Isn't Atheismplus Another Name For Humanism?
In the wake of some very public and nasty debates about diversity and lack of respect for women in the freethought community, Jen McCreight, author of the blaghag blog on the Freethought Blogs Network created what she is calling a "new wave of Atheism" whose name evolved into Atheist+. Her goal was to move Atheism from just dealing with the god question - Atheists don't believe in a god - but to also deal with issues like diversity and social justice. It seems to me that Humanism addresses all the issues McCreight feels is missing from Atheism and Humanism is non-theistic. One question I have is why not be a Humanist?
Some of the issues Jen McCreight sees Atheism+ dealing with include Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Ableism, Classism, Ageism, Neurotypicalism, Animal welfare, environmental issues, and political issues (Health care, crime, drug laws).
Those are many of the same issues we Humanists are interested in with our efforts for Humans solving Human problems. And if you read the 10 Points of Humanism from Corlis Lamont or even HCCO's Statement of Principles, Humanism is liberal and progressive about those issues.
McCreight also writes:
Honestly, I see A+ as Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism. Not all humanists are atheists or skeptical, not all skeptics are atheists or humanists, not all atheists are humanists or skeptics…but I want to bring it all together. And hell, not all humanists are progressive – you don't know how many times I've had humanists yell at me for calling myself a "feminist" instead of a "humanist" because what feminism really means is hating men.
She is right that not all Humanists are atheists and not all atheists are Humanists but Humanism does bring "it all together" for those of us who are looking for that.
Atheism is my answer to the god question and secular humanism is my worldview. I came to Humanism because atheism didn't have an answer for the social and economic justice issues I was concerned about. Atheism isn't a worldview.
I share McCreight's concern for a progressive response from the atheist/skeptical community to social justice issues and to see an end to the troglodyte behavior of some atheist men, but in my view Humanism is the answer.
New groups or ideas tend to pop-up from time to time in the freethought community - anyone remember the Brights. This happens because a sub-group within a larger group thinks the main group isn't addressing the issues they want to address or not taking the action they feel should be taken, so they break off and form a new group.
It's great that we have Humanism in general and the Humanist Community of Central Ohio specifically because we can find specific sub-groups we want - like Heathen Chicks - and yet still operate within a larger group through consensus. We know we won't have 100% of our concerns addressed 100% of the time but we will find a good majority addressed and others who share the same concerns we do.
Bill Cooke from the Center for Inquiry wrote this nice summary of Atheism vs. Humanism:
Atheism is not enough on which a viable nonreligious system can be built. Atheism states only what one does not believe in; the next step is to move forward and determine what one does believe in. Exploring the realms of naturalism and humanism are essential to giving atheism a positive orientation... Organizations that are united only by what they hate or fear are rarely going to prosper for long without feuding and dissension. But more important than mere organizational tension, such an approach misunderstands and fatally undersells humanism as a viable way of living without religion. Humanism is so much more than mere rejection of religion; it is a way of living based on an insatiable love of living, a recognition that one's life is enriched by virtue of enriching the lives of those around us. Far from down-playing the role of atheism in humanism, this understanding of nonreligious living recognizes atheism as foundational, but equally recognizes that foundations are worthless without a completed building.
Atheists and Humanists are members of the same family but they address different concerns. I'm not saying you can't expand Atheism beyond a rejection of religion and the supernatural but want to point out that you don't need a new group - Humanism is that expansion.
I'm glad that Humanism can address my concern for social and economic justice while making room and encouraging my atheism.
When I hear the name Atheist+ I will be thinking of Humanism.
Doug Berger is a past president and current Board member of HCCO. Doug likes to write. He writes short fiction and screenplays. He has several blogs he contributes to including Secular Left, iHumanism, Doug’s Views, and Review Geek.