Thursday, August 30, 2012


So, what's with the new "Atheism+" thing?  Some like the idea and some don't think we should be messing with their word.  Me, I always thought "Atheism+" was simply a way of saying, "Atheism plus a little something else positive".  You see, "Atheist" isn't really a positive word.  It's not a positive statement.  It's actually a very negative statement.  It's saying, "I lack a belief in God."  That's talking about something you don't have.  Let's talk about something you do have instead.  Let's talk about some love and concern for your fellow humans.  Let's talk about the fact that since you don't believe any "God" will be looking out for you or anyone else, then what does it take to build a world in which we can all live together and flourish?  What kind of a world should we have?  What would it take to get there?

This is where "Humanism" steps in.  Secular Humanism (more properly) looks at what type of world we humans could have and how to attain it.  Since "God" isn't going to just pat us on the head, give us toys for our birthdays, and drive us to the park, we need to provide our own paradise.  We're willing to work hard for it because we think it's actually attainable, right here, right now.  What would it be like?  Well, we would treat others with at least a little love and understanding.  That seems like a good idea, since most conflicts stem from misunderstandings.  We would try to help other people, because everyone can use a little help now and then, including you.  In short, we would treat others in somewhat the same way as we would treat a loved member of our own family.  (Yes, I know some family members can be treated somewhat badly, which is why I included "loved" in that statement.)

So Humanism says, "We don't believe in any 'God', so we think we should work toward creating a nice, loving, supportive, world right here, right now.  Let's all act toward others as more religious people would expect their 'God' to act toward them.  In short, let's be our own 'God' to each other."

That's definitely positive, but is it "Atheism+"?  Well, I think it's basically what "Atheism+" is trying to be.  I think "Atheism+" is trying to recognize that you don't change peoples' minds by yelling at them.  You don't change peoples' minds by cutting them down and insinuating that they're stupid.  Actually, most of the time, you just don't change peoples' minds.  Period.  People change their own mind, and they way they come to such a change is by thinking about things.  The thing that gets them thinking is not by someone attacking their closely held beliefs.  People get to thinking when they hear or read something which pushes their understanding just a little, to a slightly uncomfortable zone.  Not too uncomfortable, or they will reject it outright.  Just a little uncomfortable.

How does a person get "pushed" just a little while still feeling somewhat "safe"?  Many times it's by over hearing.  This is why blogs and forums are most important that debates and confrontations.  People are reading a blog or a forum voluntarily.  They can stop whenever they begin to feel threatened.  They over hear maybe one or two little things which don't sit well with them, or maybe which explain something they misunderstood before, then they go away.  But...  they're still thinking about it...  and it starts to weigh on them...  so they return to the blog or forum and read some more...  A year later, they're making the same arguments to someone else!

This is what I think of when I think of "Atheism+", or "Humanism."  Just act as an example of you would like to see from others.  Let people come to their own understanding in their own time.  They will.  The world is gradually becoming more and more secular and more and more Humanist.  (This, incidentally, is why so many religious people are scared.  They know this is happening.)  If we, Atheists, can be friendly, supportive, and most importantly inclusive, then we are something that no religion can touch!  Religions can't be inclusive.  They're exclusive by nature.  We, Atheists, know what it's like to be persecuted.  Let's not wish that on anyone else.  Let's be different.  Let's be what religions can't.  That's "Atheism, plus more."  That's "Atheism, in a positive way."  That's "Humanism," and it's a powerful thing.

Religionists, you can't touch this!  :)