Anti-philosophy in the atheosphere

I just got done writing two posts which explicitly apply philosophy to the practical issues of gender and orientation. Meanwhile in the atheosphere, PZ Myers wrote two posts defending philosophy as a field, to the disagreement of many commenters. Anti-philosophy sentiments in the atheist movement are nothing new, but I continue to find them strange since the atheist movement is more dependent on philosophy than literally any other social movement I know of.

A lot of this has to do with what people consider to be the central example of philosophy. My central example of philosophy is modern analytic philosophy, particularly 20th century philosophy of language and logic. Most atheists, on the other hand, seem to think the central examples of philosophy are anti-scientific skepticism and religious apologetics.

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Consensual arguments

Lots of people dislike arguments, and arguments about religion in particular.  It’s often asked, “Why do you even bother telling people that their personal beliefs are wrong?”  The common counterargument is that beliefs inform our decisions, and as citizens of a democratic society we are subject to other people’s decisions.

But here, I hope to get at the root issue. I believe people complain about arguments because they’ve had negative experiences with arguments.  Indeed, everyone and their mother seems to have an anecdote about an argument about religion, where the other person was totally obnoxious.  One theory about these anecdotes is that they were obnoxious because they were arguing about religion, and no one should ever argue about religion.  Another theory is that they were obnoxious because the arguments were non-consensual.

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Hear me on Bi Any Means podcast

Trav Mamone, who is a blogger for Queereka, interviewed me for their podcast, Bi Any Means.  The podcast is about the intersection of humanism and social justice, and the interview was primarily about my personal experiences as an ace and atheist.

Go listen!

I haven’t listened to the edited version of the podcast yet, and I’m afraid that I always experience dysphoria when I hear recordings of my voice.

From what I recall, my biggest regret was that I kept on using “asexual” as a synecdoche for the asexual spectrum, which is a quirk I know many people dislike.  Also, I neglected to mention demisexuality at the appropriate time.  It went pretty fast!  I look forward to the day when everybody just knows this stuff already and I don’t feel bad about any particular omission.

Atheism is a cliche, like not collecting stamps is a hair color

Another persistent frustration I have with the atheist community is the cliches.  Nothing shows off freethought quite like a regurgitated meme.  In particular, I hate these memes:

Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

My boyfriend recently suggested a more apt analogy on Facebook:

Atheism is a religion like theism is a religion.

This provoked some people to insist that, no, atheism isn’t a religion, let me explain to you what atheism is.  They’re totally not getting it.  For the benefit of people who only understand cliches, let me explain it in the form of a cliche.

Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

Theism is a religion like having hair is a hair color.

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Intersections as marketing

On my new blog, I’m resolving to be more unapologetic about talking about my various pet issues.  In the past, I’ve often moderated my views in light of who I think my audience is.  I know lots of readers are not ace, and therefore I tend to save the inside ace baseball for The Asexual Agenda.  I know some of my readers are religious, or otherwise unsympathetic to the atheist movement, so I try not to be terribly unfair on religion.

Well it’s my blog and I will talk about the topics I want.

But I wonder.  If I’m being more unapologetic, does that mean talking about intersectionality more, or less?

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Equivocating atheism

One of the difficulties I have with the atheist movement is that I often think that everyone else in it is wrong, and obviously wrong too.  For instance, one very basic issue is the definition of an atheist.  There’s clearly more than one.

An atheist is merely someone who lacks belief in gods.

An atheist is someone who rejects religion.

An atheist is someone who supports the atheist movement.

And there are more.  So when someone like Sam Harris endorses the first definition, he’s right, and anyone who disagrees with him is wrong.  But also, Sam Harris is so so wrong for thinking it’s the only definition.

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