I usually ignore the atheist blogosphere and little is a better demonstration of that than my post on “The Label Wars” last week. When I wrote about that I had no idea about the fight over labels at Freethought Blogs for the newly defined Atheism+. Since then I’ve given Atheism+ some consideration and this is my basic conclusion:
I favor all of the core ideas behind Atheism+ which is essentially secular humanism without the hymns and church-like atmosphere, plus skepticism and the open acknowledgment that we are atheists. Atheism+ is centrally not backing down from the atheist label despite the stupidity and bigotry of some other atheists. The only problems I see with this label are the possible conflation between “atheism” and “atheism+” and whether or not this will actually accomplish the goal of positively impacting the view of atheists. The former is a mistake anyone embracing Atheism+ should be cautious to avoid committing and the latter is something that remains to be seen (though admittedly I’m skeptical).
Still so long as it’s not claimed that moral or political positions stem logically from atheism, that would be quite an unreasonable position to take, I see no problem with a group of atheists calling out organizations, or people, in any sphere who do not share basic support reasonableness, integrity and compassion while also embracing positive cooperation with groups who don’t fully embrace these goals were suitable. It’s also important to ensure that this doesn’t devolve into black and white thinking as the reality of these traits in practice is more a gradient than dichotomy. Finally, as Richard Carrier points out, this shouldn’t be about a political test as the point is to argue about the facts in a reasonable manner with honesty and respect for all humans, not complete compliance on what the “correct solutions” are to each and every problem humanity faces.
Being rational and compassionate in all areas of life is already something I lend support for and a test of basic decency I apply wherever possible. I see no reason why a group of atheists with the same goal is substantially different even if you think not all professing this are the best examples of this. Simply put, removing dishonest or bigoted people from among your ranks is rarely a bad idea.