A Letter To The Atheist Plus Movement
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Recently, I’ve heard a lot of concern and conjecture over why the old and new atheists don’t want the new-new atheist (A+) movement to go and “do its own thing.” At least from my perspective, this concern is unwarranted. Even if potential limits on the scope of intellectual inquiry might seem combative and counterproductive to some, I fully support your efforts, since you wish to establish a movement that focuses primarily on feminism, and secondarily on other social justice issues. Further, I also understand your need to criticize the historical repression of women and minorities in science and culture. I’m not sure that I understand why philosophical atheism is necessary to your movement, but it is not my business to question your motives, methods, or goals. You are free to organize as you choose, and ultimately, I agree with you in your quest for successful social justice activism. I can even appreciate your effort to create a “safe space” for yourselves, whatever those words may mean to you.
I am, however, concerned that your movement, working parallel to similar ones such as secular humanism, could divide already limited attention and resources for the sake of building up your potentially exclusive agenda. Further, I am bothered that some Atheism+ advocates react too sharply and too harshly to mild and/or civil criticism from other atheists. For just a few examples, see both the posts and the comments here and here.
I have also observed some unnecessary insults from Atheism+ advocates against other atheists merely for their age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and educational accomplishments. Personally, while I find ageism unacceptable, I consider educational accomplishments to be useful and laudable. And although I don’t agree with every atheist who doesn’t belong to your group (in fact, there’s no one that I agree with completely), I’m happy to work with them and with the religious(!) toward the goals we have in common. I’m also happy to help you achieve the goals we share, whatever they may turn out to be. But, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, I am not young enough to know everything, and therefore, I eagerly welcome differing opinions from others despite their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, or level of education. In sum, I wish you the best of luck. It takes real courage and hard work to take on the task of forming and funding your own organizations to pursue the extensive list of objectives articulated by former-Atheism+ leader Jen McCreight and others. Having distanced yourselves from so many atheists and organizations will make the successes of the Atheist+ movement that much grander, since the pool of potential resources and allies has diminished considerably.