Atheism Plus: lessons can be learned from their shortcomings about the nature of the God debate

Have you ever listened to the exchanges between atheists and theists debating each other? You’ll often see the atheist calling the theist out on their logical fallacies, such as moving the goal post, arguments from analogy, attacking strawmen, god of the gaps, the list goes on. The atheist might even sprinkle this with a few facts from science and history, add a little water, and ta da, you get instant whoop ass.

And you think to yourself: “Man that atheist is very disciplined in the art of logic and he really cares about the truth of things. He’s a great example for how we should all be. In fact, this is bigger than atheism. This is about skepticism and logic. If a God really did exist, the atheist would accept it while maintaining his commitment to truth and logic. And as long as we are as rationally disciplined as that atheist guy, then the correct understandings of how things are and how things should be will inevitably follow.”

But how consistent is the rationally disciplined atheist’s commitment to truth and logic? What if the conversation moves away from theology and shifts toward gender? As the Atheism Plus (a group of feminist atheists) movement has demonstrated, an atheist involved in the skeptics movement can have a pretty flimsy commitment to rationality and skepticism. Members of Atheism Plus have built a reputation for banning anybody from their forums who disagrees with them, as well as dismissing people as misogynists, rape apologists, MRA’s when they’re not, and they’ve even stalked and harassed people who criticize the A+ cult. This sounds like the behavior of deluded people.

So now let’s return to the atheist and theist debating God with each other, and let’s assume the atheist is a feminist. Why is the atheist whooping ass at this theological debate? Is it because he’s rationally disciplined, or is it because the facts just happen to be on his side? Not only is there no evidence of a god, and every unknown that gets solved turns out to have a natural explanation, but the universe that allows us to exist in it resembles exactly what a universe without a god would need to be; it’s very old, it’s very vast, and life is rare.

Now what if the earth was flat and it was the center of the universe with the sun, moon, and starts circling over it? What if that blue sky dome was an actual dome that separated the waters above from the waters below? What if this universe was filled with demonstrably true supernatural activity, with spirits, angels, demons, zombies, and the like roaming around? Would the atheist change his mind? Before the rise of Atheism Plus, I would have said yes. But the truth is, there is no way to know for sure how committed somebody is to the truth when the truth already fits their point of view. In an atheistic universe, an atheist has nothing to lose by sticking with the facts and keeping his arguments rational. It turns out, his rational discipline is NOT bigger than atheism after all. And yet, when PZ Myers debates a Muslim proselytizer, while his friend Rebecca Watson films the discussion from the sidelines, it LOOKS like PZ and Rebecca are the ones who took the red pill.

MRA’s typically do not ban people nor do they threaten and harass their critics. In fact, they desire dialog with feminists. Recently, MRA youtuber Johntheother was supposed to participate in a public debate between feminists and MRA’s on the subject “has feminism gone too far?” The feminist who tried to host this event cancelled it after her fellow feminists started sending her threats. Are feminists just naturally loony and insane while the MRA’s are stoically committed to logic and rationality? Or do we just happen to live in a world where the facts do not support the claims of feminists?

We need to be mindful of the fact that, no matter how much we think we care about truth and rationality, we are vulnerable to delusion. Sure, we know that, and we pay lip service to that, but how often are we tested on this? How often are we confronted with facts that don’t fit what we want? If you’re both an atheist and an MRA, then probably not often.  MRA’s talk about taking the red pill, but MRA’s are men as well as women who care about men, so we have a stake in taking the red pill, which means it might not be so red after all. But our willingness to be rational and to engage in discussion with feminists suggests that, at least, the facts are on our side, even if we’re human and are just as prone to delusion as anybody else.

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