe in the matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven?

The above was cl's quote from Augustine, I think. When I read Gideons' comments, I will always think of Augustine. Actually, cl's too.

The problem is, everything they say makes no sense. Augustine must be rolling in his grave.

Gideon said...
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Spanish Inquisitor said...

I've got to read some more Augustine. He's really starting to make some sense.

Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

Gideon, you are always welcome to comment here - you can even make your comments a long as you like. Could you try to think of everything you want to say and put it in individual comments, rather than running off 4 in a row and 8 out of 10? LOL!

Damn, son, you gonna have me thinking you have OCD on top of AGD.

Lifeguard said...

Okay, I know who John-O, the Chief, and Spotless Inseminator are-- sh*t I'm even starting to wonder if Gideon isn't one of the illustrious Exterminator's alter egos-- but who the f*ck's "Quiff"?

John Evo said...

Lifey - it's his favorite name variation for Quantum Flux; a frequent commenter at Philly's blog.

Gideon said...
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Thorum said...

I named my .44 Magnum today. It is now affectionately know as "DEath To all REligions" or Deter for short. Thanks Evo, now let's get kicking some pious ass!!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!