Google Hangout about Atheism Plus

Just finished this Google+ hangout with Alex Gabriel, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan and Debbie Goddard about Atheism Plus, labels, goals, divisiveness, et cetera. Enjoy!

Update: Transcription is now available, thanks to the good folks at A+Scribe. I also talk a bit more about the “drumming out” meme here.

Google Hangout about Atheism Plus

20 thoughts on “Google Hangout about Atheism Plus

  1. 1

    Hey all. A+scribe is making an effort to transcribe this video. With the permission of the participants, can we post the transcription when its done?

    For those who don’t know, A+scribe is a volunteer organization working to provide transcriptions for videos and podcasts, for greater accessibility. Right now, we’re focusing on the A+ sphere, for a more manageable workload.

  2. 2

    Given that one of the folks we need to focus on (and I’ve had to be corrected on this privilege myself!) is the hearing-impaired atheist community, I gladly give permission for my part in the hangout. I would be seriously surprised if any of the other participants would refuse, in fact.

  3. 3

    Hoh boy, that transcription couldn’t come too soon. Youtube’s automatic transcription service has this for 1:18:

    “i am jason funeral i log at freak out looks dot com slash leskovec”.

    Hilarity. But useless for the hearing-impaired.

  4. 6

    It was remarkable that Debbie was the only person of color in the conversation, and she seemed to raise the most questions and/or challenges (except for possibly Alex stating he didn’t see himself personally adopting the Humanist or A+ label). Considering that A+ is being billed as a way to fight racism and be inclusive of minority groups historically excluded from the movement, are there any people of color who are enthusiastic about Atheism+? I’ve asked in a number of comment spaces, through email, and facebook, but haven’t gotten a clear affirmative response. I don’t want to jump onto a train of good intentions when our target audience is riding boats, busses, and hovercraft.

  5. 8

    re: metaphors that include “drumming”

    I’ll go out on a limb with my interpretation, even though you all are better informed on the topic.

    I would suggest that there isn’t an intention to “drum people out” of the larger atheist movement. However, there is the intention to repudiate the statements of some people, especially ignorant or hurtful statements. There is also the intention to retain the right to criticize statements and actions of people within the atheist movement who are behaving objectionably.

    But we are seeing a rejection of “shut up and stay put for the greater good of atheism” type of argument. (Not a quote, a sweeping paraphrase.)

  6. 10

    Hilarity. But useless for the hearing-impaired.

    Indeed, I do however find it useful, especially in hour long videos like this one, to jump back just a few seconds by clicking the preceding garbled sentence as doing so with the red timeline is an exercise in frustration, often ending a minute before where you wanted to go.

  7. 12

    Becky, I think that the people involved share that concern. The idea of A+ is less than two weeks old right now, so it’s by default still mostly the usual suspects. I think the idea is to watch diversity levels very carefully as it hopefully grows, and listen to less-represented groups on what to do to serve and include them better.

  8. 13

    I liked Alex’s idea that atheists are more accepting of gay rights than other rights because Christian religion pushes one way and it’s easy to get on board with something that annoys the Christians. (Also, science supports homosexuality as a normal human variation, so we can pepper our discussions with lots of science if we are reluctant to just make moral claims.)

    Science tells us that it’s normal for some people to be women. (cough) Religion tells us sex outside of marriage is a sin. So, hmm, if we really want to fly in the face of religion, we should encourage much wilder and freer fornication at conferences??? (This is my “extrapolation”, not anything that was said in the video.) I think some atheists are disappointed that “let’s break all the commandments and horrify the Xtians” isn’t always the party line.

    We can’t draw straight parallels between the gay civil rights issues and the women’s rights issues that are currently in the forefront of our discussion. In the first case we are mostly talking about laws, and in the latter we’ve had a lot of talk about behavior that’s not legislated.

    I know I’m discussing this poorly. Alex just started me thinking and I don’t have awesome conclusions, yet. It’s just a new way for me to look at why some issues garner more or less support in the atheist community.

