PZ Myers tried to do some damage control concerning the whole A+ fiasco. He was asked, “Can someone explain to me what is A+?” Given all the drama, you might expect this to be a softball question. Guess again. PZ replied:
Nope. Lots of people can give you their opinions, but it is only starting to coalesce. There are no leaders, no organization behind it, no money, no coercive power at all. It’s entirely spontaneous. Currently it’s little more than a label.
This is hilarious. The Gnus brag about their supposed commitment to reason and evidence, but I see no such commitment here. I see someone coming up with a spontaneous label, probably because of emotion. The label is put out there and people like Richard Carrier demand atheists either swear allegiance to this new symbol or consider themselves banished as immoral outcasts. So what does this lightening rod actually mean? The reality-based community is still trying to figure it out. In other words, emotion took the lead, emotion divides the community, and it is up to reason to come along afterwards and rationalize it all. And reason, in all its impotence, will simply allow the “in-crowd” to think they are right, while the outcasts will think they are right.
All of this helps to demonstrate why I think Gnu atheism is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Yes, I know there are many Gnus who are very intelligent and can write lots of pretty sentences and fancy arguments. They can even put this skill on display when justifying their opinions about what happened on that infamous elevator. But so what? I focus on how they live. Can they practice what they preach? Nope. I see no commitment to reason apart from using it as a tool to rationalize what they already feel and believe.
Myers then proceeds to dig the hole deeper with his next comment.
Im in that awkward position where i do agree with most of the values and dislike the misogynist idiots but see no value or reason to mix atheism and the other values. For me atheism just is the simple disbelief and my political values stand apart from it.
That makes sense. In fact, dozens and dozens of atheists have told me the same thing throughout the years. You would think this would be another softball slowly lobbed to PZ. But what does he do? He attacks the person for being stupid:
Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.
If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.
Holy smokes. According to Myers, atheism is not simply a disbelief in God. What PZ is telling us is that atheism is a worldview, an ideology, a set of beliefs, that all tell us how to “shape our culture.”
This is going to get very interesting. PZ and his allies are going to tell all atheists what to think about issues with political and social consequences. Do you think he can do this by relying on atheism? Or will he have to smuggle in auxillary hypotheses? And if he and his allies are unable to generate consensus among all atheists, what does that tell us about the power of reason and science?