INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

militant atheism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
Message
Author
Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#21 Post by Maria Mac » November 18th, 2008, 1:50 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

I see that the word 'militant' in some people's minds is inextricably linked to violence and terror and I find this interesting. My own understanding of the word comes from the contexts I have most often heard it used in: the trade union movement and the women's movement where, back in the 70s, I recall it being used to describe those trade unionists and feminists who were most "vigorously active and aggressive, esp. in support of a cause", to use the definition provided by dictionary.com. Bombs and guns weren't part of their armoury, however.

Some atheists give the impression of being wholly preoccupied with religion. They not only make the most of every opportunity to criticise it - and their criticisms tend to be sweeping - but they also devote much time and energy to mocking it and the mockery is often creative and entertaining to those of us who are on the same side but extremely offensive and hurtful to those who are not. These are the people I call 'militant atheists'. No, they don't go in for physical violence - their weapons are mainly words and cartoons and suchlike. But my point is that to many religious people and, indeed, to many atheists who aren't so passionate and uncompromising, they frequently come across as self-righteous, obsessive and aggressive - just like their religious counterparts, in fact, which is why they get called 'fundamentalist atheists'.

I have quite a lot of respect for some militant atheists (at least some of the time) and a great deal of contempt for others. The Freethinker, which I would certainly describe as a militant atheist rag, usually bores the piss out of me. Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great is one of my favourite books at the moment, even though the author is a typical example of the worst kind of religion-obsessed atheist. A brief extract from an account by someone who met him recently: "I tried to get him to talk about secular humanism more, he always brought the conversation back to some obscure Jewish, Catholic, or Muslim law and why that law was proof that there is no god. We pointed out to him many times that he was preaching to the choir, that he could talk about moving past atheism. He refused. He argued like a broken record." I can think of other people who behave like that: a couple of them used to post on this forum and another, whom I think of as a personal friend, is the creator of the English Atheist website.

I am clear in my own mind that this group is clearly identifiable and that I don't belong to it and that is why I intend to continue using the term to distinguish them from other activist atheists like myself.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#22 Post by Maria Mac » November 18th, 2008, 1:55 pm

Nick wrote:Ironically, the Catholic Church refers to itself as "the church militant..." but I agree, "militant" not a particularly useful phrase to apply to humanists.


We cross posted. I think the term 'militant humanist' is probably a nonsense but that some humanists are militant atheists, which is the term attracting the objections.
"Activist" for me, is on a par with "community", "learner" and other such words (qv)
I recall you saying you don't like 'community' but what have you got against 'learner'?

Gottard
Posts: 1306
Joined: October 3rd, 2008, 3:11 pm

Re: militant atheism

#23 Post by Gottard » November 18th, 2008, 3:31 pm

I thought about "Activist Atheist" before but I didn't mention because I thought the wording sounded of cacophony in English, if not it's fine.
Catholic Church define themselves as "militant" because -somewhere in the "Vangelo" (the Catholic Bible) is written that "faith must be defended by the sword if needed"; just think of the crusades. Yes, may be regarded as a wording of the past but it is still there and....often used!

(secular humanism, catholic humanism) Do pay attention Maria as there is a juridical trick in those definitions. humanism in small letters can be attached to other words e.g. "secular humanism" because it is considered a substantive BUT you cannot say "secular Humanism" because "Humanism" assumes the precise meaning of ...that specific community and could be liable of juridical problems if used improperly. I learned this from IHEU but I am not a solicitor and am not able to explain more.

I feel very sour this aftnoon as I heard the Italian news where (referring to a tragic local murder of a woman) the speaker said (about the husband): certainly as a practising catholic the husband is expected to pardon the assassin!
I wonder: can't a non-catholic pardon someone if wished?! Poor journalism!
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: militant atheism

#24 Post by Nick » November 18th, 2008, 6:00 pm

Maria wrote:
"Activist" for me, is on a par with "community", "learner" and other such words (qv)
I recall you saying you don't like 'community' but what have you got against 'learner'?
Excuse me gentle reader, and do not allow this quick diversion to derail this thread.

