Monday, 9 March 2009

Atheist Lobby

In response to a comment from David Robertson on RD.NET:

Maybe its my warped sense of humour but I do find it hilarious that there is a lobby based on a philosophy which has no beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, tenets, principles. And why or how can an atheist lobby on sex education? I thought that atheism was just simply the absence of belief in God. That there are no atheist doctrines or policies. So what does a lobby for atheism lobby for? The right not to believe? But that right already exists. If there are no atheist policies or beliefs then what is the point of an atheist lobby?

(A number of secularists are concerned about the term 'atheism' and the idea of an 'atheist' lobby - Sam Harris has voiced this concern on numerous occasions.)

Whilst the specific concept of atheism is non-belief, by definition, it is untrue to say that any one atheist has no principles, policies, beliefs, tenets etc. They are just unlikely to be the same as the next atheist. I don't think this lack of a common dogma means that an atheist lobby is absurd, as some seem to imply. There are a number of 'anti' issue lobby groups that act as a broad church (sorry, seems like the best word!) for a number of views. The anti-apartheid movement lobbied for many years and included many varied thinkers. CND has over the years drawn support from many different strands of thinking.

And there are many interreligious organisations that have been created to promote harmony between different faiths and to provide a lobbying effort on behalf of 'faith', although they believe in different gods and creeds. Is that 'hilarious'? Some might say. But isn't the supposed 'hilarity' behind this comment the thought that a non-belief can't have a voice in society? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against racism because I'd met a racist and didn't believe in his preachings? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against sexism because I'd met a sexist and didn't believe in his preachings? Would it be 'hilarious' to form a lobby group against anti-semitism because I'd met an anti-semite and didn't believe in his preachings? I think any of those lobbies would be popular without having any 'beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, tenets, principles' that defined them per se. After all, I'm sure all (I hope) here wouldn't object to any of these lobby groups, including the good folk at FCOS. I wouldn't be surpised if some of them are already involved in such things. 'Anti' lobbies have abounded, and I don't see why an anti god lobby should strike anyone as 'hilarious'. But, by definition, it will be a broad church (rats, used that word again).


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