I don’t always receive comments on posts. I may think I have written the best post of my life and two things will inevitably happen: 1) That post will receive almost no views. No one has read it. No ne cares. that’s the chance that is taken whenever anyone produces any content whether it’s a blog or a podcast of some sort. The creator cannot force anyone to read/listen/watch any content no matter how good the person producing thinks that content may be. Then there’s that 2) the post doesn’t adequately convey what the reader expects. they may expect a rant, and get cool reason instead. Well, that’s kind of bleh, isn’t it? In contrast, I can rush off a blog post, not think much about it and later look at the same statistics and find that I’ve struck a nerve somewhere, somehow, with what I considered sloppy, hurried content. It’s the topic that brings the audience, the more it titillates, the better. This is the primary reason I think readers are attracted to posts about the Atheist Schism, or as I called it in a recent post, Atheist Wars.
I was actually not going to say any more about that particular situation but a commenter started a parallel thought process and I think it’s relevant to not just that disputes, but to all of those people who decide that they have a need to publicly scourge one another. The comment on my post was about two bloggers (unnamed) that he had stopped reading because their posts became venomous (my word) and those people that “didn’t tow the line were excoriated thought as stupid”. I understand that reaction because I have received that type of response to posts in the past (distant). Why? Well, look at the title of the blog. It begins with a much despised adjective in the atheist world: conservative and as I’ve written on other occasions I have been told plainly that I cannot be a conservative and an atheist. That is a conjunction of two worlds that do not fit together. Atheism, you see, is a liberal – no progressive – ideology that uses reason and is inhabited by those rationalists that are your and my betters. It is a closed society, only available to those that worship at the alter of exclusion.
Even if you happen to be one of the few, lucky, elites, you must attend to your words carefully or be subject to expulsion into the darkness, the desert where the hoi polloi wander, never to be welcome again in the inner sanctum of the Great Atheist Mind. Okay, that last was a little over the top but I think I’ve painted a picture of what many, many, atheists today think about this so-called Atheist (bowel) Movement. Whoops, I did it again. When there is a public dispute, it tends to broad-brush all of those of us that refer to ourselves as atheist. It does so because it seems, historically, these disputes that turn into online war start with tiny cuts inflicted by each person involved. Painful, but not crippling or meant as a coup-de-gras to any person. Over time, and that may be quickly, the dispute escalates because no one will just leave it alone. Walk away. There may be bruised egos, but that will be the extent of the damage. Of course, this doesn’t seem to happen. when these disptes occur, the entire world must know about it immediately and all discourse must be public and as brutal as possible. Why?
It’s a way to round up those that will take one side over the other, especially if one side may claim to be the victim in the dispute no matter how cruel and dispassionate they are towards those that are in disagreement with at the time. Winners and losers. It’s a child’s game with no certain outcome and nothing at risk than possible status within the group. Eventually, everyone moves on. Yes, friendships, if they were there to begin with, are gone but then I tens to believe that none of these people actually know one another outside of the online connection. No actual friendship exists, at most it’s a mutual acquaintance.
It’s always bothered me that these disagreements are in public. It’s a three act play with terrible actors and no production value whatsoever but it seems to be what people do nowadays: all of their personal business is fodder for the entire world to gaze upon. I am sometimes amazed about how much I know about some of my online acquaintances without ever posing a question to any of them. So what would be the problem of having what constitutes a knock-down-drag-out fight with someone in that same public sphere? Nothing. There are no lasting consequences because all that happens, in the ned, is another fracture within the group of atheists, another schism, if you will, has formed with people taking sides that they don;t fully understand, but want to support that person that appears to have more status within the group than the other(s) involved. And yes, that’s what all of this is about, egos, as I mentioned, but more so, status. Not only is it important that the disputers retain their status, but there must be a way for one to increase their status over the other. the more sycophants one may attract to a particular side in the dispute, increasing said status amongst the hoi polloi.
In case you don’t understand why I use that term it’s because normally, these people would have nothing to do with you because you., me, the rest don’t fit the narrow narrative that has been constructed to protect those that have declared themselves to be the elites, those that shall not be questioned. This happens in every social group, political association, yes, even religion. Why not atheism? The difference is that these people are not elected, or even appointed over the remainder. These are people whose status is elevated because people have some sort of need to be told what to do, how to act, what words to say or not say.
Atheism itself will have nothing to do with that because all atheism is, is a non-belief in god(s). so none of the nonsense witnessed in any other venue would seem appropriate because being an atheist does not require a congregation, a caucus, or any other social construct. It is a solitary pursuit that only requires a conclusion. No acceptance by any group is necessary. People, however, will alway be people and look for someone to lead them, or become leaders themselves, looking for those that will follow. To lose even a small portion of that status believed to be earned is anathema to those egoists who believe it is their hard work that has made them, not those that surround, wanting to become a a trusted confidant, a climber themselves. There are plenty of examples existing. Just look around.
Of course, after I posted my earlier post I referenced, I was reading and posting some articles I found interesting to Twitter. what did I see, a tweet thread from what I had written about initially, with nothing seeming to cool down, in fact, another person, believing he has some purchase in this dispute, becomes a white night, rescuing the fair lady from this evil oppressor, ever looking the fool himself. All of this leads nowhere, to nothing, and yet when this dispute fades from interest, another one will surely replace it. It’s inevitable in my mind, the time that I’ve been an “online atheist” these seem to be never ending. Human nature? Possibly. It’s not that it is unlike humans to compete with one another in almost every circumstance but it seems silly in this case. There really isn’t anything to gain, maybe readers of a blog or listeners/viewers of a podcast that generates some income. If that is truly what it’s about for some then maybe those need to drop away because their only interest in atheism is how much money they can generate for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong: Im a capitalist and have no problem with people making money, unless it’s a grift which some in the wide world of atheism have taken advantage for literal years, laughing all the way to the bank at those poor slobs they fooled for a decade or more. Maybe it’s time for a Great Purge. No. Other, more sophisticated grifters would tsake their place and atheists would welcome them with both arms, again. It’s like I’ve said about religion: if every religion disappeared today, completely, tomorrow, someone would start up a new one because people have a need for an explanation outside of their experience. These atheist grifters provide the same service. A lot of these disputes seem to fall into this. Beware. We owe each other nothing. No one deserves anything from another person they haven’t actually earned and that includes respect. None of these care about anyone else but themselves. their public disputes shame them as well as mark all atheists the same.
We have had a problem earning trust and respect from the general population. Whenever these disputes fall over into the public arena, we are set back in receiving what many have actually worked hard to achieve. that’s why, I believe, so many atheists have dropped away. Not from atheism, but from active participation, especially online.