I’m sure you or someone you know has seen or posted Michael Luciano’s Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing piece on The Daily Banter. It’s a short piece using the conference I attended this weekend, Moving Social Justice, to claim that expecting atheists to care about such outlandish things as equality diversity is “silly” because the dictionary definition of an atheist is someone who believes in no god(s). Also implicit in the title is the idea that those of us who care deeply about social justice are not “atheists” even though many of us say we are.
Well, okay, then. Michael Luciano thinks that I’m not atheist since this is “my social justice agenda”, not that of atheists. If that’s true, then atheists like Michael Luciano have no right to bring up Cosmos (i.e. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan), Christian right-wing sexism, the normalization of atheism, religious sex scandals, and Islam’s perceived flaws in their promotion of their purely-atheist agenda.
This applies to both the older and newer version of the groundbreaking scientific show. Neil deGrasse Tyson has repeatedly gone on record saying that he considers himself an agnostic. So did Carl Sagan. Despite being claimed by atheists, neither Sagan nor Tyson are atheists. Atheists ought to not bring Cosmos up as if it validates their views. Nor should they criticize Cosmos when it falls short of their expectations, since a show that both originated with and is continued by agnostics doesn’t owe atheists a damn thing.
Christian Right-Wing Sexism
Atheists just love to bring up how horribly sexist those awful Christians are. Unfortunately, caring about sexism and misogyny is a social issue, so using them to attack Christian views is inappropriate for atheists who think that social justice is silly. There is nothing in the definition of atheism that says you shouldn’t be sexist.
I, along with many others, have been tweeting using the #NormalizeAtheism tag. Michael Luciano thought #NormalizeAtheism was important enough to write about and even included one of my tweets in his piece. To urge the normalization of atheism is to ask society to treat atheists as human beings equal in humanity to theists, which is far outside the realm of believing in no gods.
Christianity’s Myriad Religious Sex Scandals
Atheists love to skewer Catholics and other theists over traditional religious views on sex-related issues. Though it’s an easy target in the case of Catholicism (nay to same-sex non-platonic relationships but yea to child sexual abuse? the criticism writes itself), issues like LGBT rights and child abuse are social ones not covered in the main definition of atheism. Who’s to say that an atheist can’t be a child molester? What in the definition of atheism precludes the promotion of child abuse? Maek you think.
Islam’s Perceived Flaws
Criticizing Islam based on Muhammad’s marriage to a child, anti-woman sentiments, and proscription of apostasy on pain of death is to use social issues to promote atheism. Pure, true atheists would do well to refrain from such criticisms and instead focus solely on the fact that there is no god. Social arguments are not relevant to believing in no gods.
A perfunctory glance over Michael Luciano’s writings on The Daily Banter shows a list rife with examples of all five of these things that aren’t contained within a strictly dictionary, denotative definition of atheism. The same is true of the heroes that Luciano and r/atheism revere: Dawkins, who talks about rape and other social issues all the time these days; Hitchens, who regularly used social arguments to skewer religion; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose foundation is for helping women fight gender-based rights violations, just to name a few. I look forward to Micheal Luciano’s criticism of the social justice concerns of nearly all atheists, including the famous ones he reveres.