As a theist, I obviously disagree with their basic position, but my particular version of theism requires that I respect others, and treat their arguments fairly. It is on these grounds that I am pleased to see this movement come about. They seem to lack most of the problems I see in the New Atheist movement, and I often find myself hoping that they will eventually eclipse it.
For starters, they believe in actually helping people.
While I have always agreed that there is no reason to think that religious people are any better than the non-religious, I’ve often found some of the New Atheist comments hard to swallow. They have frequently claimed moral superiority, but never seem to get around to doing anything in their communities other than shout insults at religion.
Atheism Plus, however, seems much more interested in letting their actions do the talking, and are even willing to partner with church groups if it means helping those who need it.
For those who don’t know, this group was formed in response to several female New Atheists’ sense that there was a strong misogynist tone in the fervent atheist crowd. Failing to find support over this issue, they eventually left to create their own group.
This gave them a unique perspective which, in my mind, is the reason why they put their collective finger on a very key problem in the group. It was in reading one of their blogs that I ran across a statement that explained almost everything about the New Atheists that confused me. They have pointed out that, for many, atheism is a way for straight, white, middle-class men to feel like the victimized, oppressed heroes of their own narratives.
All the better, they can do this without actually suffering much of anything.
That struck me as very consistent with my experience, and definitely made sense of a few things – not the least of which was why such people were so passionate about attacking religion. I’m sure many have had terrible experiences, but most couldn’t name much at all when asked. This seemed a very plausible explanation.
The Atheism Plus group seems to take the idea of being an oppressed minority as something less than desirable. They seem to want to fix the problem, rather than wallow in it. Much as I’m not one of them, I can agree with that. Definitely, this is an easier group to respect.
I’ve made many wrong predictions, and won’t venture a declaration about what will come of this. But I do hope that future atheists more closely resemble the Atheism Plus crowd than their misogynist predecessors.