No, really, it's true. Well, PZ doesn't think that I, specifically, am stupid. He just thinks that anyone who thinks like I do is stupid. That means there's a fairly decent chance that PZ Myers thinks that you are stupid, theoretical person reading this post. It's all because the atheist blogosphere is getting into a big ol' hubbub about what they're calling Atheism+, which is basically the Coke Zero of movement atheism. It's an attempt to say that atheism needs to be about social justice and political change and all kinds of other, basically secular humanist stuff.
I, personally, think Atheism+ is a horseshit-filled load of buzzword bingo, and exactly on the level of the question I intend to start asking myself from here on out: What Would Luis Aparicio Do?
But, hey, you want to know why PZ Myers thinks I'm stupid. He did a summation post yesterday of a discussion on Atheism+ and answered this particular question:
Im in that awkward position where i do agree with most of the values and dislike the misogynist idiots but see no value or reason to mix atheism and the other values. For me atheism just is the simple disbelief and my political values stand apart from it.
For those who are wondering, I, too, am in that "awkward position." I, however, don't think it's awkward. I grew up Evangelical, after all, where the only question that mattered to anyone was, "What church do you go to?" I find religious belief, or lack thereof, the least interesting aspect of a human being. It's a potential complicating factor, yes, but I'm also about as likely to decide not to date a Cubs fan as I am a Catholic. It really depends on how much of their life they devote to that particular fandom.
Anyway, here's the first paragraph of PZ's two paragraph response:
Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.
How many logical fallacies can dance on the head of a pin? I'm seeing a straw man and a poisoning the well fallacy in this response. Atheism is actually just rejection of belief in god, nothing more and nothing less. I highly doubt anybody would say, however, that it exists in a vacuum and doesn't influence anybody else's thoughts. However, to say, "I don't believe in god, therefore I believe that I shouldn't vote Republican," is, in a word, fuck stupid.
The problem here is that PZ exhibits the exact same problem the people I used to go to church exhibit. He is arguing that because he is an atheist and he also believes X, then it logically follows that his belief in X is informed by his atheism. This makes a great deal of sense in some cases, e.g., "I am an atheist, therefore I do not believe the Bible is the divinely-inspired word of god." It makes absolutely no sense in other cases, e.g., "I am an atheist, therefore I think dulce de leche ice cream is delicious."
Gender equality, gay marriage, and politics are somewhere in the middle of this particular spectrum. Atheism can have an influence on the thought process, but it won't necessarily and, even if it does, it won't necessarily have a key influence. This is really just an attempt to set atheism as a mirror to religion, because there are those who argue that relgious belief should be the key (only, in some cases) arbiter and/or justification of any sort of decision.
It's a black-and-white, staring into the abyss sort of worldview. PZ and his fellow travelers see the religious as a dangerous force and atheism in some form -- specifically, their preferred form -- as the necessary and obvious counterforce. Ergo, if the relgious are out arguing that good Christians need to do A, then the atheists should be gathering together to do Opposite Of A. To do otherwise is stupid, even if whatever that action otherwise is happens to be something that undermines A or is, in fact Opposite Of A, but justified through some lens other than atheism.
The only way this worldview works is if every single Christian is, as PZ imagines, focused solely on being the exact sort of Christian that PZ imagines they are. That Christian, for the record, is the Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell/Tim LaHaye Evangelical Christian that PZ, conveniently, sees himself fighting against tooth and nail.
Either way, here's the second half of his response:
If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.
Y'know, for a guy who claims there's no such thing as an atheist religion, atheist dogma, or an atheist Pope, PZ sure seems to spend a lot of time fighting to keep the troops in line and marching in the direction that he dictates...
Either way, I've got a lot more bouncing around in my head on the utter silliness that is Atheism+ and how it's all part of a profoundly weird worldview that I recognize immediately from my time as an Evangelical. Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll even write about it one of these days...