Sunday, September 9, 2012

Further Down the Rabbit Hole: What is Atheism+?

As if being an avowed skeptic in the United States wasn't already a matter of controversy, I figured that I'd provide you the opportunity to brace yourselves for what may be an impending whirlwind of expressed ideas from both believers and non-believers alike.

The subject at hand? 


What is Atheism+, you might ask? Atheism+ is the brainchild of Internet blogger Jen McCreight, who has spent enough time writing in the public sphere to have accrued a list of (I feel legitimate) personal gripes and peeves, outlined in her post, "How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism." The qualms she's expressed have triggered mixed sentiment and a divide in the subculture,  boasting support from big names such as Richard Carrier, P.Z. Meyers, Greta Christina, and other high-profile figures most famous for spearheading the recent surge of activity in the rationalist movement. 

I don't need to tell most people that the Internet is largely devoid of tact and rife with immaturity as though it were news, and even within atheist circles (notably Reddit Atheism or r/atheism), casual jokes about women, ethnic groups, homosexuals, and the mentally handicapped are thrown about with impunity for the sake of humor and shock value. Supporters of McCreight's proposed solution have what seems to be a two-fold approach. First, they call for "sensible" atheists to ostracize and disown even non-believers if they are spouting ignorance and bigotry. Second, they want to diversify and expand atheism's public image past the statistically prevalent white, academic male.

Atheism+ bills itself as a more refined group of skeptics raising the bar with the credo that:

We are…
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

Though all of this may sound well and good,  I understand that many are ambivalent about the implications of creating a new tag for atheism. The word itself has been profoundly stigmatized, and many of us have experienced a great deal of frustration explaining such a simple idea as atheism is to believers who have been intentionally kept ignorant and misinformed (i.e., "So you believe in God but just don't like him?", "Does that mean you worship Satan?", et cetera). 

Since Secular Humanism already details an ideology untethered to doctrine or faith, tacking on additional qualifiers to the word 'atheism' is going to be viewed as superfluous by some, and a dangerous antithesis of reason to others. After all, 'atheism' is a response to a singular question — where one stands on the probability of any given deity concept — and it entails absolutely nothing else by default. Though most atheists (including myself) have an idea of what constitutes or is most compatible with freethinking, rationalism, or skepticism,  there will be those who attempt to draw parallels between atheism and a pet theory or idea of theirs, ideas which aren't grounded as mutually inclusive with atheism in and of itself.

People who are already attempting to discern for themselves what atheism is or is not may only find the issue further obfuscated by the additional terminology being thrown on the table. Religious demagogues will certainly not pass on the opportunity to use skeptic infighting, productive or not, as a means of convincing believers that "the group who claims to champion reason and evidence can't agree on what to think!" Part of being a skeptic is being a freethinker, and the moment anything which even hints at sectarianism evolves, it needs to be scrutinized rigorously. Greta Christina seems to concede that this is sensible enough, in saying that, "If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me."

Of course, we can express intolerance of intolerance without adopting an additional label. I'm a humanist, but when I dissent with less compassionate or enlightened humans, I don't say that I'm "Human+." In any movement large enough, there are mature and immature, educated and uneducated, caring and uncaring, because groups are comprised of humans, and it's tacitly understood that humans possess those attributes. I'm sure that there are people on all sides of this discussion with positive ideas born of good intentions, but there are those who find it prudent to be able to think as a group without succumbing to groupthink. Though Atheism+ purports itself to oppose groupthink by urging that we desist from giving fellow atheists who are ignorant and bigoted a free pass simply because they are fellow atheists, the elitist movement within the movement hints at the possibility of becoming ironic as the rift expands, and only time can tell.

Of course, I don't speak for all atheists when I deliver my personal opinion; and you know what?

That's the point.


As we remain skeptic of other ideologies, it is important that we all remain more skeptic of ourselves.

-S. West

Monday, August 27, 2012


Basically ,we are wanting to take a portrait style picture of same sex couples. The pictures will all be edited tastefully and professionally, the resulting photographs will be made into a very large collage. Each photograph will contain the amount of time each couple has been together, we think that this alone will make a beautiful statement about the LGBT community in general.  Furthermore, we also intend to film this as it will be part of our short on the LGBT community!