    As a takeaway for A+, I do think that doing science education on controversial issues is an important thing to do at conferences. Presenting data, letting people know about good data sources, critiquing flawed studies or flawed arguments and then letting people use their own critical faculties to make decisions seems like a good direction. If we are going to have any kind of “should” it should perhaps be “you should know this information” not “you must agree with my conclusion”. (People that don’t have the facts will often balk at the conclusion until they have the facts. We should respect the balk and educate through it?)

  9. 17

    Thanks for this steaming pile of regurgitated pseudo-intellectual blather, you Hitchens-Dawkins parroting basement dwelling anus worshipping megadouchers. Yours is a petty trivial localized earth bound philosophy unworthy of the universe

  10. 18

    So says “atheism is a category error at”. You’re my first creationist troll in forever! Generally the sorts of trolls I get around here are people upset that I’ve not been deferential enough to people like Dawkins.

    And you’ve hit the trifecta of hubris about your religious worldview, proof that you didn’t even watch the hangout to begin with, with the heaping helping of body-shaming as gravy. How very Christian of you. I’m going to assume you’re an American evangelical, from one of the more particularly dogmatic Christian sects. Am I close?

  11. 19

    Wow, your comments have really opened my eyes. I mean, this is mind blowing stuff! You make some powerful points, except … let’s put the Hitchens-Dawkins Kool-Aid down for a while and look at reality: Kalaam Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Reason, Fine Tuning of Universal Constants, irreducible biological complexity, the argument from morality…. Your entire world view lies shattered at your feet. If you truly honor the gods of reason and critical thinking half as much as you claim, you would plant your face firmly into your hand, step away from the device, find a quiet place, and rethink your life. Indeed, why are you even bothering to comment at all? No atheistic position can be taken seriously until two threshold questions can coherently be answered. 1. Why is the atheist even engaging in the debate. On atheism, there is no objective basis for even ascertaining truth; there is no immaterial aspect to consciousness and all mental states are material. Therefore, everyone who ever lived and ever will live could be wrong about a thing. By what standard would that ever be ascertained on atheism? Also if atheism is true, there is no objective meaning to existence and no objective standard by which the ‘rational’ world view of atheism is more desirable, morally or otherwise, to the ‘irrational’ beliefs of religion. Ridding the world of the scourge of religion, so that humanity can ‘progress’ or outgrow it, is not a legitimate response to this because on atheism, there is no reason to expect humanity to progress or grow. We are a historical accident that should fully expect to be destroyed by the next asteriod, pandemic, or fascist atheist with a nuke. In short, if atheism is correct, there is no benefit, either on an individual or societal level, to knowing this or to spreading such ‘knowledge.’ 2. Related to this, why is the atheist debater even alive to participate. If there is no heaven, no hell, no afterlife at all, only an incredibly window of blind pitiless indifference, then the agony of struggling to exist, seeing loved ones die, and then dying yourself can never be outweighed by any benefit to existing. As rude as it way sound (and I AM NOT advocating suicide) the atheist should have a coherent explanation for why they chose to continue existing. Failure to adequately address these threshold questions should result in summary rejection of the neckbeard’s position. In the end, we all know you can’t answer these questions because yours is a petty, trivial, localized, earth bound philosophy, unworthy of the universe. Finally, is there a basement dwelling troll left in the multiverse who doesn’t drag themselves out of the primordial ooze and logged onto this site in order to announce our collective atheism towards Thor, that gardens can be beautiful without fairies (a powerful rebuttal to fairy apologetics, by the way, but it leaves a lot unanswered about the Gardener), and that we cling to Bronze Age skymen due to our fear of the dark? Let me translate that to neckbeard: you are unoriginal, you are wrong, and you are a clown. Also, FTW atheism is incoherent: http://communities.

  12. 20

    Posted the same message twice on my blog, so I threw him in spam. Also posts this same message all sorts of places. Yay creationist spammer for once! Has six rounds in his six shooter and spends them all in one burst, not realizing the people he’s shooting at aren’t even there.

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