August 12, 2013

Why I left the Atheist Community

I have been an atheist for as long as I can remember. Never was I able to believe in God, even as a child; the only reason I went to church was because my parents went, and I thought it was something I was supposed to do. I stopped going to church sometime in middle school, and I realised I was an atheist in high school, and I came out as one at the end of high school, sometime before starting this blog.

Blah blah blah, that's an old story that I've told on here before.

I know that I've expressed my displeasure with the "Atheism Plus" community. I'm still not very favourable towards them, but I'm also not very favourable towards the "Anti-Atheism Plus" community. I think both sides need to grow up, stop acting like children, and quit it with the "my team versus your team" bullshit. I think both sides need to stop publishing rumors against each other (we aren't a fucking tabloid community!) and to stop trying to try people by public opinion. We have legal systems for a reason, and I'm pretty sure none of you are members of the jury.

That goes to both sides. We have the people who, as in Rebecca Watson's case, immediately convict her alleged attacker, but we also have the people who immediately convict Ms Watson as a liar.

We have the atheists who now take to making skeptic and atheist conferences about feminist issues, but on the other side we have atheists who are making local groups into how men are the real victims.

We have PZ Myers fighting with Michael Shermer. Others with DJ Grothe, and I think I heard of one with Phil Plait involved, as well as ones with James Randi and Lawrence Krauss. And these things don't seem to ever end.

I'm really tired of seeing people try others by public opinion. I really am. I'm also really REALLY tired of all of the infighting.

You're just shooting yourself
I think this represents what's happening to the movement quite nicely.

I do think that the atheist community has always been a little argumentative, both inside and outside of the community. I also think the community has always been a little childish as well. But this, I can't stand this anymore.

I am leaving the atheism community. I am no longer going to conferences, and I am no longer focusing on atheism topics on this blog, though this is a decision I was planning on making anyway. I used to tell my religious friends that we, as atheists, are good without God, but honestly, it doesn't feel right telling them that anymore. Anybody who's paying attention can tell you that you don't need to be religious to be a dick. No, I haven't found Jesus, don't worry; I'm just tired of seeing the community that I used to love destroy itself from the inside.

I don't know if the infighting is what has made me lose interest in atheism related topics, or if it's just because I feel I've talked the topic to death, but I do know that it has turned me away from attending conferences, listening to talking points, and from choosing to admire an atheist speaker.

I can't admire an influential atheist without pissing somebody off. I can't admire Richard Dawkins, because he's apparently sexist. I can't admire Sam Harris because apparently he's xenophobic. I can't admire Rebecca Watson because apparently she's a liar. I can't admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali because apparently she's a fake feminist. I can't admire Lawrence Krauss because apparently he's in favour of segregation. I just can't seem to admire anybody without inadvertently picking a side, or at least people fighting with me as if I have joined a side.

This shit has been going on for a year now, and frankly, I'm sick of it, and I can't express that enough.

A new atheist/freethinker group started recently in a nearby city. Maybe I'll join and hope it doesn't try and get involved in this childish game. So maybe I haven't left the community entirely, but I'm extremely close to doing so.

I also realise, I am a nobody compared to people like PZ Myers, Justin Vacula, Rebecca Watson, and Reap Paden. But that doesn't make my discontent with the community any less valid.

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author-pic About Tiger
Tiger is a 22 year old college student, activist, and professional living in the Saint Louis metro area. When he's not being apathetic to the idea of God or writing about atheism, he is serving a presidential term for a mental health organisation and a board membership of another, does public speaking about mental illness and disability, and is a photographer and a bassist.