"Learner" has replaced 'student' or 'pupil' in the ghastly edu-speak now endemic in education. I mentioned this in the Room 101 thread and in a thread referenced to The Idler (not sure where without looking it up.) When you ask someone what the best thing they got from their education was, they may say a love of literature, an appreciation of the wonders of physics, a sense of purpose, understanding the quality of teamwork or a stepping stone to a worthwhile career, but not, I suggest, a "successful educational outcome from a well balanced curriculum".
Education has replaced motivation with form-filling and box-ticking. Honestly, now, how much of what you learnt at school do you remember?

I have just been addressed as a 'learner' at my woodwork evening class. Hence the grump. Militant? It makes me mad! :angry:

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#25 Post by Maria Mac » November 18th, 2008, 9:50 pm

Ah yes, I recall your other posts on the subject now that I've woken up properly. At the time of reading your post in this thread, I could only think of 'learner drivers'. :smile:

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: militant atheism

#26 Post by Dan » November 19th, 2008, 5:32 pm

I'm not sure there's a need need for a special term for atheists you feel are unnecessarily rude. "Militant" doesn't seem quite right to me. The Freethinker, of course, has been rude about religion since 1881. But it also has a tradition of supporting religious freedom, which sets it apart from, say, Albanian State atheism. There's rude, which is basically a matter of taste, and then there's repressive.

Dan

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#27 Post by Maria Mac » November 20th, 2008, 8:57 am

There's also passionate, aggressive, uncompromising, obsessive. I'd agree there's no need for a special term for rude atheists but only some of the people I think of as militant atheists are rude.

There's probablly not going to be a word that pleases everyone and the point of this thread was to suggest that the term 'militant atheism' was objectionable. I think that, as with 'spiritual', most people here disapprove of it, the rest of us will carry on using it.

User avatar
Paolo
Posts: 1474
Joined: September 13th, 2008, 9:15 am

Re: militant atheism

#28 Post by Paolo » November 21st, 2008, 4:42 pm

Surely someone can simply be referred to as an "arsey atheist"? That encompasses the negative aspects of the sort you have in mind, without dragging down proactive, passionate, uncompromising atheists who manage to be respectful and polite...

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#29 Post by Maria Mac » November 21st, 2008, 5:46 pm

I'd reiterate that I don't see 'militant atheism' as a negative term any more than I saw 'militant trade unionism' as a militant term and I don't understand why other people do. I wouldn't call Richard Dawkins an 'arsey atheist' because it is obviously pejorative whereas calling him (and others like him who frequently go on the offensive) a 'militant atheist' seems eminently sensible to me and doesn't drag him down in any way.

User avatar
Paolo
Posts: 1474
Joined: September 13th, 2008, 9:15 am

Re: militant atheism

#30 Post by Paolo » November 24th, 2008, 11:29 am

That was my point - militant doesn't mean bad, but arsey does. Sometimes we need labels and when they get misappropriated it is best to reclaim them by providing a more useful label for what the original one was misappropriated to mean.

User avatar
Lifelinking
Posts: 3248
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 11:56 am

Re: militant atheism

#31 Post by Lifelinking » November 24th, 2008, 11:51 am

Dawkins

supercilious atheist :)
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: militant atheism

#32 Post by Alan H » November 24th, 2008, 12:31 pm

Paolo wrote:Sometimes we need labels and when they get misappropriated it is best to reclaim them by providing a more useful label for what the original one was misappropriated to mean.
I entirely agree: militant is used by religioinsts as a derogatory and pejorative term and, since I doubt we can reclaim the word, we need to move away and argue for something better.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: militant atheism

