I don’t understand how anyone can have strong feelings one way or another for the so-called “Atheism+” label. Maybe because of the circles I associate with, I see far more hostility than I see support, but there’s clearly broad-sweeping approval of it out there.
I don’t think this is the time to judge it, because what will ultimately decide whether Atheism+ is a fleeting fad or a meaningful movement won’t be determined by the opinions of early critics or the ideals of hopeful pioneers. Time is the true judge, and time does not care about petty squabbling or lofty dreams. Time cares about results.
I think we can all agree Atheism+ will need to actually accomplish something at some point in order for it to be taken seriously. I certainly wouldn’t put a time limit on success, either, because it’s irrelevant whether it works quickly or slowly. As long as there are individuals laboring under the A+ banner, even if it is fruitless for decades, the movement will remain open to the possibility of achieving what it sets out to do.
What I fear is that Atheism+ will go the same path as that of the Occupy Movement. I can’t imagine atheists being pepper sprayed in the streets, but I can picture atheists not being able to focus enough to really do anything. Atheism+ needs tangible goals.
That has been a big problem in the atheist community in general, because a group as small and disunited as ours needs basically every disparate member to be on board in order to make even the slightest impact. A splinter group within atheism, then, needs some very dedicated, charismatic, and damn near heroic figures at its forefront in order to make a dent in this big, crazy world.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility. The founder of American Atheists, Madalyn Murray O’Hare, helped organize one of the first major political pushes for atheists by fighting school prayer and compulsory Bible education in public schools. It may just be a matter of picking an issue that is winnable for Atheism+, and just going for it.
But if Atheism+ is just a reaction to atheism itself, I can predict with near certainty that it will fail. Unless Atheism+ formulates goals for achievement within the broader world, any efforts to simply function as a critique on other atheists will only serve to poison the well and divide an already weak and under-represented group.
Atheism+ was formed consciously with the idea of “waves” of feminism in mind. What many feminists don’t realize, to their own peril, is that the wave-model of ideological development effectively split feminists by the start of the third wave in the 80s, resulting in stunted success for feminists in the last 30 years. It is only now, with the clear and common enemy of the Republican War on Women, that feminists are poised to make a major leap forward in legislative progress.
I don’t think atheists have 30 years of stagnation and in-fighting to look forward to, though who knows? I’m more optimistic, and I think that after the dust clears that most atheists will remember: we’re all on the same team.