Sunday, July 29, 2007

The OUT Campaign

 
RichardDawkin.net has started something called the The OUT Campaign. The goal is to encourage all non-believers (atheists) to come out of the closet and make their rejection of religious superstition known. You're supposed to use the red "A" as a symbol to declare that you are an atheist. Several bloggers have put it on their website.

I do not believe in God. I am an atheist. However, the fact that I don't believe in something is often the only thing I have in common with other atheists. It seems a bit silly to form a club based only on what you don't believe in. It would be like having a club for everyone who doesn't believe in Bigfoot, or Santa Claus.

So, while I am happy to announce my preference for rationalism over superstition and proud to be an atheist. I won't be joining any organization based on a negative. I am a proud member of Skeptics Canada and The Centre for Inquiry, Toronto because they stand for something positive.

[Hat Tip: PZ Myers]

17 comments :

  1. I agree, an anti-something is nothing but a tribute to that very thing. If I come across a bunch of people wearing either crosses or "A"s. I think I'd just switch to the other side of the road hahahaha

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  2. Agreed. This "A" thing, just as "Brights" before it, attempts to define a group as what it isn't. Frankly, I'm not all that interested in atheism, per se. What I am (and at some level, always have been, even when I was religious) interested in is reason and free inquiry. I prefer the "Happy Human" humanists symbol (yes, I'm a member of HAC). It stands for values I advocate, not for the absence of something.

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  3. It may be a negative position, but it is a negative position that needs much shoring up in terms of public image. One of the best ways to do that is to get our numbers on the table and let people know we're normal people, not demonic beings out to poison their children.

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  4. OK, Larry, but this campaign isn't for you. You've never been shy about stating your position -- it's not as if you've been cowering in the closet peeking out now and then to see if there are any people who you'd be comfortable with passing by.

    This really is more for making it easy for people to see that the godless truly do walk the streets, and they don't have the blood of innocents drooling from their chins.

    Eamon and Tyler: you've got it all wrong. Atheism isn't a negative position, it's a liberated position. Don't let the ignorant mantras of the religious define what atheism should be to you. And I'm really experiencing some "new name fatigue" -- what really contributes to the nebulosity of the perception of atheists is this constant effort to relabel it as humanism or brights or whatever, as if not believing in a mythical construct is something we need to hide.

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  5. Eamon and Tyler: you've got it all wrong. Atheism isn't a negative position, it's a liberated position. Don't let the ignorant mantras of the religious define what atheism should be to you.

    ?!
    ISTM it's usually been the atheists defining the word minimally in terms of "lack-of belief", while the religionists harp about atheism being a religion etc. See for eg. any number of arguments on alt.atheism (not that a.a is a world class bastion of deep thought, on either side of the debate). So I really don't understand where you're coming from on that.

    And I'm really experiencing some "new name fatigue" -- what really contributes to the nebulosity of the perception of atheists is this constant effort to relabel it as humanism or brights or whatever, as if not believing in a mythical construct is something we need to hide.

    "Brights" I never liked, but "secular humanism" has been around for a long time, so again I don't know what "relabeling" you're talking about.

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  6. You can be an atheist and be an ass. It does not stand for anything. I am an atheist but I know many believers that are secukar humanists and for who I have much more respect than for many that will be wearing that ugly ass red "a"

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  7. Hmm. Seems to me there are several nuances to choose between here.

    At its basis atheism is a philosophical negative (universal absence), but an empirical positive (simplest explanation for current observations).

    Likewise it can be interpreted socially as a negative in basing the definition in existing theism, but can as well be positive as being liberating from old superstitions et cetera as PZ argues.

    That said, locally it seems Humanisterna (the Swedish Humanist Association) organizes most atheists since it has a broader liberal (european sense) basis and program than mere atheism. There are skeptics organizations here as well, but I believe any overlap with atheism is coincidental since the motivation is to work for science.

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  9. Oh, I forgot. Because blogs comment scripts refuse font change in comment boxes, I'm probably going to spell that as - combining free thought (reversal) and "for all". Just read that as a red Zapfino A, and we are agreeing on the symbol. :-P

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  10. I think I'll start a club for people who don't go scuba diving.

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  11. It seems to me that the "Out" campaign is not about us defining ourselves as a negative, but about us being being positively in favour of the abandonment of religion. I grant you that's not a part of the strict definition of the word "atheist", but, big deal.

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  12. I agree with Booker, wearing this shirt has much more with being on a campaign to destroy religion, than merely being atheist.

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  13. I thought about adopting the Zapfino A - for about 300 msec. I'm an atheist, not an Atheist. I didn't become a 'Bright' or join Mensa, or join a political party or many other clubs and societies. This is mostly because I don't strongly align with these organisations' objectives, and partly because most of them are run by a 'clique' who ignore the general members views.

    I'm a strong believer in changing the world - but by individual effort, one small step at a time. Banding individuals together into larger groups should be more effective, but from my observation groups' efforts are often seriously diluted by internal wrangling.

    I suspect the Zapfino A symbol will fail to achieve widespread recognition. It is not clear what it signifies beyond not believing in god(s). Perhaps we will see the movement splitting into sub groups with different agendas and points of inreasingly esoteric opinion?

    Not for me, thank you.

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  14. Adopting the "A" seems more like aligning yourself with Richard Dawkins rather than making any clear statement about (lack of) religious belief.

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  15. I agree this is for the worshipers of dawkins. "A" stands for "asshole" too...

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  16. I see Atheism as a positive. So those of you who view atheism as a negative view religion as a positive? I do not buy that at all. Quite a few atheists make the comment of not wanting to be associated with groups which is why they are atheists in the first place. Its not about being in a group as such it's also about who you are is some sense. Richard Dawkins has done wonders for the atheist movement who continue to open doors for other across the world who want their identity to be open to others when it comes to their views on life. Many live in a society where they have hidden theirs views where as many religious people go about there everyday life sharing their views without being put down or passed off. Want to where the A go for it. Let the world know you are one of a growing community that sees life through the eyes of reason.

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  17. The OUT campaign is not about forming a club, defining a group, nor is it about being 'anti-religion', it is more along the lines of the woman's movement, civil rights movement, or the gay rights movement. No one would ever assume that all African Americans or all women or all gays share the same views. Nor should anyone assume atheists share the same views. However, in the US and UK atheism has been linked with communism and branded as a true evil. We do need to work on a new image! The OUT campaign is an attempt to make people aware that atheists are normal, healthy, generous, kind people.

    There are many facets to the OUT campaign and I suggest that before criticizing it as something it is not (e.g. a Club), perhaps you ought to read a bit more about it.
    http://outcampaign.org/

    The OUT campaign is gathering momentum and is generating a lot of positive press. Most of the negative comments come from other atheists.

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