#33 Post by Maria Mac » November 24th, 2008, 5:04 pm

Alan H wrote:
Paolo wrote:Sometimes we need labels and when they get misappropriated it is best to reclaim them by providing a more useful label for what the original one was misappropriated to mean.
I entirely agree: militant is used by religioinsts as a derogatory and pejorative term and, since I doubt we can reclaim the word, we need to move away and argue for something better.
I don't agree that the word 'militant' has been misappropriated. As far as I can see ,it is used according to its dictionary definition by religionists and everyone else, that definition being:
mil⋅i⋅tant
   /ˈmɪlɪtənt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [mil-i-tuhnt] Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective
1. vigorously active and aggressive, esp. in support of a cause: militant reformers.
The fact that religionists don't like militant atheists is hardly surprising but I don't see them habitually misusing the term and if they do apply it to someone who doesn't really warrant it, what difference does it make? It's hardly an earth shattering calamity. it it?

Honestly, I really don't have a clue why any atheist would be bothered by any of this. To me it just seems like hair-splitting and a waste of time.

Firebrand
Posts: 686
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:05 am

Re: militant atheism

#34 Post by Firebrand » December 7th, 2008, 8:14 pm

OK, what about 'militant humanism'? If we take 'militant' to mean passionate and uncompromising, isn't this a description that fits some people here or is it an oxymoron? Does being a humanist mean being prepared to compromise about everything?

User avatar
Ninny
Posts: 545
Joined: December 13th, 2007, 12:03 pm

Re: militant atheism

#35 Post by Ninny » December 8th, 2008, 9:45 am

Maria says: "The fact that religionists don't like militant atheists is hardly surprising but I don't see them habitually misusing the term and if they do apply it to someone who doesn't really warrant it, what difference does it make? It's hardly an earth shattering calamity. it it?

Honestly, I really don't have a clue why any atheist would be bothered by any of this. To me it just seems like hair-splitting and a waste of time." Well, I can only say I started this thread when I was a member of a group where the leader (devout Catholic) had a go at militant atheists and, because of the size and nature of the group, I didn't have the opportunity to question him. A few days later, I heard the same man on R4 having a go again. His audience that time was like-minded religionists, so he got away with it again.

I have been reading about militant suffragettes, and some of them were intent on causing real physical damage, so militant was accurate there. I think this issue is important.

Zoe
Posts: 564
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 4:08 pm

Re: militant atheism

#36 Post by Zoe » December 8th, 2008, 12:20 pm

Why is it important? I'm inclined to agree with Maria on this one - I really don't see what difference it makes or what damage it does.

I've met atheists who are happy to describe themselves as militant. I've never heard the term 'militant humanist' before. It doesn't sound right because humanism is sort of woolly non-confrontational, isn't it?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: militant atheism

#37 Post by Alan H » December 8th, 2008, 1:03 pm

The only reason I don't like it is that it is used pejoratively by religionists to (deliberately) give the impression atheists are violent, aggressive people. I think we've lost that word to them and, rather than trying to claim it back, we should distance ourselves from it.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Paolo
Posts: 1474
Joined: September 13th, 2008, 9:15 am

Re: militant atheism

#38 Post by Paolo » December 8th, 2008, 1:21 pm

I think we should beat the religionists until they give our word back... :D

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: militant atheism

#39 Post by Alan H » December 8th, 2008, 1:32 pm

:D Onward Atheist Soldiers!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Ninny
Posts: 545
Joined: December 13th, 2007, 12:03 pm

Re: militant atheism

#40 Post by Ninny » December 8th, 2008, 5:37 pm

Alan H wrote:The only reason I don't like it is that it is used pejoratively by religionists to (deliberately) give the impression atheists are violent, aggressive people. I think we've lost that word to them and, rather than trying to claim it back, we should distance ourselves from it.
Thank you, Alan, for saying in a few words what I tried (and failed) to say in several paragraphs. :kiss:

User avatar
jaywhat
Posts: 15807
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: militant atheism

#41 Post by jaywhat » December 9th, 2008, 7:19 am

:finger: :kiss: :boohoo: :exit:

Post Reply