I Am Not in a Bubble

For about the third or fourth time recently, I have come across a place where someone has stated that I, and people like me, are living in a bubble. Amanda Marcotte wrote an article recently entitled 6 Kinds of Atheists. I guess it might be useful those people who have never met an atheist and think that we are all elderly, argumentative, British biologists, but who also happen to read Amanda Marcotte. Personally, I think Marcotte should have put the article in quiz form so it could have been published in Cosmo, or perhaps as a quiz on OK Cupid. Still, even without a, b, c and d choices, I read it eagerly to find out what kind of atheist I was. Yes, I know, I’m a little self-involved. Perhaps I should have been wondering what other types of atheists are out there, but I didn’t. I was thinking of moi, moi, moi.

The first category was the “Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic.” Surely, I thought, that is I. At 38 percent, Marcotte tells us, these are the most common type of non-believer. Of course, sensible people all, I imagine. “These types often get mistaken for dogmatic atheists, however, because they have a tendency to join skeptic’s groups or otherwise find avenues to discuss non-belief with others.” Well, I went to go hear a lecture sponsored by American Atheists once and another sponsored by the Freedom From Religion foundation, I guess that counts. “They like debating religion….” Oh, well, maybe not. I like to flatter myself that I’m an intellectual and I am most certainly an atheist, however, perhaps I am not an “Intellectual Atheist.”

Behind door number two we have “Activist Atheists.” “This group also gets commonly accused of being dogmatic, but like the intellectual atheist, while they’re firm in their beliefs, they’re intellectually flexible and don’t prioritize attacking believers.” Aha! There we go. I’m an “Activist Atheist.” Let’s read more about yours truly. “Instead, they are motivated by a strong sense of humanist values to make change in the world, often making related issues—such as feminism, gay rights, or the environment—a priority over simply advocating atheism.” Hmm… maybe. “This group also advocates for a better, more egalitarian atheist community….” What community? I kind of hate that whole “atheist community” thing. We have nothing in common, quite literally. They are, I should point out, 23 percent of the nons.

Next up for consideration, the “Seeker-Agnostic.” “They prioritize not-knowingness.” I spent nearly a decade in this category. Marcotte describes them as being “uncomfortable committing to non-belief completely,” which I think is a judgemental way of putting it. It doesn’t have anything to do with “comfort.” I started out calling myself an atheist around the age of eight or nine, then starting around seventeen or eighteen I began to use the word agnostic. Sometime in my late twenties I realized that calling oneself “agnostic” is like walking around with a note that says, “Please convert me,” taped on your back. Frankly, calling myself an atheist is far easier. If nothing else, it does shut people up.

Online, I’ve met a few Anti-Theists, and I know I’m not that. “This group tends to get conflated with all atheists by believers, but they only constitute 15 percent of non-believers. Like the Intellectual Atheists, they like to argue about religion, but they are much more aggressive about it and actively seek out religious people in an effort to disabuse them of their beliefs. While most atheists limit themselves to supporting a more secular society, anti-theists tend to view ending religion as the real goal.”

With four out of six down, I seem to be running out of choices. Now here we have a category that she describes as not believing “in any gods, but don’t think about those who do very often.” Yeah, that would be about right. “In such a religious society, simply opting out of caring much about religion one way or another is nearly impossible….” Well, she does have a point there. I wind up thinking about it much more than I’d like on account of the news and other people who thrust religion on me. Officially, we are called “Non-Theists” and are “only 4.4 percent of non-believers,” although personally I suspect most of us simply didn’t bother to fill out the questionnaire. Huh… what’s this here? “In some skeptical/atheist circles, this group is disparagingly referred to as ‘shruggies.’ ” So you’re all talking about be behind my back! Shruggie? Well I never! Speculating wildly, Marcotte opines, “However, some quite likely are indifferent because they’re fortunate enough to live in a bubble where belief doesn’t matter one way or another.”

It is not a fucking “bubble.” It is a carefully constructed submarine so I don’t drown.

  1. Great post my friend!
    I saw the article someplace and asked myself what would a dogmatist atheist be like.

    • fojap said:

      I don’t know, but it must be tough to be dogmatic without a dogma.

      When believers refer to atheists as “dogmatic,” they show that they are so steeped in their own way of viewing the world that it’s hard for them to understand the view of atheists without using the terminology of religion. For instance, some of them will spend a lot of time trying to undermine popular support for evolutionary theory without understanding that it’s not part of atheist “dogma.” In the unlikely event that scientific discoveries required a drastic reconception of evolutionary theory, that would do nothing to prove the existence of supernatural beings.

      Now, we can be a lot of things, argumentative, irritable, annoying, and even just plain jerks sometimes, but dogmatic is impossible by definition. Now, if an atheist, in addition to being an atheist, follows some belief system, like Humanism, I suppose it would be possible to be dogmatic, but he or she would be a dogmatic Humanist, not a dogmatic atheist.

      • I have read a few of the Humanist manifestos, and I think even then, dogma would still be a hard one to prove. For example, how would one classify as dogma the stand that every human being is born equal with rights and dignity or better still the requirement that every man thinks for himself or that morals are not given us by a deity. Only theists can be dogmatic. Annoying, argumentative so on can stick.

    • fojap said:

      I was working off of this definition from Wikipedia: “It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself. They can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, religion, or issued decisions of political authorities.” These days, there aren’t too many people who would argue that all people are born with equal rights and dignity.

      • I get it. Dogma would apply in case of Humanism or secularism to atheism it would be a hard one to sell

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