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Atheism Divided

James Dobson and Chris Hedges have very little in common, but when it comes to the non-believers, they are on the same page. In fact, they constantly play off each other. Dobson talks fire and brimstone and Hedges talks of peace on Earth. Yet we never see the two of them debate each other or even really challenge each other. In fact, the only people these two Christians argue and debate against are atheists.

Just like Christianity there are differences within atheism. In the past, there has been vigorous debate between atheists in relation to how vocal we ought to be with theists. Should we take the Greg Epstein approach of keeping our atheism quiet and create a new Humanist religion which doesn’t conflict with religious people’s views? Or should we take the Chris Hitchens approach and treat theistic religion with absolute contempt and ridicule? Atheists are constantly debating between fellow atheists on this question.

More recently, atheists have been debating with ourselves about whether an atheist needs to just concern themselves with religion or whether they must tow the skeptical line on everything. Is there room in atheism for those who don’t believe in gods, but are open to believing in alien visitation, ghosts, or medical industry conspiracies?

The big difference that I see with these divides is that atheists seem to always be debating other atheists and Christians seem to not be debating other Christians (at least not much). Dobson and Hedges have radically different views about the Bible, God, and Christianity, but they are united in their criticisms of atheism. I don’t think all atheists need to have the same approach or philosophy. I am skeptical of the “skeptical” dogma at times and don’t think that all atheists need to tow the PZ Myers line. But we should be clear here; all those who lack a belief in gods are atheists.

Atheism isn’t a club or a group in the traditional sense. We are a label of people who don’t fit into the group of theists. We shouldn’t argue about whose atheism is better or who is a real atheist. We can discuss our differences without resorting to these types of things. We cannot be divided into these types of sects and denominations. Atheism is not a religion. It is a label.

So instead of debating Epstein’s atheism vs. Hitchens atheism or PZ Myers vs. Bill Maher, we should all unite against theism. We can disagree without turning atheism into a dogmatic religion.

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