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Atheist vs. Atheist

Since the only thing that all atheists must have in common due to their atheism is a lack of belief in deities, it is only natural that atheists will argue with other atheists over other issues. That makes sense and I don’t have any problems with that. However, there are too few atheists and far too many religious to be fighting among ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I think when two atheists want to debate philosophy or politics it is fun and insightful. But when it comes to arguing with atheists over atheism, I think we are just wasting our time.

Greg Epstein comes to mind. I have written about this before. I fully support Epstein’s efforts to form a religious atheism even though I don’t really think it is for me. I also support his efforts to form a strong atheist community. But my issue with him has been that he spends more time arguing against other atheists like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett than he does promoting his brand of atheism.

I have been a strong advocate of multiple approaches. While my approach has traditionally been more in line with Harris and Dawkins, I think atheists like Epstein should try to play nice with those on the Religious Left.

The fact is that Epstein and Dawkins have the same goal and that is to promote reason over faith. We are all on the same side and while we may disagree with each other on various points we should be united in our goal. More importantly, we should spend out time, energy, and efforts on that goal rather than going after those within the atheist community we disagree with.

If you see an atheist that you think is giving atheism a bad name (whatever that means), I think it would be far better to simply let people know that atheism isn’t a religion. We aren’t all on the same page and that you don’t support that person’s approach. Your approach is different. Then you can talk about your approach.

This applies to the anti-Bill Maher crowd too. It is one thing to disagree with other atheists on particular issues and to have that discussion on those issues. But keep it on that issue and not on the person or their efforts to promote reason over faith.

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  • Chris Bonds

    If there were no religion or belief in the supernatural in the world everyone would be atheist, so there would be nothing special about being an atheist. The fact that atheists argue about atheism seems to me to have more to do with their position in regard to believers. Are some religions “better” than others because the god-connection is weaker? Is religion always connected to a god or gods? We know that isn’t true, so are those godless religions OK to atheists? To be an atheist isn’t necessarily to be a-religious or even a-superstitious. If I say I have a ‘naturalistic worldview’ it means that I don’t believe in the supernatural. That’s more inclusive than atheism, which strictly refers to nonbelief in a god or gods. So I guess what I’m saying is that when atheists argue, they may not really be arguing about different flavors of atheism, but more about how atheists should behave in a theistic world.

  • 1225truth

    Be reminded that I am also an A-unicornist. But I would especially have disagreements with fellow A-uniconists such as Christians and Muslims.

    Albeit, advocates of the existence of unicorns are usually very juvenile and pose no aberrant institutional proclivities such as a disregard for the wall of separation between church and state.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    The only counterargument I can come up with would be the notion that some internal squabbles may have value in shaping the atheist movement. Then again, I tend to agree with what you are saying here. It probably doesn’t do us much good to become overly preoccupied with this sort of conflict. Good post.

  • http://www.michaelkantor.net Michael

    Most atheists don’t define themselves by their atheism. That’s one of the problems of atheism, it doesn’t inspire group camraderie they way religions do.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Whether we define ourselves by our atheism is not the issue. Theists define us by our atheism and so we need to deal with that fact.