Please don't hesitate to email us with any questions you may have! Thanks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Death, Civilization, and the Pride of Ownership"

On July 25th, 2012, Jerry DeWitt gave a lecture to the Cape Fear Humanists and Freethinkers and we were there to film it.  This video is a small portion of Jerry's presentation, although it is only a fraction of his speech, it is very touching.  Jerry's story is very powerful and encouraging to atheists and religious people alike.  Please watch this video, and then check out Jerry and his organization -

Jerry DeWitt - "Death, Civilization, and the Pride of Ownership" from Not a Monster on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

March for the Separation of Church and State

On July 29th, 2012 we organized our first public display of real action.  Around 50 people gathered together in downtown Wilmington, NC to march for the Separation of Church and State.  This event was in part a reactionary movement to Amendment 1, we decided that it was time to make out voices heard on the matter.  Whether the audience wanted to listen or not, we made our stance clear. Although this was important and done in an effective manner, we also managed to have quite a bit of fun along the way!  This event was sponsored by the Cape Fear Humanists and Freethinkers group, and it's success is ultimately what led to this project and blog!  

Below are some links to the resulting news coverage and photographs from the march:

534 Words for Humanity
Samuel J. West

I am of the seemingly unpopular opinion that a group of people from all different walks of life banding together for one cause is a good thing.  This is precisely what happened on July 29th during the Wilmington march for the separation of church and state.  This event could not have gone any better and I am more than pleased with the turn out, general message, and dedication of all of the participants.  However, we are receiving some flak from of our ideological adversaries for being “annoying,” or “intolerant”.   I believe that this is a clear indication that we have accomplished the goal set for this event, which was to raise awareness and to open a dialog.

                So what now?  What now indeed.  What we need now in this country, more than ever, are people who are willing to stand up for humanity.  In many cases this means upsetting those close to you, and even maybe risking some type of personal damage.  This fear is natural and totally justifiable, but we must not allow fear of social repercussions to deter us from remaining actively progressive.  If we as humans are ever going to clean up this massive mess that we have ALL helped to make, then the time for silence is over.  I hope that this message will resound in the hearts of those who accept it, we must continue to act openly and aggressively.

                Now, some of you may be curious about my language here, I am using the term “aggressive,” in an ideological sense.  As such, that we must continue to carry our torch where others can see it, we must no longer be ashamed of our belief structure.  This is essential to not only the happiness and fulfillment of our individual lives, but it is also necessary to the happiness of future generations.  Although we risk becoming politically incorrect, or being seen as intolerant, we must ignore this type of pathos charged rhetoric and realize that it is nothing other than a diversion intended to derail progress.  Ultimately, what I am suggesting here is that human happiness should forgo any political, religious, or moral hang ups that anyone may have.

                In short, will it offend your very religious friend when you explain to them that you think their entire belief system is a lie?  Yes, it will.  Every damn time.  But for every 10 friends you offend, one will see reason to your argument, and the task of fixing this world must occur in such a manner, one mind at a time.  Otherwise, we will be working against one another for the rest of our time on this planet.  So to those of you waiting for the “right time” to come out of that closet, the time is now.  Atheists are one of the fastest growing minorities of this country; it is time that we were no longer a minority at all.  If this means pissing off the rest of humanity to save it, so be it.

              I don’t want to change the world by outlawing religion and labeling it a monster.  I want to change the world by changing minds and labeling religion a cultural misstep.  Won’t you join me?

Monster Bash

     This idea has been rolling around in our heads for quite sometime, and we are finally acting on it.  For too long our species has been plagued by the hateful ideology that there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live.  This type of blind generalization is not only a tremendous leap in logic, but it is downright socially irresponsible.  Regardless of what you believe, religiously, politically, or otherwise; "different," or "counter culture," people will always exist, thus, we must find a way for the less tolerant to co-exist peacefully....or change their minds.

   We are fans of the latter; this project operates under the idea that most of the anger, fear, or hatred that ends up being directed at counter culture groups is due largely in part to the avid distribution of misinformation.  While it is impossible to talk about this without involving discussion of the church, religion is not solely to blame here; we all are.

     This project and ones like it are our chance to make a difference, to undo the damage that has already been done.  It is time for us to prove our humanity by learning about one another instead of assuming.  It is time for us to begin aiding one another instead of fighting one another.  It is time for people to care about other people.

    It is important to note that we do not subscribe to any particular political ideology or party either.  The ideologies purported on this page will line up with the tenants of Humanism, and one of our members is a professing Humanist.  However, this should not suggest that this project is for Humanists exclusively.

     That being said, this blog will become increasingly active over the next few weeks.  We will be adding pictures from our previous events and updates about what we have in the works....keep your eyes open.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop us a line at